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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 Ti-Tahi. — (Circa 1640-50.)

The migration of Ti-Tahi.
(Circa 1640-50.)

About this name, Ti-tahi, there is considerable difference of opinion amongst the many old Maoris who have supplied me with information for this narrative.

Most of them, and those who are probably best informed, hold that there was a tribe of that name living at Tamaki, Auckland peninsula, at the time the fleet arrived there in 1350, and it was against this people that Turangi-i-mua fought when he won the battle of Te One-potakataka, as related in Chapter VIII. The probability seems to be that Ti-tahi was a division of the great Ngati-Awa tribe of the page 204north, some of whom occupied the Tamaki district at the time of the heke, and also all lower Kaipara (see "Peopling of the North," p, 42).

The Rev. T. G. Hammond informed me that he obtained the following from the best authority of the Ngati-Rua-nui tribe: "Turi (of the "Aotea" canoe) had a wife previously to Rongorongo, named Whare-nui, who bore him a son, named Ti-tahi, who also came in the "Aotea" canoe, but for some reason remained at Tamaki, while the main migration crossed the isthmus" (at Otahuhu—I do not think this is correct. "Aotea" came down the west coast, calling in at Hokianga and Kaipara) "and came down to Patea. As time went on, the descendants of Ti-tahi came south to join their relatives."……….

It is possible that this story may be right in a measure—it is at least possible. A son of Turi's, named Ti-tahi, may have settled amongst the ancient Ngati-Awa of Tamaki, and, as has occurred in many such cases, his more forceful character as a Hawaiki Maori may have placed him in the position of forcing his name on the aboriginal tribe as a tribal cognomen. But if so, it is difficult to account for Turanga-i-mua fighting against his own brother (Ti-tahi).

In the "Peopling of the North," p. 47, an origin for Ti-tahi is there given on the authority of H. M. Tawhai—certainly an authority for Nga-Puhi history—which make him out to be a son of Rahiri, of Nga-Puhi, who flourished thirteen generations back from 1900. Rahiri was by descent partly a Ngati-Awa of the north; but the discrepancy as to the age Ti-tahi flourished in as between the Nga-Puhi and these Taranaki accounts is too great to be reconciled. But, at the same time, the Nga-Puhi story of the migration from their country at thirteen generations ago of the Ti-tahi people from the north agrees fairly well with the Taranaki accounts of the date the migration reached these southern districts, as we shall see.

Colonel Gudgeon told me the following in 1896: "I believe I have found out who the Ti-tahi people of Oeo were; I give the genealogy. They were driven from the upper Mokau and wont to Awakino, whence they were driven to Taranaki."

Hotu-roa (in table 45) was captain of the "Tai-nui" canoe. This is the only occasion I ever heard it even hinted that Ti-tahi belonged to the Waikato tribes, and I cannot help thinking that Colonel Gudgeon's informant must have been mistaken.

Possibly, this question may never be settled. But what interests us in this connection is that a people who
Table XLV.
Whata-kaipage 205
are still called Ti-tahi did come from the north, and after a series of disastrous adventures finally settled down near Oeo, on the Taranaki coast.

What their adventures were, or how this wandering people passed through the whole series of Waikato tribes without being exterminated, we do not know. A large body of men hampered with women and children would find such an undertaking one of great difficulty if the tribes, through whose territories they had to pass, were hostile, and it was only Maori nature to be so.

Taking the moan of several accounts, the Ti-tahi migration appeared in the Ngati-Maru country first, at twelve generations back from 1900, or about the year 1600. The tribe was then under the leadership of Takirau-o-whiti. The first probable notice of the migration we have is when a series of fights took place on the upper Whanganui and Ongarue rivers, which ended in the migration having to leave the district, and from there the course seems to have been followed down the Mokau valley to the mouth, where they built a pa named Kumu-nui, after which they moved on south along the coast to Mimi, where they built another pa; thence through the great forests at the head of the Waitara river and into the Ngati-Maru country. Naturally, Ngati-Maru resented this intrusion of a strange tribe into their midst, and fighting commenced. In the narrative I am now following the Ti-tahi people are called Nga-Puhi, which is perhaps natural, for the migration started from the Nga-Puhi country as has been shown in the "Peopling of the North," The Ti-tahi people appeared to have suffered a defeat at the hands of Ngati-Maru in the first fight that occurred, and probably in other fights also, for it is evident that there were several and that the wanderers were a long time in the Ngati-Maru country—so long that, according to one account, they had time to gain a certain ascendancy over many of the people of that tribe and Te Ati-Awa. One of these fights—says Mr. W. H. Skinner—occurred at Pa-kai-tangata, in the Manga-moehau valley, a few miles eastwards of the modern village of Tarata, which pa was defended by Rere-kopua, of Ngati-Maru. After being driven out of this place the harassed tribe passed to the west and settled for a time at Waihi, in the Ngati-Rahiri territories, a few miles north of Waitara, where they built a pa named Motu-whare, situated on the sea cliffs near the mouth of the Wai-au stream.

But the people found no rest at Motu-whare. They were driven from there and obliged to proceed further south. This time they occupied and fortified the hill known as Papa-where, situated just inland of the present Great South road, half a mile south of the page 206freezing works, in the lands of the Nga-Potiki-taua people. Whilst living here in apparently friendly intercourse with the local people, an invitation was sent to Takirau-o-whiti, their leader, to remove with all his people to Otu-matua, a place on the coast a little seaward of the modern Pihama village, in the Taranaki country. This place and pa was a thickly populated district at the time of the European occupation of the country, but the pa has long since been deserted. The reason of the invitation was this: Ruaroa, who was a leading chief of Otu-matua, had a young wife. The fame of Takirau-o-whiti as a warrior and a handsome man had spread far and wide, and naturally reached the ears of this lady, who became possessed with the desire to see him. She accordingly made a journey to Nga-Motu, and visited Papa-where, the Ti-tahi pa, and on seeing Takirau-o-whiti became so enamoured of him that he, in response to her overtures, made her his wife. What Ruaroa's feelings were at the loss of his wife we are not told; but wives were plentiful in those days, and he could easily console himself with another, or more than one if so minded. It was this lady's relatives that invited the Ti-tahi people to remove to Otu-matua and make a home for themselves there.

The above is mostly from Mr. Skinner's account; my notes are a little different and are to the effect that Ruaroa's wife being angry because her husband took one of his other wives away with him on an expedition, leaving her at home, she took the opportunity of his absence to obtain another husband in Takirau-o-whiti.

It was apparently not long after the removal of the Ti-tahi people to Otu-matua that quarrels occurred with their new friends, and after a fight at Matiti-kura with Taranaki and others with Ngati-Rua-nui, the wandering tribe were again obliged to take the road to the south. This time they moved on to the Patea district and built and occupied a pa on the south side of that river near Hukatere, which is about four miles from the mouth of the river at the point where the old native road from the south crossed the river, and where, in 1857, was a large fortified pa with numerous inhabitants. Whakameremere was the name of the pa built by Ti-tahi at this place.

Whilst here, the Ti-tahi people split up, and under the chiefs Tu-nui-amo and Kauika, a party of them proceeded south to obtain more country for themselves. At this period there was a large settlement at a place called Te Waha-o-wairua, on the site of the Waverley racecourse, where lived Rae-kuia, who was a descendant of Tonga-potiki, Turi's younger son. Rae-kuia and his ten children (named Timo-a-nga-atua, Tonga-te-ka, Tonga-hake, Tonga-manoko, page 207Tonga-mihi, Tonga-inu, Kake, More, Kura-mahanga (f), and Taneparo (f) ), who were the chiefs and leaders of this branch of the Nga-Rauru tribe, were much alarmed at the incursion of this strange people, who were numerous and had a reputation as warriors. It was feared they would attack the settlement, kill all the people, and take the country for themselves. On the arrival of the Ti-tahi tribe in the neighbourhood, a fight took place with that division under the leadership of Kauika, at a place named Manga-mate, near the present town of Waverley, in which the Nga-Rauru were so successful that they exterminated the whole of Kauika's band, including himself.

Tu-nui-amo and his party were, says my informant, persuaded to move on towards the south and finally disappeared, so far as the Nga-Rauru tribe was concerned.

To return to the rest of the Ti-tahi people loft at Whakameremere. It appears that on their way thither from Otu-matua they had come into collision with Ngati-Rua-nui, and had been generally successful in the encounters that took place. But in this they had engendered in Ngati-Rua-nui a strong desire for revenge. Mr. Hammond says: "Had they (Ti-tahi) remained peaceably in occupation of their pa all would have been well, for they were related" (? through Takirau-o-whiti's wife and probably other intermarriages whilst at Otu-matua), "but they were an iwi kai kino (a gluttonous, greedy people), so the Ngati-Hine and Paka-kohi hapus of Ngati-Rua-nui decided to attack and destroy them." Mr. Shand says: "Ti-tahi were too strong to be attacked in the open daylight by Ngati-Rua-nui, but the latter observed that in times of flood in the river the Ti-tahi people kept no guard in their pa at Whakameremere, but slept, thinking themselves secure. "When this fact came to the knowledge of Ngati-Rua-nui, they held a consultation and decided to build a large canoe, sufficient to hold a large party, and then take advantage of a flood to make the attack. When all was ready, they came down the river one dark night when the waters were out, and, landing silently, crept into the pa and awaited the first streak of dawn. When the time came they arose and massacred nearly the whole of the Ti-tahi people; only Tohu-roa, Takirau-o-whiti's son escaping." A native informant says Takirau-o-whiti was taken prisoner here, but his life was spared.

Presumably, Tohu-roa was a son of the Taranaki woman who fled from her first husband, Rua-roa, and married Takirau-o-whiti, the Ti-tahi leader, for he, together with the few survivors who escaped the massacre, fled back to Taranaki, and were there allowed to settle down at a place called Papaka, situated on the coast two miles west of the present Pihama village and close to Otu-matua. From these page 208people descend the present Ti-tahi hapu of Taranaki, and, says Mr. Hammond, "it is remarkable how many loading men of both Taranaki and Ngati-Rua-nui have Ti-tahi blood in them. Te Whiti (the prophet), Tohu (a prophet), Motu, Tautahi, of Taranaki; Titokowaru, Hone Pihama, Nga-hina, of Ngati-Rua-nui; Kauika and Kahu-kaka, of Nga-Rauru, are all descendants of the Ti-tahi people, and all are characterised by some undesirable qualities, such as selfishness, love of position, and other evil propensities."

Mr. Hammond omits from the above list the chief Tai-komako, of Oeo, who is the direct descendant of Takirau-o-whiti, and Mr Skinner adds these: "The late Porikapa and Minarapa, of Taranaki." Tau-tahi, mentioned above, was the Taranaki leader in the war against the white people in the sixties of last century; and it was Titoko-waru who drove the Europeans out of the Patea district in 1869. Hone Pihama (whose Maori name was To Ngohi) was a great warrior, who fought against us in the early sixties, but eventually came over to our side, and proved by his ability and courage a most able ally of the Government. He was a very kindly, hospitable man, and the firm friend of all Europeans in the trying times of 1868-70.

It is obvious that all these events in the history of the wanderings of the Ti-tahi tribe must have occupied many years, probably not less than forty or fifty from the time of the first appearance of the people in the Ngati-Maru country; so we may fix an approximate date for their final settlement at Papaka as about 1640-50.

In the above account of Ti-tahi Mr. Skinner's notes have been largely used, supplemented by my own and those of the gentlemen named.