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

Te Kuititanga. — 1839

Te Kuititanga.

From the date of the departure of Ati-Awa and Ngati-Tama in 1835 until 1839 there is little to record of the doings of those tribes left at Port Nicholson, Kapiti, and the adjacent parts. The conquest by the Taranaki and Ngati-Toa tribes of the shores of Cook's Straits was by this time complete. Any ideas of extending his conquests to other parts of the South Island that, it is said, had been entertained by To Rau-paraha and his allies, were abandoned after the defeat inflicted on them by Ngai-Tahu at O-raumoa and other places. It is perhaps strange, in Mr. Travers "Life and Times of Te Rau-paraha," he makes no mention of the reverses suffered by Ngati-Toa and their allies at the hand of Ngai-Tahu. But, although he was writing of Te Rau-paraha especially, Mr. Travers was much too fair-minded a man to have ignored these defeats, had he been acquainted with them. The fact probably is that his informants, all of whom apparently were members of the Ngati-Toa or some other of their allies, slurred over or failed, in their tribal pride, to mention the matter at all. Mr. Travers says (loc. cit., p. 89): "I do not think it necessary to refer in any detail to the events which took place between the Horo-whenua (read Hao-whenua) war page 553and the arrival of the 'Tory' with Colonel Wakefield in 1839. On the 16th November* in that year the ship reached Kapiti, and Colonel Wakefield was informed that a sanguinary battle had just been fought near Wai-kanae on that morning between large forces of Ngati-Awa on the one side and of Ngati-Rau-kawa on the other. This fight is commonly known as the Kirititonga (here read Te Kuititanga), and was caused by the renewal, at the funeral obsequies of Te Rau-paraha's sister Wai-tohi, of the land feuds between the two tribes."

When the exodus took place to the Chatham Islands at the end of 1835 many of the Natives were left behind at Port Nicholson. The Taranaki tribe were, in 1839, living at Te Aro pa (near where Te Aro Railway Station is now), and some of them were becoming Christianised through the efforts of some Native teachers, amongst whom were Matahu, who had been instructed at Paihia, and Minarapa, of the Nga-Mahanga hapu of Taranaki (whose portrait will be seen in Plate No. 3 hereof, Chapter II.), who had also been to the north, and had been taught (I believe) by the Wesleyan mission. Minarapa was the father of Te Kahui, one of my authorities for this narrative, from whose written statement I take some of the incidents of this period. Te Kahui says, "At this period belief in Christianity was spreading along the coast from Port Nicholson, but had not obtained much hold as yet with those dwelling at Kapiti and the adjacent mainland. Minarapa came from Nga-Puhi at that time and brought Christianity to Port Nicholson, where he and his European friends (the Revs. Messrs, Bumby and Hobbs) built a church at Te Aro. It was a large building on one side of the stream at Te Aro; on the other side was the Maori pa occupied by the Taranaki people. The missionaries bought the land on which the church stood for eighty blankets, one cask of tobacco, one box of shirts, and one cask of powder "(sic., but I doubt the powder). "The vendors were Minarapa's own people, the Taranaki people. There were perhaps three acres in this site, which extended down to the shore of the harbour. The church was built in June, 1839, and about six months afterwards came the news of the trouble between Te Ati-Awa and Ngati-Rau-kawa at Wai-kanae, Messengers came to the Taranaki people at Te Aro to ask them to proceed to Wai-kanae on account of the killing of some of Ngati-Rua-nui at Whanganui by Ngati-Rau-kawa…. The cause of this trouble was the death of some of Ngati-Rua-nui who were building a house at Whanganui, when a party of Ngati-Raukawa came to stop them, and a fight ensued. The chiefs of the former

* See note at end of Chapter—it should be October.

Life of Henry Williams, Archdeacon of Waimate. By Hugh Carlcton, Vol. I., p. 213. Auckland: Upton and Co., 1874.

page 554tribe killed were Te Pu-takarua, Te Matoe, and Te Hau-maringi, and many were taken as slaves—men, women, and children." (I am doubtful if Te Kahui is right as to the locality—it probably was within the Ngati-Rau-kawa territories, north of Otaki, that some of Ngati-Rua-nui had occupied.)

"When the news reached Ati-Awa, Taranaki, and Ngati-Rua-nui, who were then living at Wai-kanae, they all assembled under their chiefs Rere-tawangawanga, Te Manu-tohe-roa, W. K. Te Rangi-tāke, Paora Kukutai, Te Hiko-o-te-rangi, besides many younger chiefs, when they decided to send their teacher Minarapa to demand the prisoners from Ngati-Rau-kawa. So Minarapa was sent for; he was quite willing to go and try to mediate, and with him went the Taranaki people of Te Aro. On their arrival at Wai-kanae, a meeting was held, and it was decided to try peaceful measures, and Minarapa undertook to negotiate. He proceeded to a village of the Ngati-Rau-kawa, where lived a man named Ruru, who was a man of peace and much desired to adopt Christianity. Ruru consented to accompany him, and then they both went on to the Ngati-Rau-kawa pa at Kuku-tauaki (about four miles south of Otaki. Kuku-tauaki was the boundary dividing the lands of Ngati-Rau-kawa and Ati-Awa, see Chapter XIX.) Here they found a meeting going on, and Nga-kuku, one of the senior chiefs of Ngati-Rau-kawa, was inciting the people to make war on Ati-Awa. Turning to Ruru he said, 'Who is thy friend?' Ruru replied, 'He is from Taranaki; he is a minister.' 'What has he come for?' said the first. Ruru returned, 'He has come to take back the prisoners!' Nga-kuku, with anger, exclaimed, 'Look at my guns! Look at my taiahas! Can the prisoners be taken away even by force of arms?' 'He has some words to say to you,' said Ruru. 'Let him speak!' said the other. Minarapa then stood up and spoke, 'These are my words to you: First, give me the prisoners; second, let all fighting cease, I bring peace this day; third, let all turn to the Gospel!' Then Nga-kuku replied, 'I will on no account cease war! The prisoners shall not be released! Return at once, O Ruru, with your preacher! Is not a preacher as good to eat as another man?' Minarapa attempted to reply but the people would not hear him, and rushed at him, driving him and his friend out of the pa; so they both then returned to Ruru's home.

"Minarapa, after exhorting his friend to be steadfast in the new faith, returned to Wai-kanae, where his people were very glad to welcome him safely back. After holding prayers, he reported the result of his visit to Nga-kuku and described the aspect of affairs at Kuku-tauaki, which caused all the Ati-Awa, Taranaki, and Ngati page 555Rua-nui there assembled to at once become alert—for it was evident the enemy intended war—and prepare for the fight."

As was so common in those days, the priest, named Kuku-rarangi, a noted man of his time, consulted the atua as to the result of the coming struggle, and, as so often occurred, recited in the morning his matakite, or vision, in which the atua had communicated to him the fact that victory waited on the Ati-Awa arms. This is the matakite as told by Te Karihana Whakataki of Ngati-Toa to Mr. Best:—

Nga whenua ka tere mai nei,
Nga moana ka tere mai nei,
Nau mai! kia kite koe
I nga tai whakatu o Kupe—
I nga tai pakipaki.

Hoenga waka o Horopara tai; ara!
A Tu-riri, a Tu-nguha, a Tu-mai-kirikiri,
E takoto mai nei na, e, e, a!
A, ko tena ka tuai, tuaia!
Tuaia rawatia te uri o te tangata,
Kei hoki Tu ki tona whenua; aia, a!
A! ko tena, ka tuaia, tuaia!

The lands that are hastening hither, 1
The seas that are fast approaching,
1 Welcome! For ye shall see
The towering seas of Kupe2
The dashing waves of the sea.

Tu-the-angry, Tu-the-raging, Tu-mai-kirikiri3
That there lies in view! E! E! A!
A! These shall be killed! killed!
Utterly exterminated the sons of men,
Before Tu returns to his own land. Drive on!
A! And then be killed, killed!

So Ati-Awa awaited the attack with great content, having faith in the oracle as disclosed by Te Kuku-rarangi, who, by the way, was a noted seer or oracle of those times, many of whose matakites, or visions, or prophesies, have been preserved—some of which are to be found in "Nga Moteatea."

1 The "lands" and "seas" are the enemy.

2 Kupe, the navigator, who, says tradition, separated the North and South Islands, and left the boisterous waves of the Straits.

3 Tu, the god of war.

page 556

Te Kuititanga is a place close to Wai-kanae, then occupied as a pa by the Ati-Awa. Archdeacon Henry Williams, who visited the pa not long after the fight, says there were twelve hundred people, of whom five hundred were warriors, in it at that time. The Ngati-Rau-kawa forces, under their chiefs Te Whata-nui, Ngakuku, and many others, advanced to the attack, timing their arrival there so as to take advantage of the first streak of day, a very favourite time for such a purpose. They then sent on in the dark one of their men to reconnoitre the pa. He obtained access, and entered a house where some of the Ati-Awa were gathered under arms, and trusting to not being discovered, asked for a fire-stick. He was recognised, however, and immediately shot. "As soon as daylight appeared," says Te Kahui, "it was found that the army of Ngati-Rau-kawa was drawing near, and as it got quite light the assault commenced, the enemy firing as they advanced. It was now seen that the pa was surrounded. Ati-Awa commenced firing, and very shortly a heap of dead were seen lying in front of the pa. This repulse caused the enemy to retire to a distance, but they shortly after returned to the assault. Then did Ati-Awa and Taranaki distinguish themselves! Nga-kuku and his people were beaten off, and fled, followed by those of the pa, who continued the chase, slaying as they went, until sundown. Minarapa, who was with the party, on reaching their boundary (? at Kuku-tauaki stream), stood forth in front of the victorious army and said, "Cease! these people are beaten. Let it end here." The younger chiefs were most anxious to continue the slaughter, but they were overruled…. It was here that the brave chief of Ngati-Rau-kawa (Nga-kuku) was slain, together with some two hundred of his people, whilst thirty-six of Ati-Awa and Taranaki were also killed."

Both parties were fully armed with muskets and consequently great execution took place, and Ngati-Rau-kawa suffered a severe defeat, many prisoners being taken. Te Manu-tohe-roa of the Puke-tapu havu of Ati-Awa appears to have been one of the principal leaders in this affair. When the prisoners were all collected and seated in a row, he came to them and commenced to pukana, i.e., grimace and threaten them as was usual. They appealed to him to save their lives. He replied, "No! If you had come as men I would have spared you; but you are murderers* and must die!" Throwing back his cloak he drew his patu, and struck the nearest one on the head. "A! It was like smashing a calabash!" said Mr. Best's informant.† All the prisoners were killed, and fifty-five of them buried in one grave. Many more were killed as

* Alluding to the attack on Ngati-Rua-nui which originated this affair. † This incident was obtained by Mr. Best.

page 557they fled up the beach towards their own pa at Kului-tauaki followed by Ati-Awa, who kept their enemies in the heavy sand of the sandhills, they themselves following the hard sands, which gave them a great advantage. The Ati-Awa women from the pa followed their own party, keeping the men supplied with ammunition. The weapons used were the old flint-lock Tower muskets. Te Rau-paraha landed from his home on Kapiti Island on the beach between Wai-kanae and Kuku-tauaki as the fight was in progress, but seeing his particular friends the Ngati-Rau-kawa were getting very much the worst of it, he made a hasty retreat to his canoe and departed with great expedition for Kapiti Island. He was nearly caught by Ati-Awa, who, no doubt, would have had no compunction in shooting him, for he was supporting their enemies. Mr. Travers says it was due to a vigorous rally on the part of Ngati-Rau-kawa that Te Rau-paraha was enabled to escape, and that eighty people were killed besides many wounded. Archdeacon Williams says (loc. cit., p. 215), "Of the aggressors seventy fell, of their opponents twenty." Amongst the dead on the Ngati-Rau-kawa side besides Nga-kuku were Iwikau and Pahika, chiefs of that tribe.

Archdeacon Williams says (loc, cit., p. 218), " November, 1839: Embarked Mr. Hadfield's horses in a large canoe and passed them over to Wai-kanae (from Kapiti). We went over the ground on which the late battle was fought owing to the payment for Port Nicholson not being generally distributed.* For a Native affair it must have been very desperate, the uneveness of the ground bringing the parties into close combat. Te Rau-paraha's people (i.e., Ngati-Rau-kawa) led the attack and were defeated by the people of Wai-kanae. The old chief himself was not present. I was shown the sepulchre of their enemies, whom they buried with military honours, with their garments, muskets, ammunition, etc., not reserving to themselves anything which had belonged to them. This is a new feeling, arising from the great change which the introduction of the Gospel has affected among them."

There is some conflict as to the exact date of this battle. The Ati-Awa say it occurred on a Sunday. "Ta te whakapono pai hoki!"—("How great is the Gospel!") said they in irony, because Ngati-Rau-kawa attacked them on that day. Archdeacon Williams' diary says.

* This statement is open to question; Ngati-Rau-kawa never had anything to do with Port Nicholson. But as the New Zealand Company claimed to have bought all the North Island south of the 39th parallel of latitude, which would have included the Ngati-Rau-kawa country around Otaki, Manawatu, etc.; possibly there may have been some grievance on that account mixed up with other reasons for this fight. But the true causo of it no doubt was the death of the Ngati-Rua-nui people, as related a few pages back.

page 558"November 7th, 1835: Saw Captain Palliser (Te Kawakawa). Bore up before the wind and were soon in smooth water. We drew in more to the land to get a better observation, and found an opening. We were soon in a most splendid harbour—Port Nicholson;…quite a different place to what is laid down by Cook. We came to an anchor in a perfectly sheltered place, with sufficient room for all the fleets of England. Some canoes came off and informed us that the 'Tory'* ship had been here and purchased the whole place; that they had desired to reserve a portion of the land for themselves, but the Europeans would have the whole. A fortnight since, a dispute arose among some of the Natives respecting the land. Not being able to come to any satisfactory arrangement, they took to their guns. Of the aggressors seventy fell, of their opponents twenty. The parties are now in open arms, though closely related and sitting together. The land in question was intended for Europeans and would probably be sold for a few blankets…." A fortnight before the 7th November would be the 25th October. The "Fat Book" (already quoted) says 16th of October, Mr. Travers quoting from E. J. Wakefield says 16th November. This latter is certainly wrong, and anyone who will read Mr. E. J. Wakefield's "Adventures" carefully will notice that he has himself wrongly written November for October; and none of the dates agree with the Ati-Awa. Sunday: We must be content to leave the date as about the 16th October, 1839.

Through the influence of Archdeacon Williams a peace was concluded between Ngati-Rau-kawa and Ati-Awa on the 30th November, 1839; which has not been seriously disturbed since—as between those tribes—so far as this part of the coast is concerned.

On his further journey north (after leaving the Rev. O. Hadfield at Otaki) the Archdeacon met at Rangitikei on the 11th December a large party of Ngati-Rua-nui on their way down the coast to assist their tribe in revenging the deaths of their people at the hands of Ngati-Rau-kawa, which gave rise to the fighting at Te Kuititanga, but by his influence, after a great deal of trouble, however, he persuaded the war-party to return. With this party was W. N. Te Awa-i-taia of Raglan, who has often been quoted in this narrative, who professed to

* This was the New Zealand Company's surveying vessel, in which was Colonel Wakefield, who had come out to choose a site for the Colony formed by the Company.

"Sitting," so often met with in the missionary chronicles, is derived from the word noho, which means sotting, it is true; but it also means "dwelling," a meaning which the missionaries seem to have ignored, though generally far more applicable.

page 559have come south for the purpose of introducing the Gospel, but apparently he had not sufficient influence with Ngati-Rua-nui to prevent their starting on this war expedition. However, according to his own narrative, he was the means of first introducing the idea that the Taranaki tribes should return to their old homes, out of which they had been driven by Waikato. But this did not take place for some few years.

Te Awa-i-taia (or Wiremu Nero Te Awa-i-taia, to give his name in full) has often been quoted in this narrative. He was a very fine specimen of the old-fashioned Maori chief, a man of about middle height, stout, and very fully tattooed, of a benevolent expression of countenance, an eloquent speaker, and one of the flrmest friends the Government had during the war of the "sixties." He died at Raglan, 27th April, 1866.

The "Waka Maori," No. 75, of May 5th, 1866, says of him: "He was born at Waipa, a son of Te Kata and his wife Pare-hina. He had four wives, of whom two (Rangi-hikitanga and Hinu) survive, and has left two sons and one daughter. His nephew Hetaraka Nero takes his place as chief of Ngati-Mahanga. From his early youth his bravery was displayed. On one occasion the daughter of Te Wehi of Waikato was killed by Ngati-Koata (of Ngati-Toa), then living at Whaingaroa (Raglan). Te Awa-i-taia gathered his forces and drove Ngati-Koata away to the south and took their laud. At that time there was peace between Nga-Puhi and Waikato, but the former tribe came to make war on Te Rau-paraha at Kawhia, in which Ngati-Tipa (of Waikato Heads) joined under their chief Kukutai; in all of this fighting Te Awa-i-taia took part." (After the peace made at Matakitaki, 1822) "Waikato went to Taranaki under Te Wherowhero, Taonui, and Pehi-Tu-korehu (a distant matua of Rewi's); and the coastal tribes were under Te Awa-i-taia, Muri-whenua, and Te Ao-o-te-rangi. On another occasion Te Awa-i-taia went against Tarauaki at the head of three hundred and seventy of his own men. One of the latter tribes' chiefs was a very brave man named Raparapa, and in a fight that took place" (at Te Kakara—see Chapter XIII.) "he dashed into the forefront of battle and killed four men of Waikato with his own hand, and engaged Te Awa-i-taia, who warded off the blow struck at him with a pou-whenua, and in return struck Raparapa with a waka-ika and felled him, but rising they wrestled, aud Rararapa seized his man and was carrying him off when he slipped and fell, and then a struggle took place on the ground. At last Te Awa-i-taia's patu resounded on Raparapa's head and killed him. He was also with Waikato at Puke-rangi-ora in 1831" (see Chapter XVII.) "when two hundred of Ati-Awa were page 560killed by Te Wherowhero, and three hundred and forty prisoners brought away, Te Awa-i-taia finishing off those not killed by the former.

"It was during a subsepuent visit to Taranaki to obtain revenge for some of his people killed that he met a European minister, and was then persuaded to abandon man-killing. He shortly afterwards built the first church at Raglan, and abandoned eight of his nine wives. He then proceeded to Taranaki to convey the Gospel to those people, and subsequently to Waikato and Taupo with the same object, and ever after became a firm friend of the white man."

This narrative has now reached a point where new conditions were arising which gradually ended the old order, and under the influence of the incoming white man the terrible state of "battle, murder, and sudden death" prevailing up to 1839, was to give place to the Pax Brittanica, and this led within the next few years to the return of the Ati-Awa, Taranaki, and other tribes to their old homes, from which they had been exiled for so many years. The influence of Christianity which was spreading all over the land induced the Waikato and northern tribes to release the vast number of slaves that had been carried north, and these now returned to their old homes. A large body of the Ati-Awa and other tribes were thus released, and on their way back vid the old coast track from Kawhia southward, they arrived one fine morning at the top of the hill called Moe-atoa—a little to the south of Maro-kopa River. Here they assembled to rest awhile, and in the clear morning atmosphere looking to the south across the sea the beautiful peak of Mount Egmont could be seen standing up like a bell-tent, its snows glistening in the sunshine. The exiles were deeply affected at the sight, and they, as is their custom, greeted their beloved mountain with tears and sighs as the guardian of their homes which lay around its base. Someone of this party gave vent to their feelings in the following song, which the Maoris cunsider very pathetic and which has always remained a favourite with their descendants to this day:—

Tenei ka noho, ngarohirohi te moana, Ki taku tai-wherma.
Tu ke ana mai ko Moe-atoa, Ki taku tai-whenua.
Tu ke ana mai ko Honi-paka, Ki taku tai-whenua.
Ka to riaki mai Wheima-po,
Ki taku tai-whenua.
page 561 Ra te whakataraki,
Ka kaihore ke au,
Ki te atuitui noa atu
Taku ngakau ki a Te Ana-tahi ra,
Ki te taugata nana i whakatiti,
Te kai a Hine-rangi, te ana o Ihu-koi,
Ko te tau-mareretanga i raro,
Ko te wehenga ano,
Kite au i te porangahu,
Ako rawa ake nei ki te aoao-nunui
Nau na, E Hine!
Ngahae rahi ai toku ngakau,
Erangi ma ka paia,
Ka riri ki te hurihuri, he wehi
Ka rapu koia koa,
I poraruraru ai toku ngakau,
E tika e te rau!
Nau i auraki mai,
Kaore i whakaaro.
Ka rua-puruhitia te tinana—e—.

As I sit here, screened off by the ocean From my fatherland.
Solitary stands the hill at Moe-atoa, 1 Away from my fatherland.
Separately stands Honi-paka, 2 From my fatherland.
Whenua-po 3 in the distance rises up, Far from my fatherland.
At taunting speech
I turn from side
to side Whilst my thoughts wander afar,
In search of Te Ana-tahi there,
The man whose action caused the fall
Of the offspring of Hine-rangi, at the cave of Ihu-koi.
Following on this downfall,
Came the painful separation,
Then first I knew of desolation,
Now must I try again
Encouraged by the great cloud
Sent here by thee, O Lady!
My heart is still in trouble,
For the way is long and obstructed
Causing me to turn about in fear,
A way must be searched out,

1 Hill near Maro-kopa.

2 A place at Kawhia.

3 A place near Kawhie.

page 562 With this trouble in my heart,
'Tia true, O the multitude!
'Twas ye that cast it aside,
Nor did ye think
This body was decrepit.

The End.