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

Kapara-Te-Hau. — 1835


The date of the above event is difficult to fix exactly, but in all probability it was before the exodus to the Chatham Islands; old Paori Taki says it occurred at the end of January or beginning of February. It will be within the recollection of my readers that Te Rau-paraha had inflicted terrible punishments on the southern tribo Ngai-Tahu at Kai-koura, Omihi, Kai-apohia, Port Cooper, and Onawe at Akaroa, thereby naturally incurring the bitter animosity of that great tribe or tribes; which, as the visits of European traders became more frequent to the south of the South Island, were gradually acquiring arms and ammunition, and thereby placing themselves in a position to take the first opportunity of wiping out some of the defeats they had suffered. But over and above the general animosity prevailing against Ngati-Toa an incident occurred just at this time which accentuated this feeling, and when the time came, as it shortly did, Ngai-Tahu sprang to arms to avenge their wrongs. Just about this time a Ngai-Tahu man of some importance named Tu-mataueka (a great-uncle of T. Parata, M.P.) visited Kapiti in a whaleship, and whilst there was so seduced by the charms of the Ngati-Toa women that he swam ashore from the ship, where the local people, urged by the barbarism that then prevailed, killed him in cold blood. This was a murder, even according to Maori ideas, and demanded revenge at the earliest opportunity.

"About this time," says Judge Mackay,* "an apportionment of the land (of the north end of the South Island) was made amongst the

* As quoted in A.H.M., Vol. VI., p. 120.

page 538tribes who had assisted Te Rau-paraha and the Ngati-Toa in the conquest of the Middle Island. To the Ngati-Toa was apportioned land at Cloudy Bay and at Wairau,* and they settled with their chief Rawiri Puaha at Te Awa-iti (in Tory Channel, then and afterwards a large whaling establishment), Queen Charlotte Sound; and some of Ngati-Toa with Ngati-Awa also settled in Pelorus Sound (Te Hoiere); and Ngati-Koata (of Ngati-Toa) with the tribes called Ngati-Haumia and Ngati-Tu-mania settled at Rangi-toto (D'Urville's Island). The country in the neighbourhood of Takaka and Ao-rere (west side of Tasman Bay) was occupied principally by Ngati-Rarua (of Ngati-Toa) and Ngati-Tama" (of Poutama, near Mokau).
Now Te Rau-paraha occasionally visited his tribesmen at Wairau and other parts, and one of these projected visits became known to Ngai-Tahu. They ascertained that a party of Ngati-Toa had already arrived at Kapara-te-hau (the lake some twelve miles south-east of Blenheim, called Grassmere) for the purpose of catching the young of the Paradise ducks, and that Te Rau-paraha was expected. Messengers wore at once despatched from Kai-koura to the southern Ngai-Tahu to arouse the tribe, who responded in force. Old Paora Taki of Ngai-Tahu—then living at Kai-apohia, since dead—described what followed, at an interview I had with him in 1894. He was about eighty years old at that time, and had been one of the young warriors engaged in this affair. "Ngai-Tahu came in force one hundred and seventy topu (i.e., three hundred and forty) men in six canoes, which were all waka-unua, or double canoes capable of holding fifty to seventy paddlers each. The expedition started from Te Waka-raupo, or Port Cooper; the people there supplying two canoes, as also did each of the settlements at Akaroa and Kai-apohia. They came along up the coast as far as Wai-harakeke (seven miles south of Cape Campbell), where they went ashore and camped, sending on at once some scouts (about six or seven miles) to Kapara-te-hau to find out if Ngati-Toa were to be seen. The scouts arrived at an opportune moment, for they beheld several canoes approaching from the direction of Port Underwood. Hastening back to the main body with all speed they made their report, on which the whole force arose and travelled across to the outlet of the lake where it runs into the sea at Te Paruparu, and here, hiding amongst the tall flax bushes, they laid in

* Now the site of Blenheim.

Not to be confounded with Te Puoho, as Mr. Travers has often done.

Probably the Ngati-Toa sub-tribe, the full name of which is Ngati-Haumia-whakatere taniwha, so called to distinguish it from Ngati-Haumia of Ati-Awa.

page 539ambush for Ngati-Toa. They waited until most of the latter were ashore and then fell on the astonished Ngati-Toa, and succeeded in killing a number of them (three hundred, says Paora, but no doubt this is an exaggeration), whilst only forty escaped by swimming to some of the canoes that were still afloat. Old Paora himself caught the mata-ngohi, or first victim, a woman of Ngati-Kahu-ngunu who was with Ngati-Toa, but he spared her life. Amongst those who escaped was Te Rau-paraha; he was seized by the flax cloak he wore by one of Ngai-Tahu, but by a violent effort he burst the strings of his garment, leaving it in the hands of his would-be captor, and dashing into the water swam off to a boat which formed part of the fleet, but finding it full he dived off and got into one of the canoes, and so escaped with the others. It is related that finding the canoe already full, he threw one of the crew overboard to make room for himself.

The principal chief of Ngai-Tahu engaged in this affair was Iwi-kau, and the others were: Karaki (or Nga-rangi), father of Matiaha; Te Rangi-a-moa, Noho-mutu, Te Ngaro-whakatomo, Kuau (father of Harutu), Kahu-tua-nui, Katata (Ngatata), Tu-auau, Tangata-hara, Tama-nui-a-rangi (father of Paratene), Kai-nawe, Tu-te-hou-nuku, and Hara-nui. The principal persons of Ngati-Toa killed were: Te Ara-hore, Te Tuki (killed by Tu-te-hou-nuku), Te Rangi-angaanga-nui (killed by Hui-te-ketekete), and Rangi-tara-whanga (wife of Te Tipi)."

Tāre Wetere Te Kahu also refers to the above incident in his paper published in Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. X., p. 98, which is practically a repetition of that of old Paora Taki's given above. But the former adds the names of the Ngai-Tahu hapus engaged, as follows:—Ngati-Kuri of Te Rua-hikihiki, Ngati-Moki, Ngati-Pahi, and Ngati-Tuāhu-riri; and gives the following names of chiefs not mentioned by Paora:—Tu-hawaiki, Paitu, Makere, Haere-roa, Karetai, Paora Te Koea, and Tirā-kapiti. No doubt these were the chiefs of the most southerly contingent, and consequently most interested in securing utu for the death of Tu-mataueka, killed by Ngati-Toa at Kapiti—see ante.