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

Ngati-Mutunga go to Kawhia. — (Circa 1675.)

page 193

Ngati-Mutunga go to Kawhia.
(Circa 1675.)

Table No. XLIII.

The first occasion on which we hear of a Taranaki tribe making a war-like expedition to Kawhia, was in the days of Toarangatira of Maro-kopa, who was the eponymous ancestor of the celebrated Ngati-Toa tribe, that in the 19th century was led by Te Rau-paraha to victory, and under whom also the tribe abandoned their old homes at Kawhia, and removed to Cook's Straits.

Owing to troubles in the days of Pahau (see Table 43) with the other Waikato tribes, he and his people left the north side of Kawhia, and migrated to Maro-kopa river, still retaining, however, many of their pas on the south side of the harbour. Korokino, Pahau's son, married Tu-whare-iti of Te Ati-Awa, and hence were Ngati-Mutunga of the Urenui river drawn into the expedition to be related. Toa-rangatira married Pare-hou-nuku, and their son was Marangai, but it is said he had twenty wives in all. It will thus be understood that Toa-rangatira was half Ati-Awa, a fact that helps to explain the alliance of the latter tribe and Ngati-Mutunga with Ngati-Toa in the nineteenth century.

For the following story I am indebted to Mr. E. Best, who collected it from old Kari-hana Whakataki, of Takapu-a-hia, Porirua, in 1894. Although only slightly relevent to this History, it shows why Ngati-Mutunga went to Kawhia in arms.

The period of this story is about 1670 to 1675. "Pua-roro lived at his pa, Te Totara (a prominent point a mile and a-half south of Kawhia Heads and within the harbour—(see map No. 4 for the localities of this and other places at Kawhia). The news came to Kawhia that Te Rau, who lived over the ranges in the Waipa Valley, had completed a very handsome huru, or kahu-topuni (dogs' skin cloak) which Tuahu-mahina (who lived at Heahea, the present town of Kawhia), son of Tuiri-rangi (hence Ngati-Tuiri-rangi) was desirous of possessing. He sent a messenger over to Te Rau asking for this cloak as a gift. (Of course in such a case a handsome present would have to be made in return some time or other.) But Te Rau replied, "I will not give it!" So the messenger returned to Tuahu-mahina and reported the refusal, at which the latter was very angry.

Now Pakaue (of the Ngati-Koata tribe, a branch of Ngati-Toa), page 194the father of Kawharu, heard of this refusal, and thought he would also try and obtain this valuable cloak. For this purpose he journeyed over and saw Te Rau, who, on his solicitation, gave him the cloak. On the return over the ranges, at a place named Te Whatu, under Mount Pirongia, he blew a blast on his putara or trumpet from the summit of the hill. Tuahu-mahina heard this blast, and, knowing of Pakaue's errand, was certain he had been successful. (From the top of the range to the pa is rather a long way to have heard a trumpet, as it was apparently on the harbour itself.) He at once made up his mind what to do; he went out with a party of his men and laid an ambush on the road that Pakaue must return by, and there caught and killed him, thus securing the coveted cloak for himself.

The news of the death of Pakaue soon reached his son Kawharu, who determined on revenge. He went with a few men and hid himself near the pa of Ngati-Tuiri-rangi, and, as the people came down to the spring from which they obtained their water, he cut them off in detail, carrying the bodies to a cave, where he left them. This went on for some time, until a party of Ngati-Tuiri-rangi, out searching for their missing clansmen, came to the cave where they saw blood dripping from the rocks. Kawharu was on the watch near by, and, as soon as he found his victims were discovered, he rushed off, followed by the other party. He crossed the Wai-harakeke river and reached his own pa, situated on the shores of Kawhia. Evidently thinking he would get the worst of the siege, which was inevitably bound to follow, he concluded it would be better for him to leave the district and go to his father's tribe, the Koro-Ati-Awa (Ngati-Awa), of Whakatane. But first he decided to visit Pua-roro, passing by Te Poporo on his way to Te Totara, Pua-roro's pa. On arrival he said to the latter, "Shall I remain here or go to Tauranga?" (to Whakatane, probably.) To which Pua-roro replied, "Yes, remain here!"—and then Pua-roro uttered his "saying"—"Titiro ki taku pa ngaio ki runga o Moe-atoa" (Behold my grove of ngaio trees above at Moe-atoa.) In which he referred to the tribe since known as Ngati-Toa, and their allies of the Ati-Awa as able to defend him.

Messengers were now sent off to Koro-kino and his son Toa-rangatira (who were living at Maro-kopa) to ask their aid, and they sent away at once to the Taranaki district to the Ngati-Mutunga tribe of Urenui to come and help. Two hundred warriors of Ngati-Mutunga responded to the call, under the leadership of two brother chiefs, named Rehe-taia (see Table No. 33a) and Tukutahi, of Whakarewa pa, near Waiiti, Mimi district, and marched to Maro-kopa, where they were joined by page 195the Ngati-Toa, and then all proceeded to Kawhia. When Ngati-Tuiri-rangi beheld the war party advancing they determined to fight Ngati-Mutunga and Kawharu's party. The order of battle was now arranged; one company under Toa-rangatira, one under Kawharu, and another under Rehe-taia. As they advanced, three younger brothers of Toa-rangatira advanced in front of Kawharu's company and occupied the post of honour. This annoyed Kawharu very much, who shouted out, "Who said the advance should be led by the umu-karaka (karaka berry oven) and take the lead of my company?" When Toa-rangatira heard this he ordered his brothers to the rear; so Tete-whare, Tara-mangu, and Taumata-rau retired—they were braves of Toa-rangatira. Ngati-Tuiri-rangi now attacked Kawharu's column, and his brother was the mata-ngohi, or first slain, but Ngati-Tuiri-rangi were defeated in the battle that ensued, which was called "Te Moanawaipu," and soon after their pa of Pohue-tangehe was also taken. This battle was fought on the beach of Kawhia harbour, and the name is probably derived from a similar battle fought in Hawaiki, of the same name, as described in Chapter V.

Pua-roro's part in this fight is not mentioned. When he lived at another of his pas, Tiritiri-matangi (the peninsular exactly opposite Kawhia township), he composed a whakaara, or sentinel's song, which Mr. Best has preserved:—

Te tai ra, te tai whakarongo ki,
Whakarongo korero i pu ai te riri,
I mau ai te pakanga.
Nau mai, nau ake,
Kei te tihi, kei te tihi,
Kei te pari, kei te pari,
Kei mata-nuku, kei mata-rangi,
Nohoanga atu o tua-tane,
Tenei nei te para-tahae
Whakamataku ana te taringa
Ko nga tarutaru e maha,
O te pukohu o te ngahere,
O te Wao-nui-o-Tane,
He kiwi, he weka, he toko kokako,
Kia hara mai hei toko
Mo to taokete, mo Tara-pu-umeume
He waewae huruhuru,
Mōe! āū!

The sea there, that hears the speech,
That listens to anger inciting words,
That enduring make the quarrels,
Welcome! welcome!
To the summit, to the summit,
To the cliff, to the cliff,
To the face of the earth, of heaven,
Place where dwell young fellows.
Now there is the stealthy advance,
That fills the ear with dread.
There are very many productions
Of the mossy floor of the forest—
Of the Great-Wood-of-Tane,
The kiwi, the weka, the sad kokako,
May they come and give support
To thy brother, to Tara-pu-umeume
With the hairy legs.
Sleep! o me!

It may be mentioned, though it has little to do with this story, that directly after the above fight Toa-rangatira fought several other battles, capturing and killing Tuahu-mahina, who had obtained the valued page 196cloak by killing Pakaue, and thus acquiring the Kawhia district again for his tribe.