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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

The Coming of the White Man

page 476

The Coming of the White Man.

Beyond the incidents that have been described in the preceding pages, no further collisions between the northern tribes of Nga-Puhi and those of the south took place. The teaching of the Missionaries, now established in a great many places, and the advent of a considerable number of respectable white traders, all tended towards a cessation of the desolating wars that ever since the introduction of muskets had prevailed in all parts of the country. The fact that most tribes were, by the end of the fourth decade of the nineteenth century provided with muskets, tended also to put an end to the wholesale butchery that formerly took place; the Missionaries, who had the best means of forming an estimate, calculated that between the years 1800 and 1840, over 80,000 people had been killed or died through causes incidental to the wars.

This long story commenced with a history of the Ngati-Whatua tribe,* and it will end with another episode in the history of that tribe as told to me by Te Reweti one of their chiefs in 1860.

Ngati-Whatua procured their first musket under the following circumstances:—There is a pa named Tau-hinu, situated immediately at the junction of the Paremoremo creek with the

* “The Peopling of the North,” Journal Polynesian Society, 1898.

page 477 Wai-te-mata harbour. During one of the earlier incursions of Nga-Puhi—but which I cannot now trace—this pa was attacked by Hongi Hika, and he so far succeeded that he drove Ngati-Whatua out and down to the tongue of land at the edge of the Wai-te-mata, where, however, they rallied, and succeeded in repulsing the Nga-Puhi, driving them in turn away from the pa and capturing one of their muskets. As Ngati-Whatua say, the gun was no use to them for they did not know how to use it, nor had they any ammunition. Totara-iahua was the chief of Tau-hinu pa, a man who distinguished himself in the Patu-one—Tuwhare expedition to the south in 1819–1820. About 1821, he visited Coromandel, where he obtained another musket from some vessel, and learnt how to use it. He gave it the name of Hu-teretere. The next guns they obtained were at Tai-a-mai, Bay of Islands, to which place Ngati-Whatua made a foray, which occurred—so far as I can trace—in 1820, and the object of this expedition was to retaliate on Nga-Puhi for an attack they had made on Te Roroa people of Kaihu. Ngati-Whatua say they took two pas on this occasion. I think this is in all probability the defeat suffered by Nga-Puhi referred to by Marsden as occurring in 1820.

The first Governor of New Zealand, Captain Hobson, R.N., landed at the Bay of Islands, 29th January, 1840, the British Sovereignty page 478 over the islands being proclaimed on May 21st, 1840. The following is my old friend Te Reweti’s description of the circumstances leading up to the foundation of Auckland:—

Towards the early part of 1840, Ngati-Whatua and the Taou had returned to their kaingas on the Wai-te-mata from Waikato: Ngati-Rongo had returned from Whangarei and other places to their homes at Mahu-rangi, and the Uri-o-Hau were beginning to occupy their old homes at Otamatea and the adjacent rivers. They were still in fear of their neighbours at the north and others to the south, as the country they occupied on the Auckland isthmus, was the highway of all war parties, whether coming from either direction. In this state of unrest, a meeting was called of the morehu or remnants of the tribes at Okahu, near the future City of Auckland, to determine on what course they should pursue to ensure their safety. During this runanga, or council Titai, a matakite, or seer, was one night under the influence of his god, when the following was sung to him in his trance, which he duly repeated to the meeting in the morning, as the advice of the god to the people:—

He aha te hau e wawara mai?
He tiu, he raki,
Nana i a mai te pupu tarakihi ki uta
E tikina atu e au te kotiu,
Koia te pou whakairo
Ka tu ki Wai-te-mata
I aku wai rangi e.

page 479

What is the wind that softly blows?
’Tis the breeze of the north-west, the north,
That drives on our shore the nautilus.
If I bring from the north
The handsome carved post,
And place it here in Wai-te-mata,
My trance will then be fulfilled.*

The meaning was at once divined by the people. The Nautilus is the ship of the white man; the carved post, the flag of England, and it was at once seen that if they could induce Governor Hobson—who had lately arrived at the Bay of Islands—to come to Wai-te-mata and settle there, they would be allowed to occupy their country in peace. They sent off messengers to Kaipara, where Captain Symonds then was, and invited him to Wai-temata, whence, after staying some time, an embassy accompanied him to the Bay of Islands, going by way of Kaipara and Mangakahia. They found the Governor living on board a man-of-war, and after a fortnight’s stay, he brought the ambassadors back in his ship, and anchored off Wai-ariki (Official Bay, Auckland). There they found Apihai Te Kawau and the Taou people, who welcomed the Governor. After a time he landed and pitched his camp where Fort Britomart formerly stood, the tents covering the whole of the point. At that time, Horotiu (Commercial

* After northerly and easterly gales, the Paper Nautilus is occasionally cast on the shores of New Zealand. Tiu and Kotiu are properly the north-west winds, and when Titai proposes to bring from the “north-west” he correctly gives the direction of the Bay of Islands from Wai-te-mata.

page 480 Bay), Wai-ariki (Official Bay), Wai-papa (Mechanics Bay), Mata-harehare (St. George’s Bay), and Taurarua (Judge’s Bay), were all covered by kumura and potato cultivations, the whole of the produce of which was presented to the Governor and the settlers.

Such then is the account of some of the incidents in the history of the Ngati-Whatua tribe, of Kaipara and Auckland, with which this narrative commenced, as related to me by the people nearly fifty years ago, and noted at the time. Writing it out in a comprehensive form, has brought back to my recollection many scenes and incidents in Maori every-day life which can no longer be studied. At that time this people of Kaipara had practically no European neighbours, and many of their old customs were still in full force, softened, however, by the influence of the Missionaries. The only white men living in the whole of Kaipara in 1859, were Mr. George Rix, at the mouth of the Kau-kapakapa, Mr. C. E. Nelson at Mataia, the Rev. W. Gittos at Oruawharo, Captain Stannaway at Tokatoka, and Mr. Marinner, in charge of Brown and Campbell’s establishment at Mangawhare, on the Wairoa, with some few Europeans engaged under him in the kauri spar trade, and an occasional visitor in the person of my respected friend and fellow official John Rogan, the District Land Purchase Commissioner. It would be difficult to find anywhere a finer people than the Ngati page 481 Whatua were at that time; they retained all the best points of the Maori character, whilst the worst had been eradicated by the efforts of their Missionaries, the Revs. Messrs. Buller and Gittos. They were strictly honest and honourable in all their dealings, hospitable to a fault, and appeared to me to follow the teachings of the Missionaries in a true spirit of Christianity.