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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Rangi-tuke’s Expedition, 1827

Rangi-tuke’s Expedition, 1827.

About Rangi-tuke and Kingi Hori’s expedition we know little, except that they were beaten, and it appears from the “Life of Archdeacon Williams,” p. 145, that Rangi-tuke was killed—presumably by Ngati-Tipa somewhere near Tamaki heads. This defeat of Nga-Puhi must have occurred about April or May, 1827. It appears from Mr. John White’s notes, that Rangi-tuke’s taua came on and landed at Motutapu. The news of this incursion had by this time reached Waikato, where the greater part of Ngati-Whatua were then dwelling. No doubt the news brought by D’Urville to Tawhiti and the Ngati-Paoa, then dwelling near the Tamaki, had been sent on to Waikato.

Ngati-Tipa, the tribe living at Waikato heads, under their chief Nini, who had lately killed Pomare, decided to try conclusions with Nga-Puhi; so, manning their canoes they pulled up the Awaroa stream, thence dragged them across the portage—Te-pae-o-Kaiwaka—into the Manukau, and again crossing over the portage at Otahuhu, descended the Tamaki river to its mouth. The main body stopped just above Mokoia (Panmure), whilst the page 391 scouts went on to look for Nga-Puhi, who were just across the Waiheke channel at Motu-tapu. On the return of the scouts, the taua moved on and camped near Te Pane-o-horo-iwi, at the mouth of the Tamaki. From Motu-tapu, Nga-Puhi saw the fires of Ngati-Tipa, who no doubt had with them Ngati-Paoa of that neighbourhood, including in all probability the hundred men armed with muskets seen by Lieutenant Jacquemot three months previously at the head of Manukau. At daylight Nga-Puhi came across in their canoes and approached the beach where Ngati-Tipa were camped. The latter, on seeing their strength, decided on adopting a similar ruse to ensnare Nga-Puhi to that which had been successfully practised against them on a former occasion, when they suffered defeat at the hands of Ngati-Paoa near the same place.* The device adopted is called a manu-kawhaki, or false retreat. Ngati-Tipa fled in apparent fear, which induced Nga-Puhi to land to obtain possession of the canoes. Whilst they were engaged plundering these, and disputing amongst themselves for their possession, some of the Nga-Puhi toas being in chase of the enemy, Ngati-Tipa suddenly turned, beating back and killing the Nga-Puhi braves, and rushing on those engaged at the canoes, fell suddenly on them, and after a long struggle completely beating Nga-Puhi and securing their canoes. It is stated that only one of the page 392 Nga-Puhi canoes managed to effect an escape, with twenty men in it, leaving the rest of the fleet in the hands of Ngati-Tipa. The conquerors remained on the field of battle for some time, feasting on “the flesh of the battle-field,” and then, packing up the remains, returned with the captured canoes to their homes at Lower Waikato. Probably Ngati-Whatua joined in this battle, for although the main body of them was at Waipa in the Waikato country, the Taou and Ngaoho branches were living in the Waitakere ranges, occasionally coming to their old homes, which is apparent from D’Urville having seen a village (deserted) at Okahu.

Mr. Fenton says the Nga-Puhi defeat occurred in 1828, but there can be no doubt it was really about April or May, 1827. The complete defeat of Nga-Puhi seems to have put heart into the fugitive Ngati-Whatua and other tribes who had so long suffered from their northern enemies, to which end the gradual possession of guns contributed not a little by placing them more on an equality, but the dread of Nga-Puhi still continued and prevented Ngati-Whatua and the Hauraki tribes from permanently occupying their old homes on the Auckland isthmus.

* See Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. vi., supplement, p. 104.