The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions: Tai-Nui. [Vol. V]
At evening tide I now will sit at home,
And quietly await the coming
Of Tia and of Ngakau from the south.
Go, sit beneath the karaka grove,
And drink the water of the spring,
Because my own beloved accepted Kahu's mat,
And then that old man went far, far away from me,
And, though he would protect, he did it with a hand
As rough to me as is the skin of shark Tawake;
But covered me with dog-skin mat.
Yet still I opened not my mouth to speak,
Though he as noble kauri-tree stood there;
And though he spread out Whare-huhi mat
That I might feel regret for unkind acts,
And touch him with a gentle kindly hand,
And so might feel the end of slight to him,
Yet still the feeling of his touch, and pain
That calm revolt doth bring comes o'er me still.
How Nga-I-Te-Rangi Obtained Possession Of Tauranga.
(J. A. Wilson.)
Thus, about a hundred and fifty years ago, Nga-i-te-rangi obtained possession of Tauranga, and drove the remnant of its former people, Nga-ti-peke-kiore, away into the hills to the sources of the Wai-roa and Te-puna Rivers, where, although now related to the conquerors, they still live. Another hapu (family tribe) of the ancient people of Tauranga are Te-whanau-o-nga-i-tai-whao, also called Te-whiti-kiore. They hold Tuhua (Mayor Island), and in 1835 numbered one hundred and seventy people. Their chief was Tangi-te-ruru, but now Tupaea, chief of Nga-i-te-rangi proper, is also chief of both these tribes.page 207
Yet, notwithstanding their ancestors' too unceremonious mode of acquiring a new estate, it is but just to Nga-i-te-rangi to say that, unlike some other tribes, their intercourse with Europeans was ever characterized by fairness and good conduct. They were not blustering and turbulent like Nga-ti-maru, or lying and thievish as Nga-ti-whakaue; nor were they inclined to substitute might for right in the way in which Whaka-tohea sometimes acted towards Europeans. It was their boast that they had never harmed a pakeha (European). They were called by other Natives “Nga-i-te-rangi kupu tahi,” which may be freely rendered “Nga-i-te-rangi of one word, or the up right;” and, finally, their recent hostilities against our troops were conducted in an admittedly honourable manner. We will only add, in reference to Tauranga, that its climate is a sort of average between those of Auckland and O-potiki—more frosty and less subject to westerly winds than the former, and less frosty and more windy than the latter.
Before returning to the immediate subject of our story, we will narrate the unfortunate episode of an English trader's visit to the Bay of Plenty a year after the “Herald's” voyage. In 1829 the brig “Haws,” of Sydney, anchored off Whaka-tane. Having large quantities of arms and ammunition on board she soon obtained a cargo of pigs and flax, and then moved over to Whale Island, where, by the side of a spring of boiling water, conveniently situated near the beach, the captain and some of the crew proceeded to kill the pigs and salt them and put them into casks. While thus engaged a number of canoes were seen to board the vessel from Whaka-tane, and the sailors, who had taken to the rigging, were shot. The captain and some of the crew with him fled in their boat to Te-awa-o-te-atua, and thence to Tauranga. The Natives, who were led by Ngarara, took everything out of the brig and burnt her. Among other things they found a quantity of flour, the use of which very much puzzled them; at length they contented themselves with emptying it into the sea and simply retained the bags.page 208
When the news of the cutting-off of the “Haws” reached the Bay of Islands, some Europeans resident there considered it necessary to make an example of Ngarara. They therefore sent the “New-Zealander” schooner to Whaka-tane, and Te-hana, a Nga-puhi chief acquainted with Ngarara, volunteered to accompany the expedition. The “New-Zealander” arrived off Whaka-tane. Ngarara, encouraged by the success of his enterprise against the “Haws,” determined to act in the same way towards this vessel. But first, with the usually cautious instinct of a Maori, he went on board in friendly guise, for the double purpose of informing himself of the character of the vessel and of putting the pakehas (Europeans) off their guard. Ngarara spent a pleasant day, hearing the korero (news), and doubtless doing a little business; so much so that his was the last canoe alongside the vessel, which latter it was arranged should enter the river the following morning. Meanwhile our Nga-puhi chief sat quietly, and apparently unconcernedly, smoking his pipe on the taffrail, his double-barrelled gun, as a matter of course, lying near at hand; yet was he not unmindful of his mission, or indifferent to what was passing before him. He had marked his prey, and only awaited the time when Ngarara, the last to leave, should take his seat in the canoe. For a moment the canoe's painter was retained by the ship, “but in that drop of time” an age of sin, a life of crime, had passed away, and Ngarara (the reptile) had writhed his last in the bottom of his own canoe—shot by the Nga-puhi chief, in retribution of the “Haws” tragedy, in which he had been the prime mover and chief participator.
Te-whanau-o-apanui were much enraged at being thus outwitted, and deprived of one of their leading chiefs. The difficulty, however, was to find a pakeha (European) whom they might sacrifice in utu (payment); for utu they must have for the violent death of a tapu (sacred) chief, or the atua (god) would be angry with them, and visit them or theirs with some fresh calamity. In the end, therefore, they were compelled to fit out a flotilla, and go as far as Hicks Bay (Whai-a-paoa)—for page 209 Europeans lived on the east coast prior to their settlement in the Bay of Plenty—where they too successfully attacked a pa at Whare-kahika, for the purpose of getting two pakehas (Europeans), who lived in it, into their hands. One poor fellow was instantly killed, but the Natives complained he was thin and tough—they could scarcely eat him. We may add, in reference to pakehas (Europeans) they have murdered that other New-Zealanders have found the same fault and experienced the same hardship. The other European escaped in a marvellous manner; he fled, and attempted to climb a tree, but the Native who pursued him, a Nga-i-tai man, cut his fingers off with a tomahawk, and tumbled him out of it. We suppose the Maori preferred making a live man walk to the kainga (settlement) rather than carry a dead man to it; otherwise another moment would have ended the pakeha's life. During the brief interval our pakeha turned his anxious eyes towards the sea, when, lo! an apparition! Was it not mocking him, or could it be real? Yes, a reality: there “walking the waters like a thing of life,” a ship—no phantom ship—approached, as if sent in his hour of need. She suddenly shot round Whare-kahika Point, not more than a mile away, and anchored in the bay. “Now,” said the pakeha, “if you spare me, my countrymen on board that ship will give a handsome ransom in guns and ammunition.” The Maoris at once saw the force of the observation, the thing was plain on the face of it; and, as they wanted both guns and ammunition, they took him to the landing-place—a rocky point—to negotiate the business. Presently an armed whaleboat neared the shore (the ship was a whaler), the pakeha advanced a pace or two beyond the group of Maoris, to the edge of the rock, to speak; and when he spoke he said to those in the boat, “When I jump into the water, fire.” He plunged, and they fired. He was saved and the Natives fled, excepting such as may have been compelled to remain on the rock, contrary to their feelings and wishes. The unfortunate pakehas were protégés of Makau, alias Rangi-mata-nuku, the page 210 Whaka-tohea chief, who, it will be remembered, had fled from O-potiki when Nga-ti-maru devastated that place. Makau lost several men in this affair, and always considered himself an upholder and martyr in the cause of the pakeha. It was lucky this idea possessed his mind, as it probably saved the crew of the “John Dauscombe,” a schooner from Launceston, which came to grief at O-potiki in I832.
Another incident in connection with the “Haws” tragedy cannot be omitted. One of the Natives who took part in it was a Nga-puhi man, who at the time was visiting at Whaka-tane, but usually lived at Maunga-tapu, at Tauranga, having taken a woman of that place to wife. It so happened that Waka Nene, of Hokianga—now Tamati Waka—was on the beach at Maunga-tapu when this Nga-puhi Native returned from Whaka-tane to his wife and friends. Tamati Waka advanced to meet him, and delivered a speech, taki-ing (pacing up and down while making a speech) in Maori style, while Nga-ti-he, the Natives of the pa, sat round. “Ugh! you're a pretty fellow,” said Nene, “to call yourself a Nga-puhi. Do they murder pakehas in that manner at Nga-puhi? What makes you steal away here to kill pakehas? Has the pakeha done you any harm that you kill him? There—that is for your work,” he said, as he suddenly stopped short and shot the Native dead whom he was addressing in the midst of his connections and friends. This act, bold even to rashness, on Waka Nene's part, stamped his character for the future throughout the length and breadth of New Zealand as the friend of the pakeha—a reputation which that veteran chief has since so well sustained.
Another Account Of The “Hawes.”
(One Who Arrived In New Zealand In 1825.)
I often went into Tauranga with my schooner to buy flax; but when the Maori were at war, and a body of the Nga-puhi Natives were there from the Bay of Islands, I had to wait for some time, and I often went on shore. On one of these occasions page 211 the Natives were being addressed by the noted chief Nene, of the Bay of Islands, who was pacing up and down before a number of them who were sitting in groups on the space some distance from the pa. He made a most animated speech, and appeared to be much excited. He ceased to speak, and, raising a double-barrelled gun which he held in his hand, he took aim, and fired at a chief who was sitting with some others. The ball passed through the chief's body, and he fell dead. Nene pointed with his hand, and told the people to bury the man, and sat down.
I learnt that the “Hawes” had been in Tauranga, and that the chief who had been shot by Nene was of the Nga-puhi people from the Bay of Islands, who had taken a Tauranga woman to wife, and had lived with her people. This man dared not attempt to take the “Hawes” at Tauranga, and to obtain some plunder he told the captain of the “Hawes” that he would send a man with the vessel to Whaka-tane who would obtain plenty of flax from the Natives there; but the messenger was charged with a message inciting the Whaka-tane people to take the vessel, the Nga-puhi chief expecting his share of the plunder if the scheme succeeded.
The “Hawes” went to Whaka-tane, and was taken and plundered, and this Nga-puhi chief who was shot by Nene was executed by him as a just retribution for his evil message and the part he took in the matter. His wife's relations and the Nga-puhi followers of Nene durst not take revenge for his death. Nene was a chief of supreme rank. From what I saw of him he was not a proud chief, and his act of shooting one of his own chiefs in the midst of enemies, and far from home, with a number of that chief's followers with him, was the climax of bravery and justice.
On another occasion when I was in Tauranga I had with me a Nga-puhi chief whose name I now forget, when Tua-tara, the chief who took the “Hawes,” came on board. As he was rather saucy to my Nga-puhi chief, my chief shot him just as we were on the point of sailing.
War Of Nga-Puhi On The Bay Of Plenty Tribes.
(J. A. Wilson.)
We will now give an account of a curious compound of superstitious absurdity and thirst for human blood. In the summer of 1831 two Bay of Islands girls of rank bathed together in the sea at Korora-reka. Their play in the water gradually became serious, and ended in a quarrel, in which one cursed the other's tribe. When this dreadful result became publicly known, the girls' tribes gravely prepared for war—one to avenge the insult, the other to defend itself. In an engagement which followed the assailants were so terribly worsted that the other party, remembering they were all related to each other, became ashamed and sorry at the chastisement they had inflicted, and they actually gave Korora-reka—the site of the Town-ship of Russell—in compensation for the tupapakus (the dead) they had killed. But the gift of a pa, no matter how advantageously situated, could not appease the craving of blood for blood. Accordingly, an expedition of Nga-puhi and Rarawa was sent to Tauranga to take revenge for the people slain in their intertribal war in the north. The expedition was void of result, and returned to the Bay of Islands after having been beaten off the Maunga-tapu Pa—the same pa which, three years before, Te-rohu had vainly tried to take. The only incident worth mentioning on this occasion is that the celebrated Hone Heke was shot in the neck, and fell in the fern near the ditch of the pa, from which perilous position he was removed in the night by his comrades. “Ah!” said Nuku, chief of Maunga-tapu, in allusion, some years afterwards, to this circumstance, “if we had only known that he was there in the fern he never would have troubled the pakeha.”
Undaunted and undiscouraged by want of success, Nga-puhi again sent forth a taua, led by Te-hara-miti, a noted old priest. As this war-party was a small one of only 140 men, it was arranged that a reinforcement should follow it. In 1832 Te-hara-miti's taua set out, and landed first at Ahuahu (Mercury page 213 Island) where about one hundred Nga-ti-marus were surprised, killed, and eaten. The only person who escaped this massacre was a man with a peculiarly-shaped head, the result of a tomahawk-wound then received. He said, as he sat in the dusk of the evening in the bush, a little apart from his companions, something rustled past him; he seemed to receive a blow, and became insensible. When next he opened his eyes he saw the full moon sailing in the heavens: all was still as death; he wondered what had happened. Feeling pain, he put his hand to his head, and, finding an enormous wound, began to comprehend his situation. At length, faint for want of food, and believing the place deserted, he cautiously and painfully crept forth, to find the bones of his friends, and the ovens in which they had been cooked. Food there was none; yet, in that wounded condition, he managed to subsist on roots and shellfish until found and rescued by some of his own tribe, who went from the mainland to visit their friends who had been slaughtered. How the wretched man lived under such circumstances is a marvel.
From Mercury Island Te-hara-miti's taua (war-party) sailed to Tuhua (Mayor Island), where they surprised, killed, and ate many of the Whanau-o-nga-i-tai-whao. A number, however, took refuge in their rocky and almost impregnable pa at the east end of the island, whence they contrived to send intelligence to Nga-i-te-rangi, at Tauranga, of Nga-puhi's irruption. The Nga-puhi remained several days at Tuhua, irresolute whether to continue the incursion or return to their own country. A few men of the taua, satisfied with the first slaughter, had wished to return from Mercury Island; but now all, excepting Te-hara-miti, desired to do the same. They urged the success of the expedition; that, having accomplished their purpose, further operations were unnecessary; that they were then in the immediate vicinity of the hostile and powerful Nga-i-te rangi, who, should they hear of the recent attack on their tribe, would be greatly incensed; that their own numbers were few, and there page 214 appeared but little hope of the arrival of the promised reinforcements; and that, though the tribes of the south possessed only a few guns, yet they no longer dreaded firearms as formerly, when the paralysing terror they inspired so frequently enabled Nga-puhi to perpetrate the greatest massacres with impunity—hence Po-mare and his taua had never returned from Wai-kato. To these arguments Te-hara-miti, their priest and leader, replied that, though they had done very well, the atua (god) was not quite satisfied, and they must therefore try and do more. He assured them the promised succours were at hand, and that they were required by the atua to go as far as the next island, Motiti, whence they would be permitted to return to the Bay of Islands. To Motiti, or Flat Island, accordingly they went; for Te-hara-miti, their oracle, was supposed to communicate the will of the atua, and they, of course, like all New-Zealanders of that day, whether in war or in peace, scrupulously observed the forms and rites of their ancient religion and superstitions, and obeyed the commands of their spiritual divinities, as revealed by the tohungas, their priests.
The Nga-puhi, when they arrived at Motiti, were obliged to content themselves with the ordinary food found there, such as potatoes and other vegetables, with pork, for the inhabitants had fled. But this disappointment was quickly forgotten when the next day at noon a large fleet of canoes was descried approaching from Tuhua. Forthwith the cry arose, “Here are Nga-puhi; here is the fulfilment of Te-hara-miti's prophecy:” and off they rushed in scattered groups along the south-western beach of Motiti to wave welcome to their friends.
Let us leave this party for awhile to see how in the meantime Nga-i-te-rangi had been occupied. As soon as the news from Tuhua reached Tauranga, the Nga-i-te-rangi hastily assembled a powerful force to punish the invaders. Te-waha-roa was at Tauranga on a visit, and, by his prestige, energy, and advice, contributed much to the spirit and activity of the enterprise. In short, so vigorous were Nga-i-te-rangi's preparations that page 215 in a few days a fleet of war-canoes, bearing one thousand warriors, led by Tu-paea and Te-waha-roa, sailed out of Tauranga Harbour and steered for Tuhua. The voyage was so timed that they arrived at the island at daylight the following morning, when they were informed by the Whanau-o-nga-i-tai-whao from the shore that the Nga-puhi had gone the previous day to Motiti. Instantly their course was turned towards Motiti. The warriors, animated with hope, and thoroughly set upon revenge, or to perish in the attempt, made old ocean hiss and boil to the measured stroke of their war-like tuki (song chanted by one man, who gives time to the rowers, the rowers at various intervals of the chant giving forth in loud chorus); while the long low war canoes glided serpent-like over the undulations of an open swell. At mid-day, as they neared Motiti, the enemy's canoes were seen ranged upon the strand at the isthmus which connects the pa at its south end with the rest of the island; and now Nga-i-te-rangi deliberately lay on their oars and took refreshment before joining issue with their antagonists. The Maunga-tapu canoes, forming the right wing of the attack, were then directed to separate at the proper time, and pass round the south end of the island to take the enemy in rear, and prevent the escape of any by canoes that might be on the eastern beach.
All arrangements having been made, Nga-i-te-rangi committed themselves to that onset which, as we have seen, the doomed Nga-puhi rushed blindly forth to welcome. The latter, cut off from escape, surprised, scattered, and outnumbered, were destroyed in detail, almost without a a show of resistance. Old Hara-miti, blind with age, sat in the stern of his canoe ready to receive his friends; but, hearing the noise of a conflict, he betook himself to incantations to insure the success of his people, and thus was he engaged when the men of Nga-i-te-rangi came up and with their fists beat him to death, a superstitious feeling preventing each from drawing his sacred blood. Only two Nga-puhi survived—a youth to whom quarter page 216 was given, and a man who, it is said, swam to Wai-rake, on the main; in respect of which feat we will only say that it was an uncommonly long swim.
Such was the end of Te-hara-miti's expedition; and such the last link in the chain of tragical events which Maori ingenuity, superstition, and cruelty contrived to attach to the childish quarrel of the girls that bathed at the Bay of Islands. Coupled, however, with Pomare's similarly disastrous affair at Wai-kato, the good effect was attained of deterring Nga-puhi from all further acts of aggression against the south.
Tu-paea, who led Nga-i-te-rangi's avenging taua, wiped out the insult of Nga-puhi's two recent irruptions, is the same chief who was lately a prisoner of war at Auckland. He was one of the few defenders of the Tumu who escaped from that pa on the 7th May, 1836. On the afternoon of that day he was seen suffering from a wound in the head of so singular a nature that it deserves to be mentioned. A musket-ball, fired somewhere from his left front; had penetrated the skin immediately above and behind the left ear, and, forming a passage round the head between the scalp and skull, had made its exit at the right eyebrow. Thus the hardness of his cranium, and the elastic toughness of his hairy scalp had not merely saved his life, but had absolutely reversed the course of the bullet—and, strange to say, with apparently comparatively little inconvenience to himself.
It is a remarkable coincidence that, as in 1832 Tu-paea put a final stop to Nga-puhi's incursions by the retributive carnage at Motiti, so it had been his father's lot, some fourteen years before that time, to avert from Tauranga's shores the dreadful inroads of that tribe by an act of extraordinary chivalry and self-sacrifice, the circumstances of which are the following: Soon after Nga-puhi obtained firearms they attacked Tauranga and took Nga-i-te-rangi's pa at Maunga-nui, driving its wretched inhabitants into the sea at the rocky point which forms the north-western extremity of that mountain. Again they page 217 invaded Tauranga, and encamped at Matua-a-ewe, a knoll overhanging the Wai-roa, a mile and a half from the great O-tu-moe-tai Pa. Such was the state of affairs when, in the noontide heat of a summer's day, Te-waru, principal chief of Nga-i-te-rangi, taking advantage of the hour when both parties were indulging in siestas, went out alone to reconnoitre the enemy. Having advanced as far as was prudent, he sat down among some ngaio (Myoporum laetum) trees near the beach, and presently observed a man, who proved to be a Nga-puhi chief, coming along the strand from the enemy's camp. The man approached, and, turning up from the beach, sat down under the trees without perceiving the Tauranga chief, who was near him. Instantly the determination of the latter was taken. He sprang unawares upon the Nga-puhi, disarmed him, and, binding his hands with his girdle, he drove him towards O-tu-moe-tai. When they were arrived pretty near to the pa he bade his prisoner halt; he unloosed him, restored his arms, and then, delivering up his own to him, said to the astonished Nga puhi, “Now serve me in the same manner.” The relative positions of the chiefs were soon reversed, and the captor, driven captive, entered Nga-puhi's camp, where so great was the excitement and the eagerness of each to destroy the Nga-i-te-rangi chief that it was only by the most violent gesticulations, accompanied with many unmistakable blows delivered right and left, that the Nga-puhi chief compelled them for a moment to desist. “Hear me,” he cried—“hear how I got him, and afterwards kill him if you like.” He then made a candid statement of all that had occurred, whereupon the rage of the Nga-puhi was turned away, and a feeling of intense admiration succeeded. Te-waru was unbound, his arms restored, he was treated with the greatest respect, and invited to make peace, which he most anxiously desired. Peace was concluded; the Nga-puhi returned to the Bay of Islands; and, though in after years they devastated the Thames, Wai-kato, and Roto-rua districts, yet Tauranga was unvisited by them until 1831, when, as we have seen, they attacked Maunga-tapu.
A Wai-Kato War-Party Enter The Hau-Raki (Thames).
(J. A. Wilson.)
The missionaries received intelligence of an expedition that was about to cut off a party of unsuspecting persons engaged in scraping flax on the banks of a stream about fifty miles away. Taking one or two Christian Natives as guides, and to assist in their boat, on a stormy night the missionaries set forth. Though the rain fell in torrents, the gale as pretty fair, and in the morning they landed, having accomplished about half their journey. But the harder portion yet remained; for the hills were slippery and the streams swollen by the continued rain, so that in crossing one stream they were compelled to construct a mokihi, or catamaran of flax-stalks. In twenty-four hours the missionaries had descended the Thames a considerable distance, and crossed its frith; they had ascended the Piako, and walked across the hilly country that separates that river from the Marama-rua, a stream which empties itself into the Wai-kato at Whanga-marino; and now, towards evening, though sorely tried with fatigue and exposure, they neared the place where the people they sought to rescue were staying. As they advanced their anxiety increased, for the taua (war-party) had taken a shorter road, while the missionaries, to maintain the secrecy necessary to the success of the undertaking, were obliged to choose a more circuitous route. Urged on, therefore, by the exigency of the occasion, they used every effort, for the unsuspecting Natives at Marama-rua were the rear-guard of a party of Wai-katos whose main body had gone to Waka-tiwai to endeavour to bring about a peace with the Thames Natives; while the Thames Natives, knowing that the flax-scraping party at Marama-rua had been left by the peace-seeking expedition in charge of their canoes there, privately sent a taua (war-party) to cut them off. Hence the brethren felt that not only were the lives of the Marama-rua party at stake, but that the success of the taua (war-party) would utterly overthrow, or indefinitely page 219 postpone, all hopes of terminating the long and bloody war between the Thames and Wai-kato tribes.
Now, there were two landing-places some distance from each other on the banks of the Marama-rua Stream, and the road, dividing, led to each of them. Mr. Fairburn, accompanied by the Native guides, proceeded to the lower landing-place, while Mr. Wilson branched off by himself for the upper. Presently the latter missionary arrived on a summit above the stream, and saw the objects of his search one hundred yards from him sitting on its banks outside their whare. He also saw the taua about five hundred yards from them, approaching from the lower landing-place, along the margin of a swamp. Not a moment was to be lost. He shouted; but the wind prevented his being heard. The Wai-kato group, however, saw him, and when he took off his coat and waved it they rose as one man, and gazed fixedly until he repeated the signal. Then, without confusion, they seemed to slink into their canoes, and in an incredibly short time were paddling away, so that when Mr. Wilson reached the hut the last canoe was just disappearing in the windings of the stream.
Scarcely had our missionary time to realise the event and to think of his own situation when the first man of the taua (war-party) appeared. He was a naked squarebuilt, powerful, dark complexioned, forbidding looking fellow, who, eager for the fray, had outstripped his companions. On he came, dripping with rain, with his left arm en garde, wound round with a mat, and his right hand tightly clutching a short tomahawk. He was too intent on entering the hut to perceive the missionary, who stood near and watched his movements. He did not go straight in at the doorway, as a measured blow might have been dealt him; but suddenly he leaped obliquely through it making at the same time a ward to defend himself. Some disappointment must, however, have ensued, as he quickly came out, and, running with uplifted weapon in search of prey, met Mr. Wilson. He page 220 paused, and, scarcely restraining himself, looked the white man full in the face. It was a critical moment, but the countenance of the latter was firm, and the eye of the savage fell, and, wandering, lit upon a pig asleep close by, which luckily served as a safety valve to the explosive power of his fury, and was despatched instanter by a blow on the head.
The taua came up, and was extremely silent. Mr. Fair-burn, too, following in its track, presently arrived. All went into the long, low hut, for night had set in, and the weather continued bad. The whare (house) was crowded, and the missionary party were together at one end. For two hours the taua maintained a dogged silence most trying to their neighbours. They neither ate, nor did they light a single pipe, they merely kindled a fire, and it was impossible to foresee the upshot of the matter, when the missionaries at length had prayers with their party, beginning with the Maori hymn:—
“E Ihu! homai e koe
He ngakau hou ki au.”
“O Jesus! give to me
A heart made new by Thee.”
The attention of the taua was quickly riveted. The hard countenances of the sullen and chagrined men gradually relaxed, as, listening, they mutely acknowledged the superior power of the pakeha's Atua (God of the European), perhaps from their own superstitious fear at His having so palpably thwarted their enterprise, or perhaps a nobler influence was then mysteriously working in their minds. At any rate, when that short service had ended, the conduct of the taua (war-party) became so altered that it seemed as though a spell had been removed from them. Fires were made, food was prepared, and the carcase of the pig, which had lain neglected, was cut up, and a portion, together with a present of potatoes, was handed to the missionaries. Conversation followed, and the evening ended better than it began. So great, however, had been the mental and bodily strain on the brethren that next day, on the homeward journey, one of them—Mr. Fair-burn— page 221 repeatedly fainted, and was with some difficulty escorted back to the boat. On that day Koinaki, leader of the party, and the great guerilla captain of the Nga-ti-maru Tribe, said to the missionaries, “If Waha-roa will cease fighting I will do the same.” He kept his word, and thus, in 1835, ended the last episode in the Nga-ti haua and Nga-ti-maru war.
The following interviews will show how in a few years the thoughts and habits of these very Natives became changed.
At Whaka-tane, twelve years after the incident above recorded, a Maori, well dressed in sailor's clothes, presented himself before Mr. Wilson, and the following conversation ensued:—
“Do you know me?”
“No; I do not remember ever having seen you before.”
“I am the man who first entered the hut at Marama-rua.”
“Indeed! They were sad days then.”
“Yes, they were the days of our ignorance; but we know better now.”
“And pray what brings you here, away from your tribe?”
“Oh! I am a sailor, and I have been requested by So-and-so to bring his vessel here.”
This man, however, was not the only Native that remembered and spoke afterwards of Marama-rua. Mr. Fairburn retired from the mission, and Mr. Wilson removed to the Bay of Plenty, and Koinaki, on parting on that occasion from the latter gentleman, did not see him again until after a lapse of twenty years. Yet, so impressed had his mind been with the events of that day that, upon meeting the missionary, he exclaimed, “Mr. Wilson, do you remember Marama-rua?”
We have thus noticed in full the foregoing Marama-rua episode in order to furnish, once for all, an example of a class of incident by no means uncommon in the early days of the New Zealand mission, and to illustrate the very remarkable manner page 222 in which the Maoris—savage as they were and bad as they were—were sometimes influenced by Christianity.
But there were certain elements in the Maori mind which predisposed the Natives to accept Christianity, and facilitated its spread amongst them.
They had no idols; all their divinities were of a spiritual nature. They had, indeed, their tapu images, houses, places, things, their tapu persons, and their taua tapu; but the sacredness of those tapu was an extrinsic mode, having some reference or connection, directly or indirectly, to a spiritual atua. Hence their ideas on matters of tapu were often extremely subtle and metaphysical. Thus, in 1836, at Rotorua, at a place where a cannibal feast had occurred a fortnight before, a Native was asked what he expected Whiro (the god of war) to do with, the offerings left to him on the ground—did he think Whiro would eat them? He replied, “The question is a very absurd one, for how can a spirit eat food? How can mind consume matter? The outward forms of those offerings to Whiro remain the same, but the god has absorbed their mana”—that is, the virtue or essence. The offerings consisted of a cooked piece of heart or liver, a lock of hair, and a cooked potato, each placed on a small stick planted in the ground by a little oven—for Whiro had his own separate oven, about the size of a dinner-plate. The flesh and hair from the head had been taken from the body of the first man killed in the battle, which body was a wakahere (predetermined offering for the gods) held tapu to the gods. And sometimes; in a doubtful strife, the priest of a taua would hastily rip out the wakahere's heart, and, muttering incantations, would wave it to the atua to insure the success of his people.
Their practical acknowledgment that the shedding of blood cancelled evil. This doctrine of atonement occasionally involved them, against their inclination, in wars and broils, which, on the violation of a tapu, were engaged in to avenge the atua's honour, and to avert from themselves, their wives, and their page 223 children the evils and diseases supposed to be inflicted on such as were remiss on the atua's behalf.
Besides their atua's grievances, they had their private ones. Sometimes these classes were interwoven, some times hopelessly entangled; but in no case were they satisfied until an atonement in blood had been obtained; and the duty of seeking such redress was handed down from father to son, if necessary, even through many generations.
The following dialogue, which occurred some years ago between two travellers on a lonely road, sufficiently exemplifies this:—
Maori: “I have had several opportunities of killing you today.”
European (uneasily): “What do you mean?”
Maori: “That among us Maoris strangers never travel as we are doing—walking close behind each other through copses and narrow places such as this.”
Maori: “Because, although on good terms with my companion, yet I might know of some unavenged evil my ancestors had sustained, which he had forgotten, or perhaps never heard of; and then, if I had an opportunity, I should kill him.”
So necessary, indeed, was satisfaction of this nature to comfort their too susceptible consciences that, in the event of their being unable or unwilling to obtain a recompense from the offenders, they would turn to other quarters, and ultimately get utu (payment) by killing persons utterly unconnected with them or their affairs, and who may have been ignorant of their very existence.
They say that conscience warned them of the difference between good and evil, right and wrong.
They were naturally religious. Their affairs, whether political, civil, or social, were all blended with religion or superstition. It was invoked when they fished, planted, and gathered in their crops; when they sent out a taua, or when page 224 they attacked a pa. If they engaged in warlike operations, they observed the flight of shooting-stars, and divined the atua's approval or disapproval of their expeditions. If a star travelled towards the enemy's country, the omen was favourable; but on an opposite course it was sufficient to paralyse the heart of the stoutest taua, and cause the most superstitious of its warriors to return to their homes. In the assault and defence of a pa the moon was studied. That satellite was supposed to represent the pa, and her eclipse—should it happen, as was the case the night before Te-tumu was taken—would most surely prognosticate its fall. So also the relative positions of stars with the moon indicated the success or otherwise of the attacking taua against a pa.
Failing these auguries, the tohunga (priest) would repeat his enchantments and cast the niu. This ceremony was performed by taking a number of small sticks—each representing in the tohunga's mind a particular hapu or section of the assailants—and throwing them haphazard towards a small space described on the ground, which betokened the pa: the tohunga was able, by the way they fell upon the ground, and the directions they pointed in, to presage whether an attack would prove successful, and, if so, to assign to the various tribes or hapus the parts they should take in the proposed assault.
Their planting, too, was preceded by incantations and tapu, and their harvesting by an offering of the first-fruits to the atua. In short, the genius of the people was essentially religious, and their actions subject to the control of their tohungas (priests).
Murder Of Te-Hunga At Roto-Rua. (J. A. Wilson.)
And yet Huka had a very good Maori reason for committing this horrid deed, which we will endeavour to explain. He conceived himself injured and insulted by his own chiefs and relations in two things. First, in some matter having reference to a woman; and, secondly, because, during a recent temporary absence, his interests had been utterly overlooked at the division of a large quantity of trade received from Tapsal, a pakeha-maori at Maketu, in payment for flax the tribe had sold, which flax, according to mercantile usages of that day, probably had yet to be delivered, and, at the time the trade was given, was most likely flourishing on its native stem. Huka made a journey to Maketu to see Tapsal, but found the pakeha inexorable: he had paid to the chiefs of the tribe all the trade agreed for, and he would pay no more. So Huka returned to Roto-rua, saying in an ungracious spirit, “I cannot kill all my relatives, but I can bring war upon them.” Which, sure enough, he did by murdering Waha-roa's cousin precisely in the manner we have related. And thus originated Te-waha-roa's great war with the Nga-ti-whakaue, or Arawa, Tribe.
But now the admirer of that rude sense of justice which dwells inherent in the savage breast exclaims, “Why did not the Nga-ti-whakaues immediately do what they could to make the amende honorable to Waha-roa?” They might have sent off the page 226 heads of Huka and his nephew, with an apologetic message to the great chief expressing unfeigned regret at the melancholy affair, and hoping the satisfaction of seeing for himself the condign punishment the criminals had received would avert his just indignation, and trusting the amicable relations that had subsisted between their two tribes during his time might still remain unchanged. We think no one would have been more amused at the novelty and simplicity of this proceeding than old Waharoa himself. Of course, he, and perhaps his friends Te-kanawa and Moko-rou, chiefs of Nga-ti-mania-poto and Wai-kato, would miss the pleasure of discussing the ambassadors' quality at breakfast next morning, as no Native other than a neutral one would have been simpleton enough to place himself in such a position. No, the Nga-ti-whakaue never thought of such a thing; their minds and actions ran in another groove, for by noon that Christmas Day they had cut up Hunga's body and sent the quarters throughout the Arawa tribes to signify the new state of public affairs. As for Huka, he walked a taller man: his spirited conduct had raised him in the eyes of men.
On receiving the news, Waha-roa was so enraged that he sent a message to Mr. Chapman—the Church missionary at Roto-rua, who had buried Hunga's head—through a neutral channel that he would come and burn his house. To Nga-ti-whakaue he did not condescend to send a word. They might remain ignorant where the blow should fall, while he actively prepared to deliver it.
Meantime the Nga-i-te-rangi chiefs greatly feared that Waha-roa, instead of taking the Pa-tetere route, would pass through Tauranga, and drag them into a war in which they had no interest. Their country would certainly be devastated some time, and if there were any gains Te waha-roa would take them. In about ten weeks their fears were confirmed, when Waha-roa had mustered his Nga-ti-haua, Nga-ti-mania-poto, and Wai-kato forces, to the number of a thousand fighting men, under Te Kanawa, Moko-rou, and himself.page 227
About this time Waha-roa sent to Nuka-tai-pari, chief of Maunga-tapu, requesting him to murder fourteen Tapu-ika friends who were visiting him, the Tapu-ika Hapu being a section of the Arawa. Nuka replied to the effect that he did not like to murder his guests, but Waha-roa could do so by intercepting them on their road home, and that they would leave Maunga-tapu at such a time—stating exactly when.
On the evening of the 24th March, 1836, just three months after Hunga's death, the advance-guard of Waha roa's taua, seventy strong, under the fighting chief Pea, crossed the Tauranga Harbour at Te-papa during twilight, and, marching on, took up their station across the Maketu road, between Maunga-mana and the coast-line. The next day Nuka advised his friends to return home, as the news of Waha-roa's approach rendered it unsafe for them to remain. On the same day they all fourteen fell into Pea's hands, by whom they were bound, until Waha-roa's further pleasure should be known. The missionaries at Te-papa, Messrs. Wilson and Wade, spared no pains to save the lives of these unfortunate people. The former gentleman proceeded to Pea's camp, where he was assured all would be well with the Tapu-ika, who were only detained to prevent their carrying intelligence to the enemy of the movements of Waha-roa's taua; and, to convince the too sceptical pakeha (European), four or five Natives impersonated the prisoners, saying they were of the number of captured Tapu-ika, and earnestly desiring that the question of their safety might not be raised by the missionary. On the same night Te-waha-roa, with his taua, passed through the Papa station, and promised the missionaries to spare the lives of the captives.
The next morning—26th—Waha-roa arrived at Maunga-mana, when the prisoners were quickly slain, and the taua halted until noon the following day to cook and eat their bodies. On the 27th the missionaries went to Waha-roa's camp. Passing unnoticed along his grim columns, they found the chief seated apart on a sandhill, protected by a rude breakwind. Moko-rou page 228 was his companion; while, at a respectful distance, sat a knot of other chiefs. Waha-roa saw them coming, and, thinking, probably, the visit would prove unwelcome, gave orders to resume the march; meantime the missionaries arrived, and spoke in very plain terms to him about his conduct. Mr Wilson, as spokes-man, upbraided him with the murder of his friend's guests, and reproached him with breaking his promise. “And now,” he said, “you are going to Maketu. You are not ignorant of war, and you know you may never return. How, then, will you meet the God you have offended?” During the interview the old man's light sinewy frame and small expressive features had gradually manifested uneasiness, but to this point his usual mincing manner and taciturnity had been preserved. Now, however, when one whom he considered a tohunga (priest) to the pakeha's powerful Atua (God) seemed disposed to say that which was ominous his superstitious dread of aituas (evil omens), and fear that his expedition should go forth under a cloud, impelled him to assume his other self, and cry fiercely, “Stop; don't say that. If I am killed, what odds? and if I return, will it not be well? Leave that matter alone.” By this time his taua was in motion, “marching,” as Mr. Wilson says, “with an order and regularity I had little expected to see.”
On the 29th March, 1836, Waha-roa stormed and carried Maketu, garrisoned only by the Nga-ti-pukenga Hapu, numbering sixty fighting men, with their aged chief, Nainai, at their head. Also there was present in the pa a fighting chief of Nga-ti-whakaue named Haupapa. All these were killed and eaten; and such of their wives and children as were with them either shared the same fate or were taken into slavery. Haupapa, mortally wounded, was taken to Tapsal's house, within the pa. The old sailor had a locker, and into it he thrust the chief for concealment; but ere the victorious party entered the house he died. His wife, Kata, a woman about twenty-six years of age, was sitting near him, and as soon as she perceived page 229 he was dead she earnestly, but vainly, besought the pakeha to cut his head off, that she might hide it from his enemies. Just then, Muri-para, a chief, and foremost man of the hostile taua, entered the house, and, hearing the woman's words, exclaimed, “I will do it for you.” He severed the head, and was in the act of removing it, when Kata, suddenly apprehending his real intention, made a dash for it. He waved it out of her reach; the streaming gore flew round, and fell as he held it over a kit of water-melons. In came the taua and devoured the melons. Tapsal was stripped of all save the clothes he had on, and then beheld his premises on fire. Now the missionaries, Wilson and Wade, arrived from Tauranga, and, going to Waha-roa, asked him to secure Tapsal's safety and the safety of his Native wife. The chief consented, and said they might leave the place, which Tapsal was not slow to do, and went to the Tumu, where Tapsal managed to obtain his own boat from the Natives—for Tapsal had considerable influence with the Natives in their cooler moments, having no less than four trading stations—namely, at Matamata, Tauranga, Maketu, and Te-awa-o-te-atua. At the Tumu Tapsal rescued five women from slavery, and then withdrew in his boat to Te-awa-o-te-atua, where Rangi-te-kina enabled him to escape to Te-kupenga, and so rejoin the Arawa. Among the women rescued from slavery on this occasion was Kata, Haupapa's widow, of whom the reader will hear more yet.