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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Pomare’s Death, 1826

Pomare’s Death, 1826.

On the 26th March, 1826, Archdeacon Williams returned to the Bay from Sydney, bringing with him his brother, William Williams, afterwards Bishop of Waiapu. The former notes in his journal under date 12th July, 1826, “Pomare has lately been cut off with great slaughter in the Thames, and this will lead to fresh bloodshed.” For “Thames,” read “Waikato.” Mr. Fenton says this event occurred in 1827, but it was clearly in 1826. The exact reason of Pomare’s expedition is not certain, but no doubt some of the incursions of Waikato and Ngati-Paoa of the last few years had page 376 resulted in the loss of some of his relations–pretexts for man-killing were very easily obtained in those days. The Kawhia people say that when Pomare announced his intention of again making war on Waikato, Nga-Puhi all said, “E hoa! Kauaka e haere; he maungarongo na te wahine. Ki te haere hoe, riro tonu atu.” “Friend do not go; it was a peace made by a woman. If you go you will never come back.” In this they referred to the peace concluded between Waikato and Nga-Puhi after Matakitaki in May, 1822, in which Turi-ka-tuki, Hongi’s blind wife had been principally instrumental. But Pomare persisted, with what consequences we shall see.

The Chevalier Dillon, who was at the Bay 13th July, 1827, met two of Pomare’s sons, who gave him the following account, and allowing for Dillon’s want of a complete knowledge of the language, though he says he understood it well—having previously visited New Zealand —the story is very similar to the Maori account. The following is abbreviated from D’Urville’s translation of Dillon’s account: The young men recalled to Dillon’s recollection the fact that he had on his previous voyage arranged with Pomare to proceed to the Thames with 2,000 men to cut spars, for which he was to pay Pomare in muskets and powder. Pomare got together his men and went to the Thames, where he found that Dillon had sailed; he then went up the Thames, where he left his canoes, and proceeded overland to “the country of Borou” page 377 (which was a nick-name given to a young Maori that came from India with Dillon in the “Saint Patrick”), where they were hospitably received. Pomare wanted his hosts to accompany him on an expedition against Waikato, but they refused. Pomare then returned to the Barrier Island, where he met Tawai, who declared that he would not return without killing somebody. Tawai then crossed to the mainland, but meeting some of the people there in an ambuscade, he was killed with all his people. Pomare, fearing some evil had befallen his friend, went in search of him, and in passing up a river (the Waipa) he was suddenly attacked, first by a discharge of firearms, then by spears and stones, where nearly all of them were killed. Pomare was shot in the side and fell on his knee, but before being finally speared he shot two of his enemies. The Waikatos preserved his head and ate his body. Pomare’s two sons, who told the story to Dillon, were present, and one of them seriously wounded, so that in trying to escape they were taken prisoners and finally sold to the “father of Borou,” who furnished them with a canoe and allowed them to return home.

The Maori account is, that Pomare came with a taua 220 strong to the Thames, then went up the Piako river, and across to Horotiu, or Waikato river. On learning of this, Te Wherowhero, principal chief of Waikato, and father of “King” Tawhiao, who at that time was living at Taupo, wished to come down and meet page 378 Pomare, but Te Kanawa-a noted chief of Waikato—would not consent, thinking there would be treachery. Te Rauroha endeavoured to persuade Pomare to return in view of the fact that peace had been made two years previously, by the marriage of Matire Toha, daughter of the Nga-Puhi chief Rewa with Kati of Waikato. Pomare, however, persisted in his determination to proceed, and thence passed up the Waipa river to Te Rore,* when he and his party were surprised in their canoes by Ngati-Tama-oho (Waikato), Ngati-Paoa under Taraia Nga-kuti, and Ngati-Tipa under Nini. Pomare was shot in the hand by Te Aho, son of Kukutai of Ngati-Tipa, and again wounded badly by a shot from Taraia, the final blow which killed him having been given by Nini by a spear thrust. Most of the Nga-Puhi host were killed in the canoes, but some of them managed to get away by retreating down stream with one canoe, and then passed up the Awaroa stream, at the head of which they had to leave it as they were not strong enough to drag it across the portage to Waiuku on the Manukau. Another party escaped overland from Te Rore and proceeded northwards by way of Whaingaroa (Raglan), Te Akau, and Waikato heads to Awhitu (Manakau south head). The Waikatos and their allies followed the retreating taua as far as Manakau heads, where they succeeded in cutting off some of Nga-Puhi, so that only

* Te Rore is a few miles north of the modern town of Pirongia.

page 379 Moetara of Hokianga and Mau-paraoa* with a handful of men succeeded in crossing the heads in mokihis, or rafts. Colonel Gudgeon tells me that Parore-Te-Awha, of Northern Wairoa, was one of those who managed to evade Waikato. Arrived at Kaipara, some of the Ngati-Whatua under Te Otene-Kikokiko came across the fugitives at Kau-kapakapa, where they killed and ate two of them. The rest succeeded in reaching their homes.
As already stated, one of the Maori accounts says, that Pomare, after reaching Horotiu, succeeded in surprising several of the Waikato, and that he then returned down the river and crossed over the portage at Waiuku, and was proceeding down the Waiuku channel, when he found a number of the Ngati-Whatua people encamped at Te Toro point. These proved to be under the chief Te Tinana of Taou, and were retreating to Waikato in consequence of the defeat of their people at Te Ika-a-rangi-nui. If this is so, they had taken some time to make up their minds to leave their country, for this must have been about a year after that battle. With them were some of the Ngati-Paoa people, and for some reason we cannot understand, they

* Te Mauparaoa, a noted warrior of Ngati-Kahungunu, of Mohaka, Hawke’s Bay. He was taken prisoner by Nga-Puhi in one of their raids on the East Coast, and then joined Nga-Puhi in many of their battles. After Pomare’s death, by his force of character, he became the leader of Pomare’s people. He subsequently fought in Heke’s war of 1844 against the Government. He died at his pa, Te Karetu, Bay of Islands. His son, Honihana, died there on 26th July, 1909, at the age of 86—a much respected chief.

page 380 went on with Pomare to Motu-tapu island, where apparently changing his mind, Pomare returned to Waikato and Waipa, and met his death as has been described. It is said that Te Tinana and some of the Taou of Ngati-Whatua went on to Waikato, and it seems probable, from the Ngati-Whatua account, that this was the reason why Pomare turned back from Motutapu. Te Tinana, it appears, when he got to Waikato was killed by Tu-korehu of Ngati-Maniapoto, incited thereto by the Ngati-Te-Ata tribe. Ngati-Whatua, to whom of course Te Tinana belonged, say of his death, “Ko te take tenei i haere ai nga iwi e rua, a Nga-Puhi, a Ngati-Whatua ki Waikato. No reira i mate ai a Pomare me Te Whare-o-riri me etehi atu o nga rangatira o Ngati-Whatua.” “This was the reason that the two tribes, Nga-Puhi and Ngati-Whatua, went to Waikato. Hence was the death of Pomare, and Te Whare-o-riri, and other chiefs of Ngati-Whatua.” Te Whare-oriri was a chief of Otakanini pa at Kaipara, the former history of which has been related in the “Transactions of New Zealand Institute,” and one of the carved posts of which is now in the Auckland museum, but apparently the pa had been abandoned, for the account says, that at the time of a quarrel between Ngati-Te-Ata and Ngati-Whatua about a woman, the former tribe and Waikato had decided to make war on the latter, when the carved post, or Tiki, above referred to, was set up at Otakanini and the pa rebuilt. The post page 381 is called “Te Whare-o-riri,” after the chief killed as above.