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Lore and history of the South Island Maori


page 148


Murihiku, "end of the tail" is the Maori naming of the most southerly province of New Zealand, namely Southland. Within the boundaries of this district exists the finest lake and fiord scenery in New Zealand. Lake Poteriteri, which has an area of 17 square miles, and Lake Hauroko, of 25 square miles, situated beyond the great Waiau River are unfortunately set in country suited to visitation only by experienced explorers. The lakes of the Waiau watershed—Te Anau, Monowai (correctly Manokiwai), Manapouri (correctly Manawa pouri) are easily visited. There are a dozen or more lakelets all bearing European names, but these are not connected with the story of Murihiku.

Lake Te Anau is 33 miles long by 6 miles wide, area 132 square miles; Lake Manawa pouri, 12 miles long by 6 miles wide, area 56 square miles; Lake Manokiwai, 12 miles long by 1 mile wide, area 12 square miles. The Maoris of Southland always pronounce Te Anau as "Te Ana u". The name Te Anau has been translated in several ways—"uneven surface", "long view", "lake of many arms", "water current in a cave"; however the lake is in actual fact called after Te Anau, a granddaughter of Hekeia, whose name is bestowed on the Longwood Range.

About the year 1775 A.D., Te Hau tapu nui o tu lead a taua of Ngai Tahu, augumented by members of the Ngati Mamoe who stood by the alliance made at Kaiapoi, towards Te Anau, where it was determined to slay the irreconcilables. One section of the latter journeyed to Lake Manawapouri led by Te Mauwai, while the rest journeyed to Te Anau. The taua caught the Te Anau section under Pukutahi at the South Fiord. Pukutahi and his immediate companions were slain, the others made good their escape on rafts to the head of Lake Anau. Journeying over to the Sounds the fugitives joined others of similar fortune from other fightings, becoming known to later generations as the "Lost hapu of Ngati Mamoe". A Maori authority of European times estimated that the lost tribe at one time numbered 500 souls. Captain Cook's vessel, the "Resolution" visited Dusky Sound (as is shown by the log) on March 28th, 1773 A.D. Two canoes with Maoris and families aboard were observed. Huts were seen on March 30th, but contacts were not made until April 10th. On April 19th, the natives received gifts.

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When Captain Vancouver of the "Discovery" visited Facile Arm, Dusky Sound on November 10th, 1781 A.D., he saw huts just vacated. Lieutenant W. R. Broughton of the "Chatham", in George Sound, November 11th, 1791, records similar information. Captain Raven of the "Britannia" at Breaksea Sound, on November 13th, 1792, saw both huts and natives, and at Dusky Sound, on October 11th, 1793 A.D., only huts were seen. When Captain Bamptoh in 1795 A.D., visited Dusky Sound the natives fled. Captain Raven had a similar experience at Chalky Inlet and Preservation Inlet. In 1823, Captain Dawson saw evidences of recent occupation. Captain John Balleny of the "Eliza Scott' in 1838 saw only Maori footprints.

In 1830, a war party of the. Ngai Tahu, led by Rimurapa, Hurou and Whatui, caught a woman named Takitekura at Taumoana on the west side of Resolution Island, but as she refused to divulge the hide-out of her people, she was consequently slain. Captain Howell of Riverton found evidence of occupation at Bligh Sound in 1842, and Captain Stokes in 1850, actually saw the natives. The Lost Hapu were seen in 1872 by explorers, and again in 1882. That was the last occasion. There appears to be little doubt that the natives seen by Captain Cook in 1773, were Maru, Te Ao paraki and a chieftainess named Kai mai waho and companions from the fight at Preservation Inlet. These folk are said to have ended their days at Taumoana on Resolution Island. Along the sparsely explored coastline west from Port Craig, there is abundant evidence of former occupation. "Rosaline Redwood" (Mrs Thomas), a writer to women's magazines, in one of her articles gives photographic corroboration.

My friend, Mr Herries Beattie, gives the name of the old Maori canoe landing near the sawmills at Port Craig as Te Whata. Sandhill Point in western Southland bears the name Hakapureirei. Mr Beattie says the Ngati Mamoe chief Te Hikumaia lived there. A smaller war party of the Ngai Tahu, under two brothers Hotu and Tamatahi, paid a visit and slew Te Hikumaia. Hotu of course claimed the wife. Not content however, he slew also his brother Tamatahi, and appropriated his brother's wife. News of the vile deed reached the relatives and Hotu met his doom by makutu (the curse of death). In the chapter on Otakou, mention is made of fighting there and of a Ngai Tahu chief named Tarewai. A section of the Ngati Mamoe concerned in that warfare, betook themselves to Preservation Inlet and built a pa called Pa-a-te-whara on Matauira Island. Tarewai and his kinsmen Te Waha-o-te-marama with others of the Ngai Tahu Tribe, went south by two double canoes ostensibly on a friendly visit, but lay off in the bay delaying the coming ashore till morning. The Ngati Mamoe that evening attached ropes to the canoes, and dragged the page 150craft with the sleeping passengers ashore, and took all the Ngai Tahu prisoners. Tarewai made a bid to escape, but slipped on greasy flax laid for the purpose. He struggled desperately until dispatched. The companions of Tarewai met the same fate as their leader.

The Ngai Tahu of Otakou raised a war party under the chiefs Maru and Te Ao paraki and proceeded south for revenge at Matauira Island. Maru impersonated a seal and drew the occupants of the pa out into the open and into ambush. The pa was taken. However the Ngai Tahu had left their canoes unguarded, and a party of the Ngati Mamoe, returning from a fishing expedition, appropriated the craft and sailed defiantly off, leaving the Ngai Tahu marooned at Pa-te-whara. These are the natives who it is believed were seen by Captain Cook in 1773 A.D. One thing is certain, Maru, Te Ao paraki and others never returned to Otakou. Tradition says they ended their days at Preservation Inlet, probably near where the township of Te Oneroa now stands.

The Waiau River is an extremely swift-flowing river, and the Maoris declared it was three times more difficult to navigate than the Waitaki River of the Canterbury-Otago border. The natives seldom used flax rafts other than up the stream near the Lakes. Europeans say the river at Tuatapere is one foot higher at the middle of the current than at the banks. Tutaka hina hina was a chief who once held sway at the mouth of the Waiau River. The great explorer Tamatea with the Takitimu Canoe attempted to sail that craft into the mouth of the Waiau River, but was baffled. The Takitimu Canoe of six hundred years ago met its doom at the mouth of the Waimeha Stream. The wrecked canoe was transformed into the well`known Takitimu Mountains. The canoe had narrowly missed disaster at the mouth of the Waiau River.

The old Maori ford over the Waiau River was called Tuahu. There was a fishing village at the mouth, where dwelt the chiefs Te Ao and Te Waewae. Kai namu was a camping place where the sandflies were a nuisance. The average fall of the Waiau River is 10 feet per mile. Tua tapera has been translated as "pout of the lips", said to be a reference to water drunk there being bitter to the taste. The common rendering is "small island". There is an island on the river near the old ferry. The late Mr James Cowan gives the meaning of Tuatapere as "sacred ceremony at a singing assembly".

O whitianga te ra (place of the shining sun), was the name of a Waitaha Pa close to the southern end of Lake Te Anau. An eeling pa at Lake Te Anau was called Te Rua-o-te Moko. Te Kowhai Pa was situated at the entrance to South Fiord. On the south-western shore was situated a lagoon named Wai o Pani (pool of the orphan). Moturau (hundred isles) was the name of an old Maori kainga on a stream one page 151mile north of the outlet of the Waiau River at Lake Manawa pouri, and was occupied by members of the Ngati Mamoe Tribe until the year 1865. Moturau was sometimes given as the name of the lake. Shallow Bay at the west end of Lake Manawapouri, near a lagoon has a grassy flat covered with Maori ovens. Where a stream enters the lake can be seen converging weirs and net stakes used by Maori eeling parties. The limestone caves nead Clifden were used by fugitive members of the Ngati Mamoe Tribe as places of refuge. Te Rua a te kai amio is the Maori name of the caves.

Tradition says, Tamatea, at a place near Te Anau, called Te Rua o te moko, prepared the pigment used for tattooing. From Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound is a distance of 74 miles, and as early as 1859, Captain Howell of Riverton, informed the Chief Surveyor of Otago that the Maoris had said there was a route from the Head of Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Roto-ua (rainy lake), is said to be the original name of Lake Manawa pouri. For over a half century it has been known that Lake Mavora should be called Mararoa. Its sister lake is Lake Hikurangi. The stream that drains these lakes is the Marae roa (long courtyard) which flows into the Waiau River. The Maoris knew the routes not only to the Sounds, but also to Martin's Bay and Jacksons Bay. The journey to Martins Bay was made via the Lake Harris Saddle from both Lake Te Anau and Lake Wakatipu and down the Hollyford River to Lake Mi Kerrow. The Okura Pass was also used by Maoris going to the West Coast until the 1866.

Te Matehaere, it is known, led a war-party of 300 men of the Ngai Tahu Tribe over to the West Coast via the Hollyford River carrying warfare along the coast to the Nelson district. J. Hector, the Otago Provincial geologist, when at Martin's Bay on August 27th, 1863, observed on the connecting rivers the remains of the old Maori pa which is 3 miles long. The new pa had for its only inhabitants a Maori with a wife and two daughters. They arrived at Martin's Bay from Jackson's Bay in 1860. The Hollyford River was known to the Maoris as Whakatipu katuka, and Lake McKerrow bore the name of Whakatipu waitai. Big Bay was Wai one and Okari was the site of the Maori village there, while Atua rere is the point separating Big Bay from Martin's Bay. The Pike River and Lake Alabaster both bore the name Mawahiwaka. Lake Alabaster was much frequented by Maori eeling parties.

Daggs Sound, called Te Ra, was used in the early European era by Maori sealers as a camping place. When the sealing industry was in vogue, the Maori sealers found a haven in all the dozen Sounds. The Maoris who dwelt at Riverton in a village on the site now occupied by the Riverton High School, used right up to the eighties to visit regularly Te Anau and the back country. The site of the old kainga is still called page 152the "Kaik". In the early days the Riverton district was heavily bushed and not bare like it is to-day. Tradition says a battle took place at the mouth of the Aparima River. Numerous skeletons have been discovered from time to time, and not at the regular Maori burial-ground, which was closed in 1862. This cemetery became well filled after an epidemic of measles in 1858.

Riverton celebrated its centenary as a European settlement a few years ago, when a memorial to the founder Captain Howell was unveiled. Some of the old time Maoris were Paitu, Patu, Parara, Tapui nui Poko, Eai a mi and Tare Te Au. The Maoris had a fishing camp on the Waimatuku, where a bridge now crosses the stream. Captain Howell was married to Koekoe, a Ngati Mamoe chieftainess. A school was established for the Maoris in 1866, and J. Ireland was the master. Aparima means "party of five". For some time Riverton was called "Jacob's River". Jacob was a well tattooed Maori of the early days. When American whalers visited Aparima, Jacob fled to the bush as he had been told a tattooed head brought a good price on the European market. There remains unfortunately the fact that the trade in heads prior to 1840, was in vogue (whether taken off a live Maori or a long dried specimen). The Hon. F. Waite, in his history of Port Molyneux, quotes documental evidence of the abominable practice. The beach at Riverton is called Mate a waewae (sore feet). Aropaki is the correct name of Orepuki.

The eastern point of the bay at Pahia is Ahi rahuru, and the western bluff is Mata whero. On the island called Matariki stood the pa called Kiri o-Tunu, which was once occupied by the kith and kin of the great Ngai Tahu chief Te Wera. Matariki was guarded by a taniwha which guarded the narrow channel that separated the island from the mainland. When the majority of the Ngai Tahu were away food-collecting, the Ngati Mamoe attacked and captured the pa. The tohunga of the pa had instructed the defenders to break through the investing force in small parties. His advice was disregarded and the taniwha deserted its post. Tawheke the tohunga was slain with the rest. The Ngati Mamoe then awaited the return of the food party and the battle was fought on the mainland Teihoka, where the Ngai Tahu were defeated. Near Oraki at the beach of Colac (Korako) Bay, the Ngati Mamoe cooked and ate a women Te Haki. Her name remains slightly corrupted to mark the spot to-day. These events took place approximately in 1770 A.D.

The Oreti or New River Estuary, near Invercargill, was much frequented by the Maoris. The correct name of the Puni Creek which flows through Invercargill is Otarewa. Oue or Tuft Island was the site of a pa controlled by a chief Huruhuru, whom the early settlers called Henry. The Bluff page break
Mana (Wa) Pouri

Mana (Wa) Pouri





Te Anau

Te Anau

page break
Captain Howell Memorial, Riverton, Southland

Captain Howell Memorial, Riverton, Southland

Mapou Tahi and Purakaunui Bay—Scene of two fights.

Mapou Tahi and Purakaunui Bay—Scene of two fights.

page 153 Hill is called Motupohue, and on its summit was. buried the Ngati Mamoe chief Te Rakitauneke, whose escapades figure from Kaikoura to Eoveaux Strait. He was in truth "a cat with seven lives" if his reported recoveries from death by cubbing are considered. He died naturally. The name of the Bluff district is Tarere-ki-whenua (land of precipices). The Bluff Maori Hostel also bears that name. The New Zealand Government subsidised the erection costs on August 26th, 1902. Green Hills at Bluff Harbour was the favourite Maori resort, the name being Te Ahi rari. Te Whero was a one-time pa at Boat Harbour on the ocean side of the Bluff, and Omaui a pa on the Oreti Estuary. Maui was the chief who was in the district long before the days of Kupe, and the: members of the Ngai Tahu-Mamoe Tribe can prove it by genealogy. Taurangitewaru was a pa on the site of Invercargill and on the ancient Maori track to the north.

The Maori hall at Colac Bay was erected with a subsidy from the New Zealand Government in July, 1904. Ti Wai is the north point of Bluff Harbour, Te Kuri the shoals at the head of the harbour and Te Awarakau is the bay on the coast side of Bluff Hill. Shortly after the arrival of the main body of the Ngai Tahu Tribe across Raukawa (Cook Strait) to the South Island, a chief named Waitai, with 300 of his followers broke adrift from the others owing to the merciful latitude of leading chiefs to their enemies. Waitai figured at Pukekura (Otago Heads) and Port Molyneux; always looking for trouble, he had the audacity to establish his abode at Mokamoka at the Bluff, right in the heart of Ngati Mamoe lands. Waitai and his followers were tolerated for a while, but grew to put too much value on themselves, so that the Ngati Mamoe led by Marakai, Tutemakohu and Wahahauka attacked the pa, took it and slew the whole garrison except two. Kaiapu and Tamakino escaped to the far north as told by the Rev. Canon Stack. Their glowing accounts of Lake Waihora (Ellesmere) and other places were the means of inducing the Ngai Tahu to move south. Mokamoka was the scene of the first fight between the Ngai Tahu and Ngati Mamoe in Murihiku (Southland) about 1710 A.D.

Kaweriri, a son of Turakautahi the founder of Kaiapohia Pa in Canterbury, set out with a large force of the Ngai Tahu Tribe to destroy the Ngati Mamoe of Otago and Southland. The force travelled via the Mackenzie Plains to Lake Wanaka, then over the Crown Range, Nevis and Nukumai (now corrupted to Nokomai), to the Waimea Plains, where there was an eeling party of the Ngati Mamoe. An escapee, however, managed to get to Otaupiri and warn the chief Tutemakohu. The latter chief then had insufficient forces to give battle, so he resolved to join up with his comrade Marakai at Lake Wakatipu. Moving off in that direction with his party of men, page 154women and children, he was overtaken, and forced to stand with his small force and fight at Waitaramea (Oswald Stream). Tutemakohu slew the leader of the Ngai Tahu, Kaweriri, and his warriors accounted for the lieutenants, Waimatuku being the first to fall. An on-coming fog permitted the Ngati Mamoe to break off the fight and move on to Wakatipu. Disconcerted at the turn of events and the loss of Kaweriri and his lieutenants, the Ngai Tahu returned disconsolate to Canterbury. The Ngai Tahu led by Matauira, however, were successful in a fight at Waiharakeke (Lillburn) towards Lake Te Anau. The chiefs of Waiharakeke Pa were Whetuki, Pane-o-te-kaka and Motu te whiu. Fortunately the two latter chiefs escaped slaughter as at the time of the fight they were eeling on the Waiau River. Having observed the concealed Ngai Tahu warriors on the bank, they allowed themselves a speedy raft journey down the Waiau River, their enemies dared not attempt swimming the river to affect a capture. The fight at Waiharake was about 25 years after the fray at Waitaramea.

Near the modern borough of Mataura there is a small farming place called Tuturau. In 1837, at Tuturau a Ngati Tama chief named Te Puoho met his Waterloo. Despite the warnings of his former comrade-in-arms Te Rauparaha, and Nihoniho the Ngati Tama chief at Mawhera (Greymouth), he set out to conquer the Ngai Tahu. Filled with ambition to outdo Te Rauparaha, he set out from Paturau, in Nelson, with 100 warriors and also women folk. Niho niho at Mawhera refused to join in the campaign, although a few of his warriors did. The hard travelling through the wilds of South Westland and over the Haast Pass (Tioripatea), was itself an outstanding achievement. It was a half-famished force that descended down the Makarore River to Lake Wanaka, visiting also Lake Hawea. At Wanaka, two young women captured (Pipiki. and Ramuri) were cooked and eaten. The accounts of Te Puoho's raid are so much at variance as to killings and acts of clemency by both sides (Ngai Tahu and Ngati Tama) that getting the truth is next to impossible, no matter which narrator is followed for material. This statement seems a bold one and a middle course will be steered by the writer.

The route taken by Te Puoho from Lake Wanaka to Tuturau has been a bone of contention. The writer is in accord with his friend (historian) Herries Beattie that Te Puoho travelled from Lake Wanaka up the Cadrona River, over the Grown Range to the Kawarau, then across the Natural Bridge, up the Nevis River to Nukumai (Nokomai), and down the Mataura Valley to Tuturau. At the Junction of the Waikaia and Mataura rivers a Ngai Tahu eeling-party was captured. The leaders of the eelers were Korako, Hapaimoko and Reko. One of the Ngati Tama warriors was lost in this part of the page 155Mataura and was never seen again. The raiders and their prisoners duly arrived at Tuturau, which was taken by surprise without a struggle. Te Puoho did not inform his captives of their probable fate, and the Ngati Tama set themselves out to feed and rest after their difficult journey.

At the Mimihau River near Wyndham the northerners found an eeling-party of the Ngai Tahu. Teoti Wera, Rakitaotao, Matiaha Kukeke aided by their wives beat off the attack and escaped. A young warrior of Ngai Tahu named Tiakikai, from Tiwai Point, by smoke signals to the Bluff gave warning of the fall of Tuturau. Tuhawaiki, the Ngai Tahu chief, quickly gathered together a force of slightly over 100 men, and after consulting the tohunga set forth for the recapture of Tuturau. Chiefs accompanying Tuhawaiki were: Haereroa, Topi Patuki, Taiaroa, Tawiri, Mahere, Takapakino, Hape and Whaitiri. The Ngai Tahu arrived silently by night but waited until dawn before attacking (on the advice of two veterans Porutu and Wharaki). Te Puoho was shot by Topi Patuki, and his head cut off as a trophy. Te Kiore te Wahapiro, a close relative, was taken prisoner by Taiaroa, but later released, reputably on account of Te Hiko having shown generosity to him at Kaiapohia when he closed his eyes to allow Taiaroa's band through the ranks of the besiegers there. Tuturau fell to the Ngati Tama on January 18th, 1837, and was recaptured by the Ngai Tahu on January 23rd, 1837. The prisoners were taken to Ruapuke. Some were slain when attempting to escape; and others managed to do so aided by "Scotch John" whose wife was a North Island Maori. There were no acts of cannibalism practised by the Ngai Tahu.

Te Puoho was born at Poutama near Kawhia. His father was Whangatake and his mother Hinewairoro. The accounts of the slaughter vary from only Te Puoho to nearly all the Ngati Tama. Mr Lindsay Buick's is moderate compared with most estimates. Tare Te Wetere Te Kahu, a Maori authority, says the majority, probably three dozen men of little account were slain all through the ambition of Te Puoho to show the Maori fashion of scaling a fish—"start at the tail and work up to the head", otherwise Murihiku to Raukawa.

In 1937, Tuturau was vested as a memorial in the Mataura Borough Council by the Maoris of Southland. A monument and carved house were unveiled by John Topi Patuki, descendant of the man who slew Te Puoho. Mataura Falls is a favourite place for taking lamprey (kanakana). For generations the Maoris have visited the falls annually. Te Au-nui (great current) is the name of the Mataura Falls, and the rock wall is Rerepari. Waikanakana is the name given to the river at the falls. On October 1st, 1901, a typical gathering of Maoris visited Mataura Falls and had an exceptional catch of lampreys. These fish, which are of the eel type, jump the page 156Falls by holding on to the rock faces by means of suckers which act as mouths. The Maoris catch the kanakana as it holds on. There appears to be some form of leadership with the fish as when a leader is knocked off the others fall off en masse. The takes of kanakana are prodigious and all are dried and stored for future use.

In the town of Mataura is a flat rock with a hollow, named Te Kohanga moa (nest of the moa). Moa bones were frequently found at Mataura is the early days. The native reserves of Southland are Oue, Aparima, Oraka, Kawhaka-putaputa, Onetoto, Omaui. These were augmented by the Landless Natives Acts, and these are mostly situated beyond the Waiau River or otherwise in the "never never" country. The Native Department in 1870, complained of the inaccuracy of some Southland surveys, and the native reserves were re-surveyed between the years 1870 and 1874. One native reserve contained 260 acres over, and at least one line was several chains out. The extinguishment of the native right to Murihiku was accomplished by Commissioner W. B. Mantell for the Crown on August 17th, 1853, at £2,600.