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

Te Puoho's west Coast (South Island) Raid and his Death. — 1836

Te Puoho's west Coast (South Island) Raid and his Death.

Te Puoho was at this period the head chief of the Ngati-Tama tribe, whose home, it will be remembered, was originally in the Pou-tama country directly south of Mokau, but through the fortunes of war they had to abandon their country, and were, about 1835, living at Port Nicholson, Massacre Bay, and other places at the north end of the South Island. We last met Te Puoho at the Ohariu massacre, described a few pages back. From there he had apparently, in the summer of 1835, gone to live with his fellow tribesmen at Te Taitapu, Massacre Bay; for, so far as can be ascertained, he was not at Port Nicholson when the rest of the tribe left for the Chatham Islands at the end of 1835.

But before relating the expedition which led to his death, I will insert here his pedigree, as supplied by Hanikama Te Hiko to the Native Land Court, presided over by Judge H. Dunbar Johnson, through whose civility I am enabled to print it. It is important as the only one yet published showing a direct descent from one of the crew of the "Tokomaru" canoe that came from Hawaiki to New Zealand about 1350, or, as we have now reason to believe, possibly a hundred years prior to that date Exception was taken recently to the statement in Chapter VII. hereof, under the heading "Ngati-Tama," that this tribe derives its name from Tama-ihutoroa of Te Arawa tribe, and Tama-houmoa, shown in the marginal table, was declared to be the eponymous ancestor. I have three very good authorities for my statement, amongst them a very old man of the Ngati-Tama tribe itself, so without further evidence I am not disposed to withdraw the statement in Chapter VII. The lady shown last on the table was the wife of Hare Matenga; she is commonly called the New Zealand "Grace Darling" from her bravery in saving the crew of a wrecked vessel some years ago. She died in April, 1909.

page 543
Table No. LVI.
25 Tiotio
20 Hapa
15 Tama-kai-hau
Te Koko
10 Nga-tai-kato
Te Mahuru
Te Uru-o-Tu
Whanga-taki = Hine-wairoro
5 Te Puoho
Wi Katene
Huria Matenga
There are naturally but few particulars of Te Puoho's celebrated raid, for only four persons survived it. It is said to have consisted of a hundred fighting men and some women of Ngati-Tama and Ngati-Mutunga of Ati-Awa. They travelled from Massacre Bay by the terribly rough country of the West Coast of the South Island as far as the Mawhera, or Grey River, where they fell in with some of their own tribe, under Niho, who, after his raid down this coast in 1828, had settled down there. From some notes gathered from the old Maoris living at Makawhio, in South Westland, by Mr. G. T. Roberts, late Chief Surveyor of that district, I cull the following brief particulars of Te Puoho's doings on that coast. It appears that Niho was living at Patu-rau—some five miles south of West Whanganui Harbour—when Te Puoho was arranging his expedition, and evidently fearing that the Poutini-Ngai-Tahu of Westland, who were then under Niho's protection, would suffer at Te Puoho's hands, Niho hastened on to the Grey River, where most of the people were then living and with whom he himself had settled. He built two fortified pas, one at the south spit, Hokitika River, called Mahina-pua; the other at the south side of the Mawhera, or Grey River, at a place named Ka-moana-e-rua. On Te Puoho's arrival he wanted to fight with Tuhuru (who had been a prisoner to Niho on the latter's first expedition to these parts, as related in Chapter XVI.), but

* Tama-hou-moa, from whom Ngati-Tama are said to take their tribal name. He had two other sons, Raroa and Ueha

page 544Niho prevented it and would not even allow Te Puoho's party to enter his pas. Te Puoho had over a hundred men, Niho over two hundred.

After a short stay, and being reinforced by some of Niho's people, Te Puoho continued his march as far south as Awarua, over two hundred miles in a straight line from the Grey River, and very much longer by the sinuosities of the tracks and coast-line they would have to follow. The few Ngai-Tahu Natives inhabiting the extreme south part of that coast no doubt suffered from this hostile incursion in the usual manner, but there are no details extant. From Awarua the party returned on their tracks, and then from the Haast River Te Puoho took advantage of an old Native track then existing to cross the Southern Alps into the head of the Makarore (wrongly called on the maps Makarora) River, down which and along the eastern shores of Lake Wanaka he passed to the narrow neck of land between that lake and that of Hawea, about half way up Lake Wanaka. Here the expedition first came in contact with the East Coast Ngai-Tahu, for at this place a few families were then living—probably engaged in fowling, for I think no Maoris ever lived there permanently—some of whom were killed, others taken prisoners. "Amongst the prisoners," says Judge Mackay (A.H.M., Vol. VI., p. 117) "was a boy, the son of the chief person of the place, whose name was Te Raki. The father with his two wives and other members of the family were then on the banks of Lake Hawea (the isthmus separating the two lakes is only about two miles wide here). To secure them and prevent the possibility of the news of their proceedings reaching the ears of the rest of the tribe, they sent two of their party with the boy as a guide; but he contrived to prevent his father being taken unawares, and the latter, a powerful and determined fellow, killed both the men sent against him, and escaped with his family."

For a good deal that follows I am indebted to Mr. Justice Chapman, who has sent me his notes on Te Puoho's expedition taken some years ago. "Rawiri Te Maire's narrative of the march of Te Puoho through Otago. Rawiri was older than Tāre Wetere Te Kāhu" (who has more than once been mentioned in this narrative, and who was a learned man of "Waitaki, South Canterbury), "whom I once proved in the Native Land Court to have been born about 1820, as he took part in the fights against Te Rau-paraha at O-raumoa in about 1835" (see ante) "when he was not big enough to carry a Brown Bess musket, but used a smaller gun."

"Rawiri says, 'When I was a boy I lived with my father and my people at Lake Hawea. We fled from that place and came down the Waitaki River to the sea, and never returned.' (See this route depicted page 545on the map forming the frontispiece to Dr. Shortland's Southern Districts of New Zealand, 1851.) 'We all fled from Te Puoho, who had come over from the West Coast and captured several people at Lake Wanaka. A boy named Puku-haruru escaped and brought the news over to Lake Hawea. He was roaming about when he discovered Te Puoho's party. The latter sent one of his warriors with the boy, whom Puku-haruru managed to kill,* and then got away to Hawea with the news that the Wanaka people had all been, taken at Makarore. Te Puoho had about a hundred men with him. These are the names of the people he captured at Lake Wanaka; there were ten of them:—Whakarihariha, Omaeke, Te Kohu-tu, Whakaetieti, Puna-i-ere, Pitaka, Pirimuna-mai-waho, and two children, who were killed and eaten.' "

Mr. Roberts' old Maori informants supply a variant to this story as follows, though it appears rather to mix up two events:—"Te Puoho went over the Haast Pass to Lake Wanaka, where he met a lot of the Otago Maoris who had come there to catch eels. Te Puoho took two children, a boy and a girl, killed, roasted, and then at them! When the mother saw this she cried and tore her clothes, and went away to collect men to kill Te Puoho. They had also taken some of the people as slaves, amongst them two brothers, and these men were sent out with four of Te Puoho's party to catch eels. Having succeeded they made an oven to cook them in, and just at this time one of the brothers made a sign to the other, and then they fell on Te Puoho's men, killing three of them, the other escaping back to his own people. The two brothers then made their way down country and gave the alarm."

To continue Judge Chapman's account:—" 'These were all taken at Makarore. From Taki-karara (which was the name of a settlement in Roy's Bay, then finally abandoned, so Topi told me—it was the principal settlement) were taken Te Mohene, Te Ao-tukia, Tia-tira (a woman), Pinaua, and Hine-te-kohu-raki (a woman). It was these people who showed Te Puoho the way to the south; they are now all dead [but], their families still live in the south: the Freemans at Waihao; one at Stewart's Island, Mrs. Brown (Kutia). You are wrong in thinking that Rakiraki was there; he had left a year before. It was his brother who was there.

" 'From Lake Wanaka Te Puoho, with all his people and his

* The part of the narrative about killing this man was obscurely translated. The version Mr. Percy Smith has is probably more explicit. F.R.C. (See note below from Mr. Roberts.)

This referred to a statement I had heard that one of the fugitives was a well-known man, then still alive, commonly known as Lakitap (Raki-tapu), who lived at Port Molyneux, about whom many myths had gathered. F.R.C.

page 546prisoners, marched up the stream called Orau (Cardrona). Tara-puta (Mount Pisa) is the mountain on the left or east side of the Orau stream. From there they went up the mountain called Tititea, a name which is given to the whole of the range east of Lake Whakatipu and round by the head of the Shotover River to Lake Wanaka. Thence they followed the stream, also called Tititea (Kirtle Burn), to the Kawarau River, forming the outlet to Lake Whakatipu. After crossing the Kawarau they followed the course of the stream called Papa-pūni (The Nevis), which comes down from the south at the back of the Kawarau Mountains (The Remarkables). It is wrong to say they went down the Molyneux by means of rafts of flax stems—mokihis' (as narrated by Mr. Shortland, loc. cit.); 'they never went down that valley. From Papa-pūni they went across the south end of the Kawarau mountains and down to the flat called Takere-haka, at the south end of Lake Whakatipu, where Kingston now is. From there they went down the valley (where the railway now runs) to the Mataura River, and followed that river down to Pukerau.' "

The above agrees almost exactly with the route described to me by T. Parata, M.P., and others, a few years ago, and although a very rough road to travel, is not so impracticable as that down the Clutha, as described by Dr. Shortland in the work quoted above.

Judge Chapman continues: "T. Parata supplied me with the following information as to the march of Te Puoho and party down the Mataura (from information presumably gathered from one of Te Puoho's wives, who was alive at Timaru in 1865). When the party came to Whakaea (wrongly called on the maps Waikaia) they surprised an eeling party of Ngai-Tahu, twelve in number, just at the junction of that stream with the Mataura. Not one of them was killed, they were all taken along by the taua. These people had accumulated an immense stock of eels, which now provisioned the whole party."

Up to this time the party had been nearly starved, the principal food being the so-called wild cabbage, or korau, the ti roots, and a few wekas, and were so reduced that when they sat down to rest, with light loads on their backs, they had difficulty in getting up again.

Whilst camped at Whakaea, one of the elderly men of the party wandered away in search of food and never returned to his companions, who were too weak to go in search of him. In 1863 a shepherd found near here the skeleton of a man with a taiaha along side of him. This was told to Mr. Parata by the shepherd, and he afterwards found out from one of the Ngati-Tama prisoners named Pete Patu-rau, who had been saved at the Tuturau massacre by a young man of Ngai-Tahu and afterwards became his wife, that these were the remains of the page 547wanderer, who would be known by the taiaha. It is said this woman was one of Te Puoho's wives; she lived at Moeraki for many years and had children by her husband—no doubt the same woman mentioned by Judge Chapman above.

Not far from the place where the taua camped, and a little lower down the Waimea Plain, was, in former days, a thicket of korokiu shrubs of a size sufficient to make a shelter for camping. The Ngai-Tahu used to frequent this part occasionally for the catching of birds and eels, etc. As Te Puoho's party came in sight of this place, they saw smoke ascending. Carefully concealing their movements they approached and suddenly rushed the place, capturing a number of the people, as related by Judge Chapman supra. But the taua made the mistake, or were unfortunate enough, not to secure the whole of the Ngai-Tahu party, for some escaped, and after warning the people living at Tuturau, then a Ngai-Tahu village, sped on to Awarua (the Bluff Harbour), and thence crossing part of Foveaux Straits to Rua-puke Island, where the high chiefs of Ngai-Tahu were living, gave the alarm of a war-party being in their territories.

In the meantime Te Puoho and his party had occupied the Tuturau village (about four miles south of the modern town of Gore, on the Mataura), and were resting after their most arduous journey from the north. Immediately the news reached Rua-puke, an armed party at once started in boats, under the chiefs Tu-hawaiki, Haere-roa, Takatakino, Mahere, Tawhīri, Topi-Patuki, Taiaroa, Hape, and Whaitiri—all well armed with muskets. After crossing from the island, with the utmost speed they traversed the thirty-five miles of open country of the Mataura Valley that lay between the mouth of the river and Tuturau. Ngai-Tahu attacked the taua at night. Te Puoho and his two wives were sleeping in the verandah of the principal house of the place, and he and one of the women were the first to be shot. A massacre now ensued, and the whole party, excepting Wahapiro, a nephew of Te Puoho's, Nga-whakawa, his brother-in-law, the woman Patu-rau, and a man named Parau, or Whareiti, were killed.

Wahapiro remained many years a prisoner with Ngai-Tahu, but Judge Chapman adds, "I have somewhere heard or read that some of the white whalers joined the Ngai-Tahu party from Rua-puke that attacked Te Puoho at Pukerau (Tuturau). I asked those about me when the story was told me at Wai-kouaiti what year that was. A voice from the crowd answered in excellent English 'It was 1836.' 'How do you know?' 'Because I am the man who shot Te Puoho.' This answer came from Topi-Patuki, who assured me that he shot Te Puoho with his own gun. Others said it was the year of the plague page 548(measles) that Te Puoho's party were destroyed, all except a few men and women who were captured." After the peace made between that people and Te Rau-paraha, Wahapiro was returned to his tribe. The fate of the woman has already been told. Te Puoho lost here a brother named Rangi-taka-roro (?)* It is said that Taiaroa wished to save some of the Ngati Mutunga with the taua, because his life had been saved at Kai-apohia—see Chapter XVIII.—but he was not allowed to do so. Thus ended in disaster this ill-advised expedition, which must have caused a great deal of suffering, hardship, and starvation to its members for no result whatever. It really was a very wonderful undertaking considering the terrible country the taua had to pass through, and has not been equalled by any other in Maori history.

Nga-whakawa, Te Puoho's brother-in-law (whose life had been spared at the Ohariu massacre, see ante), escaped in the darkness at the time of the massacre at Tuturau. His was a most unenviable position. A distance of nearly five hundred miles in a straight line separated him from his own people, the intermediate country being occupied by tribes bitterly hostile to his tribe, and who would welcome with joy an opportunity of sacrificing him. But, notwithstanding the exceeding difficulties that lay in his path, this brave fellow decided to try and rejoin his relatives at Massacre Bay at the extreme north end of the South Island. How long this arduous journey took, I know not, but it must have been months. He dare not keep near the East Coast which, was inhabited by his enemies, but had to follow the base of the mountains inland, seeking his sustenance in roots of the fern, which is very scarce, and of the taramea (or spear grass), occasionally snaring a weka or other bird. So he made his toilsome way by mountain and valley, swimming the snow-cold rivers, ever on the alert for signs of wandering parties of his enemies, only lighting fires after dark by the arduous process of hika-ahi, or by rubbing two sticks together, enduring cold, fatigue, and hunger, until, after making one of the most extraordinary journeys on record, at last he reached the home of his people at Parapara, Massacre Bay. Here he was the first to bring news of the disaster that had befallen Te Puoho and his companions. The daughter of this man, born after his return, named Ema Nga-whakawa, was still living at Manawatu a few years since.

One of the other escapees at the Tuturau massacre, named Parau, managed to escape from Ngai-Tahu on board a vessel by aid of some white people, and finally reached his friends at Port Nicholson.

* So in my notes, but they are not clear, however, and Arch. Henry Williams says in his diary that he saw Rangi-taka-roro at Manga, a pa opposite Mana Island, 15th November, 1839.

page 549

On the arrival of Nga-whakawa at Massacre Bay, great was the lamentation of the relatives for the loss of Te Puoho and his party. It was determined at once to attempt revenge, and for that purpose a hundred armed men started from Massacre Bay, travelling by the East Coast; but on arrival at Port Underwood, the Ngati-Toa prevailed on the party to return, for peace had then been made with Ngai-Tahu.

Judge Chapman also supplies the following:—"From T. Parata I heard a curious story. Te Puoho told his friends he had heard that the people of the south were a soft people. He built an immensely strong stockade like a cattle-yard at the place where he lived in the Nelson district—which has been located by Mr. Percy Smith—(at Paturau, see ante). He said he was going to capture a lot of those southern people, yard them there, and use them as cattle. It is a remarkable confirmation of this story that, notwithstanding the fact of his people starving, he killed none of his prisoners for food except the two children at Lake Wanaka. He must have known of the practice of the greenstone raiders in using their prisoners as beasts of burden and cattle, as an army uses its horses.

"I had a curious narrative of the fate of a few prisoners from Tāre Wetere Te Kāhu. It is too remote from this subject of the History of the West Coast to give it here; it is sufficient to say that the prisoners were taken to Rua-puke Island, in Foveaux Straits, whence some were later removed to Stewart's Island. Thus the movement, which began with the march of Tamati Waka Nene (and Tu-whare in 1819-20, see Chapter XII.) to Kawhia in the north, died out at the remotest end of the South Island of New Zealand."

Te Puoho-o-te-rangi (which is his full name) had several wives, the second was named Kauhoe (of Ngati-Hine-tuhi hapu of Ngati-Mutunga), and on his death she composed the following lament for him:—

Tuatia au E Kio',
Kei hoki mai to wairua,
E whakapu mai ra nga tai ki Pa-kawau,
Me tangi atu-i, he tira koroi-rangi,
Kua tu nga tohu raia o Poua—i,
Tenei te pipi te takoto nei,
He haehae noa i te rae,
Me tangi marire te tane,
I te whare ra i hanga ai koe—i,
I to whakapiringa i nga kakaho,
I hau-patua iho ki nga kiri,
E ngaro ana i a Te Waha-piro,
E tu ana i a Nga-manu—i,
page 550 E piki ana i a Te Mate-whitu,
E kopa ana ia Nga-kono.

E! ma Te Teke e aukaha mai,
Ma Tungia, ma Te Huā—i,
Ma Kai-apohia e whakanoho
Mai te whakarei;
Ma Te 'Paraha e whakatu,
Mai te toiere—i.

Whakarewaina ra "Tainui,"
Whakarewaina ra "Te Arawa"—i,
Whakarewaina ra "Toko-maru"
"Mata-houra" ra ki te wai,
Kia rewa 'Rau-kawa, 'Whakatere,
Hei kawe i a koe ki Pare-mata—i,
Ma to nui e taupoki nga whakakoki,
Ki Taiari ra—i.

(In vain) those southern rats1 with incantations,
Prevent thy spirit from returning to me,
As I lie in a heap by the tides of Pa-kawau, 2
Lamenting thee as one of a spirit band.
For the omens of Poua3 have been fulfilled.
Here lie the sharp-edged pipi shells,
To score my forehead with deep gashes,
Whilst I lament my beloved spouse,
Disconsolately looking at thy home,
With its seried rows of lining reeds,
They strike on my feelings with full force.
Thou art lost together with Te Wahapiro; 4
Thou didst climb up with Te Mate-whitu
And passed away with Nga-kopa.

O! Te Teke shall prepare the canoe of revenge,
Tungia5 and Te Huā shall render help,
The men of Kai-apohia shall occupy
The stern of the canoe of revenge,
With Te Rau-paraha standing in the bow.

Launch forth the canoe "Tainui"!6
Launch forth the canoe "Te Arawa"!
6 Launch forth the canoe "Toku-maru"!
6 And "Mata-hourua"6 drag down to the sea.

page 551

Let Ngati-Rau-kawa and Ngati-Whakatere arise,
To carry thee on to Pare-mata,
And by thy greatness overcome
The turns and twists in Taiari7 River.

1 The composer depreciates Ngai-Tahu by calling them rats.

2 Pa-kawau is at Massacre Bay.

3 I can only suggest that this is Poua, of the "saying", Kia mahaki ano te kauae o Poual

4 Te Wahapiro, taken prisoner when Te Puoho was killed.

5 Tungia of Ngati-Toa, who, with others named in the next three lines, is called on to avenge Te Puoho's death.

6 Four celebrated ancestral canoes here used for the descendants of their crews, who are called on to avenge the loss, Te Puoho being connected with all of them.

7 Is the river now called Taieri, south of Dunedin.