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

The Story of Mount Egmont

The Story of Mount Egmont.

The story of Mount Egmont's travels is of the same order as the account of Tama-ahua, and evidently on the face of it very ancient: Mount Egmont (Taranaki) once lived in the neighbourhood of Tongariro mountain, in the centre of the North Island, whose wife was Pihanga—that graceful wooded mountain, with crater near its top, now filled with water. Taranaki fell in love with the Lady Pihanga, much to the wrath of Tongariro, who ordered him to leave, enforcing his command with so powerful a kick, that Taranaki was driven away to the west. In his flight he followed down the course of what is now the Manga-nui-te-au branch of the Whanganui river, opening up its course down to the main river. Then, in his flight, scouring out the Whanganui river itself. At about ten miles seaward of the Ohura junction there is a group of rocks in the Whanganui river, said to have been dropped by Mount Egmont in his hasty flight. Again, inland of Wai-totara, are other rocks dropped in the same manner. From this place he came westwards as far as the great Ngaere swamp, where he rested, and by his great weight made a depression in the ground, since filled by the swamp. "Continuing his journey," says Mr. Skinnor, "he arrived just at dark, at the south-east end of the Pou-a-kai ranges, page 32which had been in their present position ages before Mount Egmont arrived. Having arrived at Pou-a-kai, he was persuaded to stay the night, and whilst he was asleep, he was bound fast by a spur thrown out from the ranges towards the south-east, from which the Wai-weraiti stream (the ancient name of Stoney River) flows. Awakening in the morning he found himself a prisoner, and has remained there ever since." There are various accounts of the adventures of Mount Egmont, differing in detail, but the main facts are the same. One version says that when he was stopped by Pou-a-kai, he pulled up so suddenly that the top was carried onward, and is now seen in the boulder called Toka-a-Rau-hotu near Cape Egmont.

The kick, or blow, given Egmont by Tongariro is still to be seen in the hollow on its south-east side under what is called Fanthom's peak. The place where Egmont formerly stood became filled with water, and now forms Lake Roto-a-Ira (Rotoaira on the maps). From this story arises the Taranaki saying:—

Tu ke Tongariro,
Motu ke Taranaki,
He riri ki a Pihanga,
Waiho i muri nei,
Te uri ko au—e!

Tongariro stands apart,
Separated off is Taranaki,
By the strife over Pihanga,
Leaving in after times,
Its descendant in me!

With the poetry that is so common to the Maori, he adds to this legend, that when the mists and clouds cover the summit of Mount Egmont, this indicates that he is still bewailing and crying over the loss of his lover Pihanga; and that when Tongariro (or rather Ngauru-hoe) is in eruption and emits smoke and flame, and the volcanic forces rumble down below, this is the enduring anger of the husband against his wife's lover.

Mr. Skinner adds the following:—"Taranaki on his journey from Taupo was preceded by a stone—a female—of great mana, called Tokaa-Rauhotu, which acted as a pilot, or guide, keeping well in advance of Taranaki. The day preceding the capture of Egmont by Pou-a-kai, Toka-a-Rauhotu had reached within a short distance of the coast, on the south side of Wai-wera-iti (Stoney river). On awakening in the morning she turned to see if Taranaki was following, and then discovered that Pou-a-kai had thrown out a new arm, or spur, in the night encircling and making a prisoner of Egmont. Toka-a-Rauhotu has remained until the present day, a thing of great veneration to all the tribes, still looking upon her old friend and follower with longing eyes. But the great mana (supernatural power) which she once possessed has since the coming of the Pakeha departed, and men who now fearlessly touch her, do not die as in former times. The carvings page 33on the face of this rock were done generations ago by a party of Ngati-Tama, * seventy in number, who dug up the stone with great labour, and removed it; but the same night it returned to its old resting place. The infringement of the tapu implied in this act of Ngati-Tama brought its own reward, for they all died under the influence of makutu, or witchcraft. Toka-a-Rau-hotu in its journey from Taupo, was accompanied by many familiar spirits in the shape of lizards, who dwelt around the rock." (Plate No. 3 shows Te Toka-a-Rau-hotu.)

There are numerous similar stories of the travelling of mountains, not alone confined to New Zealand, but found wherever the Polynesian is located—indeed, such stories are world-wide.

Allusion has already been made to the paucity of direct statements as to the ancient peoples of this coast to be found in Maori tradition. It is only from incidental mention, as a rule, that we learn of them; for the arrival of the fleet in 1350, and the consequent absorption of the older element of the population in that of a more masterful people, tended to give, predominance to the knowledge and history introduced by the newcomers, and gradually and slowly led to the belief that the country was first peopled by the heke. But there are, neverthless, a few direct references, of which are the following:—

There are stories current on this coast of a people called Macro, who are described as wild men of the woods, and who probably were the remains of some of the original people driven to the forests and mountains by the incoming crews of the heke. Even so late as the fifties of last century, they were supposed to inhabit the great forests in inland Taranaki. They have sometimes been confused with the Patu-pai-arehe, or fairies—so called—but this is quite a modern idea. At Puke-koikoi, on the Whanganui river, was a hill occupied by the Maero before that river was inhabited by the present tribes, and which the Maero abandoned after the place had been visited by the newcomers—they did so, because the tapu of their homes was desecrated by the invasion of newcomers.

It is a question if in some cases the term Tu-rehu—generally identified with Patu-pai-arehe—does not refer also to the old-time people. When Kupe the navigator called in at Kawhia, on his voyage down the coast, he saw people there whom he called Tu-rehu. The people he also saw at Patea—though said to be birds—were probably men; for

* It seems unlikely that a party of strangers, such as Ngati-Tama were, should have made the carvings.

page 34we also have the statement, "Turi (of Patea) and his son slow the men of this island; the name of that race was Kohikohi."

The Rev. T. G. Hammond of Patea, a conscientious and careful inquirer, who will be quoted several times in the course of this narrative, says (1891):—"I am of opinion from what I can gather that there was a race of men in this and other parts of New Zealand when the Maoris (those of the heke) arrived. Hone Mohi Tawhai (a very intelligent and well-educated Maori, long since dead) I am sure, quite believed that the Turehu were a race of real men inhabiting Hokianga when his great ancestor Kupe arrived there." See what Hapakuku Ruia says as to the Turehu on the first page hereof.

Wi Hape, an old man of Te Ati-Awa, living at the Hutt, has stated the fact that on the arrival of the "Tokomaru" and other canoos on the Taranaki Coast, the crews found people living there.

"A people named Te Kahui-toka were found living at Patea when Turi, captain of the 'Aotea' arrived there." Note again the word kahui as a name for a tribe. Their names were:—Tokanui, Tokaroa, Toka-whareroa, Toka-kahura and Toka-potiki, probably all brethren.

The following is translated from "Nga Mahinga," etc., by Sir G. Grey—p. 123. It refers to the arrival of Manaia and his party in the "Toko-maru" canoe, circa 1350: "Then they paddled on down the coast until they arrived at Tonga-porutu, where the canoe was finally left, and the people travelled on overland to Puke-aruhe, then to Papatiki, then along the beach of Kuku-riki to Mimi* river which they waded, afterwards crossing the Motu-nui plain to Kaweka, and to the Ure-nui river. This river had another name previously, but on the arrival of Manaia and his son Tu-ure-nui at that place, it was named after the latter. They forded this river, then proceeded on overland to Rohutu at the mouth of the Waitara river, where they settled. Now, there were people living there, the native people of this island; but they were killed by Manaia and his party, and the country taken by Manaia, his sons and followers. The reason they were killed by Manaia was so that they should possess the land."

It is unfortunate that Sir G. Grey, having, as he had at that time, about 1849-50, the opportunity, did not follow this statement up and learn more particulars of this ousted people. No doubt his informant could have told a great deal about them, but it is too late now. It will be noted above that Ure-nui had a name before Manaia's time, as no doubt had Waitara, the origin of which we shall see later on.

Mr. Wells, in his History of Taranaki, p. 4, quoting Mr. John

* Wrongly called Onaero in the narrative.

page 35White, says:—"The people found at Wai-tara by Manaia, were called Ngati-Moko-torea"; but I have no where else come across this name. No doubt these people were some of the original Tini-o-Awa, later called Ati-Awa.

Tracing, as some portions of the Taranaki tribes do, their descent and tribal name from Awa-nui-a-rangi, they could claim to belong to that wide-spread people, Te Tini-o-Awa, who have been found North of Auckland, in the Bay of Plenty, the Hawke's Bay district, Wairarapa, and with little doubt also in the Middle Island. For all these widely dispersed branches of that ancient tribe take their name from the same man, who was a son of Toi-kai-rakau, and flourished circa A.D). 1150. The collective names of the families or tribes of the tangata-whenua, differ entirely from those terms used by the immigrants of the heke. It is only after the arrival of the latter that we become familiar with the now common Ngati as a collective word for a tribe. Previously, the names were Kahui, Tini, Whanau, etc.* Ngati is used exactly in the same manner in Raro-tonga as in New Zealand. The Tahitians have the word 'Ati,' which, as they do not pronounce the ng, is identically the same word with the same meaning, but it is not used in the same manner as in New Zealand. For instance, Te Teva and Te Oropai clans of Tahiti are not, I think, over called' Ati-Te-Teva,' 'Ati-Te-Oropaa,' etc., though the Missionaries have very appropriately used it in the Tahitian Bible, as in the case of Ati-Iuda, the children of Judah, etc., etc. In Samoa, Ati "denotes a number of chiefs of the same name or title; as 'O le Ati Tagaloa.'" In Paumotu Ngati is a tribe, but in no other of the Polynesian dialects is it found (according to the Dictionaries), Hence the Ngati is peculiarly Eastern Polynesian, which we might expect seeing that the heke came from there to New Zealand. But did the tangata-whenua come from the same quarter of the Pacific to New Zealand?

The writer is strongly of opinion that they did not—that in fact they came from Western Polynesia, but the evidence is so slight, and depends upon so many considerations, that it cannot be stated here. The direct evidence of names does not help us much, though this is the most important of all, for the tangata-whenua traditions have mostly been lost. Hamiora Pio, already referred to, states that Maku (who visited New Zealand circa 850) came from Mata-ora, a name that cannot be identified. Some of the northern accounts seem to indicate—though this is not certain—that some, at least, came from Mata-te-ra

* Many months after the above was written, I found that Judge Wilson, in his "Sketches of Maori Life and History," had come to the same conclusion as myself.

page 36and Waerota, names which equally cannot now be identified; but the general position of which can be fixed from Tahitian and Rarotongan traditions as islands lying to the N.W. of Fiji, or, possibly some of the Fiji Islands themselves. The Hawaiki of the tangala-whenua is probably Savai'i of the Samoa group, whilst that of the heke is Hawaikirunga, or Tahiti and the adjacent groups.

A very astute man of the Taranaki tribe states positively that his ancestors who came over in the hekc, found a numerous people here called Kahui-maunga with whom the newcomers amalgamated, and he supports this by arguments which are convincing, and really more like those of a European than a Maori, though the probability is that he never discussed the matter with any one before the writer questioned him on the subject. He claims that Rua-tupua, Rua-tawhito, and Rua-Taranaki shown on the Tables No. 2 and 3, belonged to this Kahui-maunga people, and that their descendants are still to be found amongst the Taranaki tribe.

Again, the Ngati-Ruanui tribe claim the following genealogical table as showing a descent from the tangata-whenua:

Table VI.

Table VI.

"This is the aristocratic line of this island from Tamau-awhitia and his descendants, who owned this island, whilst Paikea and his descendants lived in the Middle Island. Tamau-awhitia owned Te Ikaroa-a-Maui (North Island), and he was of the Kahui-maunga. His canee was the "fishing line" of his ancestor Maui-Potiki. In the times of Turi and his canoe "Aotea," then were these two canoes amalgamated, page 37and the land called Aotea-roa." Although the position of Tamauawhitia cannot be stated with regard to the date of the heke, he flourished in New Zealand before Turi of the "Aotea" canoe arrived.

In the above, the "fishing line" of Maui-Potiki may be taken as equivalent to saying, that the origin of those people is unknown—that they date from the time when Maui-Potiki "fished up" New Zealand from the depths, as he is accredited with doing in the case of so many islands—in other words his "fishing" was his discovery of the Islands. This seems to lend support to Judge Wilson's and Col. Gudgeon's theories, that one Maui-Potiki was the ancestor of all the langata-whenua people. One Tai-kehu is said to have been a contemporary of Turi of the "Aotea," but not the man shown last in Table No. VI., and after him was named originally the river called by Turi, Pateanui-a-Turi, * but formerly known as Te-Awa-nui-a-Taikehu. This change is said to have been made by agreement between the two men, in reference to their two sons, Kura-waiho and Turanga-i-mua—an obscure statement. Tai-kehu's home at Patea was Wai-punga-roa; his paepae, or latrine, Peketua; his food-store, Rakenga; his drinking spring, Wai-puehu; his tutu, or bird preserve, Rangi-tuhi. The former name of the river next to the south of Patea was Wai-kakahi, renamed by Turi, Tarai-whenua-kura. The traditions of Ngati-Ruanui say that Tai-kehu lived before Kupe and Turi—a point we shall have to allude to later.

This chapter commenced with the statement that very little of the history of the tangata-whenua of this coast has been preserved. All that is known or may legitimately be deduced is stated above, and it will be seen how little it is. Their history has been so overlaid by that of the more forceful heke, that it has even been doubted if ever such a people existed. But this idea is now exploded and the tangata-whenua must take their place as forming a large element in the present population. Some writers have supposed that, prior to the heke, New Zealand was occupied by a non-Polynesian race; in the writer's opinion there is no justification for such a belief. It is probably true that on one or two occasions Melanesians may have arrived in New Zealand on board vessels under the command of Polynesians, and that a few may have remained in the country. But these would be extremely few in number. So far as we know, they all returned with

* Patea is probably an old name brought here by the heke of 1350, for we find there was a marae of that name in Tahiti in former times.

page 38their masters to the Central Pacific—they in fact would be slaves brought to paddle the canoes.

We now proceed to discuss the date of Kupe's arrival in New Zealand, and, then will describe that element of the population of the Taranaki Coast, derived from the crews of the heke or migration of 1350.