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

The Migration to the Chatham Islands

The Migration to the Chatham Islands.

To preserve the continuity of this history, a few words about the great migration of some of the Ati-Awa tribes to the Chatham Islands will be said, but it is unnecessary to repeat the detail connected therewith, as it has already been given with considerable minuteness by Mr. A. Shand in Vol. I. of the Journal of the Polynesian Society.

The unrest that consumed the exile tribes at about this period (1835-36) has been referred to, and the Ngati-Tama, Ngati-Mutunga, and other branches of Ati-Awa living at Port Nicholson at that time were as much, or more, affected by this feeling than any others. In the end of 1835, indeed, these tribes, according to the oft-quoted Rangi-pito, were preparing for an exodus to the South Island, and had collected from the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu and other tribes a number of fine canoes in which to make their descent on that island. They were very nearly ready to start when one of their own people named Paki-whara returned to Port Nicholson from a whaling cruise, in which he had visited the Chatham Islands, as related by Mr. Shand. It was then decided by the people to abandon the South Island scheme and instead proceed to the conquest of those islands, as it seemed an undertaking much easier of accomplishment against an unwarlike people as the Morioris were, than against the Ngai-Tahu, who were rapidly acquiring arms, and had so recently proved themselves capable of using them at O-raumoa and other places.

It is clear to me that at this date—end of 1835—the news of Te Puoho's disaster had not reached Port Nicholson, where the bulk of his tribe, Ngati-Tama, were living, or they would have taken means to avenge his death.

The arrival of the brig "Rodney,"* of Sydney, at Port Nicholson page 552on the 26th October, 1835, offered the opportunity the Natives were waiting for, and they consequently seized her and sailed on the 14th November with about five hundred souls, belonging to Ngati-Mutunga, Ngati-Tama, and Ngati-Haumia (of the Taranaki tribe). This first expedition arrived at Whangatete, Chatham Islands, on the 14th November. Rangi-pito says, that before the brig returned for the second party, the Maoris killed a black man they found there and offered his body as a sacrifice to the gods to ensure a successful issue to the second voyage. The "Rodney" reached Port Nicholson on the 23rd November, and left again for the Chathams on the 30th November, 1835, taking the seven large canoes already referred to, together with a number of people estimated at four hundred souls, belonging to the Ngati-Mutunga, Kekerewai, Ngati-Tama, and Ngati-Haumia tribes. She arrived at her destination on 5th December, 1835.

It is not proposed to follow the fortunes of these branches of the Taranaki tribes any further, more than to state that most of them then alive returned to their old homes in Taranaki in the year 1868, where they are now settled. Mr. Shand, in the publication quoted, has given full particulars of their doings at the Chatham Islands, a record which is well worth perusal.

* Mr. Shand, in his account quoted, seems to have been under some slight doubt as to whether Harewood was the commander of the vessel, but Dr. Lang confirms it in his "New Zealand in 1839," as also does Mr. R. McNab in his "Murihiku," p. 434 (edition of 1909), where Harewood's narrative is given; but the date "28th January, 1838," should read "1836," as Mr. McNab informs me.