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

The migration of Turanga-Purehua to Whakatane. — 1625-50

The migration of Turanga-Purehua to Whakatane.

Turanga-purehua and his brother Te Aponga were two chiefs of Te Ati-Awa tribe, who dwelt at Puketapu pa (on the coast six miles north of New Plymouth—now a bare sand hill, but formerly a large pa), and sometimes at other kaingas, such as Matakitaki, which was another pa (? between Wai-o-ngana and Waitara) in the neighbourhood of Puketapu, now said to have been blown away, for all that part of page 201the coast is loose sand, though formerly good land. Turanga-purehua had three sisters named Hine-paihanga, Paenui, and Rongorea, who all dwelt in those parts, and who married leaving descendants who still live at Wai-o-ngana and that neighbourhood.

On one occasion Turanga-purehua and the men of the tribe (or hapu, which was named Puke-tapu) wont out to sea in their canoes to catch fish. Whilst the party were away, a quarrel between some of the children of the village took place, in which some of the women, mothers of the children took part. After the return of the fishermen, and whilst the women were cleaning the fish, one of the women said to Turanga-purehua, "Your child has been struck." This was a somewhat serious matter, for in old days the children were rarely if ever struck, or even corrected for their faults. When, therefore, this same child helped himself to some of the entrails of the fish to cook for himself, the woman engaged in the work reproved him severely. This led to Turanga-purehua taking the matter up, and to a wordy war between him and his elder brother, ending in blows, during which Turanga was wounded. Another account says that Turanga actually killed one of the children because his own child had been maltreated and reported to him as dead. When he found out the truth, this so prayed on his mind that he decided to migrate, and endeavoured to persuade others to accompany him—"Tohe tonu ki to whakakoro"—(Strove to induce a desire to migrate), and hence the name these people give to the Whakatane Ngati-Awa, Koro-Ngati-Awa.

At any rate a serious quarrel took place amongst the people, which some accounts say ended in fighting, and this engendered such a strong feeling of hate that Turanga-purehua and To Amonga decided to migrate to Whakatane, in the Bay of Plenty, of which they knew by tradition and from visitors who brought accounts of the fine kumara grown there. So a canoe was prepared for this lengthy voyage and properly provisioned, and then Turanga-purehua and his relatives and friends started away from Rarotonga, a point on the coast close to the mouth of the Wai-o-ngana, on the south side. From here they coasted down through Cook's Straits, then up the east coast to Whakatane, in the Bay of Plenty, a distance of some 600 miles. No doubt, these people called in every night at places where they could land, but it must have taken them a considerable time to accomplish their voyage.

Turanga-purohua and his people first settled down at Te Awa-o-te-atua, near Whakatane, but eventually removed inland to page 202
Table No. XLIV.
10Puani = Turauga
Te Rangi-moe-tu
Te Ika-koara
Te Keteora
5Te Tai
Te Hura
Te Aka-o-tau
Pu-tauaki or Mt. Edgecombe, where they made their permanent home. They are known at this day as Ngati-Hika-kino. The marginal table shows the descent from the leader of this expedition to the present day, so far as the latter tribe are concerned, which line agrees with another from Te Rangi-moe-tu to Tarakawa, but strange to say the Ati-Awa people decline to give the descent from Turanga's sisters to themselves. So we have no check on the date of the migration, which, however, from the above table, would be about 1625 to 1650. Puani, shown in table 44 above, was a woman of Matata, Bay of Plenty.

When Turanga-purehua went south by sea, his brother Te Amonga, who was mixed up in the family quarrel, departed with his people for the north, by way of Mokau, and, as my informant says, he travelled as far as the Nga-Puhi country, going overland all the way, and from there came down the east coast to Whakatane, where he is believed to have settled.

When Te Amonga left Wai-o-ngana, he is said to have carried off with him the mauri of the fish kahawai in order to provide himself with food in whatever place he settled. Some of the mauri was left at Maro-kopa river, a few miles south of Kawhia. My informant thus describes the mauri, which in ordinary cases may be considered as a sort of talisman connected with birds, fish, etc., and the presence of which is supposed to retain in the locality where it is deposited the fish, birds, etc., to which it pertains: "The mauri of the kahawai fish is just ordinary sea-sand, which, however, has been subjected by the priest to the most rigorous forms of karakia or incantations to endow it with tapu. When required for use in fishing the punga-tai, in which it is kept, is taken out to sea in the canoe, and there the sand is scattered broadcast on the surface of the water. This immediately attracts large shoals of kakawai, which are thus caught in abundance. When Ati-Awa in later years migrated to Port Nicholson, they found the waters of that harbour completely barren of kahawai. They consequently sent back to Wai-o-ngana for some of this sand. Ever afterwards we had abundance of kahawai," says my informant. The punga-tai is a receptacle in which this sacred sand is kept. It is about three inches in diametor and in the form of a solid cup made of stone or pumice. One informant says that such receptacles were originally brought from Hawaiki filled with sand from there to be used in catching fish, and whenever required the tohunga would say his karakias page 203over it, to taki or lead the fish from Hawaiki here—for fish are supposed to come from the spring at Rangi-riri in Hawaiki. The punga-tai was also used in the cultivation of the kumara, but in such a case earth from Hawaiki, instead of sand, was used over which to repeat the invocations. The pihapiharau or lamprey had also its own particular punga-tai, used to draw them to the rivers. In fishing, these Ati-Awa people had another custom connected with their belief in the source of fish being in Hawaiki: the first fish caught, which was called ika-whakataki, had a piece of green flax threaded through its nose, and then it was returned to the water; its function was to draw the other fish from Hawaiki.

The descendants of Turanga-purehua have often visited these parts in modern times; but they are very careful when passing the old pa of Puketapu to avoid its neighbourhood and go by some track further inland, for fear of desecrating the tapu of their ancestors in the elder line, who formerly lived there. Moreover the măna of the elder branch still living there would enable them to take from the visitors any article of theirs the former might fancy. Several of these strangers, says my informant, have died through transgressions of the tapued houses of their ancestors, the elder brothers of Turanga-purehua. The Puketapu pa has always been excessively tapu, much more so than ordinary, and so have the people who take their hapu cognomen from that particular place.

Mr. W. H. Skinner says that the foundations of the houses of these migrants are still to be seen at Mangati, a branch of the Wai-o-ngana, and a native informant says the same thing of Rewa-tapu, a place about half a mile south of the river's mouth along the coast, another of their villages.

Takoha was the name of another of the chiefs who migrated from Mangati to Whakatane with the others.