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

Battle of Paka-Kutu, Otaki. — 1834

Battle of Paka-Kutu, Otaki.

We must for a time change the scene of our narrative to the neighbourhood of Kapiti island, where some of the Taranaki tribes became involved at this time with, another of the migrating tribes from the north, the Ngati-Rau-kawa, which tribe had removed from their old homes in the neighbourhood of Maunga-tautari in consequence of complications arising with, the tribes of Waikato, Ngati-Haua, etc. By this time—1833-4—Ngati-Rau-kawa were in considerable force around Otaki; they bad come down in several parties, and their adventures on the way form an interesting study, but it does not belong to this history.

At this time the Ati-Awa tribes of Waitara, and that neighbourhood, were very numerous about Wai-kanae, Otaki, etc., for their own territories on the west coast were practically abandoned through the page 516repeated raids of the Waikatos, as has been related. Living, as were these migratory tribes as manene, or strangers, in a conquered country, and before any permanent settlement had taken place; obtaining their food from hand to mouth, and over on the watch against their neighbours, the Ngati-Toa and Ngati-Rau-kawa, the leader of the former of which tribes, Te Rau-paraha, was far from being trusted by Ati-Awa, though ostensibly allies, led to more than ordinary savage and lawless ways. Hence, about this time, our Ati-Awa friends became embroiled with their Ngati-Rau-kawa neighbours to the north. The description of the troubles that ensued will be left to old Rangi-pito—parts of whose narrative have frequently been quoted before. He says:—

"Some time after the arrival of the Tama-te-uaua migration (see this Chapter, ante), and before we moved on to Port Nicholson, there came down from Taranaki another heke named 'Heke-paukena,' which was the last from that district.* Not long after their arrival a man named Tawake, of the Ngati-Tawhake hapu of Ati-Awa from Puketapu, but formerly of Kairoa inland of Lepperton, and others went inland to a place on the north side of the Otaki river—to the territory then occupied by Ngati-Rau-kawa—to ao-kai, or steal food. As the party returned, Tawake remembered that he had left his pipe behind, and so went back to fetch it, when he was caught by Ngati-Rau-kawa, who killed him with their tomahawks. Finding he did not return, his companions went to look for him, and found and brought away his headless body to the coast where the migration was camped. Great excitement was caused by this death, and, as usual, revenge was determined upon. Messengers were at once despatched to Wai-kanae, ten miles to the south, where the main body of Ati-Awa was living. The tribe arose at once and came to Otaki, where they attacked Ngati-Rau-kawa in the open near their pa at that place. The latter tribe was driven into their pa, in which at that time Te Rau-paraha was staying, and was eventually reduced to great straits, for Ati-Awa completely surrounded the pa, and cut off all communication with the outside. Matters continued thus for some time until the feeding of the many people in the pa began to become a serious affair, and it was seen that if the siege continued much longer, the pa would have to capitulate Te Rau-paraha, who as usual took the most prominent part in directing the defence (although he was fighting against his late allies), seeing matters begin to look very serious, despatched ten messengers to bring down the Waikato tribes to his assistance. This

* Sec ante. Probably the "Heke-hauhauä" was really the last.

page 517meant at least a month or six weeks' delay. The men travelled by the coast, but were captured and killed by Ngati-Rua-nui. He next sent two messengers, who travelled by way of the mountains, and they managed to get through their enemies, proceeding by way of the Whanga-nui river, Lake Taupo, and finally to Waikato. The messengers were successful in rousing these tribes, and a considerable number of Waikato and Taupo people (the latter under Te Heuheu) came to Te Rau-paraha's assistance. In the meantime the siege went on. At this time Ngati-Rua-nui, which tribe was assisting the Ati-Awa, wished to make peace; and for this purpose sent Tu-rau-kawa and ten other chiefs to the pa to make overtures towards that end. But Te Rau-paraha—in keeping with his usual character—incited Ngati-Rau-kawa, whilst the emissaries were in the pa, to kill them. This was done, and thus died one of the most learned men, probably, that the Maoris have ever known. Tu-rau-kawa was a tohunga of the first rank, and a poet of no mean order. His compositions are full of most interesting references to the ancient history of the people. As the Maoris say, they show a greater knowledge of ancient history than any others, and contain 'all the wisdom of the Maori world.'

The arrival of these reinforcements from the north altered the state of affairs for a time and caused the Ati-Awa to withdraw from before the pa at Otaki, and retire to Paka-kutu—a, pa on the north side of the Otaki river, not very far from the sea-coast, and between there and the Rangi-uru (or Whakarangirangi) stream.* the Ngati-Rau-kawa and their northern allies now advanced and attacked Paka-kutu, which was occupied by Ati-Awa, Ngati-Rua-nui, and Taranaki. Both sides suffered severely in the fighting that ensued for two whole days. And then Ati-Awa retreated to the south side of Otaki river to a pa of theirs named Hao-whenua, situated close to the site of the old accommodation house there.

* The long, sandy beach outside Rangi-uru is named Pare-mata. Here were killed two of the Ati-Awa by Pakiha and Manu-ariki.