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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Marsden’s visit to Kaipara, 1820

Marsden’s visit to Kaipara, 1820.

On the 12th August Marsden and Te Morenga started for Kaipara on their way to the Bay of Islands. After calling again at Mokoia, on the Tamaki River, he proceeded on to the Kaipara settlement about Ruarangihaereere (near the Reweti Railway Station). Here they saw “the chief’s brother lying in a shed, unable to stand, from the wound of a spear, which he had received some considerable time before. Te Kawau, and the two others who had attended us made great lamentations over him, weeping aloud.” This man no doubt had been wounded by some of Tareha’s Nga-Puhi people, who were then in the district. Mr. Marsden was received very kindly by all the people at the settlements about Kaipara. page 138 On one occasion, he says (whilst at Ruarangihaereere), “The next morning Mr. Ewels and I (this was on his first visit) set off for the sand hills accompanied by one of the chiefs, in order to take a view of the western ocean. We passed a pa on a commanding spot; but the chief told us it now afforded them no protection against their enemies (Nga-Puhi) since fire-arms had been introduced. He showed us where their enemies had fired into them with ball, and the distance was too great for them to throw their spears.”

The Rev. Hauraki Paora, who lives at Rewiti, close to Ruarangi-haereere, where Marsden stayed, tells me, “Mr. Marsden stayed some time with Te Taou tribe here, and the hill is still known on which he sat, and is called to this day Te Tou-o-te-Matenga, ‘The-sitting-placeof-Marsden,’ because when he sat down a hollow was left in the loose sand. I was told about this by Te Otene Kikokiko in 1873, who was there when Marsden came. He also described the wonder with which they all beheld a white man for the first time. When Marsden stood up to pray, they all said “E mea ma! Ka tu ki runga!” “O friends! he stands up!” When he commenced singing a hymn they exclaimed to one another, “E mea ma! Ka hamana te waha!” “O friends, he opens his mouth!” And when he knelt to pray, they called out, “E mea ma! Ka tuturi nga turi, a ka komekome nga ngutu!” “O friends! he kneels on his knees! his lips move!” We were page 139 all entire strangers to pakehas at that time. The things that Mr. Marsden brought with him were pipes, Jew’s harps, and a she-goat. The Maoris were delighted at the Jew’s harp, for their own roria were made of supplejack bark.”

From this place Marsden went on to visit Muru-paenga, the great leader and warrior of Ngati-Whatua in those days, of whom frequent mention has been made in these pages; his account is very full, but I have only space for part of it. He says, “This chief is considered one of the greatest warriors in New Zealand, and I had often heard of his fame from Ruatara, Tui, and others. He has been the rival of Hongi-Hika and his tribe for over twenty years. Before the ‘Boyd’ was cut off at Whangaroa in 1809, Hongi-Hika went against Muru-paenga with a great force; Muru-paenga defeated him and slew two of his brothers, wounded him and killed the greater part of his men, and compelled him to save his life by flight.* Murupaenga is a man of very quick perceptions; his mind is alive to every observation. His complexion is very dark—his eyes fiery, keen and penetrating—his body of middle stature, but very strong and active. He appears to be about 50 years old. From the expression of his countenance he cannot fail in commanding respect amongst his countrymen. I had heard so much of him for years that I was gratified in meeting him. He told me his residence was

* This was at Moremo-nui, 1807.

page 140 at some distance, but that he had come to pay his respects to me. I promised to pay him a visit.”

The next day several of the principal chiefs accompanied Marsden on his visit, calling on their way at the residence of Muru-paenga’s son Kahu, a fine young man, not long married. “His residence is in a rich valley. When dinner was over we proceeded on our way, passing a very strongly fortified pa belonging to Mowhetta (Mawete) and went through some rich valleys in one of which a battle was fought about two months ago, in which one chief fell.” This pa was probably Piopio, which was a Ngati-Whatua stronghold in those days, and the battle was fought between these local people and Tareha’s Nga-Puhi forces.

Marsden then describes some lengthened conversations he had with Muru-paenga, and his priest Muri-akau,* during which the former complained very much of the Nga-Puhi doings, who were then in the district plundering and murdering the inhabitants, and expressed his expectation of having to fight them. This again was Tareha’s expedition already mentioned. “Muru-paenga’s residence was very beautiful, in view of the river Kaipara, and the land about it very good though of a light sandy nature.” The Rev. Hauraki Paora tells me this was Waikohe, near Judge Fenton’s estate, inland

* This name Muri-akau, is not recognised by the Ngati-Whatua people, the only name like it is Muri-awhea, but he is not known to have been a tohunga. There are no descendants of Muri-awhea alive.

page 141 of Aotea bluff, Kaipara; it was a village of Ngati-Rongo’s.

Marsden remained with these people until the 21st of August, when he embarked on the Kaipara, crossed the Heads and proceeded up the Wairoa, noticing the Otamatea river on the way. It was Te Otene-kikokiko and his people who conveyed Marsden to the Wairoa. He visited Te Toko (of the Uri-o-hau tribe of Ngati-Whatua) and Taurau of the Ngai-Tahuhu, “both powerful chiefs hostile to Hongi-Hika.” On the 26th they left the canoe and walked across to Whangarei, where Te Morenga got amongst his own people again. They were much distressed at witnessing the ruin and devastation which the partisans and allies of Hongi-Hika had brought on the country. From Whangarei, Mr. Marsden proceeded to the Bay where he arrived on the 4th September, 1820, being thus the first white man ever to visit Kaipara and make the overland journey.

From the Bay Mr. Marsden again went south with Mr. Butler as far as Mokoia at the Tamaki, and from there again passed through Kaipara and by the West Coast arriving at Hokianga on the 22nd November, and from there went overland to Whangaroa, where he joined the “Dromedary” on the 25th November, 1820.

When at Te Mauwhena’s village, near Hokianga Heads, Mr. Marsden says:—“When I last visited this place (which must have been about the 8th or 10th March, 1820) the son of page 142 Mauwhena the head chief, his brother’s son and some other men of consequence were gone to the southward on a war expedition. They had now returned. In this expedition Mauwhena and his brother had both their sons killed. On my arrival I was first conducted to two of the chief women who were in deep distress. One was Mauwhena’s daughter-in-law, whose husband had been killed and eaten at Taranaki in an engagement with the people of that place, and the other was her late husband’s sister, &c.”

Now, this is a very important statement, for it is the only exact record we have of the date of the return of the Tuwhare-Patu-one expedition from the south of New Zealand, as related a few pages back. It was the people of Hokianga together with the Roroa hapu of Ngati-Whatua, living along the coast south of Hokianga, who formed that expedition, and there has been no other since. The Maori accounts say that they were twelve months away. Patu-one and Tuwhare left on their expedition about November, 1819, and returned about October or November, 1820.