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History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840

Massacre of Ngati-Kahu-Ngunu at Wai-Kanae

Massacre of Ngati-Kahu-Ngunu at Wai-Kanae.

The particulars of the above massacre are as follows, but I am unable to say exactly when it took place—probably before Ngati-Kahu-ngunu migrated to Naku-taurua, and indeed their losses at Wai-kanae may have been one of the causes inducing the migration. The following note is supplied by Mr. Shand: "Subsequent to the great defeat of Ati-Awa and Ngati-Tama at Te Tarata, and after they and Ngati-Toa had defeated Ngati-Kahu-ngunu at Pehi-katia, the two tribes were still pouri on account of their dead, as they did not consider they had had enough utu for them. Some time after, a peace was patched up with Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, and then an invitation was given to that tribe to cross the mountains and come over to Wai-nui and Wai-kanae to page 459partake of a feast. The invitation was accepted, and a considerable party came over. A large house had been specially built in which to receive the guests. With the treachery so common at this time—much of it learned from Te Rau-paraha, as the Maoris say—a decision had been arrived at to murder their guests. When the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu were assembled in the house, their suspicions of foul play were aroused; but too late. When they beheld their hosts assembling outside the house all armed, some said, 'We shall all be killed;' others replied, 'No, it is only the women bringing food.' Ati-Awa and Ngati-Toa now entered the house and gradually placed themselves in favourable positions amongst their guests. At a given signal they arose and commenced the massacre, and it was not long before nearly the whole of the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu party were dead or dying. One of the doomed men, casting off all his clothes, rushed outside, and would have effected his escape, but remembering that many of his younger relatives were still in the house, returned there to die with them. Te Aweawe of the Rangi-tane tribe, who was with Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, and who was the younger brother of Mahuri and a son of Tokipoto, was saved alive by Tungia of Ngati-Toa, because the latter had been preserved from death at the fight at Hotu-iti, Manawatu, by Te Aweawe (see page 394). This is the only redeeming feature about this dastardly affair, which is so much in keeping with other doings of Te Rau-paraha's that it is possible he was the author of it. He had, however, very apt pupils.