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


page 485

The fall of Puke-rangiora in December, 1831, and the serious losses sustained by Ati-Awa at that place, together with the siege of Otaka at Nga-Motu by Waikato, induced the leading men of the tribes from Waitara to Nga-Motu to consider the necessity of migrating to Kapiti and that neighbourhood to join the large numbers of their own people who had left the Taranaki district and settled in the vicinity of the Ngati-Toa tribe. Notwithstanding the success of Ati-Awa in driving off Waikato at Otaka, they began to see that now Waikato had become possessed of so many muskets, they were bound to return to Taranaki, and eventually would exterminate Ati-Awa. Even after the success at Otaka the whole of the people from Nga-Motu to the White Cliffs were living away from their homes near the coast at inland villages and cultivations, for the fear of predatory parties of Waikato was great. There were differences of opinion as to whether the migration should take place at once, or, as others contended for after an attempt had been made to avenge some of their losses on Ngati-Mania-poto living at Mokau. Finally, this latter course was decided on; and not long after Waikato had retired from Otaka, a strong force of Te Ati-Awa (including some people from Nga-Motu, Puke-tapu, Otaraua, etc.), with contingents from Ngati-Ruanui and the Nga-Mahanga hapu of the Taranaki tribe, who were allied to the Nga-Motu hapu of the Sugar-loaves, started northwards on vengeance bound and proceeded, on arrival at Mokau, to invest Motu-tawa pa. This was at the hauhaketanga of the crops, or the month of March.

Old Rihari of Mokau, who was actually at Motu-tawa at the time of the siege, says this Ati-Awa ope had another reason for the attack as well; and that was the great defeat of Ngati-Tama and Ati-Awa at the battle of Nga-Tai-pari-rua in 1815, as related in Chapter XI. hereof. The ope, which had a good many muskets among them, went on down the coast to the Mokau river. Their coming was known to the local people, who hastily collected into their island fortress of Motu-tawa, taking all their canoes with them. This island pa has already been described in Chapter XI. Not being able to procure canoes to cross page 486the Mokau, the invaders proceeded to make mokihis of raupo and flax-stems, with which the majority succeeded in reaching the northern shore; but others were not so fortunate, for the river, being in flood, carried several of the rafts out to sea, where some of the people were drowned—indeed, some of the rafts were carried away north by the current and finally came ashore at Awhitu, Manukau South Head—a distance of one hundred and fifteen miles—but no bodies were found on them.

Arrived on the north bank of the Mokau, the taua occupied the high land to the west of Motu-tawa, and from there fired down on to the pa, doing some execution. But after a time, and taking advantage of low water, they crossed the mud-flats and attacked the pa itself, when a fierce fight took place, resulting in the lower (south-east) part of the fort being taken, and in which action two chiefs of the pa—Tikawe and Te Whatu-moana—were killed, besides some of the attacking party. Te Huia, who was chief of the Puke-tapu section of the invaders, on finding that Tikawe (to whom he was related) was killed, was very wrath, and immediately withdrew his hapu from the attack, which weakened the rest of the party so much that the whole were obliged to retire, much to their chagrin, which they vented on Te Huia in a storm of words. Seeing the enemy retiring, the people on the tihi (or summit) of the pa were greatly elated, and now poured on to the retreating taua volley after volley of musket shots, during which the Ati-Awa lost Tu-paoa, Nga-Ika-hui-rua, Te Poka, Te Rangi-tua-kaha, Te Waha-hou, and Nga-Rau. The losses of Ngati-Mania-poto in the lower part of tho pa had been serious also, but very few of those occupying tho tihi wero killed. Before leaving, the Ati-Awa managed to seize and drag along with them the bodies of the two chiefs named above. Ihaia-Te-Kiri-kumara of Otaraua hapu, so well known to early Taranaki settlers, was at this siege.

Tikawe's body was put to the usual purposes by the invaders, and his two arms were left on a rock on the south side of the river at a place named Pekanui, as a sign for his relatives.

On the way north, or whilst at Mokau, someone of the ladies of Ati-Awa composed the following kai-oraora about Tikawe:—

Taku pere ra, e tu nei
Ki te riu ki Mokau,
Kia riro mai nei taku kai ko Tikawo
E tomina kau ake nei to korokoro.
Ki te kai-angaanga o Tai-papaki-rua,
Ka haoa mai ki te "kupenga
A Tara-mai-nuku."
page 487 Ko iho te waihoe
Te kongutu-awa ki Whakahutiwai,
Hei rahui pipi.
Ko iho te haere ki Waitara,
Kia whakaparua ki te pihapiharau,
Tutakina ai te puta i te whati-toka,
Kei puta te upoko-roro,
Ki roto ki te angaanga tohe riri
Mai ki te pakanga
Ko te kai-whakamoe, Whakatimu,
I keua mai ki te pu a taku kai nei,
A Tawa-warakī.
Ka kite koe te ngare o Ngati-Hau,
Ko te puru ki te Ao-marama.
Kei whea he utu mo aku kai,
Whakapae ki Manga-rapa,
I pehi kau ake ai
Nga paiaka o Papa-kauri,
I hahua te roro o Hari—
O tona tama, ki Te Maire,
Ka kai te Tini-o-Makehua
Ka kai taku tini taureka.

This is the regular style of [unclear: kai-ora-ora,] or abusive, cursing song; but I hesitate to translate it in the absence of anyone who could explain the local references.

My informant for some of these particulars tells me that, in return for this invasion of the country by Ati-Awa, the Mokau people directed an attack on the Ngati-Maru tribe of Upper Waitara, but I did not gather the particulars. This expedition to Mokau, however, was the immediate cause of the Waikato and Ngati-Mania-poto attack on Miko-tahi at Nga-Motu in the following year.