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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Pomare’s Peace with Ngati-Porou, 1823

Pomare’s Peace with Ngati-Porou, 1823.

It would probably be about the month of August or September, 1823, that the fleet appeared off Kawakawa, Rangi-i-paea, Pomare’s captive wife, being of the party, and who (the native story says), he intended to return to her tribe, after using her as a peacemaker between his tribe and hers.

On arrival the messengers were sent off to Taitai, the then mountain home of the local page 276 people, to ask Te Aitanga-a-Tu-whakairi-ora to come down and make peace with Nga-Puhi. After a time they agreed and came–says my informant–about 4,000 in number. Arrived at, or near, Araroa, they pitched their camp not very far off from that of Nga-Puhi. Pomare now sent Rangi-i-paea and another woman to the party to arrange a meeting, the Nga-Puhi remaining in the background, but quietly advancing after their emissaries. As soon as Ngati-Porou saw how few in number Nga-Puhi were, the memory of their late defeat at the latter’s hands, and thinking also the opportunity of obtaining some utu for their losses had come, ousted all idea of peace. Consequently Ngati-Porou arose and made a sudden attack on the Nga-Puhi force. “But what could Maori weapons do against guns”? said my informant. Ngati-Porou again suffered a defeat, and then hastened off as fast as they could go to their fastnesses at Taitai.

Pomare appears now to have gone on with the rest of the Nga-Puhi fleet round the East Cape to Waiapu. Here Te Wera, with his own immediate hapu–Te Uri-taniwha–proceeded south to take back his prisoner, Te Whare-umu, to his tribe living at Te Mahia peninsula, whilst Pomare, Rewa, and other Nga-Puhi chiefs turned back and again landed at Te Kawakawa Bay. It appears that Pomare was still desirous of making peace with Ngati-Porou, notwithstanding the previous failure. He now selected Taotao-riri, a trusted warrior of Nga-Puhi, and page 277 sent him inland to Taitai, with his own wife, Rangi-i-paea, as emissaries to open the way. As these two drew near to the settlement, Ngati-Porou, on learning who the warrior was, decided to kill Taotao-riri. But as the fearless Nga-Puhi chief, with white plumes in his hair, armed with a musket and two cartridge-boxes, advanced boldly with his companion into the village, their animosity changed to admiration at his daring. They also had in mind that he was under the protection of their own chieftainess, Rangi-i-paea. After a time, Ngati-Porou were induced to believe in the bonâ fides of Pomare’s offers of peace, and a large party accompanied Taotao-riri on his return to Te Kawakawa, where a peace was formally made between the two tribes, which had been at enmity for nearly 20 years. To cement this peace, Taotao-riri was married to a Ngati-Porou lady named Hiku-poto, and–says my informant–their grandson is now a native minister living somewhere in the neighbourhood of Mahu-rangi, north of Auckland.

Nga-Puhi now returned to their canoes at Te Kawakawa-mai-tawhiti,* and then sailed for page 278 their northern homes of the Bay of Islands. With them went several of the Ngati-Porou as guests, to learn of the new religion, and see the wonders of the mission stations there. One of these Ngati-Porou people was an old chief named Uenuku; another was Taumata-a-kura, a man we shall come across again in the continuation of this narrative. It was he that introduced Christianity amongst this branch of the Ngati-Porou, but not for several years to come. Uenuku and Rangi-i-paea, after the death of Pomare in 1826, returned to their home at Te Kawakawa, bringing with them several of the Nga-Puhi people to reside with them.

The exact date of Pomare’s return to the Bay cannot be fixed, but from other circumstances it is probable that it was January or February, 1824. The expedition, described above, was the last made by Nga-Puhi from the Bay against the Ngati-Porou of the East Cape. Before this there had been several, for the Ngati-Porou country had been for many years a kind of man-hunting ground of theirs, during which Nga-Puhi inflicted terrible losses on these tribes in retaliation for their killing a girl of Nga-Puhi, left near the East Cape by the brig “Venus,” in 1806.

* Te Kawa-kawa-mai-tawhiti—Kawakawa from Tahiti—is an interesting name. Near there is a river called Puna-ruku, identical with the name of the Tahitian River, Puna-ru‘u, on the west side of the latter island, and in the district where dwells Te Teva clan. I have already indicated in “Hawaiki” that it is probable the migration of 1350 came from that part of Tahiti to New Zealand, which has recently been confirmed by Mr. Tati Samon of Tahiti—see “Journal of the Polynesian Society,” vol. xix. These names are a confirmation of that indication.