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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Te Wera Settles at Te Mahia Peninsula, 1823

Te Wera Settles at Te Mahia Peninsula, 1823.

It was stated a few pages back that Te Wera Hauraki, the celebrated Nga-Puhi chief, after page 279 parting from Pomare at Waiapu, near the East Cape, proceeded down the east coast with his own immediate hapu–the Uri-taniwha branch of Nga-Puhi–to take back his prisoner, Te-Whare-umu, to his own tribe living at Te Mahia peninsula.

Te Wera’s flotilla passed along the shores occupied by the Ngati-Porou, Ngati-Kahungunu, and their numerous sub-tribes, no doubt causing the usual consternation, which the recollection of Te Wera’s and Titore’s former expedition of 1820–21, and that of Hongi-Hika and Te Morenga in 1818, would emphasize in no small degree. But we have no records of the doings of the fleet until it put into Turanga-nui, or Poverty Bay, where the party camped. Their presence immediately became known to the Rongo-whakaata, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, and other tribes, which, under their celebrated chief Te Kani-a-Takirau, were there living as well as along the coast northwards to Tologa * Bay, or Uāwa, which is its proper name. The fleet was immediately recognised as belonging to the Nga-Puhi tribe, and Te Kani-a-Takirau decided to make overtures to these powerful and well-armed warriors of the North, and gain page 280 their assistance against a section of the Ngati-Porou tribe, which was then besieging a pa of Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, at Uāwa. But first it was necessary to cement a peace with Nga-Puhi for the following reason: During the previous expedition of Te Wera and Titore, in 1820–21, Nga-Puhi had come into collision with Te Kania-Takirau’s tribe and inflicted a severe defeat on them at the Waipaoa river, running into Poverty Bay, which is described under the section, “Titore’s and Te Wera’s expedition, 1820–21” ante.

Te Kani was anxious for the help of Nga-Puhi against Ngati-Porou, and especially desirous that Nga-Puhi should assist in the search for his grandmother, Hine-matioro (the “great queen” of the Missionaries), who had been within the pa when the siege commenced. In accordance with custom, she had been taken away by some of her tribe for fear she should fall into the hands of the enemy. She had been lowered down by a rope from the pa to the seashore, and there some few of her people had carried her off in a canoe to a place of safety. At the time of Te Wera’s arrival at Poverty Bay, it was not known whether she had reached a place of safety or not, hence the anxiety of Te Kani. Te Wera consented to this request for aid, but declared he must first keep his promise to his prisoner, Te Whare-umu, and return him to his home at Nuku-taurua, Te Mahia peninsula.

page 281

So Te Wera proceeded on his way, and finally returned Te Whare-umu to his people at Nuku-taurua, and then, on their invitation, took up his permanent residence there, becoming during the next few years a rallying point for all the people of that district and indeed for all the East Coast tribes as far south as Wairarapa. For those were troublous times, and the warlike incursions of Ngati-Toa (Te Rauparaha’s tribe) and of the Ati-Awa refugees from Taranaki, driven to migrate to Kapiti and Port Nicholson by fear of the Waikato tribes, had spread the alarm to Wairarapa, when many of the people of that district fled northward to Te Mahia for safety. The Heretaunga, or Napier district was also in a very disturbed state, owing to the warlike incursions of the Ngati-Tu-wharetoa tribes of Taupo, and the Ngati-Raukawa tribes of Maunga-tautari, near Cambridge. This latter tribe seems to have determined on permanently occupying Here-taunga, but were finally expelled by the local tribes with the aid of Te Wera.

It was about the end of 1823, or beginning of 1824, that Te Wera cast in his lot with the tribes of Te Mahia, marrying other wives from the people of that place, in addition to his Arawa wife, Te Ao-kapu-rangi, the lady who saved her people at the siege of Mokoia, as related previously. We have no information as to how and when he complied with Te Kani’s request for help.

page 282

One of the reasons why Te Wera thus abandoned his home in the north, which was at Ahuahu near Waimate, was in consequence of the quarrels constantly occurring between him and Te Hotete, Hongi’s father. On the death of Te Ao-kapu-rangi, Te Wera’s wife, many years afterwards, her grand-daughter Rangiwawahia, composed the following lament:—

Whakarongo! whakarongo ana
Maua ko taringa,
Ki nga rongorongo taua,
E piki mai i Hautere—e—i,
Ko Nga-Puhi pea?
Ka tanuku kei raro,
Te tihi ki Mokoia—a—i,
Takoto mai ra—e—
E te kiri-kahurangi i au—e—i—
E tu, E Whae! he maihi whare-nui
No Tama-te-kapua—
No to whanau-e—
Kia whakaputa koe,
Te mana o Hotu-roa;
E tu ana koe,
Nga waka taurua,
I a Tainui, i a Te Arawa.
Na Rangi-tihi koe,
He hekenga iho ra,
No Tama-te-kapua.
Kia pohiri koe te tini o Te Arawa,
Koia i to “whare whawhao” e—ei—
Ka puta te tangata,
Ka ora ki te Ao—e—i,
Houhia e koe ki te rongo,
Uhia e koe te kahu waero-nui
Ki runga o Rotorua,
Kihai i takahia, a,
I hoko mai, E Ao!
Ki runga ki a Tai-nui—e—
Te waka o Tu-rongo—o—
Na Rau-kawa koe—ra—ē.

page 283

Hearken! Let us listen—
Me and my ears,
To the rumours of wars
That come upwards from Hautere,
Maybe, ’tis Nga-Puhi?
That are crashing down,
Like those who fell on the summit of Mokoia.
Thou liest there!
O Thou exalted one!
Thou didst bestride, O Mother!
The barge-board of the great house,
Called “Tama-te-Kapua”—1
The house of the family,
And there proclaimed
The power of Hotu-roa.2
Thou art descended,
From those of the double canoes,
From “Tainui” and “Te Arawa,”
Thou art from Rangi-tihi,
The descendant
Of Tama-te-kapua.
There thou beckoned the many of Te Arawa;3
Hence the saying “The brim-full house.”
Men then came forth
And were saved to the world.
Then thou made the lasting peace,
And the “dog-skin” garment of safety
Rested over all Rotorua.
Never was that peace broken, nor,
Did the enemy ever return, O Ao!
To trouble Tainui—
The canoe of Tu-rongo.
Thou art descended from Rau-kawa.4

page 284

We must now leave Te Wera at Te Mahia for a time, and relate some events that occurred in the adjacent districts, which eventually brought Nga-Puhi into contact with many of the Hawke’s Bay and adjacent tribes, though at first sight it would seem extraordinary that these Northern tribes should have concern in occurrences taking place so far from their northern homes. It will be necessary to go back a few years and show how events led up to Nga-Puhi taking part in the end, and in doing so, the reader must take the dates given as approximate, for in that part of the country there were no white people to note them, and Maoris have little or no idea of time, though they can generally give the proper sequence of events.

1 Referring to the action of Te Ao-kapu-rangi standing on the roof of the great house named Tama-te-kapua at Mokoia Island, where she called to her the fugitives from the weapons of Nga-Puhi, and thus saved many lives. See ante.

2 Hotu-roa, captain of the Tainui canoe, from whom Te Ao-kapu-rangi descended, as well as from Tama-te-kapua, captain of Te Arawa.

3 Refers to same incident as No. 1.

4 Ancestor of Ngati-Raukawa.

* About the name Tologa, which is not Maori, many guesses have been made as to its origin. The following suggestion was made to me by Mokena Romio, of Tokomaru:—That Captain Cook, in asking what the name of the land was, pointed to the North-west (the direction of the main land from the anchorage), and the Maoris, thinking he was asking the name of the wind, replied “Teraki,” which Captain Cook perverted to Tologa.