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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Pohatu-roa, 1826

Pohatu-roa, 1826.

The Ure-wera taua first proceeded to Waikare-moana, and made war on the Ngati-Ruapani tribe (which, whilst connected with the Ure-wera, is also more nearly related to Ngati-Kahu-ngunu), taking the two island pas named Pa-te-kaha and Nga-whaka-rara, and losing Te Wara-hoe* of their own tribe, as also Kumara, a lady of rank and grandmother of Tamarau, one of my principal informants in this narrative, in whose honour the aforementioned Piki-huia composed the following lament:—

E Kui! Kumara, tenei te whare i moe ai,
Kia noho atu au i te marae kino—
I te marae o Tu-mata-uenga.
Titi rere po, Kio’ rere ao, po,
Tau atu ki Waikare,
Rukuhia e koe, te ruku o te kawau,
Kia ea ake ana, ko Hau-mapuhia,
Ngau ai runga, ngau ai raro
Ngau ai te tipua, ki era nga tipua.
Tuatua i a R&acar;t&acar;, i a Wahie-roa, i a Tane,
E tu ana, hei rangaki i to koutou mate,
Kia tohe Makauri, e tohe Te Ariki,
Rere noa iara me he kahui Kawau,
Ki roto o Wairau,

* Possibly this means Te Warahoe hapu of the Ure-wera, not a man of that name.

page 361 Mei rehu atu koe ki te huna,
I ngaro ai te tangata,
Huna te koko-uri, huna te koko-tea,
E tu Mariko tata
Piri ana i te taha—e—i.

O madam! Kumara, here is thy house
In which thou sleepest,
Whilst I am in the court-yard of affliction—
In the court-yard of Tu—the war god—
Like a night-flying titi bird,
A rat of night and day,
They swooped on those at Waikare,
Plunge thee then, with the kawau’s dive
And emerge like Hau-mapuhia.
All above struggle with all below,
These demons fight with other demons,
Call on Rătă, Wahie-roa and Tane
To arise and avenge your deaths,
Makauri and Te Ariki strove in vain,
But fled like a flock of shags,
To the lake of Wairau,
Hadst thou hidden thyself with charms,
That conceals man’s presence,
That obliterates the stars,
Mariko-tata would appear
And thou wouldst have been safe.

The end of this episode was, that the survivors of Ngati-Ruapani were driven out of Waikare-moana district, and fled to their relatives at the Wairoa, where the allies followed them up.

At the Wairoa, the taua was joined by Te Whata-nui of Ngati-Raukawa, who, it will be remembered, was a relative of Ti-waewae–killed by Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, as related previously. He had with him a few men of his own tribe, and, most strange to say, we find with him Te Whare-pouri of the Ati-awa tribe of Taranaki. These two chiefs had been making an independent foray on their own account in page 362 Hawke’s Bay, having come, as my informants say, from Otaki and Cook Strait. So far as Te Whata-nui is concerned this seems doubtful, for I think he had not at that time migrated from Waikato to the south. It was not until two years later, or in 1828, that his tribe—Ngati-Raukawa—threw in their lot with Te Rauparaha at Otaki.

The Nga-Puhi chief, Te Wera Hauraki, was at this time living at Te Mahia Peninsula, and Te Mau-tara-nui’s friend Pomare was, it is said by the Ure-wera, at Rotorua at the time of the former’s death. Whether sent for or not is not clear, but he came to assist in avenging his friend’s death. He came by way of Whakatane, and then passed up the Rangitaiki valley, being joined en route by Te Iripa, a younger brother, or cousin, of Te Mau-tara-nui, with some of the Ure-wera, and together they proceeded viâ Waipunga Gorge to the Wairoa, where they joined their forces to those of Te Whata-nui. It is also said that Tu-korehu, of Ngati-Maniapoto of Waikato, was with one of these parties, but it is doubtful.

Before the arrival of the Ure-wera force on the ground there had already been some fighting, for Te Whata-nui had taken the Rakiroa pa, a few miles seaward of Te Reinga falls, on the Wairoa river, and Te Wera with his Nga-Puhi warriors had attacked the pa Rangi-houa, Wairoa, which he finally took, but as his powder had given out the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu rushed Nga-Puhi and succeeded in killing Muri-wai of page 363 the latter tribe, who, however, is not to be confounded with the Hokianga chief of the same name.

The Ure-wera and other forces seem now to have joined, and proceeded to the siege of Pohatu-roa pa. The Nga-Puhi account, however, states that Pomare drew off, as he considered it a breach of a peace that he had made with Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, but some other branches of Nga-Puhi, having no scruples of this kind, took part and rendered very efficient assistance. These were the Ngati-wai and Ngati-rangi branches of Nga-Puhi, under the leadership of Te Mangai,* each 60 strong, who joined Te Wera with his force from Te Mahia; Tara-patiki, and Te Putara-nui, both renowned toas of Nga-Puhi, were also there.

The force now advanced to the attack of Pohatu-roa where the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, particularly those branches which had been implicated in the killing of Te Mau-tara-nui, were assembled under Tu-akiaki and others. Some skirmishing took place before the pa was reached, and then the allies sat down to besiege the place. Pohatu-roa is situated just to the east of Te Reinga falls, and is an isolated rock, or hill, cut off from the Whakapunake range by a deep gorge, which was formerly the bed of a river (possibly the Wairoa), and through which

* Te Mangai was one of Hongi’s trusted warriors, and had been engaged in many of the celebrated battles and sieges under that chief. He was at Maunga-nui, Mau-inaina, Te Totara, and Roto-rua. He died at Ohaeawae, Bay of Islands, in 1877, aged about 90 (“Wananga,” 1877, p. 429).

page 364 the present main road from Gisborne to the Wairoa passes. It was a formidable place to take. The pa itself, on top of this rock, was small—Tu-takangahau, of Tuhoe, says not more than 50 yards across—with a parapet built of rocks and earth, held together by layers of fern, on top of the cliffs.* During the progress of the siege, the besiegers managed to get a rope round this parapet with the intention of making a breach by this means, but the rope broke, and so they failed. The sides of the papa rock were so steep that rope (or, rather, supplejack) ladders had to be used in ascending. In one place there was a cave some distance below the summit, access to which was only obtainable by a very narrow cleft, or ledge in the cliff, so narrow that one stout-hearted man could hold an army at bay so long as Maori arms only were used. Some of the Nga-Puhi managed by great exertions, to secure a footing above this cave, and there constructed a sort of a large basket, of toi and pirita, which they lowered down in front of the cave with some men in it, thinking to be able to shoot the inmates, but before they could use their firearms the cave dwellers by the use of long spears, huatas, killed several of them, thus causing Nga-Puhi to abandon the scheme.
Eventually the pa was taken by the allies, when a great slaughter took place, and amongst the killed was Tu-akiaki, who was slain by Te

* This description seems to indicate that the modern redoubt, used by both Maoris and our troops in the sixties, was an ancient invention of the Maoris.

page 365 Whata-nui of Ngati-Raukawa. Thus ended Tu-akiaki’s foul scheme to kill Te Mau-tara-nui; he himself died, by what might be termed the natural death in those turbulent times.