Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:
Mokoia,* Rotorua, 1823
Mokoia,* Rotorua, 1823.
* Tarakawa’s account of the taking of Mokoia—“Journal of the Polynesian Society,” vol. xiii., p. 242—should be read with this. My account is from different sources, parts from Petera-Te-Pukuatua, through Mr. A. Shand, in 1893.
So serious a blow to the prestige of Nga-Puhi could not be passed over, especially after the triumphs of the tribe over the Ngati-Paoa at Mau-inaina, the Ngati-Maru at Te Totara and the Waikato at Matakitaki. Hence the people gathered at the Bay of Islands from far and near, bent on inflicting a great defeat on Te Arawa tribe, of which Tu-hourangi forms a part.
Mr. Marsden paid his fourth visit to New Zealand in this year, arriving at the Bay from Port Jackson on the 3rd August, in the ship page 243 “Brampton,” having on board the Rev. Henry Williams, and his family, together with the Rev. Wm. Turner, Rev. R. Hobbs and their families—the two latter gentlemen belonging to the Wesleyan Mission. From Marsden’s Journals we are able to obtain some approximate dates of events of this year, and of Hongi’s doings in particular. Hongi-Hika was at the Bay in December, 1822, and he was there again in August, 1823. During the interim the Rotorua expedition had taken place. The “Missionary Register,” 1823, p. 512, says: “Hongi-Hika and his people had proceeded towards the East Cape on another fighting expedition, in February, 1823;” so we may be safe in supposing that Mokoia fell somewhere about March or April, 1823.
* Koraurau was subsequently killed at Tauranga.
From Tauranga the expedition passed on to the eastward, to Waihi, the shallow harbour just to the east of Maketu. Here they entered page 246 the Pongakawa stream, which flows northerly into that harbour, through a swampy valley, its waters forming the outlet to Roto-ehu lake; the first few miles, however, being by a subterranean passage. The stream, although deep, is narrow and tortuous, so that it must have been a great labour to force the Nga-Puhi warcanoes up its course. On arrival at the head of the stream, where the subterranean water comes forth, the expedition cleared out the old path leading through the forest to Roto-ehu lake, and then dragged their canoes along it to the lake itself. From Roto-ehu there is a level valley joining the above mentioned lake to Rotoiti lake, about a mile and a half in length. Along the path through the beautiful forest there, the canoes were again dragged to the shores of Roto-iti at Tapuae-haruru. Arrived there, it was all plain sailing for the fleet, which passed along Roto-iti lake, and thence up the Ohau stream into Lake Roto-rua, where the force camped near the outlet.
Captain Mair supplies me with the following interesting incident connected with Hongi’s expedition on its way to Rotorua: “When Nga-Puhi entered the Waihi estuary, they paddled up the Ponga-kawa river to Pari-whaiti, that magnificent outburst of subterranean waters flowing out of Lake Rotoiti, and the head of navigation. Here the ope divided, Te Wera, with one part of the force going along the west side of Mata-whaura, the fine wooded hill just to the north of the east end of Rotoiti lake, and page 247 striking the lake at Otai-roa, a bay on the north coast of the lake, while Hongi Hika with the larger part of the force dragged their canoes overland to Roto-ehu lake. A warrior chief of Ngati-Pikiao named Te Ra-ka-taha living at Tapuae-haruru, the native village at the east end of the lake, hearing the sound of Te Wera’s guns as he attacked Otai-roa, went in a canoe towards the place to fetch away the chief Te Amotu-Takanawa, father of the late Te Mapu-Takanawa. Te Amotu and his people were living in Puta-atua pa, and Te Ra-ka-taha got Te Amotu, Te Paki-o-rangi and eight others into the canoe, but they were seen and pursued by Te Wera’s ope, and then commenced a race for life as the two canoes dashed onwards towards Tapuae-haruru. The pursuers gained on the others so quickly that both canoes reached the beach almost at the same moment. The party of Ngati-Pikiao at once took to the forest, fleeing along the Tahuna track which leads to Roto-ehu. Upon reaching a small stream called Taupo, about midway between the lakes, the fleeing party were overtaken by Nga-Puhi and would all have been killed, but for the devotion of Te Amotu, who, bidding his comrades save themselves by flight, engaged their pursuers single-handed. After killing two with his taiaha he was overpowered and slain—all the others escaped. The survivors fled through to Rotoma lake, and joined two hapus of Ngati-Pikiao, named Ngati-Tamakari and Ngati-Makino, then occupying the page 248 Mori-a-pawa pa on the lake. Te Wera’s party returned to Otairoa.
“In a few days, Hongi-Hika, with the bulk of the force, arrived at Roto-ehu, where their presence was soon detected by the tutei, or scouts of the local tribes. Nga-Puhi had camped at a place called Maungatapu, and during that night they were attacked by a small band of Ngati-Makino and Ngati-Tama-kari (and I think some of Tautari’s people.) The local people had only their rakau maori, or native weapons, and not a single musket, yet in the confusion of the attack and darkness of the night, they succeeded in killing and carrying off the body of a Nga-Puhi chief named Kai-kinikini, besides eight others. It was Te-Ra-ka-taha, before mentioned, who killed this man, whilst Tahurio-rangi, a chief of Ngati-Pikiao, lately deceased, killed another chief whose name has escaped me. Hongi’s taua had a wholesome dread of these people, who subsequently succeeded in several similar attacks, so they quickly moved on to attack Mokoia. After the fall of that place and peace was established, mainly through Te Wera’s and Hikairo’s exertions, Hongi’s ope returned to the coast by the way they came. These incidents were told to me in 1866, by Te Ra-ka-taha and Tahuri-orangi, as we visited each site where they had attacked Nga-Puhi, and described on the ground the various incidents.
“The late Rev. Mr. Spencer told me, when he settled at Tara-wera, in 1848, Te Mapu page 249 Takanawa came to him and extorted a promise —which he never allowed Mr. Spencer to forget —to the effect that all his discarded “belltoppers” should be given to Te Mapu, one of which was always carefully placed on the stone marking the spot where Te Amotu fell” (to which I may add, that I saw the stone with the hat myself in 1874).
I feel pleased through Captain Mair’s help, in being able thus to place on record the noble action of Te Amotu, in sacrificing himself to save his fellow tribesmen.
For some days Nga-Puhi took no steps towards the attack, but amused themselves in paddling round the island, and as they passed the Arawa canoes, drawn up on the island, each chief claimed one of them as his own by calling it after some part of his own body, thus rendering it sacred to himself. Some of these canoes, it is said, were taken back by the victors to the Bay of Islands.
On the third day the Nga-Puhi landed their forces at a little bay on the north side of the island, and were opposed by the whole strength of Te Arawa; but, just before landing, Te Awaawa, making use of one of the very few guns they possessed, fired at, and hit Hongi-Hika on the helmet given him by George IV., and knocked him over into the hold of the canoe—he was not hurt, however. On landing, the fight lasted for some time with varying success, but in the end the guns proved too much for Te Arawa, and they fled. Great numbers were killed, and more taken prisoners, whilst many escaped from the island by swimming to the main land, which, towards Te Ngae on the east shore of the lake is not more than a mile distant. These people generally struck out for the shore in bodies of fifty or more together. Seeing their prey thus escaping them, several of the Nga-Puhi canoes gave chase, to secure the fugitives as slaves. In some cases they succeeded, thus page 252 securing a good many prisoners; for they assured the swimmers that their lives would be spared, and even helped them into the canoes, in none of which were many of the Nga-Puhi. As the number of fugitives in some of the canoes increased, they were induced by their numbers to attempt to reverse the order of things, and, in some cases, turned on Nga-Puhi and despatched a good many of them with the paddles, or anything they could find to hand, and then made their escape to the main land, taking the Nga-Puhi bodies with them to cut up and eat at their leisure. In other cases, when the Nga-Puhi canoes came up to a body of swimmers the latter seized hold of the sides of the canoes, and managed, in many cases, to tumble the Nga-Puhi overboard where they were killed; and then the fugitives escaped to the shore. It thus turned out that, though Nga-Puhi remained the victors, they suffered considerable losses, and this led to their abandoning the pursuit.
Again Captain Mair supplies me with the following detail with reference to the proceeding of the Nga-Puhi after the fall of Mokoia: “The Arawa people who escaped from Mokoia, swam towards Kawaha, on the east shore of the lake, a distance of fully two and a-half miles. Many were drowned in mid-lake, but a large number succeeded in reaching the shore. Te Rakau of the Arawa, greatly distinguished himself; after killing many of the invaders with his taiaha, he was pursued, and page 253 plunging into the lake, dived into a small cave where his pursuers could not find him. He emerged therefrom during the night and succeeding in killing several more of the enemy. This operation he repeated on successive nights whilst great efforts were made to capture him. but he succeeded in escaping by swimming to the mainland at Kawaha.”
“In reference to Te Ao-kapu-rangi; she was a woman of rank of the Ngati-Rangi-wewehi tribe, and married Te Wera, the Nga-Puhi chief (she was captured by him in 1818, see Tarakawa’s “Doings of Te Wera,” J.P.S., Vol. VIII., p. 242), and being anxious to save her own people when Mokoia was attacked, she insisted on going with the taua. So she importuned her husband and through him Hongi Hika, to save her friends. To this Hongi-Hika at last unwillingly consented, making it a condition that all who passed between her thighs should be saved. She was in Hongi’s canoe, when Te Awaawa (who owned the only musket on the island) crept behind a flax bush just where the canoe landed, and fired, knocking Hongi-Hika over, and, as my old friend Pango informed me, giving Hongi “a bad headache for three days.” Hongi’s fall, though protected from a wound by his steel helmet, created a sort of panic, during which Te Aokapu-rangi sprang ashore and quickly making her way to a large house belonging to her tribe, she stood with her legs straddled above the doorway, at the same time imploring her people page 254 to enter the house, which they did, till the house could contain no more, and all these were saved. Hence is the Ngati-Rangi-wewehi saying—“Ano ko te whare whawhao a Te Aokapu-rangi.” “This is like the crowded house of Te Ao-kapu-rangi.” It was this circumstance that brought about peace with Nga-Puhi. Te Ao-kapu-rangi, having obtained permission, went for her uncle Hikairo, who was in hiding in the Mango-rewa forest at a place named Te Ahi-tutu-hinau, and took him to Hongi-Hika at Mokoia. Hongi-Hika gave him his helmet, a Morian cap he had received from George IV. on his visit to England in 1820, and which Te Awaawa’s bullet had damaged. This helmet subsequently fell into the hands of an old Ngati-Parua chief named Tahuri-o-rangi, who showed it to me at Te Waerenga in 1867, but it was buried in the old man’s house at his death in 1873.”
The Nga-Puhi host remained at Mokoia many days, living on the “fish of Tu,” and making expeditions to the mainland in pursuit of those who had escaped, most of whom, however, got away to the fastnesses and secret hiding-places known only to themselves.
It appears that Nga-Puhi at one time had the intention of taking permanent possession of the Rotorua district, but on full discussion the idea was abandoned. Many prisoners were taken, and carried back to the Bay of Islands some of whom were afterwards returned to page 255 their tribe, others (women) becoming the wives of the northern warriors.
The Nga-Puhi force returned by the way it came to Waihi harbour, where they camped for a few days before making their arrangements to return home to the Bay, and to complete the peace they had made with some sections of Te Arawa through the chief of the latter tribe, Hikairo. Here the Nga-Puhi forces divided. Pomare and Te Wera going on south, whilst the others returned home to the Bay of Islands.
Mr. Marsden notes in his journal, September, 1823, that he witnessed the return to the Bay of some of the canoes belonging to Hongi’s expedition, which were commanded by Tuturu, of Waikare. Both contained dead bodies of people killed in the South. He describes the scenes of woe which were to be observed so soon as the crews landed. Archdeacon H. Williams (in the “Missionary Register,” 1824, p. 410) says that in the course of a fortnight subsequent to the 5th of September, 1823, Hongi-Hika returned from the war: “Great numbers were killed in this war, but I have not heard of any sacrifices since their return. Hongi-Hika narrowly escaped; he was struck thrice; his helmet preserved him once. He lost a very considerable force, and had all his canoes burned.” (I can find no account from native sources in reference to the burning of the canoes.) About this same time also, September, Marsden visited Tui’s tribe at the Bay, and there found that he, with page 256 his elder brother, Korokoro, and their uncle, Kaipo, had been engaged in the late campaign. News had arrived that Kaipo had been killed, and that Korokoro had died of a wound at Katikati, and that Tui was then at a little island near the Thames, waiting an opportunity to bring back his brother, Korokoro’s, body. Kaipo was a young man when Cook first visited New Zealand. In conversation with Waikato–Hongi’s companion on his voyage to England —Marsden learned that the latter was contemplating an expedition to Taranaki. This, however, never came off. Tui took the name of Katikati, from the fact of his brother’s death having occurred at that place. He was also called Tupaea; he died 17th October, 1824.
There are several laments for those who fell at Mokoia, of which the following (I think) is one, though it is not certain if Taiawhio fell at Mokoia itself:
HE TANGI, MO TAIA WHIO.
Takoto iho ki taku moenga
Me he ika ora au ki te iwi,
Ki a koutou E Here! ma
E pukai mai ra i Mokoia,
Na Te Whata-nui i hi te pakake,
Pae ana ko Te Waha kei uta,
He mango ihu nui.
Homai nga roro no Tahakura,
Hei kai ake ma Rewharewha,
Haere wareware ko te hoa,
Kihai i kai i a Te Waero,
Engari ano te marama,
Eke penu tonu ki runga.
Na Te Waru nga mahara,
Puhaina mai ki a Te ‘Paraha,
Arahina mai i Tauranga,
page 257 Te huna i Rotorua,
Tena ano te homai na,
Ki te putiki na Papa-wharanui,—
Ki a Te Mutu-kuri,
Hei tua i a Te Pae‘,
Hinga rawa ki raro ra.
As I lay me down to sleep,
To the people I seem as a struggling fish just caught,
Thinking sadly of you all, O Here!
That lie in heaps at Mokoia.
’Twas Te Whata-nui1 that fished the whale
When Te Waha was stranded ashore,
Looking like a big-nosed shark.
Bring here the brains of Tahakura,
As a dainty food for Rewharewha.2
My friend went off in forgetfulness,
And tasted not of Te Waero.3
Rather does the moon,
Rise with taro-pounded like face.4
’Twas Te Waru originated the idea,5
Given to and elaborated by Te Rauparaha,6
Then were they led here from Tauranga,
To overwhelm and obliterate Rotorua,7
But finally the stroke fell.
On the “top-not” of Papa-whara-nui8—
To Te Mutu-kuri,9
Who felled Te Pae-o-te-rangi,
And caused their utter downfall.
1 Te Whata-nui, of Ngati-Raukawa, who, with Te Rauparaha, gave the advice that led to the disaster at Mokoia,
2 Rewharewha. There were leading chiefs of both Nga-Puhi and Ngati-Whatua of this name, but probably this is another man.
3 Te Waero was killed at Motutawa in 1822. He was a Nga-Puhi chief.
4 Eke penu in reference to the moon rise, I take to mean its taro-like appearance; the face of the moon has just that look when full.
5 Te Waru, of Ngai-Te-Rangi, Tauranga, who from this appears to have originated the idea of killing Te Pae-o-te-rangi and party in 1822.
6 As to Te Rauparaha’s part in these transactions see ante.
7 Referring to the Nga-Puhi invasion guided to Rotorua by the Tauranga people.
8 The top-knot of Papawhara-nui—emblematical for the chiefs of Tuhourangi tribe, of which,
9 Te Mutu-kuri was chief at the killing of Te Pae-ote-rangi in 1822. Papa-whara-nui was the mother of Tu-hourangi, whose name is borne still by that division of Te Arawa.
Many, no doubt, were the scenes of woe on the return of the expedition from Rotorua, but the following is worth recording as showing the manners of the time: It appears that one of the Nga-Puhi chiefs—whose name is not given —took two of the young Arawa women who fell to his share amongst the prisoners as his concubines. The native story (as told by Te Marunui, of Ngati-Manawa to Mr. Best) is that, when these two women were about to be delivered their master said to them that if their children proved to be sons he would make both the women his wives, but if their offspring should prove to be daughters, he would kill both mothers and children. When the time drew near one of the girls, fearing the result, fled to the wilds, and there gave birth to a daughter. She was so alarmed for the safety of herself and child, that she dare not go back to the home of her master, but took up her residence under a grove of karaka trees. Being without clothing, the poor mother felt the cold very acutely. She was seen by one of her fellow-prisoners, a female, who heard the poor thing sing a touching waiata-oriori, or lullaby, and she retained the words of it. On the third day the child perished, and on the fifth the mother herself succumbed to the cold. This is her song:–
E Hine! Karanga kino taua ki te ao nei-e-i,
Ka uhi taua he whare rau karaka,
Tena E Hine! te Piko Hawaiki,
I nga nui ra-e,
A to tupuna i waiho i te ao,
Hei whakahau mo Hine ra.
page 259 Nei koa taua te kiia mai nei,
Naku i he, whai noa ko te ure ra-e-
I poua iho ai he tore taurekareka,
I puta ai ki waho -e-i.
Kaore E Hine! he whetu o runga,
Ko Maratea anake,
Nana Hongi-Hika i turaki ki raro ra,
Ka manawa reka ra te roa o te whenua,
Ka noho taua i raro i te raorao,
I te oneone i ariki ai te tangata.
Orua tonu mai te karanga o Hine,
Te houhanga pu i a Takahorea,
E ngana i te rangi,
Me he tane pea e mau ki to patu,
Tikina takahia te puke i Hikurangi,
I a Te Roki-mara, nana i homai,
Nga pu mahara i herea mai ai,
Nga toka whakahi o era whenua,
E noho nei ra matou ko o kuia,
I runga o Herangi, E Hine! ra.
E kimi atu ana, e rangahau atu ana,
He uriuri tangata, maoihi koe i uta,
Ki te waka.
Tahuri to kanohi te puke i Te Aroha,
I to tane ra ko Herua-i-te-rangi,
Nana i titoko te kohu ki raro nei,
Ka hinga Nga-Puhi, ka ea te mate ra-e-i,
Mokai a Te Kahu i te tua-one i waho ra,
I roa to whakaheketanga,
Te horo i te huaki.
Ka kitea mai koe e te puni wahine,
Ma Pare-raututu e taki ki te whare,
Kia tiponatia te kaka o te waero,
Kia whakahau koe ko te muka i te kete,
Ka rarahu to ringa he hua-manehu-rangi,
Hei whakakakara mo to hika, E Hine ra.
O little maid! evil is the name we bear in this world, alas!
As we shelter beneath the green karaka leaves.
Elsewhere there are, O little maid! in far Hawaiki
The great ones of noble descent,
Left by thy ancestors in this world,
To animate this little maid.
page 260 Now, indeed, is it said of us,
Mine was the fault; ’twas he that sought me,
And made of me—a slave—his wife.
Hence came thou forth to the world.
There is, O little maid! no star above,
Comparable to Maratea1 alone,
Who, Hongi-Hika’s pride laid low,
Causing joy throughout the land.
Sit we thus lowly on the plain,
On the earth that made men lords.
Tremulous is the cry of the little maid,
At the salvos of Takahorea’s dreaded guns,
That disturb the very heavens.
Wert thou a man, thou wouldst seize thy weapon
And tread the hills of distant Hikurangi,
Where dwells Te Roki-mara, he who gave
The subtle counsel that firmly bound
The proud ones of those lands
Wherein we dwelt with thy ancestors,
Above in Herangi, O little maid!
I am seeking, I am searching,
Some common friend to save thee
From on board the lost canoe.
Turn thy gaze to Mount Te Aroha,
To thy lover there, to Herua-i-te-rangi,
Who compelled the war-cloud to the north,
When Nga-Puhi fell, and defeat was there avenged.
A slave is Te Kahu, on yonder beach,
At full length was thy descent,
In the scaling, in the assault.
Thou shalt be seen by the company of women,
And Pare-raututu shall lead thee to the home,
And fasten on the dog-skin garment;
Thou shalt demand fine flax of the store,
And stretch forth thy hand for sweet-smelling herbs
To scent thy body—O little maid!
1 The introduction of the name of Maratea shows that this little song was composed after 1828, for it was he who shot Hongi Hika at Mangamuka, Hokianga.
* “Remarkable Incidents in the Life of the Rev. Samuel Leigh,” London, 1853, p. 176.
* John White, vol. v., p. 175.
† Loc. cit., p. 70.
In September, also, Marsden records a conversation with Rewa, who informed him that he had just heard that his brother had been killed in war, and, if it turned out to be true, he would go and avenge his death.