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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Pomare and Te Wera-Hauraki’s Expedition to the South, 1823

Pomare and Te Wera-Hauraki’s Expedition to the South, 1823.

As has been stated a few pages back, the Nga-Puhi force, after their return to Waihi, from Rotorua, divided—Hongi Hika and his party returning home to the Bay of Islands, whilst Pomare and Te Wera-Hauraki, with their particular portion of the taua, proceeded onwards towards the east. The latter party was a very strong one, if we may believe the Urewera accounts of their doings; and it is from information obtained from that tribe that most of the incidents of this expedition is derived. The expedition had more than one object in view, outside the usual one of manslaying. Pomare was taking back to their tribe several of the Ngati-Porou people he had captured near the East Cape in a former expedition, the date of which is believed to be 1820–21. Te Wera, or Hauraki, had a like object, for in his great expedition to the south in the same years he had captured a Ngati-Kahu-ngunu chief named Te Whare-umu (not to be confounded with the Nga-Puhi chief of the same name) at Nuku-taurua, Te Mahia Peninsula, when he took that place with great slaughter. page 264 Te Wera returned from this latter expedition to the Bay on the 19th April, 1821, having been absent 16 months (see ante) and so far as can now be made out, Pomare was with this expedition for part of the time, but returned to the Bay after the siege of Te Whetu-matarau pa at Kawakawa, near the East Cape, when the prisoners, alluded to above, were taken.

The expedition, after parting from Hongi-Hika at Waihi some time in July or August, 1823, sailed along the coast and entered the Whakatane river, where their arrival caused great alarm to the Ngati-Awa tribe there living, for the people had a very lively recollection of Pomare’s foray of the previous year (see ante). The Ngati-Awa gathered in their pa of Puke-tapu, situated just above the modern township of Whakatane, and a little to the south-west of the Wairere waterfalls.* They were a numerous people in those days, and had villages and cultivations on the flat where the township now stands, dating from the arrival of the Mata-atua canoe, which formed part of the fleet that arrived here from Hawaiki (or Tahiti) in about the year 1350. A large village stood below Puke-tapu pa, close to the rock called Tuawhake, which afterwards—in pakeha days—formed the wharf here, and Ngati-Pukeko had also a large village just inland of

* Tradition says that it was at this Wairere that Ngahue obtained the Moa, which he preserved in calabashes, and took back to Hawaiki (Tahiti) with him long before the migration to New Zealand in about the year 1350.

page 265 the rocky pinnacle called Pohatu-roa, which juts out into the river at the south end of the town. This village was named Wharau-rangi, and the following “saying” has reference to the different dispositions of the two tribes inhabiting these two villages:—

He korero riri kei Wharau-rangi,
He ta matau kei Otuawhake.

Anger prevails at Wharau-rangi,
But binding on fishhooks at Otuawhake.

Opposite the township, on the sand hills facing the ocean is the ancient burial ground of Ngati-Awa, called Kopiha, about which is the following saying”:—

E Ta! ko Kopiha whanaunga kore tenei!
O sirs! This is Kopiha without relatives!

The meaning of which is, that strangers arriving from Matata along the coast would wait there to be ferried across the river, but no one would fetch them or acknowledge them so long as they infringed the tapu of the burial ground.

Whakatane is full of places connected with the arrival of the Mata-atua canoe. In the channel of the river, well inside the mouth, is the rock called Toka-a-taiau, said to be the anchor of the canoe. To the eastward of the Wairere Falls, on the very top of the hill, is Kapü-te-rangi, a very ancient pa, said to have been the home of Toi, the ancestor of so many tribes of New Zealand, and whose descendants page 266 in the sixth or seventh generation welcomed the arrival of the two shipwrecked strangers–Taukata and Hoake—from Hawaiki, who brought to the aborigines of New Zealand the knowledge of the kumara. Nearly opposite the mouth of the river is Orahiri, a pa built by Rahiri, of the immigrants of the Mata-atua canoe, who afterwards migrated to the north. Shorewards of the Toka-a-taiau, is the pebbly beach on which the Mata-atua canoe first landed on the shores of New Zealand, and inland of it was the cave of Muriwai (now covered by a landslip), the sister of Toroa, captain of the Mata-atua canoe, and which lady is the ancestor of the Whakatohea tribe of Opotiki. Near here also stood Tupapaku-rau, the whare-maire, or “house of learning” of Toroa of the Mataatua, in which was taught the sacred knowledge of history, genealogies and karakia, brought over the seas from Hawaiki. This seat of learning was afterwards removed to Mairerangi, a place near Te Karaka, below Whanamahihi, seaward of Rua-tahuna in the Whakatane Valley, in the days of Wharaki-wananga, who was a lineal descendant of Tane-atua, the priest of Mata-atua canoe. Here the learned priests Tama-tuahuru, Tao-kaki and Te Ahiraratu taught in after days the mysteries and history of their tribe.

A few yards north-east of the stream that comes down from the Wairere Falls, and forty or fifty yards inland of the present road, running parallel to the beach, marked by a pine page 267 tree, is the grave of poor James Fulloon, murdered by the Hauhaus in 1865.

But to return to Pomare’s expedition. Puketapu pa, in which Ngati-Awa had gathered, was of no great strength, and fell an easy prey to the Nga-Puhis with their guns. After the usual feasting on the “fish of Tu,” the Nga-Puhi host divided up into several parties in order the more effectually to harry the country. Moka, with one party, proceeded up the Waimana Valley into the Urewera country, where he fell on some of the Ngati-Awa, who were fleeing to the Urewera mountains for safety, and defeated them at Te Wharau (? Tawhana).

Te Morenga followed up the Wai-o-tahe Valley from Ohiwa, in chase of some of the Whakatohea tribe of that locality; whilst Titore, proceeding to Opotiki, passed up the Wai-o-eka Valley, driving the Whakatohea before him to the mountains, and another force proceeded into the Urewera country by way of the Rangitaiki Valley and the Horomanga river.

But the main party, under Pomare, Te Wera, Parahaki, (and probably Titore, after his joining the main force), also advanced up the Whakatane Valley by way of Ruatoki, the Urewera people living there fleeing before them to the mountains of the interior. With them were some of the Ngati-Awa tribe, who page 268 had fled from Whakatane and its neighbourhood. On arrival of the Nga-Puhi at Waikirikiri, near the entrance of the gorge, they camped there one night, and in the morning heard cocks crowing at a place named Te Hua. From this incident they knew at once that they were near the dwelling place of either Te Maitara-nui, or Piki of Ngati-Koura, (a branch of the Urewera), for it appears that the latter, and probably Te Iripa, Te Mai-tara-nui’s brother, had visited the Bay of Islands with one of the previous Nga-Puhi expeditions (Tamarau says with Hongi’s expedition in 1818), and had been presented by Pomare with some fowls and Indian corn—the first to reach those parts. Piki, however, was absent at this time at Hauraki.* On the way further up the valley, the Nga-Puhi overtook some of the Ngati-Awa tribe, and managed to kill one of their chiefs named Te Awe-o-te-rangi, besides Tai-timu-roa and his son, Pahu-nui. This occurred at Tunanui some miles up the river, and the chiefs killed served the usual purpose of a feast for Nga-Puhi.

The Urewera had retreated to the wild country about Maunga-pohatu and Lake Waikare-moana, leaving the settlements about Ruatahuna undefended. The Nga-Puhi force proceeded up the Whakatane Valley to the open

* There is some confusion in the Urewera histories of these times, which I have in vain endeavoured to clear up by the help of Rakuraku, Tama-i-koha, Tamarau and Tutaka-ngahau, some of whom say Te Mai-tara-nui had visited the Bay before this.

page 269 country at Ohaua-te-rangi, and there camped. Te Mai-tara-nui, who at that time was one of the principal chiefs of both the so-called Urewera and Ngati-Awa, was at Maungapohatu, together with the bulk of the Urewera
Black and White photograph of a Maori Male Head.

A fully-tattooed Maori.

tribe, when news arrived of the advance of Nga-Puhi to Ohaua. He at once despatched a party of scouts six in number, under his brother Te Iripa, to ascertain their strength, and to learn who the Nga-Puhi leaders were if possible. Te Iripa cautiously approaching, looked down on page 270 the invading force from the forest-clad hills, and recognised Pomare amongst them. He then went back and reported to Te Mai-tara-nui, who was anxious to proceed at once and meet Pomare, but the tribe strongly objected. So he sent instead a party of chiefs to meet the Nga-Puhi force. This party consisted of Te Iripa, Paora-Kakaure, Te Whetu and Te Hiko. In the meantime, Pomare and party—which numbered 200 strong—had advanced up the Whakatane Valley to Rua-tahuna, and there occupied the Kakatahi village, on the Manawaru hill, a kainga celebrated in the annals of Tuhoe-land. This place is situated on a high mountain overlooking the vale of Rua-tahuna, just at the east of the present village of Mataatua. It was a place of great măna formerly where high council was held by the Urewera mountaineers, and arrangements perfected for their numerous forays into the open country beyond the limits of their own highlands. The Urewera were desirous of making peace with Nga-Puhi, and hence the embassy of the four chiefs. On approaching the village, the party came across the Nga-Puhi sentries. They were asked who they were, and Te Iripa (some accounts say Pae-tawa) replied that they had been sent by Te Mai-tara-nui to visit Pomare. The word was then passed along from camp to camp, to the place where Pomare was, at the far end, “E! Ko Te Mai-tara-nui!” “O! Here is Te Mai-tara-nui.” The envoys were now introduced to the presence of Pomare, who page 271 again repeated the question, “Who sent you?” Said they, “We were sent by Te Mai-tara-nui.” “Fetch him here,” said Pomare, and after a time the envoys returned with their message.

Te Mai-tara-nui now, with an accompaniment of chiefs befitting his rank, proceeded to Manawaru, where a formal peace was made between him and Pomare, and the Nga-Puhi never returned as enemies against the Urewera, though, as we shall see, they came back on another occasion as their friends and allies. The Nga-Puhi force now went on to Maungapohatu with their new friends, where the usual feasting, &c., took place in accordance with Maori custom.

After some time messengers were despatched to Moka, Te Morenga, and the leaders of the other divisions of the expedition, to return and assemble at Puketi, in the Whakatane Valley, as peace had been made; and then Pomare and his party started back for Whakatane, accompanied by Te Mai-tara-nui and some of the Urewera, in order to cement the peace with the other Nga-Puhi chiefs. From Maunga-pohatu, the party went down the Whakatane Valley (or as some say, viâ Te Whaiti and Te Teko*), and finally reached Puketi, where had assembled the 600 men of the other divisions of Nga-Puhi. On arrival, the Nga-Puhi forces divided into

* Possibly this was the party that went to Horomanga. It is said they procured canoes at Te Teko from Ngati-Awa, and proceeded thence down the Orini River to Whakatane.

page 272 eight matuas, or companies, under their respective chiefs, ready to receive the visitors. As Pomare’s party drew near, he said to Te Maitara-nui, “Kia kaha koe ki te whai i a Te Hihi; ki te mau i a koe, ka mate a Nga-Puhi—koia hoki te măna o Nga-Puhi.” “Be very active in chasing Te Hihi; if you catch him Nga-Puhi will be humiliated, for he is the power of Nga-Puhi,” meaning that Te Hihi was a noted brave, and their swiftest runner. As is usual on such occasions, the tangata wero, or spearsman—in this case Te Hihi*—advancing at a trot towards the visitors, grimacing and dancing as he came along, having two hamanu, or cartridge-boxes, in front, and another carried saltire-wise over his shoulder. In his left hand he trailed a gleaming bright musket, and in his right the light spear to throw at the visitors, who were all kneeling on one knee, arms in hand ready for the charge. On reaching within about ten yards of Pomare’s force, the latter said to Te Mai-tara-nui, “That is Te Hihi, your man, chase him!” Te Hihi cast his spear, and turned to the right in full flight towards his own party. At the same time, Te Mai-tara-nui darted after him at his very best pace. Just before Te Hihi reached his party, Te Mai-taranui overtook him and struck him on the shoulder with his spear—but not heavily—

* Probably Te Hihi-o-tote, a noted Nga-Puhi warrior.

It is an evil omen to turn to the left on such occasions—a korapa.

page 273 amidst the cheers (umere) of the whole of Nga-Puhi. Pomare cried out, “Nga-Puhi E! to mate! to măna, kua hinga!” “Nga-Puhi O! thy defeat! thy power has fallen!”

The usual war dances, speeches and feastings ensued, and then was a binding peace concluded between the Nga-Puhi and the Urewera tribes, never to be broken.

Te Mai-tara-nui and his party now returned to Maunga-pohatu, where we must leave him for a time, though we shall meet him again the following year.

But Pomare and Te Wera had not yet accomplished the object of their voyage. The Nga-Puhi force—800 strong—embarked at Whakatane and proceeded along the coast to the eastward. They put into Opotiki, and here some of them—it is said under Marino, Te Wera’s nephew, of the Ngai-Tawhaki hapu, and Rewa —made an excursion up the Otara river with the view of attacking the Whakatohea tribe, some of whom were then living in their pas named Te Ika-ata-kite, Te Toi-roa, Te Horomanga and Pa-inanga, situated about seven miles up the river, and near the end of the fertile plain of Opotiki. These pas were all taken with considerable slaughter. Mr. J. A. Wilson, in his interesting work already quoted,* says, “About 1823 they (the Whaka-tohea) were attacked by Nga-Puhi under the celebrated Hongi-Hika. Their pa, Te Ika-ata-kite, was

* The “Life of Te Waharoa,” p. 16.

page 274 taken, and a blue cloth obtained from Captain Cook was carried away, besides many captives.” According to the information I received, Hongi-Hika himself was not present, though it is true he was the leader of the expedition, of which Pomare’s and Te Wera’s forces formed a part.

From Opotiki the Nga-Puhi force passed onward to the north-east, along the beautiful shores of the Bay of Plenty, with its richcoloured cliffs clad with innumerable pohutukawa trees, and its fertile strip of terrace land lying between the top of the cliffs and the wooded mountains behind–a strip of very fertile country, which is at this day covered with Indian corn and kumara plantations belonging to the Ngai-Tai, Whanau-a-Apanui, and other tribes. At Marae-nui, some seven or eight miles eastward of Opotiki, the Nga-Puhi attacked the Whaka-tohea people living there, and slaughtered a good many of them. This was, I believe, the second time the Marae-nui people had suffered through Nga-Puhi’s lust of man-eating.

From Marae-nui the Nga-Puhi expedition passed on to Te Kaha point, the full name of which is Te Kaha-nui-a-Tiki-rakau. Here they attacked the Whanau-a-Apanui tribe, who were living in the Toka-a-kuku and other pas in that neighbourhood, and though some of the local people were killed, Nga-Puhi suffered a defeat, losing one of their chiefs named Marino, page 275 who was Te Wera’s nephew. In the year 1836 Te Wera took ample revenge for this loss.

The fleet then passed on to Whanga-paraoa, a place celebrated in the Maori annals as the gathering place of the fleet that brought the immigrants from Hawaiki in about the year 1350. This was after the dispersal of the fleet by a storm at sea. Here the canoes finally separated, each one proceeding to a different part to settle. Pomare and Te Wera fell on the Whanau-a-Apanui people here and killed one of their chiefs named Te Pakipaki-rauiri. Starting again they rounded Cape Runaway and then coasted along to Te Kawakawa Bay, where they landed in order to allow Pomare to carry out his intention of returning the lady, Te Rangi-i-paea, to her people, the Whanau-a-Tu-whakairi-ora, a branch of the Ngati-Porou tribe there living. She had been taken prisoner by Pomare on a former raid, together with many others of the Ngati-Porou tribe, when Te Whetu-matarau pa was besieged by Nga-Puhi.