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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

The First Northern Expeditions to the South

The First Northern Expeditions to the South.

So far as can be learnt from the native histories, it was not until about the commencement of the nineteenth century that the tribes living north of the isthmus of Auckland began to extend their warlike enterprises to the southern parts of the island. As already pointed out, the advent of the pakeha—though not for some time yet to materially influence the character of these expeditions by the introduction of new arms—seems to have given a great impulse to the feeling of unrest which set in about that time. The immediate causes of many of the great expeditions we shall have to refer to are now lost in the darkness of the past. With regard to those which followed the west coast of the North Island, a desire to exchange the weapons of the North for the fine mats of Taranaki is alleged to be one of these causes. The mere desire of man-slaying was another. But even in this, the Maoris generally sought some take, some cause, which would justify page 61 their conduct. Hence we find it stated in the Maori narrative of a Nga-Puhi expedition to Taranaki prior to that of Tuwhare and Patuone in 1819–20, that being in sore straits on one occasion, surrounded by their foes of Taranaki, a council of the northern chiefs was held to consider what take they had, to engender a feeling of justification for the coming battle. What the conclusion come to by the council was, we are left in doubt, but the handful of men engaged in that combat felt themselves so strengthened, that they set to joyously, and defeated their enemies with considerable slaughter. That such a council was held is proof that the old Maori had some sort of belief in the strength of a just cause.