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

The "Tokomaru" Canoe

The "Tokomaru" Canoe.

There are many difficulties surrounding the account of the reasons why the crew of this canoe migrated to New Zealand, which leads one to infer that Manaia's war in Hawaiki did not really take place just prior to the migration as Sir George Grey's narrative leads the reader to infer, but rather at a date long anterior to that period. The narrative (loc. cit.) says—"The reason why Manaia (said to be captain of 'Tokomaru') came hither, was his massacre of the party of spearmakers, who had debauched his wife Rongo-tiki." Manaia was desirous of securing a party of men to make spears, and for that purpose sent to Tupenu, who was head-chief of the tribe who were expert spear-makers, to order that this should bo done. The men came to Manaia's village and set to work, whilst Manaia occupied himself in procuring food of all sorts for the workmen, often going out to sea to catch fish for the same purpose. On one occasion he found that whilst all his party caught fish in plenty none came to his line, until just when the party were about to return home Manaia hooked a fish, but to his surprise, by the tail, and not by the mouth. With the common belief in omens, so characteristic a feature of the Maori, Manaia at once came to the conclusion that some evil had befallen his wife. On page 95reaching home, his suspicions were confirmed by Rongo-tiki (his wife) who disclosed to her husband the insult she had been subjected to by the spear-makers.

Manaia now considered how this insult to his wife was to be effaced. There was only one way according to Polynesian law: the evil-doers must be killed. But he had to proceed cautiously and by stratagem. Pretending that he was unaware of what had occurred, he urged the spear-makers to make the spears large and heavy, so that—in the words of the Maori story—"they should not be able to carry them"—i.e., use them in fighting. This remark opens up a question as to who these spear-makers were? It is clear Manaia had no doubt as to the ability of his own people to use them, and this may perhaps indicate that they were a more powerful race of men than the spear-makers. It is suggested that the latter were probably some of those skilled artisans known as the Manahune (or Menehune), a diminutive people, probably Melanesians, who lived in a state of vassalage, if not slavery, with the Polynesians of Tahiti and Hawaii, and who are referred to in the traditions of both those islands as also those of Rarotonga. They were probably some of the Solomon or other Melanesian islanders, captured by the Polynesians, and employed by them as sailors, workmen, etc.

Manaia now arranged with his own people that they should fall on the spear-makers and exterminate them. When the proper moment came, Manaia urged his son, Tu-uro-nui to distinguish himself by slaying the first man—a deed much thought of by the Maoris—but the young fellow held back, and allowed another young-man named Kahu-kaka to take his place. It was he that secured the mata-ika, or first slain, crying out as he did so, the usual Maori boast—'I, Kahu-kakaa-Manaia, have got the first slain! ' It is said, that until Manaia heard his own name pronounced by this young warrior, he was not aware that he had any other son but Tu-ure-nui. After this he acknowledged Kahu-kaka, and made much of him. Tupenu, the chief of the spear-makers, would have escaped, but that Rongo-tiki, Manaia's wife, uttered a powerful tupe, which had the effect of hindering his steps, and thus allowed Manaia to overtake and kill him on the beach at Pikopiko-i-whiti. All the others were killed.

The name just quoted, again leads me to infer that this story is older than the date of the migration, for it can, I think, be shown that that place was either in Samoa or Fiji, whereas Manaia emigrated from Tahiti.

A war now ensued between Tupenu's people and those of Manaia, in which the superior numbers of the former led to their obtaining the page 96victory, and gave cause to Manaia to reflect—"A! my people are disappearing; presently, perhaps, I shall share the same fate. It would be better for me to leave this place, and seek a home in some other land." So he obtained a canoe named "Tokomaru" from his brother-in-law, and prepared for his voyage; and then, after vainly endeavouring to induce his brother-in-law to join him, enticed him on board the canoe, and there killed him as a sacrifice to secure a propitious voyage.

No particulars of the voyage are given in the tradition from which the above account is taken, but we know that "Tokomaru" came with the fleet from the west coast of Tahiti, first calling in at Rai'atea, in all probability, then at Rarotonga, where the name of the canoe is known as forming part of the fleet. I have no doubt that she also made Sunday Island (or Rangi-tahua) with the other canoes, and after leaving there, separated from her companion vessels in the gale, of which the "logs" of some of the vessels make mention, finally making the land on the south shore of Tokomaru Bay, some forty-five miles north of Gisborne. Here the crew landed on a rock, still pointed out and called after the canoe, and staid for a time, leaving some of their number who settled down there, amongst whom were Te Rangi-tataiwhetu and Rakiora who have (or had) descendants amongst the East Coast tribes. The spot where she landed was pointed out to the Hon. J. Carroll and myself by Henare Potae, chief of those parts, in 1899. From there the vessel coasted northwards round the East Cape, no doubt calling at places that looked desirable as settlements, but finding them occupied by the tangata-whenua (though this is not mentioned either in Grey's account or in the many stories told to myself). The vessel came round the North Cape, and then coasted down to the Tonga-porutu river, forty miles north of New Plymouth, where her long voyage ended.

From here, according to Grey's account, Manaia and his people—or some of them—went south to the Waitara river, where they encountered a lot of the tangata-whenua people, and exterminated them, as has been related in Chapter II. hereof. But it seems probable that Manaia himself settled down at Tonga-porutu, for here, soon after the arrival of the canoe, was built the house named Marae-roto-hia, which we may, in a broad sense, call a temple, or house of learning; for, as in the case of the other migrations, it was here that the knowledge of the tribal history, mysteries, etc., was taught by the tribal priests.

The Maori account of "Tokomaru" in "Nga Mahinga" ends up by saying—"Now this man (Manaia) was my (our) ancestor, the line descending to the Ngati-Awa tribe, as also from Rongotiki his wife. page 97The above is the account of the migration of Manaia from Hawaiki, where he had fought two battles, Kirikiri-wawa and Ra-to-rua,* where the weapons of Manaia named Kihia and Rakea became famous, etc." Unfortunately Sir George Grey never gives his authority for the matter he has collected, and, therefore, it is unknown who it was, as mentioned above, who claimed Manaia as his direct ancestor, and also that of Ngati-Awa. All I have to say on this subject is that I have hitherto failed to find any one amongst Ngati- (or Ati-) Awa, who acknowledges this man as an ancestor any more than in a general kind of way; but it is possible the Ngati-Tama tribe of Tonga-porutu can recite their genealogies back to him. At the same time Ati-Awa do allow that some of them descended from the crew of "Tokomaru," but so far as my enquiries go, they cannot recite any genealogies from them. This is very suspicious; and shows that probably but a very few people can claim "Tokomaru" as their ancestral vessel, and even then, probably through marriage connections with Ngati-Tama. The general statements I have gathered are to the effect that some of the following hapus:—Puketapu, of Waitara, Manu-korihi, of Waitara, and Ngati-Rahiri, of Waitara and Waihi, claim descent from one of "Tokomaru's" crew—the latter people from Rahiri-pakarara, who migrated long ago from Mohaka-tino (near Tonga-porutu) to their present homes; whilst the two first-named claim from one Rakeiora, who is believed to have been the priest of "Tokomaru," afterwards (it is said) deified into a kumara god, and in later times was taken from Urenui by Rangihawe of Ngati-Ruanui to Patea to be used as such. Rangi-hawe was the father of the somewhat celebrated Turau-kawa, the poet who will be referred to later on. Hatu-moana, shown in Table No, 28, is believed to have come in the "Aotea" canoe, but it is uncertain.

Table No. XXVIII.

Table No. XXVIII.

* Ra-to-rua, one of the battles fought by Uenuku at Rarotonga, see ante (Chapter V.)

page break
Te Ati-Awa Tribe.Table No. XXXI.Te Retimona and Te Teira were the principal men in the sale of Waitara to the Crown in 1860, which sale led to the War. Rangi-kuru-patua's "saying" was "Ko te patete a te wheru." W. K. Te Rangi-take was our principal opponent in the wars of the "sixties." His ancestor, Tu-parua, is said to have been a landless man, but belonging to the same tribe, and is referred to by the others as "he ika tere mai, kahore ona waka," "a drift fish, he had no canoe." Obviously some names on this line must have been omitted—it is six or eight generations short.

Te Ati-Awa Tribe.
Table No. XXXI.
Te Retimona and Te Teira were the principal men in the sale of Waitara to the Crown in 1860, which sale led to the War. Rangi-kuru-patua's "saying" was "Ko te patete a te wheru." W. K. Te Rangi-take was our principal opponent in the wars of the "sixties." His ancestor, Tu-parua, is said to have been a landless man, but belonging to the same tribe, and is referred to by the others as "he ika tere mai, kahore ona waka," "a drift fish, he had no canoe." Obviously some names on this line must have been omitted—it is six or eight generations short.

page 98
Table No. XXIX.
23 Rakeiora
20 Te Tama-karae
Te Karae-nui
Te Karae-roa
Te Karae-toka
15 Tai-kehu
10 Tuiri-rangi
5 Titope

I am indebted to the Rev. T. G. Hammond for the following line of descent from Rakeiora, being part of a longer line; it is somewhat longer than usual from the date of the heke, the mean number of generations should be twentytwo, and it runs into the Ngati-Ruanui in its latter end, Raumati being a well-known man of that tribe.

In Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. I., p. 227, Col. Gudgeon gives the descent from Rahiri-pakarara, said to be the eponymous ancestor of- Ngati-Rahiri of Waitara and Waihi; but this particular line is that of Ngati-Rakei of Mokau, which tribe is the connecting link between Ngati-Maniapoto of "The King Country," and Te Ati-Awa of Taranaki. If this line is right it shows that Ngati-Rahiri have occupied their present homes, north of Waitara, from about seventyfive years after the arrival of the fleet in 1350. On the same page quoted above, the author mentions Te Rangitata as an emigrant by Tokomaru, and he, with Manaia, his son Tu-ure-nui, and Rakeiora are the only recorded names of the Crew of "Tokomaru," on the West Coast.

Table No. XXX.

Table No. XXX.

Like so many of these questions, there is more than one story as to the origin of Rahiri. Some say that he was a descendant of those who came in "Tainui," and claim that he (or his ancestor) built the great house Marae-rotohia, and not Manaia. But I prefer taking old Watene Taungatara as an authority before any other of the tribe I have questioned, and he says Manaia, of "Tokomaru," built the house, and that Ngati-Rahiri's ancestors came in that canoe.

Table No. 31 was printed in the "Karere Maori," 30th April, 1860—a publication that is rare indeed in the land—and as it was collected at so early a date, when many of the old men were alive and able to give reliable information, it ought to be correct. I quote it, not only page 99as giving the lines of descent of many well known chiefs of Ati-Awa, but because I have been informed by Te Whetu, a fairly learned man, that the two first names on the table came over in the "Tokomaru"—a statement I find it very difficult to believe, and on the contrary think they are those of tangata-whenua ancestors of the great Ati-Awa tribe. The first name on the list—Kahui-tu—is not that of a man, but of a tribe, in which the term Kahui, is that I have shown in Chapter V. to be peculiar to the tangata-whenua. Te Kahui-tu is one of the original tribes, shown on the genealogical table No. 1, in Chapter II., page 22, but there is no information to hand to connect the two.

The anchor of the "Tokomaru" canoe is still in existence.* Mr. John Skinner describes it as follows:—"The anchor is a large stone made of a whitish (Dolorite?) stone, and stands about three feet high and weighs from three to four cwt.; it is pierced for a cable; the first hole made had broken out, and they then bored another across the grain of the stone."

A few pages back, reference was made to the probability of the incidents assigned as the cause of Manaia leaving Hawaiki having occurred long prior to that period. This we gather from the fact of the Morioris of the Chatham Islands being acquainted with the incident of the massacre of the spear-makers. There can be no question that the Morioris left New Zealand long prior to the date of arrival of the "Tokomaru" canoe in about 1350. From all we know they probably left in the times of Rauru and Whatonga, who flourished twenty-eight or twenty-nine generations ago, or about the years 1200 to 1225. The Moriori story will be found in Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. III., p. 187, and though the incidents are somewhat different, the tradition is evidently based on the same story as that preserved by the Maoris. The names Manaia and Kahu-kaka are identical in both stories. The only conclusion we can adopt is, that the battle of Kirikiri-wawa took place long before the sailing of the "Tokomaru" for New Zealand, and was learnt by the Morioris during their residence in New Zealand, through some of the unrecorded visitors prior to the heke of 1350, and that the Maoris have, through lapse of time, confused this tradition with some incident that actually did occur, and which latter was the prime cause of the "Tokomaru" canoe leaving for New Zealand.

* The stone is hidden on the south bank of the Mohakatino river, and only Messrs. John Strauchon, G. Robinson and myself know the spot. It was hidden for fear the Maoris should sell it, and with the intention of finally getting it placed in a Museum.