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



When the Omata block was purchased by the Crown in 1847, Ati-Awa made a claim to it, and sent out armed parties to prevent Taranaki carrying out the. survey. Mr. Donald McLean and Mr. G. S. Cooper pursuaded the disputants to meet them in New Plymouth to adjust matters, and a large number of Maoris from both sides assembled at Puke-ariki, or Mount Eliot, the present site of the Railway Station, and under their respective leaders—Te Tahana of Ati-Awa, and Tamati Wiremu Te Ngahuru (or Tawa-rahi) of Taranaki—the matter was discussed. The dispute arose originally as to the exact boundaries conquered from Taranaki by Te Ati-Awa a few generations page 118previously (which we shall have to refer to). So when these ancient enemies met at Puke-ariki there was a considerable display of feeling, and much 'tall talk,' dancing of war-dances, etc. The following is the ngeri, or song to accompany the war-dance, as sung by over a 1000 Taranaki warriors as they danced on the hard sands of the beach below the old pa of Puke-ariki:—
Te Ngeri Kuru-raparapa.
Ko hea! ko hea tera maunga,Where! O where is that mountain,
E tu mai ra?That stands forth so plain?
Ko Taranaki pea!Surely it is Taranaki!
Nukunuku mai, nekeneke mai!It hitherwards moves, it comes
Ki taku aro, kikini!Before my face, press it!
Kikini ai! a ha!Press it close! a ha!
A! A! kekekeno!A! A! crunch the sands!
(Kuru-raparapa represents the noise of the butts of their brass bound muskets, firmly placed on the ground before the dance. Kekekeno is the crushing, crunching noise of the butts as they grind the sand with the swaying movement of the men.)

The Ati-Awa claimed Mount Egmont as well as the Poua-kai ranges, and the respective learned men of both sides stood forth to advocate each sides claims, Ngaere-rangi being the tohunga or priest of Ati-Awa. The priests of Taranaki, given below, recited the names of their ancestors that had owned and lived on the mountain slopes, and indicated the particular parts owned by each. They were followed by other learned men, such as Kerepa, Pai-rama, Horo-papera and Nga-Tai-rakau-nui.* They particularly laid emphasis on the fact of their ancestors having lived at a village, or pa, on the eastern slopes of Mount Egmont named Karaka-tonga, which was built on the banks of the Wai-whakaiho in the times of Awhipapa (see Table No. 33, Chapter VI.) fourth in descent from Hatauira who came to New Zealand in the 'Kura-hau-po' canoe. This was a large pa, the meeting house of which was named Kai-miromiro, and the marae or plaza, Tāra-wainuku. They also referred to their ancestor Tahu-rangi who ascended Mount Egmont from that place, the first Maori to do so, and many other arguments, which in the end convinced the Government Officers that Taranaki really owned the Mountain and the adjacent country right away from Pari-tutu. Hence when the Omata block was purchased (11th May, 1847) the Taranaki tribe received the payment. We shall have to refer to this inland pa later on.

This meeting where Ati-Awa were overcome by argument is known as 'Patu-tutahi,' from the opening lines of a ngeri sung by Taranaki at the conclusion of the meeting on top of Puke-ariki:—'E hanga ra

* One of the defenders of Te Namu—see infra.

page 119e Patu-tutahi.' Ati-Awa were anxious to sell the block to the Government, but Taranaki won the clay and got the purchase money. The Tarauaki tribe held that the Ati-Awa boundary was at Whaka-ngerengere where they marched with Ngati-Rua-nui. and that the mountain of Ati-Awa, in place of being Mount Egmont, was Whaka-ahu-rangi, a place on the old inland road from Matai-tawa to Hawera, near where Stratford is situated—for the origin of which name see infra.

I have introduced this incident hero merely to preserve a record of it.

The origin of the Ati-Awa has already been referred to. The people take their tribal name from Te Awa-nui-a-rangi, a son of Toi, about whom much information has been given in Chapter IV. Awanui would be born, according to the mean of many genealogies, about the year 1150 (see Tables Nos. 24, 25, Chapter IV.), and he was most clearly a tangata-whenua, who gave his name to the Tini-o-Awa tribe, who were to be found in many parts of New Zealand under either that name or as Ngati-Awa, a name which his more direct descendants in the Bay of Plenty bear at the present time. No doubt Ati-Awa are connected with the crew of "Toko-maru," and perhaps other canoos of the great heke of 1350, but until the people can show more descents from these crews, they must be considered principally as tangata-whenua, of the great Awa family. In the margin I quote one of their genealogical tables showing the descent from Awa-nui-a-rangi, but, it seems to me the line is imperfect, it is too short to agree with many others. The last on the list is the celebrated Ihaia, who caused Katatore to bo shot (9th July, 1858), and which act led to the war amongst the tribes at Waitara, etc., at that time.

Table No. XXXIV.
21 Te Awa-nui-a-rangi = Tuturau
20 Toka-tipu
15 Tai-ma-tanu.
10 Rikiriki-te-kai
5 Piri-rau-kura

The Taranaki Ngati-Awa or (as it is better to call them to distinguish them from their East Coast brethren) Ati-Awa, are called by the Bay of Plenty tribe of the same name, Koro-Ati-Awa, from koro, to desire; which is explained as meaning a 'desire to travel.' The same people further say that the Taranaki tribe migrated in consequence of quarrels amongst the sons of Awa-nui-a-rangi, which induced some of thorn to leave their ancient home at Whakatane, some of them going north to the page 120present Nga-Puhi country, others moving south to Taupo; where they divided into two parties, one going to Port Nicholson, the other down the course of the Whanganui, the rest, and larger party, proceeding to Waitara (ten miles north of New Plymouth) where they settled and became the Ati-Awa tribe as we know them. This is the account given by the Bay of Plenty Ngati-Awa, but as far as I am aware no exact confirmation has ever been received from Ati-Awa themselves; indeed their early history is a blank; they are merely able to tell us that they derive their name from Awa-nui-a-rangi, but where he lived they do not know for certain; but one authority (Ati-awa) says his home was at Napier where he had a house named Ahuriri, the foundations of which are still to be seen. The harbour took its name from the house. This confirms the East Coast origin of this ancestor, though Ahuriri may not be his correct home. Another authority says that Awa-nui-a-rangi flourished long before Manaia came here in the "Toko-maru," and that his name in full is Awa-heke-iho-i-te-rangi, and that he was a son of the god Tamarau-te-heketanga-rangi, his mother being Rongo-ueroa whose other and earthly husband was Ruarangi, by whom she had Rauru. (See Table 25, Chapter IV., where these names will be found. This is merely another version of the origin of Awa-nui given in Chapter II.) Hence comes the "saying" for Ati-Awa—"Te Ati-Awa-o-runga-i-te-rangi." If this migration took place in the times of the sons of Awa-nui-a-rangi, then the date would be approximately the end of the twelfth century, and before the advent of the fleet. It seems probable that it was some of these people that Manaia of the 'Toko-maru' canoe met with and destroyed on the north bank of Waitara, when he arrived here with the fleet in 1350. (See Chapter II.)

It seems also probable that the Tini-o-Awa people mentioned in Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. XIII., p. 156, as having been driven from Heretaunga, Hawke's Bay, by the incoming Ngati-Kahu-ngunu tribe, who fled to Tamaki (Dannevirke) afterwards to South Wairarapa, and finally some of them to the Middle Island, are identical with the branch referred to in the last paragraph as having separated off at Taupo, and gone to the neighbourhood of Port Nicholson.

According to the traditions of the Ati-Awa, the first place they settled down in on this coast was at (or near) Nga-puke-turua, the group of fortified hillocks just inland of Mahoe-tahi,* and about the

* Where the battle was fought between the Imperial and Colonial forces, and the Ngati-Mania-poto tribe, 6th November, 1860. Plate No. 8 shows the two hills —Nga-puke-turua—from which the place takes its name, and also the modern village of the same name.

page 121same time at Puketapu, the pa on the coast seaward of the above place, a very tapu spot, to be referred to later on. This first settlement no doubt refers to the arrival of the descendants of Awa-nui. From here the people spread in all directions as time went on, and became eventually a powerful and warlike tribe.

The ramifications of the descendants of Awa-nui spread further afield than those of any other ancestor of the Maori people, but this Ati-Awa branch was probably the most numerous in the time of its full strength, i.e., at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Whilst the East Coast Ngati-Awa call the West Coast branch Koro-Ati-Awa, the latter equally apply that term to the former branch. There is perhaps some justification for this name as applied to some at least of the Whakatane Ngati-Awa. I learnt from Tamahau, of the Urewera tribe (also connected with Ngati-Awa) that shortly after the "Mata-tua" canoe arrived at Whakatane from Hawaiki in circa 1350, there came from Taranaki another canoe named "Nuku-tere," having on board Tu-kai-te-uru, Tatna-tea-matangi, Te Mai-ure-nui, and others. They brought with them Taro and Karaka plants. At this time Toroa, captain of the "Matatua," had already built his celebrated house named Tupapaku-rau, and his brother Tane-atua was living in his home called Orahiri (situated just above the entrance to Whakatane river), and Muriwai their sister was living in her cave at Wai-rere, just behind the modern township of Whakatane. Then follows the well known story of the mistake made by Wairaka, Toroa's daughter, by which she obtained Te-Mai-ure-nui as a husband instead of Tu-kai-te-uru as she had intended. But that does not belong to this account. These people settled down at Whakatane, and their descendants are there still. If the story is true, then these people were probably some of the tangata-whenua Ati-Awa. Old Tamahau was well versed in Maori history, and would not confuse this Taranaki canoe with "Nuku-tere" the canoe of Whiro-nui, which came to New Zealand from Hawaiki apparently two or three generations before the heke of 1350, and whose crew settled on the coast near Te Kaha, Bay of Plenty. We may assign a date for this migration from Taranaki as, say, 1360 to 1370.

There was a more modern migration to Whakatane from Ati-Awa, dating some ten generations ago, when a party of Ati-Awa under Turanga-purehua migrated from the West to the East Coast, as will be referred to in its place. These two hekes probably gave rise to the name Koro-Ati-Awa.

The Ati-Awa people have within their tribal bounds a great many page 122splendid specimens of the old Maori pa, many of them celebrated in the annals of the country. Not all of these, however, were built by that tribe; their neighbours on the south made a good many during their occupation. The country is one of the most picturesque and fertile in New Zealand. Numerous limpid streams originating in the snows of Mount Egmont, traverse the gently sloping plains in close proximity, their banks clothed, even yet, here and there, with clumps of rich vegetation amongst which the Mamaku (Cyathea Medullaris) tree-fern grew to a perfection not seen in any other part of the Colony. The sea teems with fish, the rivers with eels, and in its season, the piharau, or lamprey, is found in the Waitara, the largest river in the district. It was thus a district most favoured by nature, and admirably adapted to the wants of the Maori people.

The divisions of Ati-Awa are as follows:—

9.Manu-korihi (see Table 35)

Notes.—No. 2 derives its name from Rahiri-pakarara (see Table No. 30, Chap. VI.); No. 3 from Tawake-tautahi the ancestor of many of the same name; No. 5 from the great pa of that name on the Waitara river; No. 6 from the old and sacred pa of that name; No. 7 from the ancestor of that name; No. 9 from the large pa of that name near the Waitara bridge; No. 10 from the name of the Sugar-loaf Islands; No. 11 from a large pa of that name on the north bank of the Waitara; No. 12 from Tu-pari-kino, who lived about six generations ago.

Table No. XXXV.
10 Manu-korihi
Te Uru-one-pu
Te Oro-papaka
Te Poe-nui
Te Whara-pe
5 Te Hinu-rewa

With reference to No. 9, Manu-korihi, Col. Gudgeon once told me that this hapu, or some of them, originally came from Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty, whence whey migrated in consequence of a quarrel. If so, this heke took place ten generations ago, as per marginal table. But I have never heard any local confirmation of the story. The people—many of whom still live at Manu-korihi pa—always say their hapu name is derived from that of the pa.

This hapu has, however, a connection with the Ngati-Whatua tribe of Kaipara, through Te Raraku, a famous ancestor of that tribe, who was a kind of free lance, and wanderer, who found his way to Manu-korihi pa, and there married an Ati-Awa woman, from which page 123
Table No XXXVI.

Table No XXXVI.

Connection Wiremu Kingi Te Rangi-tākē claimed relationship with Ngati-Whatua. This marriage connection had important consequences in the wars of the early 19th Century, for it often saved the Manu-korihi hapu from destruction.

There is a place near Manu-korihi pa called Te Kapa-a-Te-Raraku, now used as a burial ground.

(See Supplement Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. VI., p. 38, for a full account of Te Raraku.)

According to the Nga-Puhi traditions, the Ati-Awa received an accession to their numbers by a migration from the neighbourhood of Kaitaia, in the extreme north, many generations ago. So far as I am aware, the local traditions do not make any mention of this, but then the Ati-Awa people have really very little information as to ancient times. It may be as well to record the particulars of this migration here, in the hope that some one may be able to find a confirmation of the story hereafter.

In 'The Peopling of the North,'* the occupation of the northern peninsula by the Ngati-Awa tribe is described as fully as the information then available allowed of. Ten years additional study—with some further information—causes me to modify slightly the views expressed in that work, but not to any great extent. The following seems to me now the most probable story of the north as it affects the migrations to the Taranaki district.

It appears clear that the descendants of Toi (Table 24, Chap. IV.) had occupied the north, probably in the fourth generation after him, or about the years 1200 to 1250, and that these people were then called either Te Tini-o-Toi, Te Tini-o-Awa, or Ngati-Awa, from Toi's son (or grandson) Awa-nui-a-rangi, and that they all came originally from the Bay of Plenty. In their new homes they mixed with other aboriginal tribes descended from Ngu, Tumutumu-whenua and others, and lived together for many generations, with the usual accompaniments of war and interludes of peace, until a time arrived when some of Ngati-Awa found the country getting too hot to hold them. They, of course knowing that some of their people had migrated from the Bay of Plenty to Taranaki in the times of Awa-nui's sons, decided to join their fellow tribesmen, and cast in their lot with them. The particular portion of Ngati-Awa, who migrated at this time, was named

* Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. VI., p. 38 (supplement).

page 124Ngati-Kahu,* and the leader under whom they left the north was named Kahu-unu-unu (not Kahu-ngunu). We can get at the date of this migration very nearly—for there were two parties of them, the second under the leadership of Kauri and his son Tamatea, who went by sea to Tauranga, and from these latter the descent to the present day is well known. Kahu-ngunu, Tamatea's son, was born at Kaitaia, about 1450 (see Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. XV., p. 93), and the inference is that his father and grandfather migrated when he was a boy—so probably we shall not be far out in fixing this exodus from the north at about 1460.

Kahu-unu-unu, the leader of Ngati-Awa (or Ngati-Kahu) led his party overland from Whangaroa, passing down the northern peninsula by way of the forest-clad interior, thence into Waikato, and by the coast to Whaingaroa, Mokau and Mimi to Taranaki, where they settled down, and as the northern story says, "Taranaki became Ngati-Awaed" (sic). How long these wandering people were on the road, or where they finally settled down, we have no information—they may have been absorbed into the present Ati-Awa tribe, or into some other on their way.

The above was the first migration of Ngati-Awa from the north, A subsequent one under Titahi will be alluded to in its proper place. But this latter migration probably affected Ati-Awa much less than their southern neighbours.

It is said that some of the beaches along the coast line of the Ati-Awa territory were sacred in former days, especially those called One-tahua and Otama-i-hea near Turangi, north of the Waitara; and on passing over them certain formalities had to be observed, such as not expectorating or relieving nature, for fear of the consequences that might ensue from a breach of the tapu,

* There are still some of the Ngati-Kahu left about Kaitaia in the north; of whom the late Timoti Puhipi was the chief.