The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions: Tai-Nui. [Vol. V]
Chapter XV. — Pa At Maketu Taken. (J. A. Wilson)
Pa At Maketu Taken.
(J. A. Wilson)
Shine, o sun! tenderly on my skin.
But hearken: far off in the sky
There peals a sound like sea-dashed surf.
‘Tis I alone am closed by net of death,
And followed by the January fly.
Oh! where is now the ocean-kelp,
That I may pour my tears on it,
Because of depth of pain I feel.
I long had hoped that death,
In days gone by, had ceased to come on me;
But you could see. Like rope let down,
So are the words of slandering tongue;
They go to depth of weariness and woe,
And, like the acts of ancient days,
Reverberate and strike the sound of evils past.
Nor dare they tell in open day
To my beloved my negligence or want
Of care or kindly act. I, like a
Fish out of water, am dangling in the sun.
Having effected their object, the missionaries returned to Tauranga. The whole pa was in flames. Shots were flying in every direction, while stark-naked savages, with hair cropped short and features blackened, ran wildly through the scene. They were Maori warriors, flushed with success and drunk with blood, and wrought to a pitch of fiendish excitement, which rendered their company unpleasing and unsafe.
Thus fell Maketu, and thus died Nga-ti-pukenga Tribe; for old Nainai, when urged to retreat to Roto-rua, had said, “Let me die on my land,” a speech which sealed the fate of his tribe. page 231 How strange is the fortune of war! Five months afterwards the selfsame speech, in Koro-kai's mouth, was the means in the critical moment of danger of saving the great O-hine-mutu Pa. To Te-waha-roa, who always led the stormers, the credit, however, is due of being first with his tomahawk to cut the lashings of the pa-fence. The attack was made, according to a favourite mode, in two divisions: Wai-kato and Nga-ti-mania-poto, under Moko-rou and Te-kanawa, assaulted the pa on its southern side, rushing up the natural glacis opposite Ware-kahu—the same slope that, three years afterwards, proved so fatal to them, from whence Tohi-te-uru-rangi hurled them pellmell down—while Waha-roa, with Nga-ti-haua, scaled the steeps on the river side, and led his men into the pa.
Two or three days after this, as soon as the heads were sufficiently cured, the warriors returned homewards, and a week after these events some of them, including Te-waha-roa, encamped for the night at Te-papa Station. Here numbers of these wretches took up their quarters in Mr. Wilson's garden and destroyed its shrubs, breaking them down to furnish green leaves as dampers to retain the steam of the Maori ovens in which their carrion [human flesh] was cooked. At this time the missionaries had taken the precaution—soon to become a custom—to send their families away, and had them conveyed to Panepane, a desert island on the north side of Tauranga Harbour.
The complete success and speedy result of Waha-roa's first campaign stung the Nga-ti-whakaue tribes to rage and action. Within four weeks of the receipt of the news sixteen hundred men had mustered at O-hine-mutu Pa, on Lake Roto-rua, and had marched for Maketu, whence it was their set purpose to take the Tumu.
The Tumu Pa belonged to Nga-i-te-rangi—Waha-roa's ally—and was situated on the left bank of the Kai-tuna River, about two miles from Maketu, at the place where the river, descending from the interior, flows to within about a hundred yards of the sea, and then, by a sudden freak of nature, turns sharply off to page 232 the eastward, from whence it pursues a course parallel to the coast-line until it reaches Maketu. At the Tumu the narrow neck of sand that divided the river from the sea was not obstructed by growing sand-hills as it now is, but was so low that high tides in heavy gales swept over into the river.
The Tumu was doubtless a convenient place for Maoris in times of peace, commanding as it did the sea as well as the river navigation; but for war it was quite the reverse. Unlike Maketu, it had neither natural nor artificial strength, yet the inmates of the pa were as infatuated as the Maketu people had been. Numbering only a hundred men and two hundred women and children, their garrison were too weak to hold the position against the large odds to be opposed to them, and too proud to desert it. The chiefs at the Tumu were Kiha-roa, of Maunga-tapu; Hika-reia, and his nephew Tupa-ea, of O-tu-moe-tai; Te-koke, and four others of minor note. It seems strange that the inhabitants of the Maketu and Tumu pas were not better supported by their respective tribes: we suppose “what was everybody's duty was nobody's duty,” as nobody appears to have been particularly anxious to sacrifice himself for the public weal. This supineness in reference to the Tumu may have been partly due to the occupants' own assumed security—a security arising, perhaps, from the hope that they would not be attacked. Still, there was no foundation for such a hope; for on the 20th April Nga-ti-whakaue struck their first blow, and unmistakably signified their view of Nga-i-te-rangi's political position in the war, by cutting off one man and ten women, who were found collecting firewood at Maunga-mana. At any rate, the Tumuites manifested the greatest sang-froid. Kiha-roa, when asked if the enemy had not arrived at Maketu in great force, replied by taking up a handful of sand and saying, “Yes, there is a man there for every grain of sand here.” Then, suffering the wind to blow the escaping sand away, he exclaimed, “Hei aha?” (“And for what?”).page 233
Such was the state of affairs when a highly auspicious omen—an eclipse of the moon—roused Nga-ti-whakaue to activity. During the night of the 6th May sixteen hundred men under Kahawai, Puku-atua, Koro-kai, Hika-iro, Amo-hau, Nga-ihi, and Pango, alias Nga-ihi—in fact, under all the great chiefs of Roto-rua—crossed the Kai-tuna, and, taking their stations unperceived on two sides of the Tumu, awaited the signal of attack. As morning approached, a young man volunteered to reconnoitre the pa, to ascertain whether the garrison was on the alert; and, though several endeavoured to dissuade him from the rash attempt, he went. Passing in the shade along the river bank, he entered the pa as an inmate returning within its precincts—a not uncommon occurrence—and made his rounds without attracting attention, farther than that one man watched him for awhile; then making his exit in the manner he had entered, he reported that the people had evidently been at their posts all night, but had gone to sleep, leaving only a few sentinels on duty.
At grey dawn of day the onset was made. At the first sound of danger the Nga-i-te-rangi flew to their stations. Kiha-roa, hastening with the rest, fell pierced by a ball in his forehead. His body was instantly tumbled into a kumara-pit, a rough mat thrown over it, and it remained long undiscovered. The assault was repulsed, and repeated, to be repulsed again; twice renewed, and thrice repulsed, the assailants had lost Kahawai, their principal chief, and seventy men. The numbers of the defenders also were considerably reduced. At length the light of returning day revealed to both sides the great disparity of forces—the multitude on one hand, the few on the other—and inspired the Nga-ti-whakaue with a courage that enabled them to carry the pa. But the desperate strife was not concluded. The Nga-i-te-rangi—men, women, and children—hastily collected, and, precipitating themselves in a mass upon their enemies, forced their way through to the sea-beach, and fled, not unpursued, for Tauranga. Poor women and children! their page 234 fate must rest in oblivion, as only about twenty of the former escaped. The elderly chief Hika-reia, closely pursued, made for the inland road, to be struck down by a bullet in crossing Wai-rake Swamp. Instantly one of his pursuers rushed into the swamp. In his black heart lay seething the unwreaked revenge of two generations—a revenge he now appeased by cutting out his victim's liver and eating it reeking hot on the spot, in utu for his murdered grandfather. Although Hika-reia was related to the hapu of Kahawai, of the Nga-ti-whakaue, his body was flayed——the dutiful young men, his nephews, being foremost in the business, and appropriating the skin to their own use, cutting it up for pouches. One of them secured his uncle's handsome rape—posterior tattooing—with which he made an ornamental cartouche-box.
The fall of the Tumu cost Nga-i-te-rangi seven chiefs and sixty men killed, and about 180 women and children killed or taken prisoners. Tupa-ea—now Hori Tupa-ea—was the only surviving chief. If the pursuit had been properly followed up scarcely a fugitive could have escaped; but, fortunately for the Nga-i-te-rangi, a singular circumstance favoured them in this respect. As soon as the pa was taken, the principal Roto-rua chiefs seized, each with a craving to his own personal benefit, upon a celebrated war-canoe of enormous size, named Tauranga. A quarrel amongst the chiefs ensued: failing to settle the matter with words, four of them got into her, and spent the day trying to outsit each other for possession, while their followers were either looking on or looting the pa.
Nga-i-te-rangi never returned to the Tumu. Hika-reia was killed at Wai-rake, and that place has since been generally considered the boundary of their country—a country which four years before had extended seventeen miles further to the eastward, to O-tama-rakau (Wai-taha-nui). For in 1832 Nga-i-te-rangi held Maketu, the Arawas only living there on sufferance, and Tama-i-wahia, a Nga-i-te-rangi tohunga had a pa at O-tama-rakau, which he occupied until the troubles consequent on Hunga's death compelled him to flee and seek page 235 refuge at Tauranga. Thus the Arawa, when roused, displaced Nga-i-te-rangi, and resumed those coast holdings. Severing the weakened links of the once powerful chain of Nga-ti-awa conquests, that Nga-i-te-rangi-ho-hiri had made four generations before, they pushed themselves northward to the sea, and re-established the maritime frontier of their country.
But Tama-i-wahia could not lose O-tama-rakau without an effort to obtain utu. He was a tohunga, and why should he not use his power? He had seen a vision. The result was, Nga-i-te-rangi fitted out a flotilla, which sailed from O-tu-moe-tai, and, passing Maketu in the night, landed at Puke-hina; whence the taua, under Rangi-hau and Tama-i-wahia, marched inland to attack Tautari's pa at Roto-ehu. Now Tautari was not an Arawa, but lived on sufferance at Roto-ehu, having become connected with Nga-ti-whakaue by marriage. He was chief of Nga-i-tonu, of Whaka-tane, which tribe is now better known as Nga-ti-pukeko. He, being a renowned old warrior, was not caught napping on this occasion. With much patience and forethought he had strengthened his pa, and rendered it very formidable; so that when Nga-i-te-rangi attacked it they were defeated with the loss of Rangi-hau and seventeen killed. On the return of the expedition to Tauranga, Nga-i-te-rangi were incensed against the false prophet to such an extent that he well-nigh lost his life.
Old Tautari, who resisted this attack, was rather a remarkable warrior. On his person he bore the scars of twelve hatchet-wounds; and when the dreadful Nga-puhi some years before invaded his country they were glad to get away; for, instead of rushing to a pa for protection, he took to the bush, and when they followed he fell upon them at night while they slept. At length, finding themselves engaged in a desperate guerilla warfare from which nothing could be gained, the Nga-puhi retired from the harassing strife. And now, although he had repelled this invasion, Tautari did not consider the insult wiped out. Therefore he betook himself to his own country to page 236 equip a fleet, and, mustering a strong taua, put to sea, where we will for the present leave him pursuing his voyage.
The war now raged with the utmost ferocity. From Tauranga, looking southward; the fires of Nga-ti-whakaue war-parties were constantly visible, especially at the edge of the forest; and when night came the whole of the intervening open country was prowled over by bloodthirsty cannibals seeking to devour. The missionaries' families never slept in their houses; and by sunset every Tauranga Native was within the fortifications of O-tu-moe-tai or Maunga-tapu. Murdering-parties were also sent out from Roto-rua towards Matamata, by way of Pa-tetere; and the missionaries, the Rev. Mr. Brown and Mr. Morgan, had already retired from the Matamata Station. The former gentleman, with his family, removed to Wai-mate at the Bay of Islands; and the latter to Manga-pouri, in Upper Waikato. Some time after they left one of their empty houses was burnt down by a taua.
By the middle of May, 1836, matters had come to such a pass at Tauranga that Mr. Wade, with his family, retired for safety to the Bay of Islands. At the same time Mr. Wilson, though he remained at his post, also sent his family away. Mr. Chapman, too, removed his wife from the dangerous station at Roto-rua to that at Manga-pouri, in Waikato, and joined Mr. Wilson at Tauranga. At Roto-rua Mr. Knight was accustomed, every morning about sunrise, to attend a school at the O-hine-mutu Pa; but, as there were no scholars on the morning of the 12th May, he went to the place where he was told they would be found, and there perceived a great number of people sitting in two assemblages—one entirely of men, the other of women and the chief Pango. The former company he joined, and conversed with them, as well as he was able, on the sin of cannibalism; but Koro-kai and all laughed at the idea of burying their enemies. This conversation ceased, however, on Mr. Knight hearing the word “Patua” (“Kill”) repeated several times; and, looking round towards the women, he was horrified to see the widow of the late chief Haupapa—who was killed at page 237 Maketu—standing naked, and armed with a tomahawk, while another woman, also nude, and Pango were dragging a woman taken captive at the Tumu, that she might be killed by Mrs. Haupapa in the open space between the men and the women. Mr. Knight immediately sprang forward and entreated them not to hurt the woman; but Mrs. Haupapa, paying no attention, raised her hatchet. On this, Mr. Knight caught the weapon and pulled it out of her hand, whereupon the other woman angrily wrenched it from his grasp, and would have killed him had not Pango interposed by running at the pakeha and giving him “a blow and thrust, which nearly sent him into the lake.” But the prudent spirit of self-command that animated Speke under similar circumstances formed no part of this young Englishman's nature, and he was about to return to the charge when the Natives seized him and held him back. Just then the poor woman, slipping out of the garments she was held by, rushed to Mr. Knight, and, falling down, clasped his knees convulsively in an agony of terror. Her murderers came, and, abusing the pakeka the while for pokanoa (interfering or meddling), with difficulty dragged her from her hold. The helpless pakeha says “it would have melted the heart of a stone” to hear her calling each relative by name, beseeching them to save her—for, though a Tauranga woman, she was connected with Roto-rua—and to see her last despairing, supplicating look as she was taken a few yards off and killed by that virago, Mrs. Haupapa—a fiend in woman's shape. This scene occurred simply because Haupapa's widow longed to assuage the sorrow of her bereaved heart by despatching with her own hand some prisoner of rank, as utu (payment) for her lord. The tribe respected her desire, assembled to witness the spectacle, and furnished a victim by handing over a chief's widow to her will.
Te-waha-roa had a noted fighting chief named Nga-kuku, who had been perfect in and given to the sanguinary usages of his companions, but who had embraced Christianity shortly after the missionaries began to teach at Matamata, and placed page 238 his daughter Ta-rore, about thirteen years of age, under Mrs. Brown's care. In October, 1836, after the missionaries had removed their families from Matamata, Nga-kuku set out for Tauranga, taking his daughter and his son—a little boy—with him. They were accompanied by several Christian, or whare-kura, Natives, as they were called, also by a Mr. Flatt, who was travelling in the service of the mission, and formed a party of about twenty. Camping at night at Te-wai-rere, a fire was incautiously made, the smoke of which was seen by a murdering-party that had prowled out from Pa-tetere. At dawn of day the travellers were suddenly roused by the violent barking of their dogs. In a moment they had rushed into the bush, but Nga-ti-whakaue were quick enough to catch the girl, who slept more soundly than the others. When it was discovered she had not followed, her father—who had carried away the little boy—was about to return, but a gun went off, and he heard her shriek, “I am shot!” and his own name mingle with her death-cries, and heard no more. The deed was done, the offering of her heart was waved to Whiro in the air, an orgie danced, and the murderers had departed almost as quickly as they came.
Although it was possible for all this to happen, and Nga-kuku to possess but little Christianity, yet for a man accustomed, as he had been, to the indulgence of naturally strong passions, so to restrain them, and afterwards, when peace was made, to step forward in the presence of his tribe and shake hands with Te-hura, his daughter's murderer, was a proof of the efficacy of the teaching of God's pure gospel by the missionaries to the heathen Maori. Could Nga-kuku have been guided by that kind of Christianity which, the sceptic said, then appeared to float over the land with a hazy light? Could he have done this solely from a desire to adhere closely to the forms of his new religion? If so, his was indeed a wonderful climax of formalism.
The other instance, though not conspicuous, indicated much in its way, and was that of old Tahu, the tohunga (priest) who page 239 escaped from Te-papa Pa, at Tauranga, when Te-rohu took it in 1828. In the most dangerous times Tahu never consulted his own safety, but always remained with the missionaries, sleeping in their house instead of going to the pa at night; and during the long winter evenings of 1836 he would listen to their instructions, or vary the topic by relating his Maori traditions, superstitions, histories, and mysteries, together with his experiences and observations as a tohunga (priest). Then, taking his gun and sallying forth, he would go his rounds, nor retire until he had satisfied himself the enemy was not lurking in the vicinity. Sometimes Mr. Wilson and Tahu would resort to their boat for safety, anchoring her at night in the harbour, and sleeping securely on board.
We left Tautari with a fleet of canoes at sea. Tuhua (Mayor Island) was his object of attack. He wished to surprise Te-whanau-o-nga-i-tai-whao, and carry their almost impregnable stronghold by a coup de main. Therefore, endeavouring to regulate the progress of his voyage so as to near the island (which is very high) after nightfall, he silently landed at his destination in the dead of night, and marshalled his forces for the assault.
The pa stood above them on a precipitous mass of volcanic rock, and the only approach to it was by an exceedingly steep glacis, terminating in a rocky path, which was also steep, and too narrow to allow more than one person to advance at a time. Confidently and eagerly, but with out noise, the taua mounted to the pa. They swarmed up the glacis and filled the narrow path, when suddenly above them a hideous yell arose, and a huge body of rock, loosened from its hold, fell crashing and bounding down the path, and thundered through their midst, smashing to atoms the wretches who were in its way. The panic was great, while volleys of musketry poured down on the discomfited invaders and hastened their headlong flight. When morning dawned the dead had been removed, and Tautari's canoes were nowhere to be seen; but the ground was strewed with arms and accoutrements, and the rock that fell was covered page 240 with blood—blood which the womem of the pa carefully licked off.
When too late, Tautari discovered that he was greater on land than at sea, and that he was deficient in the art of calculating heights and distances. In fact, he himself had given warning of his approach by venturing too near the island by daylight; for on the previous evening at sunset his flotilla had been descried from the heights of Tuhua, on the south-eastern horizon, and suitable preparations had been immediately made for his reception.
The late Tohi-te-uru-rangi (alias Beckham) was an active fighting chief during the war, and about this time he did two things which we will relate. One circumstance principally refers to Maori tapu; the other bespeaks the once savage nature of this late order-loving man, and shows how altered he became. From intelligence received, Tohi started from Maketu with a taua tapu consisting of twenty men, all fortified and inspired with a doubly-refined tapu. The expedition was aimed against a little pa, thought to be nearly empty, up the Kai-tuna River; but it proved abortive. Tohi was mistaken, and returned minus a man or two. When they aimed at Maketu the crowd stood apart; a tohunga met them near their canoe; they ranged themselves in a row on the strand, and, squatting down devoid of clothing, silently awaited the termination of his incantation. He, with his face towards the wind, and small bunches of grass in his hands, made sundry passes over them in the air, chanting as he did so. This done, the warriors rushed to the river, and, plunging in, washed themselves, as was necessary after deeds of blood, according to the Maori creed.
The other matter was the murder by Tohi of an old Tauranga chief, who had been induced to go to Maketu in the hope of making peace. A neutral woman had gone over to Maunga-tapu and persuaded him (as he was partly connected with Nga-ti-whakaue) to accompany her back for that purpose. As they approached they were met by Tohi and another man on the sands in front of Maketu.page 241
“There,” she said, “I have brought you So-and-so.” She stepped aside, and Tohi and his companion completed the iniquity.
As this quarrel arose between Nga-ti-whakaue and Waha-roa, it seems strange perhaps that their respective tauas did not oftener take the direct route between their countries that lies by Pa-tetere. As far as Te-waha-roa is concerned, this may be explained by his desire to draw Nga-i-te-rangi into the strife in which he had involved them and intended to keep them implicated; while the reason on Nga-ti-whakaue's part was probably due to a considerate wish to leave the lion undisturbed in his den; for, as they had Nga-i-te-rangi to fight, they did not care to go further and fare worse. On one occasion, indeed, in the early part of the war they had sent a taua direct to Matamata; but it had been driven back without effecting anything beyond burning down Mr. Morgan's house. From Pa-tetere, however, Nga-ti-whakaue frequently sent out murdering parties—taua toto and taua tapu—whose duty it was to infest the Wai-rere and other roads, and to slay all unwary and defenceless travellers.
Yet the old chief of our story would sometimes pass by the Wai-rere road from Matamata to Tauranga and back again comparatively unprotected, and if remonstrated with and informed, after he had determined to go, that the road was just then in an unusually dangerous state, he would reply, “Does not my matakite (second sight) know much better than you?” Now, a matakite is a person who is able to foresee events, and Waha-roa's matakite was an old sorceress—in fact, his private priestess—who, thoroughly versed in the necromantic art, cast the niu, was consulted on all necessary occasions, and accompanied him on his expeditions and journeys.
By the end of July, less than three months after the fall of the Tumu, Waha-roa had assembled another taua to avenge his allies' honour and maintain the prestige of his own arms. On this occasion he went by Pa-tetere, and his force consisting chiefly of his own tribe, was not as numerous as his tauas page 242 usually were. By the 1st August he had marched into the heart of the enemy's country, and encamped at a place between two and three miles from O-hine-mutu Pa.
O-hine-mutu, the capital of Roto-rua, is doubtless on the most singular volcanic site a population ever dwelt upon. On a rising ground at the south end of the lake, it is situated on what seems to the unaccustomed eye to be but a crust that forms neither more nor less than the lid of an immense subterraneous cauldron of boiling water. Through this lid numerous natural and artificial holes have been punched, and are used by the inhabitants for cooking purposes. In them the water boils furiously, hissing to the very surface, and emitting clouds of vapour, which under some conditions of the atmosphere are almost dense enough to envelop the pa. It was within this curious pa, which was then a large and very strong one, that the Nga-ti-whakaue had collected for fear of Waha-roa; all their canoes also had been brought within its fortifications.
When, therefore, Waha-roa had arrived at Roto-rua he found himself placed in an unsatisfactory position. The well-manned fortifications of the enemy forbade an attack there with any prospect of success; while the pa having command of the lake by means of the canoes not only enabled the enemy to obtain supplies, but would also enable them to fall suddenly upon any of Waha-roa's people who might forage on its shores. At length, after waiting several days, Waha-roa devised a scheme. Of its success the reader shall judge. On the 6th August, 1836, he sent a party of picked men who feigned an attack on the pa. One of their leaders was a young man, Wetene-tai-porutu, who, many years after, fought us and was killed at Mahoe-tahi, in the Tara-naki—Wai-tara war. This portion of the affair was so skilfully conducted that in the excitement of the moment all Nga-ti-whakaue, believing Waha-roa defeated, rushed out in hot pursuit, and when their best warriors had gone so far at the top of their speed as to be utterly out of breath, they unexpectedly came upon a force posted ready to receive them; page 243 also, the men they had pursued turned back upon them. It was now their turn to flee—with this difference: their enemies were fresh, they winded. And now the crisis: few of these men shall live if Waha-roa succeeds. The greater portion of his force is distributed in two large ambushes on either side of the road, one under the Nga-ti-haua chief Pohepohe, the other commanded by himself. Suddenly they rise, and from right to left appear to the fugitives in hundreds, hastening to intercept their flight. They close the way; but Pohepohe has misdirected his men, some confusion ensues, and neither division can fire without slaughtering the other. The Nga-ti-whakaue take advantage of the blunder—they run the gauntlet; tomahawks are freely used upon them, and many a stalwart warrior bites the dust.
The Nga-ti-whakaue were shot down and pursued to the waharoa (gateway) of their pa, through which they pressed, and would have been followed by Waha-roa and his Nga-ti-haua had not the men in the pa suddenly rallied, closed the gate, and repelled their assailants. This unexpected reaction on the part of the O-hine-mutu people was due to Koro-kai, chief of Nga-ti-whakaue proper, alias Nga-ti-pehi, who, when all within the pa, terrified at the disaster and Waha-roa's approach, were taking to their canoes to seek refuge on the island, refused to accompany them, and exclaimed with a loud voice, “Let me die here, upon my own land!” His words and example affected the people, and changed their fear to other emotions: instead of going to the island Mokoia they hastened to their posts, just in time to save their pa.
That day Waha-roa's Nga-ti-haua and Wai-kato Tribes returned to their camp laden with booty, for they had sacked Mr. Chapman's mission station at Te-koutu, and carried with them the bodies of sixty of their enemies. And now the work of cutting up and preparing the feast began. While thus engaged Mr. Knight appeared. He had been robbed of all save shirt and trousers, and had come to complain to Waha-roa. The Natives page 244 say they resented his intrusion, which was an angry one, and some of them would have added him to the number of their stock in hand had not Tara-pipipi, Waha-roa's son, now known as William Thompson, interposed and sent him back again. We believe Mr. Knight never knew the danger he was in on this occasion. There was also another European at Te-koutu, a carpenter, who suffered loss, though the Natives perhaps thought them well off in having their lives spared. When the excited, bloodstained crowd entered the station Mr. Knight repaired to his room, and, filling the capacious pockets of his shooting-coat with the articles he most required, was about to retire from the scene, when a Maori, who had watched his movements, stepped forward and kindly insisted on relieving him of its weight. At any rate, our pakeha must have appreciated the manner of the action when he turned and saw the poor carpenter down, with a couple of great naked fellows sitting on him, quarrelling and struggling for the clothes on the carpenter's back; while others tried to tug the garments from his limbs. In vain the oppressed man represented the clothes would be torn, and implored to be allowed to rise and divest himself: each was afraid to lose the apparel, and preferred trusting to his own exertions. Besides, the pakeha was worthy of no consideration: he was only a tutua (poor man), who had been detected in the act of escaping with a double suit of his own clothes on his person. At length, when they had pretty well plucked their victim, they let him go; and our readers will hardly be surprised to learn that neither he nor his fellow-pakeha remained long in the country.
But in reference to the Koutu station we have to add the curious fact that on the same day, after Waha-roa's taua had retired, Nga-ti-whakaue came, and not only completed its plunder, but actually set fire to their own missionary's house. This they did because their hearts were sad at their own loss, and of course their pakeha would not object to participate in their sorrow. Some time after this these whimsical beings page 245 decided that their missionary must have an utu for his losses also, and therefore they informed him they were about to go and destroy Te-papa mission station: his place had been burnt and Wilson's should be burnt in payment. Mr. Chapman was very uneasy. All he could urge to the contrary was quite unheeded by them; it was impossible to foresee where they would stop, or to say they would not commit murder when excited; and, besides, Te-papa was the only station left in that part of the country. Mr. Chapman, however, solved the difficulty and baffled them by going to Te-papa and living with Mr. Wilson, telling them as he went that if they burnt his brother missionary's house they must do so over his—their pakeha's—head. The following is the last entry in the journal of the Koutu Station:—
“The mission station at the Koutu was destroyed on the 6th instant by the Wai-kato and Roto-rua tribes. The Nga-ti-pehi burnt the house and the adjoining buildings. We saw the fire break out about four o'clock p.m. in the dwelling-house, and before darkness succeeded twilight both dwelling-houses, and every building, taiepa (fence), &c., were in flames, and reduced to ruins. Thus ended a station which began under such promising circumstances.”
There is yet another circumstance that occurred on the 6th August that must be mentioned, for it shows how discipline was maintained in Waha-roa's taua. Pohe-pohe's wakararu (bungling) conduct in the morning has so displeased Waha-roa that now, while the bodies are being cut up, Waha-roa challenges him to single combat. Although the old chief is somewhat lame from his Hao-whenua wound, he is active still, and light as ever. Pohe-pohe is a tall powerful man, a great landowner, and ranks next to himself as chief of Nga-ti-haua; but he must do his duty, and make an example of him as a warning to his other lieutenants. For Waha-roa, who had been successful in every conflict, never doubted his own personal power to inflict chastisement in this. Yet his success, though perhaps unknown to himself, had latterly been very much assisted by the superstitious awe—the atua-like (god-like) page 246 dread—with which the Maori mind had become affected towards him; and we cannot say how this duel would have ended had not the tribe, as the chiefs were sparring with long tomahawks, rushed in between them and stopped the fight.
Along the road leading to the encampment which the Nga-ti-haua tribes had pitched might be seen various marks erected, which signified where a chief or a chief's son had fallen. After three-quarters of an hour's walk we came to the spot itself, which could be compared to nothing better than a small plot of ground allotted to a menagerie of wild beasts. Bones of men lay promiscuously strewed in every direction—here a skull, and there a rib, or ribs with the spine; while around the ovens might be recognised any bone of the human frame. When it is said that sixty bodies were taken to this den of cannibals, and some of them only partly devoured from being but indifferently cooked, it may easily be conceived that the stench arising from the bones, &c., was offensive in the extreme. It was literally a valley of bones—the bones of men still green with flesh, hideous to look upon. Among some of the spectacles the attention was arrested by the ghastly appearance of a once human head. In mere derision it had been boiled, and, having a kumara in its mouth, was placed on a post a few feet above the ground. On it might be seen the wound that had caused the wretched victim's death—a long gash on the temple by a war-hatchet; it had also been beaten in from behind. At this moment a bullet from the adjacent ground whizzed through the low tutu bushes where we stood, and warned us to depart, the whole valley being sacred.
The O-hine-mutu campaign was the last episode in Waha-roa's war with the Arawas. For their loss on that occasion the latter never succeeded in obtaining anything like proper utu. Murdering-parties could do little towards squaring such an account, especially as the birds had become shy; and, besides, in the course of the war these petty affairs generally balanced each other.page 247
After this Nga-i-te-rangi sent two tauas to Roto-rua.
One of them camped on the site of the Koutu Station; but, though close to O-hine-mutu, it effected nothing. The other taua, under Taha-rangi, was in the act of camping at Manene, at the end of their first day's march, when a meteor shot brilliantly through the eastern sky back towards Tauranga. Instantly many exclaimed, “Ka hoki te taua! ka hoki te taua!” (“The war-party will go back; the war-party will go back.”) The unpropitious omen so weakened the faith of all in the success of the enterprise that the more superstitious returned to their homes next day. This taua hung a long time about Puhi-rua, Hika-iro's pa, at the north end of the lake; and did not retire until it had killed five women.
In return, the Nga-ti-whakaue or Arawa tribes sent two tauas against Nga-i-te-rangi, each of which was accompanied by a fleet from Maketu to command Tauranga Harbour. Of these the first flotilla entered the harbour unawares one night in November, 1838, and caught and ate twelve persons, the crew of a fishing-canoe. Their bodies were cooked in ovens at Maunga-nui. To those ovens the Arawa tribes have latterly laid claim, including in their pretensions the whole intervening district from Maketu to Maunga-nui. As well might William Thompson, the present Waha-roa, challenge the ownership of the country that extends from Pa-tetere to O-hine-mutu in virtue of his father's cannibalistic triumphs there. The massacre of the fishermen is known as Te-patu-tarakihi, and is all the first taua effected, notwithstanding it had several skirmishes. The second taua invaded Tauranga in March, 1840, nearly a year after Waha-roa's death. It made a demonstration against Maunga-tapu, and fought a general action on the flats in front of Te-papa; but the proportion of powder expended on both sides was enormous compared with the damage done; for there were not more than ten killed altogether (excepting Te-patu-tarakihi) on both sides in both campaigns.
Also, on the other side, Wai-kato in 1839 sent a taua against page 248 Maketu. This time, however, they were beaten, and pursued by Nga-ti-whakaue, headed by Tohi-te-uru-rangi, as far as the Tumu. The Wai-kato found Maketu much more strongly fortified than it had been on their visit three years before.
If Waha-roa had lived it is hard to say in what condition the country would have been. Even some of the Nga-ti-whakaue, or Arawa as we now call them, admitted at his death that in two more years he would probably have driven them from Roto-rua. He was attacked with erysipelas at Motu-hoa, at Tauranga, and visited by Messrs. Wilson and Brown, who found him on his death-bed an old Maori still. As his illness appeared serious his tribe carried him to Matamata, where, perceiving his end approach, and anxious even in death, and at the expense of his friends, to gratify the ruling passion of his life, the aggrandisement of his tribe, he exclaimed, “Oh! that I might drink of Wai-ti-oki's sweet waters! “Quickly a lithe stripling took a calabash and ran to Wai-ti-oki, a stream in Nga-i-te-rangi's country, which flows in mid-forest between the Wai-rere and Wai-papa, and is some ten or twelve miles from Te-puna. In an incredibly short time the youth returned. Waha-roa drank of the water, pronounced the beverage good, declared the stream his own, and expired, after a ten days' illness, at Easter, 1839.