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

The Burning of "Te Arawa." — (Circa 1390.)

The Burning of "Te Arawa."
(Circa 1390.)

Tama-ahua's son, by Tauranga, a woman possibly of tho tangatawhenua (see ante), who came originally from the neighbourhood of page 161Tauranga, where probably Tama-ahua married her whilst the crew of the "Kura-hau-po" were on that coast—was Raumati, or to give his name in full, Raumati-nui-o-taua. After his father had left on his return to Hawaiki, he grew to man's estate at Oakura. He became desirous of visiting his mother's relatives, and after obtaining from her the directions for so doing, he started off on his long, overland journey. He arrived safely at Tauranga amongst his mother's people and was duly received by them as a relative. He dwelt with them for some time and then went on a visit to Maketu, the place where the "Arawa" canoe landed after her voyage from Hawaiki, and where the famous vessel still lay, hauled up on the beach above high water mark and under the wharau, or shed, not far from the mouth of the Kaituna river, Raumati visited the celebrated canoe to see what she was like, and then, for reasons my informant could not explain to me, but connected with some old tribal feud perhaps, he set fire to her and the canoe was completely destroyed. There wore few people at Maketu at the time, the chiefs of the "Arawa" migration being all away.*

When the news of the destruction of the vessel spread abroad, there was consternation amongst the people, for, like other great canoes of the heke, she was venerated and loved almost as a parent—indeed, the canoe has been referred to as such; see the speech given at p. 99, "Nga Mahinga," "uto koutou tupuna e ka nuli ra i te ahi a Raumati," the ancestor of you all that was burnt by Raumati. The consequence of this deep feeling for the canoe, and of the insults offered to the people, eventuated in a war-party being raised, under Hatu-patu, to avenge the wrong done. It is to be presumed that Raumati's relatives and connections of Tauranga made his cause their own, for they met the Arawa people (who, however, were not as yet known by that name) somewhere near Maketu, and a great battle was fought and Raumati's party, though successful at first, wore defeated and their leader killed—as my informant says, by the power of makutu, or witchcraft, for Hatupatu caused a cliff to fall on him as he retreated from the battle, and thus killed him. The Arawa account of this battle will be found in Sir Geo. Grey's work quoted a few lines back, wherein it is stated that Hatu-patu secured Raumati's head, and took it back with him to Rotorua, to exhibit to his father.

page 162

"Te Arawa" canoe was burnt before the expedition of Nga-toroi-rangi went back to Hawaiki, to avenge the insult offered to him by Manaia, and consequently the occurrence took place not very many years after the arrival of the heke, in 1350—probably if we say somewhere about the year 1390, it will not be very far out.

* In a note to be found somewhere in Journal Polynesian Society—where, I cannot remember-—is a statement to the effect that Raumati was a member of the aboriginal tribe named Piri-rakau, inhabiting at the present day the forest country inland and to the west of Tauranga. Probably this is so far right that his mother came from that people.