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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

The Wai-te-mata and Thames in 1820

The Wai-te-mata and Thames in 1820.

Some of the events of this year may be learnt from Major Cruise’s “Journal of a Ten Months’ Residence in New Zealand,” published in 1824.

The “Dromedary,” (formerly “The Howe” frigate) having conveyed a shipload of convicts page 146 to Sydney, came on to New Zealand to load spars for the Admiralty. She arrived at Paroa, Bay of Islands, on the 28th February, having on board the Rev. S. Marsden and nine Maoris, amongst whom were the chief Titore, and Ripiro, one of Hongi’s sons. Major Cruise estimated the former to be about 45 years of age, and says, “He was perfectly handsome both as to features and figure, and stood six feet two in height.” Ripiro was then about 15 years of age.

The “Dromedary” had on board her as a guard, some men of H.M. 69th and 84th Regiments, the first, except the Marines on board Captain Cook’s ships, of H.M. forces to visit New Zealand.

On the 2nd March they witnessed the return to the Bay of Te Morenga’s great expedition from the Thames—as the Major says, but really from Tauranga, &c.,— (to be referred to later on) with about 50 canoes and many slaves. They boasted of having killed 200 people, whilst only losing four of their own. On the same day Hongi-Hika sailed for England with Mr. Kendall in the whaler “New Zealander,” as already mentioned, the former to obtain arms to recover the prestige lost by Nga-Puhi in their defeat at the hands of Ngati-Whatua the previous year, and at Moremo-nui in 1807. In this battle, Cruise says, “The Bay of Islands people had openly attacked a chief of Kaipara, by whom they were routed. The slaughter was very great, and several of Hongi’s brothers were page 147 killed, whilst the tribe of Wiwia—Titore’s elder brother—was nearly annihilated.”

The “Missionary Register“ for 1820, after announcing the arrival in England on the 8th August, 1820, of Mr. Kendall with Hongi-Hika and Waikato, says of the former chief:—”He is of manly aspect—very much resembling the bust carved by himself, of which an engraving was given in our volume for 1816. His age is about 45; his mother, now living and very old, told Mr. Kendall he was born soon after Captain Cook visited the Bay. He understands somewhat of English, but does not speak it. The late Ruatara was the son of Hongi’s sister. Waikato is one of the chiefs of Rangihoua. His age is about 26. He has an open and manly countenance, and understands English tolerably well, and makes himself understood therein. Waikato and the late Ruatara married two sisters.”

From the Bay the “Dromedary” went to Whangaroa, and thence to Hokianga, but did not enter the river, as it was feared there was not enough water. They were back at the Bay on the 5th April.

On the 2nd May they witnessed the return from Mercury Bay of another large expedition, which was manned by the people of Waitangi at the Bay of Islands and the inland districts. They had had some severe fighting, and brought back some prisoners. No names are mentioned.

Some of the officers being at Waimate on the 10th May saw the gathering of people, then page 148 said to be 3000 strong, under Tareha, who was concerting measures to obtain revenge against Ngati-Whatua for the death of one of Hongi’s brothers, killed on the west coast “12 years ago.” (This was at Moremo-nui, 1807.) This gathering was Tareha’s expedition to Kaipara just referred to.

On the 25th May, Te Morenga and Muriwai, of Hokianga, visited the ship with Te Horeta, of the Thames. This was the noted Te Horeta, of Waiau, Coromandel, who saw Captain Cook when a child. He returned to his home at Coromandel on the ship “Coromandel,” one of H.M. store ships, which had also come to New Zealand for spars. Mr. Marsden, Te Morenga and Tui went to the Thames with that ship, as already related.

On the 11th June, Titore, with two canoes, left for the Thames, said to be on a warlike expedition, from which he returned to the Bay on the 12th August.

On the 21st July there were great fears at the Bay on account of a projected attack on that district by a chief of Kaipara, who was said to be a very big and powerful man, chief of a powerful tribe (D’Urville says this chief was Muru-paenga, as no doubt it was.)

On August 12th Major Cruise left the Bay in the colonial schooner “Prince Regent,” Captain Kent,* for the Thames, taking with them

* Probably this is the Captain Kent who was the first man to enter Kawhia harbour, about 1824–26. See “History and Traditions of the Taranaki Coast,” p. 337.

page 149 as pilot “Wheety,” perhaps Whiti, a Hokianga chief, who told them of a passage he intended taking them through in search of the “Coromandel,” which was not previously known. This proved to be the Rangitoto Channel, the present entrance to Auckland.

On the 21st August, they sailed up past Rangitoto to the mouth of the Wai-te-mata, and on the North Head saw several natives and some canoes. They anchored under Motukorehu, or Brown’s Island, just opposite the Tamaki River, which Cruise calls “Taurere,” which is really the name of a place a little way up it. Very soon several canoes came off, and with them a chief named Te Tata, a tall and handsome man, who informed them that Mr. Marsden had passed up the Wai-te-mata ten days before their arrival, and that the “Coromandel” was at Waiau. Soon afterwards there came off Te Hinaki, a great chief, and his son. This was Te Hinaki, chief of Ngati-Paoa of those parts, who was killed at the taking of Mokoia in the following year by Hongi-Hika. Te Hinaki had with him a musket and a cat; the latter he gave to the Major—surely the first of its race ever to reach the Wai-te-mata. Cruise describes these people as being far superior to those of the Bay in every respect; much fairer in colour, taller, more athletic, and the women graceful, and with harmonious voices.

The following day—the 22nd August—the schooner was surrounded with canoes, the page 150 people being very peaceful and bringing large quantities of potatoes which they bartered for nails, but were very desirous of obtaining muskets. The following day they passed along Waiheke channel, but came to an anchor off Motu-karaka, or Clarke’s Islands, which Cruise correctly describes. He says there were few inhabitants here, only one canoe coming off to them.

On the 23rd they passed up the sound between Waiheke and Ponui islands, which sound Cruise calls Peneneekee (perhaps Pananaki—a name I do not recognise), and out into the gulf by the passage to the north of the latter island, on the end of which they noted “a large pa with a vast number of people.”* They then crossed over to Waiau or Coromandel, where they found the “Coromandel” at anchor, and were welcomed by Te Horeta, whose acquaintance they had made at the Bay.

* This pa has been abandoned for many years.

Te Horeta, or “Old hook nose,” as the Pakehas irreverently called him, died at Coromandel on the 21st November, 1852. The Karere Maori of 20th April, 1854, gives a long life of him: “He was a daring and successful leader, and noted for kindness of heart. He obtained his second and better known name of Te Taniwha from the fact of his having leaped over a cliff into the water, then rising under the bows of his enemy’s canoe, he got on board and drove every one away. “He is a Taniwha, not a man,” said his enemies. He took part in many a tribal fight, but was inclined to mercy after the battle, even in the sanguinary wars of old.” His friendship with the Pakeha commenced with the arrival of the “Coromandel” at his home, as related above, and he continued their steadfast friend, often under severe trials, to the day of his death. His son, to whom his mana descended, was Kitahi Te Taniwha, well known in later years as the venerable chief of the Ngati-Whanaunga tribe of Coromandel.

page 151

Cruise describes the inhabitants of Coromandel—the Ngati-Whanaunga tribe—as a miserable looking people who had often suffered from the Nga-Puhi incursions, whilst those on the opposite side of the gulf—the Ngati-Paoa—had been spared through their relationship to Koro-koro, the celebrated Nga-Puhi chief.

Leaving Coromandel on the 26th August, the “Prince Regent” again anchored in the Wai-te-mata between Motu-korehu and the mainland on the 27th, where they experienced some bad weather. Whilst here they visited some villages near the anchorage in which were great numbers of people. On the 31st, a Mr. Clark —an officer of the “General Gates,” a whale ship which the commander of the “Dromedary” had seen fit to seize while at the Bay on account of her captain having escaped convicts on board, and which he sent to Sydney—started up the Wai-te-mata to go overland to the Bay. He was thus the second pakeha to make the overland journey, Mr. Marsden being the first, so far as we know. Mr. Clark arrived safely at the Bay on the 25th September, having been kindly treated by the natives all the way through.

On the same day (31st August) Major Cruise and Mr. Kent paid a visit to Mokoia, the site of the present village of Panmure, and as he describes this pa a little more fully than usual, it is worth quoting on account of the celebrity page 152 the place attained in the following year through the cruel massacre of nearly all the inhabitants by Hongi-Hika.

Readers will remember the strong maioros or walls of this pa, which are perfectly distinct to the present day. The road down to the Tamaki bridge is cut out of the old pa.

“There being every appearance of the day continuing moderate, we went up the arm of the sea called Towrerree (Taurere, Tamaki in reality) which leads into (towards) the river Wycotta (Waikato); and after following its course for about five miles, the boat arrived at Mogoia (Mokoia). This village was about a mile long and half-a-mile broad, and the houses were larger, and more ornamented with carving than those we had generally observed. Each family occupied an allotment, which in shape was oblong and enclosed with high strong paling. These allotments contained many houses; and the intermediate passages or streets were as clean as the season would permit. The adjacent country was flat, with the exception of a high round hill which formed the pa (Mauinaina, or perhaps Mt. Wellington) and which presented the same volcanic appearance as that already noticed in the island of Moto-corea (Motu-korehu). The ground was good and under cultivation, interspersed with detached houses and hamlets; and a profusion of potatoes lay in different parts of the village. An immense number of people received us on landing and remained with us until we page 153 re-embarked; they attended us in all our walks over the surrounding country, and showed us every civility. After leaving Mogoia, we pulled up the river (Tamaki) for about three miles; the banks continued to be thickly inhabited, the ground flat, arable and well cultivated, producing potatoes, kumaras, and in the more swampy places, a great quantity of flax.”

From the above account we may see how thickly inhabited this part of the district was at the time, so soon alas! to be entirely laid waste. The people seen here by Cruise were the Ngati-Paoa tribe, under their chiefs Te Hinaki, Te Tata and probably Kohi-rangatira.

The Major was under the impression that the Tamaki was the mouth of the Waikato river. Had he continued his journey a few miles further, he would soon have been convinced to the contrary. He makes no mention of Manukau, but if he had gone up to the head of the Tamaki he would have seen that harbour, and have been its discoverer, an honour which was achieved however by Marsden a short time after. Captain Dumont D’Urville in 1827 believed himself to be the discoverer.

On the 3rd September the schooner finally left, passing out into the Hauraki Gulf between Motutapu and Motu-ihi, and taking with them on a visit to Sydney a relation of Te Tata’s and “the son of a very powerful chief named Enacky” (Te Hinaki). Unfortunately he does not give the name of this young man. Cruise contrasts the conduct of the Ngati-Paoa with page 154 that of Nga-Puhi, and says that they never lost a single article through the former, whilst the latter stole everything they could lay their hands on. They anchored at Te Puna, Bay of Islands, on the 4th, Mr. Marsden having arrived at Paroa the preceding evening after his long journey from Wai-te-mata through Kaipara and Whangarei. The principal and only chiefs they saw whilst at the Bay were Korokoro and Te Koki, all the other chiefs and people being away at Kaipara (he says) on a war party, and rumours had just come in of their having suffered a great defeat at the hands of Ngati-Whatua, which was probably that under Murupaenga already referred to.

The “Dromedary” left the Bay for Sydney on the 5th December, arriving there on the 21st and finally sailed for England on the 14th February, 1821.