Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:
Death of Te Mau-tara-nui, 1826
Death of Te Mau-tara-nui, 1826.
The sequence of events obliges us to change the scene again to the Wairoa, Hawke’s Bay, where transactions had taken place that brought Nga-Puhi again on the ground. It will be remembered that after the fall of Puke-karoro, Te Mahia, a peace between Ngati-Kahu-ngunu and the allied forces of the Ure-wera and other tribes had been made. But the memory of unavenged wrongs rankled in the minds of some of the former tribe, and prevented the peace being of an enduring nature. The death page 353 of Ti-waewae, already related, was due to Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, but in some manner that I cannot get a clear explanation of, Te Mautara-nui was mixed up in it. This gave great umbrage to Tu-akiaki of Ngati-Kohatu—a branch of Ngati-Kahu-ngunu—living at Te Papuni, up the Ruaki-turi branch of the Wairoa river, and near the borders of Tuhoeland. Brooding over his injuries, Tu-akiaki conceived a diabolical scheme by which to vent his rage on Te Mau-tara-nui. He acted diplomatically, however, and by fair words made overtures to Te Mau-tara-nui with a view to his marrying one of his (Tu-akiaki’s) relatives. In the end he secured Te Mau-tara-nui as a husband for his sister Te Motu-o-ruhi, with the idea of bringing him into more intimate relations with the Ure-wera chief.
After a time a child was born of this union, named Owhinu; and soon after Te Mau-taranui accepted an invitation given him by Tuakiaki to attend a hakari, or feast, to be held at Kai-tara-hae, a village near Te Reinga falls on the Wairoa. In the meantime, Tu-akiaki and his people made great preparations after the old Maori style. There were to be seen all kinds of delicacies of the olden time—tuna (eels), piharau (lampreys), kiore (native rats), weka (wood-hens), kereru (pigeons), aruhe (fern-root) taro, kumara-kao (dried kumara), pohue (convolvulus roots), and other dainties. Such is the list that has been handed down.page 354
A messenger was now dispatched to Maungapohatu, requesting the attendance of Te Mautara-nui and the Ure-wera people. They came, by way of Te Papuni, but apparently in no great numbers. Amongst them were Te Roro of Ngati-Manawa, and Te Mau-tara-nui’s younger brother, Pae-tawa. On their way down the Ruaki-turi valley, the party fell in with Te Ua, the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu chief who had been wounded in the back by Te Mau-tara-nui at the Wai-reporepo fight, as described ante. Te Ua was a distant relative of Te Mau-tara-nui, a tupuna, or grandfather according to Maori ideas, so they fell into conversation, and Te Ua, evidently knowing what was Tu-akiaki’s intention towards Te Mau-tara-nui, gave him a warning, saying, “Me hoki koe; ko Wai-reporepo kaore ano kia ea.” “You must return; Wai-reporepo has not yet been avenged.” But Te Mau-tara-nui persisted on carrying out his intention, so Te Ua said again, “E Tama! mehemea kaua te toki i titi ki taku tuara, kaore aku tikanga.” “O Son! If the axe had not wounded me in the back, I should have nothing to say.” Te Mau-tara-nui, however, would not listen, and proceeded on his journey to Kaitara-hae, where the feast was ready.
The next morning after their arrival, Tuakiaki set before his guests the feast, or hakari, prepared. Whilst all were busy eating, Tu-akiaki arose, patu in hand, and approached Te Mau-tara-nui, who, evidently anticipating what page 355 was coming, said, “Te rangona te reka o te kai, E Tu-akiaki!” “There has not been time to taste the sweetness of the food, O Tuakiaki!” The people now all arose, and commenced falling on the Ure-wera party. There would appear to have been an idea amongst some of them to spare Te Mau-tara-nui after all, for he is reported to have said, “He manu hou ahau, he kohanga ka rerea.” “I am a new bird (or bird of plumes) leaving the nest”–which is said to indicate, that as the chief of the party he would not consent to be spared if his friends were killed, they must all suffer together, as he had brought them there, a sentiment which brings out the nobleness occasionally seen in the Maori of old. So the massacre went on, and Te Mau-tara-nui, Paetawa, Te Roro, and nearly all the others, were foully murdered, whilst they were the guests of their murderers. Te Roro, on seeing death before him, is reported to have said: “Taihoa au e patuo; kia inu au i te wai o Kai-tara-hae!” —“Do not kill me yet; let me first drink of the waters of Kai-tara-hae!” In this he referred to the stream that flowed passed the village and there joins the Hanga-roa river.
The great Ure-wera and Ngati-Awa chief, together with his companions, after the slaughter, were put to the usual purpose and formed a meal for their murderers. Parts of Te Mau-tara-nui’s body were preserved as huahua, in a calabash, which was afterwards page 356 offered to a high chieftainess of the Rongo-Whakaata tribe of Poverty Bay, named Te Whaitiri-o-te-rangi, who was on her way viâ Te Reinga, to visit Te Mau-tara-nui. But Tuakiaki’s proffered gift was refused by the lady, who then lamented his death in a song still sung by the tribe.
Another account of this affair differs somewhat. It says that during the absence of the Ure-wera tribe at Waikato the Ngati-Ruapani tribe, of Waikare-moana made an incursion into Rua-tahuna, and there paid off some of their old scores by killing several of the old men of the Ure-wera, which tribe, on its return raided down to Waikare-moana with the double purpose of avenging this raid and the death of the Ure-wera chief Te Umu-ariki, who had been killed at Waikare-moana. Here they took the pas Whakaari and Puke-huia, and then hearing of Tu-akiaki’s feast of tuna, etc., returned home that way, and so Te Mau-tara-nui got caught.
When the news of their great chief’s death reached the Ure-wera and Ngati-Awa people there was great lamentation and consternation. Piki-huia, who was a poet of some renown in those days, composed the following lament for him, which, even at this day, if sung, will cause great excitement amongst the tribe. It recites their victories and successes over Ngati-Kahungunu, and was intended to excite the passionate feelings of the tribe—to rouse them to seek revenge:—page 357
Te rongo o te tuna,
E hau mai ra i Te Papuni,
Kei a Wharawhara—a—
Nau te whakatauki,
“Te uri a Mahanga,
Whakarere kai, whakarere waka.”—
A, “Te uri a Tuhoe, moumou kai,
Moumou taonga, moumou tangata ki te po.”
Kua hinga nui atu
Ki te aroaro o Hine-i-reireia;
To kiri wai-kauri
Na Waero i patupatu,
Tarahu nga iwi, e tarahau,
Ki runga o Mohaka.
Tarahau nga wheua
Ki runga o Tangi-tu.
Ki ’kai mai te ika i Rangiriri
Tu-tara-kauika, te wehenga kauki,
E tika ana ra to matenga mo Te Ro,
Mo Te Apa-rakau na Tikitu,
“Na te uri o Whiro ki te po,
Tai-whakaea ki te ao,”
Haere ki roto Tautira, mo Ti-waewae,
Na tatou koi tango kino.
Kua tu mai ra e Tohe i te hauauru,
Ka ea ko te mate e___
Tenei, E Tai ma! o tatou kape,
Koi hianga i a Te Tamaki ma,
I riro mai ai a “Te Heketua,”
I mate ai Nuhaka,
Tona whakautu pahi
Ko “Te Rama-a-Apakura”
Haere ki roto Te Mahia,
Mo “Kahawai,” mo “Kauae-hurihia,”
A, i hurihia a inumanga-a-wai
I te pa taea i Puke-karoro,
I tangi ai te umere,
Pae noa ki te one,
’Twas the news of the feast of eels,
That spread hither from Te Papuni,
In the times of Wharawhara
Arose the saying of old,
“The offspring of Mahanga,
page 358 Who abandoned food and canoe,”1
Also, “The descendants of Tuhoe, wasters of food,
Wasters of property, wasters of man to death,”2
Thou art fallen in thy greatness,
Thy handsome tattooed skin,
The work of Waero.
Bleaching are the bodies, bleaching
On the field at Mohaka.
Bleaching are the bones,
Above on the field at Tangitu,
That the fish at Rangiriri might eat,
Tu-tara-kauika,4 lies in a separate heap
Thy death was in payment for Te Ro,—
For Te Apa-rakau, killed by Tikitu.5
“The offspring of Whiro in Hades,
And of Tae-whakaea in the world.”6
’Twas in the vale of Tau-tira, Ti-waewae died
But not through us was this deed,
Then arose Tohe7 in the west,
And the death was avenged,
This, O friends! is for us to see,
We were not deceived by Te Tamaki,8
When “Te Heke-tua”9 was gained
And Nuhaka laid waste,
The payment for which was
The weapon “Te Rama-apakura,”10
And again at Te Mahia,
Where “Kahawai” and “Kauae-hurihia”10
page 359 Overturned, like the drinking of water
Was Te Rito-o-te-rangi11
At the captured pa of Puke-karoro,
Whence arose the shouts of victory,
As the dead laid there in heaps,
On the beach at Tai-wananga.12
Piki-huia’s song, together with the strong desire to obtain revenge for the death of their chief, Te Mau-tara-nui (or Rangi-aho, which was another of his names), caused the Ure-wera mountaineers to rise in their wrath, and prepare to inflict on Ngati-Kahu-ngunu a severe punishment for their treachery. In so doing, we find some of their late allies assisting them, but in the meantime whilst the forces were assembling, a taua was dispatched to Te Papuni, which, falling on the people of that place killed two men of note named Kiore and Ara of Ngati-Kotore, who, with others met their deaths at the taking of the Ure-o-te-whata pa.
It must have been about the early months of 1826 that the various opes collected at Kuatahuna, the Ure-wera headquarters. The force was composed of Ngati-Awa of the Whakatane coast lands—with which tribe Te Mau-tara-nui was closely related, indeed, may be said to have been at that time their principal chief—the Whaka-tohea from Opotiki, and some of the Ngati-Maru of the Thames under their chief Hau-auru, who, my informant said, was a remarkably fine handsome man. There were not, however, more than twenty warriors of the page 360 Ngati-Maru there, and they were induced to join by Te Ure-wera—na Tuhoe i waha te taua —it was Tuhoe (or the Ure-wera) who carried, or originated, the taua, said my informant. The principal Ure-wera leader was Te-Umu-ariki, who was subsequently reinforced by Te Iripa, a younger brother (or cousin?) of Te Mau-taranui.
1 An old saying, referring to Mahanga, an Ure-wera ancestor who abandoned his tribe.
2 An old saying, applied by the Ure-wera to themselves, indicative of their ferocity.
3 Hine-i-reireia, an ancestress of Ngati-Kahu-ngunu.
4 Tu-tara-kauika, emblematical for the whale, here used for the fallen chief.
5 Tikitu, a chief of Ngati-Awa, here said to have killed Te Apa-rakau, of Ngati-Kahu-ngunu.
6 Another old saying, applied to Tae-whakaea, an ancestor of Ngati-Awa.
7 Tohe, another name for Te Whata-nui of Ngati-Raukawa.
8 To Tamaki, said to be a chief of Ngati-Whatua. There are still members of that tribe that bear this name.
9 The mere, mentioned ante.
10 The two meres, mentioned ante.
11 Te Rito-o-te-rangi, killed at Puke-karoro.
12 Name of the beach below Puke-karoro.