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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Moumoukai, Wai-kotero, Puke-karoro, 1824

Moumoukai, Wai-kotero, Puke-karoro, 1824

The Ure-wera and other allies, on arriving at Titi-rangi, found the pa fallen to the powers of Nga-Puhi. They at once followed up the page 327 retreating Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, picking up any stragglers they came across; but these were few, as all the tribes of the Wairoa district had retired to the forests of Nuhaka and the Mahia peninsula. In the Nuhaka valley they occupied a pa named Moumou-kai, a hill 2,065 feet high, some 4 miles inland from the shores of Hawke Bay, which they fortified. This place, which is now covered with low bush, was of no great strength, and easily fell to the allies, who also routed their enemies at Wai-kotero, near where Te Aparakau, a chief of Ngati-Kahungunu, was killed by Te Ahi-kaiata and Te Mau-tara-nui of the Ure-wera. The people who escaped from these fights retired to Pukekaroro at Te Mahia peninsula, where a large number of the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu were living, having removed from Heretaunga and other parts of the Hawke’s Bay district owing to the fear of the Ngati-Raukawa, Ngati-Tu-wharetoa, and Waikato tribes, whose incursions into that district had resulted in the fall of Te Roto-a-Tara, Te Pakake, &c., and led to the belief that the first-named tribe intended to permanently occupy the district.

The Ure-wera and their allies now advanced to the attack of Puke-karoro. Before reaching there, they were met by Te Ra-ka-tau, the father of the late Ihaka Whanga (our ally in the war with Te Kooti, 1869–70) who was distantly related to some of the Ure-wera, and, therefore, although a member of the Ngati-Kahu page 328 ngunu tribe, was quite safe amongst the latter tribe’s enemies. He endeavoured to make peace with the allies, and for that purpose presented the Ure-wera people with a valuable mere named “Te Rama-apakura.” His overtures were clearly not acceptable to the whole of the chiefs, for, after telling Te Ra-ka-tau not to enter Puke-karoro, they laid siege to the latter pa. After some time Te Ra-ka-tau again attempted to make peace, and presented the allies with two other meres, named “Kahawai” and “Kauae-hurihia.” But the siege went on, until the inhabitants were reduced to great straits, having to eke out their stores by eating a certain kind of clay called uku, and hence this incident in Maori history is sometimes called Kai-uku. The pa eventually fell to the allies and there was great slaughter. But the taua did not have it all their own way, for they suffered considerably. After this a peace was made, and some guns were given to Ngati-Kahu-ngunu to bind it. My informant, Tamarau, says the pa fell in the month of August, and we know that the year was 1824. The allies now returned to their various homes.

The peace made between the Ure-wera and Ngati-Kahu-ngunu was not of long duration, as we shall see. But first it is necessary, in order to conserve the sequence of the story, to relate some events occurring in the north which were far-reaching in their results.