History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840
Te Ruaki. — 1834
This old pa is situated on the Whareroa Native Reserve, immediately south of the junction of the Mangimangi stream with that of Tangahoe, three miles E.N.E. of the town of Hawera. It is still in good preservation, and excepting here and there where the cattle have trodden paths up the terraces, the ramparts are intact. It is a large pa, capable of holding several hundred people. On the north side, and leading from the ramparts down to the Tangahoe stream, is a deep fosse with high embankments on either side, which in former times have evidently been palisaded. This was the covered way down to the water-supply of the pa, and is noticeable because of the rarety of such provision generally in Maori fortifications. Another peculiarity of this pa is the sloping ground to the west, which is fortified, and was evidently a modern addition to the main and more ancient part, due to the fear that this part should be occupied by an enemy possessed of muskets, who could from there command the main position.
Not far from Te Ruaki is another old pa, named Ohangai, which, when I stayed there in 1858, was fully fortified in the old-fashioned way with ramparts, fosse, etc., besides being palisaded with great posts, many of them carved in the usual manner with grotesque heads. A large number of people were then living there, who kept the place beautifully clean and neat. It was surrounded by karaka groves, many of which trees grew in the pa itself and furnished a grateful shade. The views from the pa, where the groves of wood admitted were picturesque and charming in a high degree; and never, in the extensive course of my travels, which have taken me to every corner of New Zealand, did I ever behold so charming a site, or so complete and beautiful an example of an old-fashioned pa. Gillfillan's beautiful picture of the Putiki pa, Whanga-nui, is very like this place as it page 507was in 1858. It may be added that this picture is the best graphic representation of Maori old-time life that has appeared.
* One aocouut I have accredits Mata-katea with this conversation, who, says the same story, had come from Orangi-tua-peka to the assistance of Te Hana-taua.
So the siege continued until Ngati-Rua-nui were reduced to straits for want of sustenance. Three months—the Native accounts say—did they hold out, and then one of the Waikato chiefs, Tikaokao of Mokau, was admitted to the pa to discuss terms of surrender. Some of Ngati-Rua-nui proposed to kill the emissary.* This was not agreed to by the others, but when the surrender of the pa took place shortly after, it led to the killing of some of those who had entertained the treacherous design. The rest of the principal people of the pa were taken as prisoners, and amongst them their high chief Te Rei-Hana-taua. It was principally the Tangahoe division of Ngati-Rua-nui who suffered in this affair.
It is said by one of my informants that Te Hana-taua† was not taken at Te Ruaki, but after the pa fell Waikato raided into that part of Patea occupied by the Paka-kohi hapu of Ngati-Rua-nui, when, in an engagement, he and others were captured. After these events Waikato moved off to try conclusions again with Mata-katea, who then occupied Waimate pa.
The following is the lament composed by Waikato and sung for those of their tribe who fell at Te Ruaki. It was obtained from the well-known Waikato chief Honana Te Maioha in 1895:—
Tera ia te pae-whenua
He ata ka marama,
E mihi ana au—e—.
Ki te kino kainga i raro i nga muri
Ma Tama na Tu—e—,
Hurihurihia iho ra
Te kiri o te makau—u—
Kia hongi atu au—e—i,
He kakara ka ruru,
Te kakara o te ipo,
* One account says he was killed, but I saw the man at Upper Mokau in 1858, then of a considerable age.
† Te Hana-taua had a son named Tai-te-ariki, who, says my informant, was named after the son of Whiro—an ancestor who lived in Hawaiki, shown on Table XVI. Chapter III., hereof—from whom he descended, as do the Ngati-Tangiia tribe of Rarotonga.
Nau mai e haere,
E tae ki raro ra,
E uia mai koe, ka hinga to rahui,
He aha i hinga ai?
Mo nga korero whakataki rau,
I runga o Tawhiti, he moenga rangatira,
E whai ana ahau—e—i,
Te mata o Tuhua, kia haehae au—e—i,
Mo koutou ra e haupu mai ra,
Te wetekia atu, tau o "Te Awhiowhio"—
Te "ika o Ngahue," he ika hu atu.
Mo koutou ki te po na—e—i.
On the bounding line of vision,
The clear light of dawn appears,
Whilst I in sorrow here lament,
For deeds done in that ill-favoured land.
'Twas there the sons of the war-god Tu
Were overwhelmed and slain.
Handsome was my loved one;
Oh! that I could now salute him,
And feel the sweetness that was his.
The fragrance of my lover
Was of the heaven above and earth below.
Welcome then, and now depart,
And when thy spirit roaches the north,
Thou wilt be asked, "Have the noble ones fallen?
And what was the cause that laid them low?"
(Thou ahalt reply),
" 'Twas the many urgent incitations
Beyond there at Tawhiti1 stream,
The death-bed of the chiefs."
And, now, alas, I seek
Obsedian of Tuhua, my flesh to score
In sorrow for ye all, that there in heaps do lie.
Why didst thou not unloose
The wrist-band of "Te Awhiowhio?2—
The "fish of Ngahue," the weapons that
Caused ye all to death to descend.
2 Is probably the name of a mere, called in the next line "the fish of Ngahue"—an emblematical name for the greenstone, often aaid to be a fish.