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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Te Amio-whenua

Te Amio-whenua.

It will be remembered that the above name has been applied to the expedition undertaken by Patu-one and others of Hokianga and Kaipara in conjunction with Te Rauparaha, when they reached as far south as Wairarapa, and during which raid the latter chief made up his mind to migrate with all his tribe—Ngati-Toa–to the neighbourhood of Cook Strait, in order to communicate more freely with the vessels, which about that time (1819–20) were beginning to frequent the Strait for the purposes of trading in flax, and in whaling.

The name Amio-whenua means “roundabout-the-land,” and is more applicable to the following than to the previous expedition. The date of this latter expedition is important as it serves to fix that of Te Rauparaha’s migration from Kawhia, which has heretofore been wrongly assigned to the year 1819. It will therefore be as well to state what data are relied on to fix this date. In the “Orakei judgment” already referred to, it is stated that Te Kawau, the principal chief of the Taou branch of the Ngati-Whatua tribe, took part in the defence of Mau-inaina* when Koperu was killed in June,

* It may be observed that whilst the above is the correct spelling of this name, it is pronounced Mauināīna, a strong accent being on the second “a.”

page 209 1821, and Nga-Puhi repulsed by Ngati-Paoa. It has been shown that the battle of Okoki took place about the beginning of November, 1821, and that the first siege of Puke-rangiora at Waitara was going on at the same time; Te Kawau was with the besieged in the pa. It is also clear that the siege of Matakitaki in Waikato took place in May or June, 1822, and it is known that Te Kawau returned home to Tamaki shortly after the latter event. As Te Kawau accompanied the Amio-whenua expedition, and as the native accounts say it was absent about nine months, it follows that the taua must have left Tamaki (or Auckland isthmus) at the end of August or the beginning of September, 1821.
The Amio-whenua expedition was essentially a Ngati-Whatua or Kaipara undertaking, and Apihai Te Kawau of the Taou section of that tribe was the principal leader, though Tukorehu of Ngati-Mania-poto took a very prominent part in it, as a warrior and leader of experience. The other principal chiefs of Ngati-Whatua who joined in with their followers, were Awarua and his son Totara-iahua, Te Tinana, Uruamo, Pa-te-oro, Tama-hiki, Ha-kawau (of the Uri-o-Hau branch) as some say, Muru-paenga, one of their principal men and leaders against Nga-Puhi in their intertribal wars, as has been related; but of this I am doubtful.* The Ngati-Whatua expedition started from One-one-nui, in southern Kaipara,

* Rangipito, of the Ati-Awa tribe, is my authority for this; he is a very well informed man on his own tribal history.

page 210 and proceeded by the usual route up the Waikato, being joined in the lower Waikato by Kukutai, the chief of Ngati-Tipā with a further contingent. In upper Waikato the force was increased by a contingent of the Ngati-Mania-poto and Waikato tribes under the wellknown chiefs Tu-korehu and Te Kanawa, who brought with them 140 men, thus making the total number of the taua up to 600, several of them armed with muskets. It has already been stated that some of the Ngati-Maru tribe of the Thames likewise joined the expedition, but under what chiefs I have been unable to ascertain.
The cause of this formidable expedition is obscure, but there can be little doubt that the great success of Patu-one’s and Tu-whare’s raid in 1819–20 had engendered in Tu-whare’s fellow-tribesmen a strong desire to emulate their deeds of bravery, wanton destruction, and massacres, deeds which appealed very strongly to a warlike people like the Maoris. But it is said that Te Arawa tribe of Rotorua was the immediate cause of it, though the story furnished me does not supply a sufficient reason. From this account it appears that Tu-kaiwhakahi of Te Arawa, induced Te Kahawai* of that tribe to invite Ngati-Whatua to take part in a raid on Heretaunga, the Maori name for the Hawke’s Bay district. On the arrival of the

* Te Kahawai of the Ngati-Rangi-wewehi tribe of Rotorua, was killed at the taking of Te Tumu pa, near Maketu, Bay of Plenty, on May 9th, 1836.

page 211 taua in Waikato it formed into two divisions, and came on by the old track viâ Patetere to the Hautere village situated on the edge of the forest, where that track comes out to the open land of Rotorua. The party were then handed over to the care of other Arawa chiefs, viz., Te Matapihi, Te Mumuhu, Te Kohika, and Te Kapua-i-waho, but for reasons not known the Arawa did not join the further adventures of the expedition, beyond a few young men, who doubtless were swayed by the desire of kaweingoa, or making a name for themselves.

From Rotorua the force passed on by way of Paeroa and the Wai-o-tapu valley to Orakeikorako, on the Waikato river, their advent causing great alarm to the people living there, for which, no doubt, there was good reason. They assembled and retreated to a cave in that neighbourhood which is said to be able to contain 500 people, and although the taua sought high and low they failed to find the refugees. Possibly this is the Alum cave near Orakeikorako, as trees were said to grow in it, but although large, that cave would scarcely hold 500 people. At any rate the local tribe escaped the usual fate of those living on the track of a kai-tangata or man-eating expedition. After some time, the force passed on across the Kaingaroa Plains to Runanga on the eastern side. Here, the news of their advance caused the whole of the Ngati-Hineuru tribe to flee to the mountains for safety. Proceeding onward to the upper waters of the Mohaka, the taua page 212 passed to the westward of the Titi-o-kura pass and descended to Te Toi-kuri near the Ngaruroro river, and thence directly onward to Raukawa hills, and descending by Te Ipu-o-Taraia, arrived at Te Roto-a-Tara lake near where Te Aute College is now situated. Here they sat down to besiege the pa of the Ngai-Te-Whatu-iapiti tribe which was living there under their chiefs Pare-ihe and Tapu-hara. One of my informants tells me it was during this siege that the kaupapa or causeway was built by the besiegers from the main land to the island pa, but it seems doubtful if this did not occur at a later date. Seeing that the besiegers were likely to effect their object and take the pa, Tapu-hara cried out “E! Kakahina he morehu”! meaning, let there be some survivors left; so the besieged took to their canoes in the night and escaped, that is, the able-bodied portion of the tribe, but many old men and women, not able to travel, were left in the pa, and became the prizes of the invading force, some, no doubt, being put to the usual purposes in such cases.*

After this, the expedition pursued their way southerly over the Rua-taniwha Plains to Horehore, which is an old pa on the range just to the east of Takapau railway station called Ngahinaki-a-Tarawhata. This pa is still fairly preserved, and has some of the old palisading still

* One of my native correspondents informs me that this was the first siege of the island fortress of Te Roto-a-Tara, but this is doubtful. I am inclined to think it was the third siege. Four times has this stronghold been attacked, so far as can be ascertained, but it is very difficult to fix the dates.

page 213 lying on the ground. The northern taua first occupied the hill on the north of the pa and commenced a fusilade into it; but without doing any damage. They then occupied a similar hill on the south side and kept up a brisk musketry fire for some days, but without result, seeing which they moved on. The pa at this time was occupied by the Ngai-Tahu tribe, under the chiefs Te Kiri-o-Hawea, Toatau, Nga-oko-i-terangi, Nga-rangi-ka-hiwera and Tuhua.
They thence passed the Tamaki, or Seventy Mile Bush, until they reached Te Apiti, or Manawatu Gorge. Here they captured several villages belonging to the Rangitane tribe, but although the fires were burning everywhere, they only secured a few very old people—turitakui.e., those unable to travel. At the first alarm the main body of the people had taken to the wooded mountains and assembled at Te Ahu-o-Turanga* on the old native track over the mountains, where they remained in safety. One prisoner of rank was captured here, Whakarongo, the sister of Hirawanu, who was taken back by the taua to the north. In subsequent days, after the introduction of Christianity, Hirawanu travelled to the north to search for his sister, and found her living amongst the Uri-o-Hau branch of the Ngati-Whatua tribe, not far from Whangarei. He

* Te Ahu-o-Turanga is named after one of Turi’s sons, who there built a tu-ahu to commemorate a victory he obtained over some of the Tangata-whenua inhabitants of New Zealand in the fourteenth century.

page 214 brought her back with him to her own people, the Rangi-tane.

From the Manawatu Gorge the Amio-whenua force passed to the south-east through what is now the Pahiatua district, killing and eating all they came across, until they reached Maungarake, not very far from the present town of Masterton. Here they found the Ngati-hikarahui tribe living in their pa of Hakikino, situated on the Wai-nui-o-ru river some two miles south of Brancepeth. As the pa appeared to be of great strength, the leaders of the force decided to try what strategy could effect. They camped near the pa and sent messengers with friendly words intimating their desire to visit the pa, and exchange presents, &c. Te Hopu, one of the principal chiefs of Hakikino was desirous of acceding to these overtures, but Potangaroa a chief of celebrity, strongly advised against it. Te Hopu, however, having faith in the invaders, proceeded to their camp with several others, and there they were massacred. Po-tangaroa, seeing that his fears had been confirmed, and having lost many warriors in the massacre, decided to evacuate the pa, and retire to the broken wooded hills in the neighbourhood. This was effected, but the taua was too quick for some of them, who were caught and killed in the pa before they could escape. One chief of rank was captured here by the taua, named Nahi-ki-te-rangi, whose sister was Kuru-tene, mother of To-whare.

page 215

From Hakikino the taua moved on southwards, eventually reaching Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara, or Port Nicholson, where the City of Wellington now stands, but what adventures befel them on the way, we know not, for all the old men who could have told us, have passed away. Only one brief note has come down to us as to their doings in this neighbourhood, to the effect that the taua assaulted and took the Tapu-te-ranga pa, which was situated on the little island that gives the name to Island Bay, near Wellington. The people of the pa would be some of the practically extinct tribe of Ngati-Ira, that formerly occupied all the district around Wellington.

The news of this expedition, however, had preceded it all along the coast, so when the taua reached Cook Strait, they found nothing but empty pas, or more likely villages, for there are few pas along this coast. The Muaupoko and Rangitane tribes had taken refuge on Kapiti Island; no doubt they had no very pleasant recollections of the last northern raid under Patu-one and Te Rauparaha in 1819–20. No one was found at Porirua, but a few refugees were discovered at Horowhenua safely ensconced in the island pas in the lake, at whom the taua were obliged to look in vain, for they had no canoes with which to reach the islanders.

Near Otaki the taua attacked a pa of the Mua-upoko tribe, but before they could take it, Tungia, father of the late Major Keepa, page 216 made a dash out with a few companions and alarmed the taua. But he and his companions were captured. Tungia shouting out at the top of his voice, induced the women in the pa to come down the river in canoes, and they made such a noise that the taua, thinking they were about to be attacked in force, retreated, and in the confusion Tungia and his companions escaped. This incident is known as WaiKotero.

The taua continued its course up the west coast to Whanganui where the local tribes were met with, and a fight took place on an island in the river called by Ngati-Whatua, Te Manuka. The taua was victorious, but only after a hard struggle.

Mr. Downes supplies the following as to the adventures of the taua in the neighbourhood of Whanganui: “At Mangawere (or Upokopoito, some twenty miles below Mangatoa) the taua, under Tu-korehu and Te Wiwi, came upon and killed some brothers of Te Anaua (later known as Hori-Kingi), and captured a woman named Korako, mother of Hakaraia. The latter was a small child at the time and thus escaped. In revenge for this, Hori-Kingi gathered his tribesmen together and followed one portion of the taua, which had gone up the Whanganui river and came upon and defeated them at Mangatoa, a place about two to three miles seaward of the modern village of Koroniti (Corinth), on the east side of the river. Hakaraia’s mother, when captured, pleaded for page 217 her own life and that of her child, promising that if allowed to live she would lead the party to a place where her brothers and other people were, and that she would give them a large quantity of greenstone, which was hidden away. This was agreed to; so she guided the party up the river till they reached Te Punga (another name for Te Arero-o-te-uru, at Mangatoa), where they all landed and left the canoes. She led them on into a deep gorge on the Mangatoa, hemmed in by perpendicular cliffs, and out of which there is no escape except up or down the stream, but which widened out at one spot in the middle, where the taua was advised to camp, as it was just about night. Korako managed, as soon as it was dark, to creep away unseen, and then made all speed to her own people, some of whom were living not far from the cliffs above, whilst others had been following up the party from behind. Thus the invaders were in a trap, and when the time came, though those of Whanganui in the rear of the taua were only a few in number, they were strong enough to hold the pass, whilst the other local people held the upper end. After a great battle only six people managed to escape out of six hundred men of the taua.” I think this number is probably much exaggerated by the local people —for the taua was still a large one when it reached Taranaki. Te Wiwi is said to have been killed, whilst Tu-korehu escaped. Who the former was I have no knowledge. This page 218 party was, probably, only a branch of the main taua.

Then they passed through the thickly populated districts of Patea and Taranaki, but what success they had against the people of those parts is unknown. We next hear of them at Waitara, ten miles north of New Plymouth, where the Ati-Awa tribe opposed their course in force.

The taua on passing Te Rewarewa pa (near the mouth of the Waiwhakaiho river, two miles north of New Plymouth) halted for a time, thus allowing time for a messenger to be dispatched by Tautara, who was the Ati-Awa chief of that pa, to the chiefs of Waitara telling them to let the northern taua cross the Waitara and then fall on them in force; but Huri-whenua of Waitara decided otherwise, and as the taua arrived at Te Rohutu, near the mouth of the river on the south side, he and his fellow tribesmen of Ati-Awa, attacked the invaders as they commenced to cross. Te Pokai-tara of Te Ati-Awa, who possessed a gun fired into Ngati-Whatua and killed one or more of them, which led to some confusion, and eventually caused the invaders to give up the attempt to cross the river. They now retreated to the pa just outside the present town of Waitara, named Pukekohe, but were again attacked here by Te AtiAwa, and once more the taua was forced to retreat. This time they turned inland, and finding the Nga-puke-turua pa—near the Sentry Hill railway station—occupied by some page 219 of the Puketapu branch of the Ati-Awa tribe, the taua attacked it with success, firing volleys into the pa which killed a great number of those inside. Ati-Awa had only their rakau-maori or native weapons to defend themselves with, so could not get at their enemies. The AtiAwa, seeing the probability of the pa being taken, decided to attempt an escape; they made a gallant dash for life, and succeeded in breaking through the ranks of their enemies, and joining their fellow tribesmen at Waitara. The Amio-whenua expedition now occupied the pa abandoned by the Ati-Awa, but had not been there very long before the owners of the pa, reinforced by the people from Waitara, were seen approaching. The invaders were now, in their turn, besieged by the Ati-Awa, but for how long is not known.

Then follows one of those peculiar incidents of Maori warfare so difficult for Europeans to understand. Several of the chiefs of the Puketapu branch of Ati-Awa, as well as some of the Ngati-Rahiri branch, of northern Waitara, were engaged in the siege, and as provisions fell short within the pa, the besiegers—in the words of my informant, “Ka whai kaha e ratou ki a Waikato”—“became possessed with a feeling of generosity towards Waikato,”—i.e., towards Tu-korehu and others. Negotiations ensued, and then Te Manu-toheroa, of Puketapu, springing into the midst of Tu-korehu’s warriors caused the fighting to cease. Then the chiefs of the Ati-Awa, amongst whom were page 220 Pekapeka, Whakaruru, Whatitiri, Korotiwha, Te Ihi-o-te-rangi Ngata, and Te Morehu, arranged that the beleaguered garrison should be conveyed by them to Puke-rangiora, a strong pa on the Waitara river, afterwards so celebrated for the memorable siege under Waikato in December, 1831.

But the troubles of the Amio-whenua taua were not at an end. At Puke-rangiora they were again besieged by the Ati-Awa tribe, and surrounded by a large force “as in a pig-sty,” hence the name of this episode in Maori history, “Raihe-poaka,” which means a pig-sty. Whether the Puke-tapu chiefs helped in this siege is not known. The whole of the transactions between the invaders and the Ati-Awa tribe are obscure, and now incapable of explanation, but it is clear there was a great split amongst the local people, some favouring the taua, others opposing it.

The siege of Puke-rangiora continued some time. The besieged, seeing little prospect of Ati-Awa moving off, and their provisions becoming scarce, decided to send to Waikato for help. The first party of envoys was caught and killed, but a second party met with better success. Travelling by the mountains and unfrequented paths, they reached Waikato, and laid the matter before the great Waikato chief, Te Wherowhero. The latter chief was nothing loth to assist his fellow tribesmen in their sore need, the more so as it fell in with the tribal determination to be avenged on Te Rauparaha page 221 for his evil deeds, done at Kawhia, and which eventuated in his abandoning his ancient home with the whole of his tribes—the Ngati-Toa and Ngati-Koata.

Te Rauparaha was at this time actually migrating from Kawhia, and was on his way, between Kawhia and Ure-nui; but that affair does not belong to this story. Suffice it to say that Te Wherowhero determined at once to follow Te Rauparaha, and at the same time to raise the siege of Puke-rangiora. The Waikato force overtook the migrants at Ure-nui, twenty miles north of New Plymouth, and there the battle of Okoki was fought, on the plain of Motu-nui, with the unexpected result that Te Wherowhero was badly defeated and Waikato lost some of their greatest chiefs.* This event occurred in November, 1821. After the battle, in the stillness of the summer night, as the two opposing parties laid in their respective camps, exhausted with the exertions of the previous day’s fight, each sorrowfully thinking of the friends and relatives lying stark on the battlefield, the voice of Te Wherowhero was heard calling to Rauparaha: “E Raha! E Raha! He aha to koha ki a au?” “O Te Rauparaha! What is thy consideration for me?” The great tribe of Waikato were in deep distress at the loss of so many of their principal chiefs, and feared that Te Rauparaha would follow up his success the next day, when probably the tribe

* See the story as related in “History and Traditions of the Taranaki Coast,” p. 366.

page 222 would be almost annihilated. Hence the old chief appealed to his distant relative’s feelings of consideration towards him. Te Rauparaha rising to the occasion, replied, advising Te Wherowhero to proceed south, and join his fellow-tribesmen at Puke-rangiora. “If you turn back homewards, the upper jaw will close on the lower, and you will be lost”—referring to another taua of Ngati-Mutunga, allied to Te Rauparaha, then hastening to the latter’s assistance from the north, and which would thus place Te Wherowhero between two hostile forces.

Te Wherowhero acted at once on Te Rauparaha’s advice, and starting that same night, marched through the dark, daylight overtaking the force at Waitara. They then made their way up the river to Puke-rangiora, and joined their forces to those of Tu-korehu and Te Kawau, within that pa. How long the combined force held Puke-rangiora is not known, but after some time a truce was patched up with Ati-Awa, and the combined Waikato and Amio-whenua expeditions prepared to start homewards. But, apparently, they did not return together. Either whilst on the way back, or directly after the return, Te Wherowhero heard the news of the great Nga-Puhi raid, under Hongi-Hika, which was approaching the Waikato territories, and he hastened his return sufficiently to take part in the defence of Matakitaki, whilst Te Kawau and the Ngati-Whatua force did not reach their homes at Kaipara page 223 until after Matakitaki had fallen, or some time after May or June, 1822.

My Ngati-Whatua friends informed me that on this expedition Te Kawau habitually had a basket of human flesh for a pillow, all the way round the island. Probably this was a mere
Black and White photograph of two older Maori Women sitting in the front of a fence.

Type of old Maori woman, Pare-ngakaho of Nga-Puhi, who danced with Governor Hobson, R.N., in 1840.

façon de parler, but it shows that a very great many victims fell a sacrifice to the cannibal lusts of the northern warriors, and, it may be added, the flesh must have been raw—no cooked food could have been allowed to touch the sacred head of this fine old chief, who, even in page 224 my time, was the most strictly tapued man I ever came across. It was Te Kawau who invited Governor Hobson to settle on the shores of the Wai-te-mata, and he was there to welcome the Governor when Auckland was founded, in 1841. He died at Ongarahu, Kaipara, some time in the sixties, full of honour, respected by Maori and pakeha alike, and at an advanced age, probably over eighty.

The Amio-whenua expedition is the longest overland raid that any Maori force ever undertook, so far as I know; the distance traversed could not have been much under 800 miles. All the time they were absent they lived on their enemies, taking their stores of kumaras and taros, and eating the owners as a relish. These, with fern root also, would form a considerable portion of the stores. At that time neither Waikato nor Ngati-Whatua possessed many muskets, so the bulk of the force would be armed with native weapons. This was the last of the northern expeditions to reach Cook Strait, though many to less distant parts remain to be narrated. It was daring exploits like this expedition that caused the name of the northern tribes to be so much feared all over the island.