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The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions: Tai-Nui. [Vol. VI]

Chapter II. — Rau-Paraha. (Nga-ti-Toa: Written by Tamihana Te-Rau-Paraha.)

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Chapter II.
Rau-Paraha. (Nga-ti-Toa: Written by Tamihana Te-Rau-Paraha.)

Depart, O north-west breeze!
Across the Raonga range of hills,
That while the evening shade grows less
I may perceive a flash of light,
And weep my sorrow's dirge
To him who says he has
To distance gone from me;
Nor will he once return
Save when his parent calls him back.
Oh, that I had a love-token of him!

This is an account of the acts of Rau-paraha from his birth to the time of his old age.

He was born at Kawhia. His father's name was Wera-wera (heat), and his mother's name was Pare-kowhatu (plume of stone). He had two elder brothers and two elder sisters. He was the last born of the family. His elder brothers did not show any superior knowledge or power: they were chiefs of rank, and that is all they could assume.

The account of Rau-paraha here given shall be from the day of his birth. He was a goodly child, and of fine appearance; and when he could run alone an old man called Pou-tini (many posts) told Rau-paraha to go and fetch some water for him. He went and brought the water for the old man. He was not disobedient, page 12 nor did he refuse to do many other acts which his rank might have demanded of him not to perform, even when he was a child.

When he became a man he began to show signs of great power of mind; but this was not noticed by his father or mother, who centred all their attention on their elder sons.

At this time his father and all the tribe were cultivating and collecting food to make a feast for another section of their tribe. This food consisted of fish, eels, and shell-fish, which were put up on the stages to dry, where they were kept for the feast. At these Rau-paraha looked, as did his first wife, the wife of his boyhood, who was called Marore (ensnare). Rau-paraha had not become a man when he took this wife; he took her in accordance with old Maori custom to take a wife while still a boy.

Now, when the feast was given, and when the food was allotted to each family, Rau-paraha saw that there was not any savoury food put on to the portion given for his wife Marore. At this he was very sorrowful, and said to his father, “A war-party shall go and kill some of the Wai-kato people as a savoury morsel to eat with that portion of food which has been allotted at the feast to Marore.” His father consented to his proposal.

Rau-paraha went with this war-party, and, though his parents endeavoured to keep him at home on account of a bad disease he had contracted in his immoral living, he would not listen to their advice or request, Through his persistent action they let him go; and, though he was in great pain of body, he went with the war-party.

This war-party went to the pa of one of the Wai-kato tribes, and in open day went into the pa, the inhabitants of which, having seen the war-party, gave them battle, and the war-party fled, and were being killed by the Wai-kato. Rau-paraha was in the rear of the men who had entered the pa, and was walking in the best manner he could with the aid of a walking-stick. He saw that the Nga-ti-toa were fleeing out of the pa in dread, and page 13 being followed by the Wai-kato, and being killed. Rau-paraha hid behind a clump of manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) scrub, where he lay down. The Wai-kato had come close to where he was. He rose, and with his taiaha killed two of them, and with another blow—a left-handed one—he killed two more. The Wai-kato fled back to the pa, and were pursued by the Nga-ti-toa, who killed seventy twice told of them, and Te-hunga (the company), the greatest man of the killed, was hung up with others. [A token of defeat, and to signify that his tribe would be eaten.]

From this act Rau-paraha was heard of as a warrior by all the tribes. But Rau-paraha had not at this time become a full-grown man; he was still but a lad, yet he had begun to see the power of a knowledge of war, nor did he forget to gain a knowledge of cultivating, or of kindness to man, or of entertaining strangers who might be on a journey, or of giving feasts to tribes.

One point of his character was a matter of approval to those who knew him. If while his people were planting the kumara-crop a party of strangers arrived at his settlement, and food was provided for his workmen, though his workmen might offer them food (as is the custom to new arrivals), Rau-paraha would call and say, “Eat the food provided for you; I will order food to be provided for the strangers.” This was heard by the visitors, who would say, “It is Rau-paraha, whose fame has gone to all the tribes.” And to this day it is said to any kind fellow, “You are like Rau-paraha, who first feeds his workmen, then he provides for his visitors.”

Rau-paraha lived at his own home at Kawhia, where he was again and again attacked by war-parties from Wai-kato, at which times each party lost men. Then Rau-paraha would go into the Wai-kato country to war against the Wai-kato tribes, where at times he would kill many of Wai-kato; yet there were times when peace would be made; and again war would be the order of the day between these tribes.

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Then a time came when Rau-paraha went to Maunga-tautari to visit his relatives, and to see his grandfather Hape (bandy), head chief of Nga-ti-rau-kawa. Old Hape was said to be a great warrior, and he fought at the battle called Kaka-matua (parent kaka—Nestor productus). This battle was where the Wai-kato were defeated, and took place up the Wai-pa River; but Hape fought many battles against the Wai-kato.

Rau-paraha lived at the home of Hape at Maunga-tautari, and he also visited Roto-rua to see his relations there; and when Hape died Rau-paraha took the widow to wife, who was called Te-akau (the sea-shore), who was mother of Tamihana Te-rau-paraha (the writer of this).

Rau-paraha went back to his home at Kawhia, and in the days when the Wai-kato were not at war with Rau-paraha they owned him as a relation, and at such times Rau-paraha paid visits to various parts of the country, and in one instance he went to Hau-raki (Thames) to visit the Nga-ti-maru, and see the chiefs Tu-te-rangi-anini (the day of giddiness), Toko-ahu (prop of the altar), Hihi-taua (defiance of the war-party), and all the chiefs of that district, when he obtained possession of his first gun, given to him by those chiefs; but he obtained only one gun, and a little powder, and some lead, with five cartridges, or may be there were ten cartridges: and with these he came back to Kawhia, where he stayed some time, and then went on a visit to Kai-para to see the Nga-ti-whatua Tribe and their chief Awa-rua (double creek), and all the chiefs of that district. From thence he came to Wai-te-mata to visit Kiwi (Apteryx), the son of Te-tihi (the peak), from whence he came back to Kawhia, where he heard the news that Waka-nene was coming into his district. Nene came to Kawhia, and Rau-paraha went to Tara-naki, and Nene accompanied him on his trip south, and this was the time when Rau-paraha came to look at Kapiti, which took place in the year 1817. From Tara-naki they came on to the Nga-ti-rua-nui, which tribe was so much afraid that they fled before Rau-paraha. He went on to Pa-tea (white pa— page 15 fort) and Wai-totara (water of the Podocarpus totara trees), and on to Whanga-nui (great harbour). Crossing that river, they went on to Rangi-tikei (day of striding on), where they killed some of the Nga-ti-apa Tribe because they were saucy to Rau-paraha. Those who were not killed fled to the forests and mountains. These were ignorant as regards the manner of acting towards a war-party: if these people had collected the goods [property] such as greenstone war-weapons and eardrops, and offered them to the leader of the war-party, it would have been better for them.

Rau-paraha went on to Manawa-tu, O-taki, Wai-ka-nae, and across to the island of Kapiti, where he met the tribe Nga-ti-apa, with their chiefs Po-tau (night of battle), and Kotuku (white crane), who were made much of by Rau-paraha, as he perhaps thought if he came back to take that district he would come to Wai-kanae (water of the mullet). From thence he went on to Pori-rua (two attendants), O-ha-riu (breath of the stomach), O-mere (the war mere), and on to the Whanga-nui-a-tara (great harbour of Tara) (Wellington); but on this sea-coast over which he had travelled there were not any inhabitants, as they had fled to Wai-rarapa (flashing water). But when the body of men under Rau-paraha, Nene, and Patu-one got to the Whanga-nui-a-tara (Port Nicholson harbour), they went on to Wai-rarapa, where they found the Nga-ti-kahu-ngunu residing in the pa called Tauwhare-nikau (overhanging nikau—Areca sapida), which they attacked and took, and the great body of this tribe fled to the mountains. From thence Rau-paraha went on to the Kawakawa. Still killing people as they went, they arrived at Po-rangahau (night of wind), from which place the party under Rau-paraha came back to the Whanga-nui-a-tara and on by O-mere, from whence a vessel was seen out in Rau-kawa (Cook Strait), sailing between the North and South Islands, on which Nene called on Rau-paraha, and said “O Raha [Rau-paraha]! do you see the people who are sailing out yonder on the sea? They are a very good tribe of people. If you obtain possession page 16 of this district you will become a great man—you will be able to possess guns and powder.” In his heart Rau-paraha consented to these remarks made by Nene.

The party went on by the sea-coast to Pori-rua, Wai-ka-nae, O-taki, Manawa-tu, and Rangi-tikei, where some members of the tribe Mu-au-poko, Rangi-tane, and Nga-ti-apa were taken slaves and taken to Kawhia, and where Rangi-hae-ata (day of early dawn) captured a chief woman called Pikianga (climb up) and made her his wife. She was a woman of rank of the Nga-ti-apa Tribe, and sister of Ara-pata-te-hirea (indistinct). They went on, and, crossing the Whanga-nui River, passed Tara-naki and Wai-tara, and arrived at Kawhia, and Waka Nene went on to his home at Hokianga.

Rau-paraha meditated how he could migrate to the south, to Kapiti, and night and day he ever pondered the wish to go to Kapiti, and also to the South Island the Wai-pounamu; and so soon as he had made up his mind he paid a visit to Wai-kato to bid a farewell to the chief Kuku-tai (mussel of the sea) and to Pehi-korehu (prevent the dimness of sight), Wherowhero (red), Te-kanawa (red ochre), and all the chiefs of Wai-kato, to whom he said, “Stay on our land. I am going to Kapiti to take the district for myself. Do not follow after me.” He then came back to his home at Kawhia in the year 1819.

He then commenced to migrate, and left Kawhia with two hundred twice told of men, women, and children; but one party of the Nga-ti-toa stayed behind, consisting of one hundred and seventy twice told, who were all warriors able to fight. In the morning Rau-paraha went out of his pa called the Ara-wi (path of ironstone or agate), and he burnt his carved house which was called Te-urunga-paraoa-a-te-titi-matama (pillow of the whale, or supreme chief), and there ascended to the top of a hill called Moe-a-toa (sleep like a warrior), as the road southward led by that way. As soon as the people had got to the top of that hill and looked back towards Kawhia, then they felt regret for their home which they were leaving, and they page break


page 17 gave utterance to their feelings in a loud wail, and bade farewell to Kawhia, and said, “Stay here, O Kawhia! but the men of Kawhia are going to the Wai-pounamu and to Kapiti.” And they wept, and sang in chorus this song:—

There is the sea of Honi-paka,
Which now I leave for ever;
But, oh! I still will gaze
At yonder cloud, now coming hither
O'er the isolated clump of trees.
O my own home! O me!
I bid farewell to you, O tribe!
And still at distance bid farewell.
But flow on, O thou tide!
Flow upwards still, and flee
Thou upwards yet till death's baptism
Is felt at Muri-whenua—
The baptism of travel-passing souls, (d)
My bird that sings at early dawn
Will now be hid within the house;
And glory of the Pleiades
And power will all be lost;
For noble house will be not there.
Yet still my love shall ever be
For thee, my Ati-awa Tribe;
Nor can it ever cease to be,
Nor find a tomb as doth the dead.

Thus he sang with his people the dirge of his regret for his home at Kawhia on the day when he left that home with his tribe and children.

They also together sang this song in chorus:—

With grief, O man! now bow
Thy head from side to side.
With grief, O woman! now
Pat thou the heads of ones beloved,
And once again perform the work
That was performed in days of old,
And sleep the sleep, to rise
And find the hurried act
Has now been taken. Yes, thy back
Is turned for ever on thy home.

As soon as they had ceased to weep and bid farewell to their home they went on, and arrived at the pa of Te-pu-oho (sound page 18 of the startled trumpet), at Turanga-rua (stand two at a place), where the females who were not able to go on were left—where the wife of Rau-paraha was left, as she expected one more addition to her family; and the migrators went on and came to Tara-naki, Te-kaweka (top of the hill), Wai-tara, where they stayed with those of the Nga-ti-awa and Nga-ti-tama who were related to them. But Rau-paraha went back to fetch the woman who had been left at the pa of Te-pu-oho, accompanied by twenty of his own family; and as he left the pa at Wai-tara his people wept over him, as many of them wished to go back with and protect him, but he forbade them and took only twenty. Still they said “Rau-paraha will meet a war-party.” Yet he did not heed them, but went back as he had determined. He went and passed across the Mokau River, where he saw the body of the child of Te-rangi-hae-ata, called Te-kauru (the stem), lying on the sand. He had been drowned from a canoe in charge of Tope-ora, sister of Rangi-hae-ata, which had upset in the river when they were on their way migrating southward. Some of this migrating party had come in canoes, and hence this death. The body of this child was by Rau-paraha wrapped up in his own garments, and carried on his own back, and hence the origin of one name of Rangi-hae-ata, Mokau, from his child being drowned in the Mokau River. This was his only child. Rau-paraha took the corpse to bury it.

When Rau-paraha had got to the pa of Pu-oho he wept over the woman he had left there, and, after staying there one or two nights, he left with the woman and came towards Wai-tara with me (the writer of this) on his back, carried in a kit. When he and his party had got to the Mokau River they were attacked by a war-party of fifty twice told of the Nga-ti-mania-poto Tribe, of Wai-kato. This took Rau-paraha by surprise, and made him wonder how he should save his party, as the war-party were now near to them. He at once determined to place the twenty women as a reserve, as though they were a body of men, behind a rocky point, and a few of these women he put on that side of page 19 the point nearest to where the enemy was, in order that the enemy might imagine the party under Rau-paraha was a large one. All these women were clothed with dogskin, kai-taka, and para-wai mats, which made them look like veritable men-warriors, with plumes of feathers in their heads. In front of these women stood Akau, wife of Rau-paraha, like a warrior-man, clothed in the noted red mat called Huke-umu (uncover the oven), and with a taiaha in her hand; and, if seen by the Wai-kato enemy, the glistening red clothing and war-weapon would cause them to fear and flee. The Nga-ti-mania-poto attacked Rau-paraha; and a son of Te-rangi-hunga-riri (day of persistent battle) killed the first man slain of the Wai-kato party, who was the leader of the party and was called Tu-takaro (the god of battle at play), and Rau-paraha also killed the second man in this battle; and the Waikato fled to the mountains. Five of the Nga-ti-mania-poto were left dead on the field.

It was now night, and dark, and it was high tide in the Mokau River, and Rau-paraha with his women and party could not cross the Mokau River, or escape their enemy by the road leading to Wai-tara. Rau-paraha thought he should be taken by surprise if the enemy came back and attacked him in the dark, and he and his party would be cut off. To prevent this he said to his people, “O people. Light fires. Let the fires be some distance from each other, and let them be large, and let there be twelve of them, and let the women be at some. Let three women be at each fire with some of you men, and let each man make a speech, but let one man at each fire speak at the same time, and let each one say this: “Be brave to fight, O sons! on the morrow, when we are again attacked by our enemy. Do not think of life.”

The men thus ordered to rise and speak did as requested, and as they used their voices the sound was loud and strong like a trumpet uttering a war-call, and might be heard perhaps at Ha-iki [Hawa-iki]. So these warriors spoke, and brave were page 20 their throats to utter the war-speeches they made; and these speeches, being heard by the Wai-kato enemy, made them flee back to their country, and did not permit them to have a thought to come back again to fight Rau-paraha.

A child that night was heard to cry in the midst of Rau-paraha's people, and Rau-paraha rose and said to the parent of the child, who was called Tanga-hoe (lift the paddle), “Friend, strangle your child. I am that child.” So the father and mother strangled the child. This was done lest the war-party of Wai-kato should hear its voice. But Rau-paraha's party watched the tide so that they might cross at the ebb, and when it was ebb, at midnight, Rau-paraha crossed over to the other side of the Mokau River, and he and his party went on rejoicing, as they had gained a victory over the enemy and had got so far on the road to their friends.

May be the Nga-ti-mania-poto, of the Wai-kato, thought the fires were really the fires at which the hosts of a war-party under Rau-paraha were sitting, and also the words uttered by the men, as ordered by Rau-paraha, were really the war speeches of warriors to their men. But such surmises were not correct — these fires and speeches were the outcome of dread; but Rau-paraha did not think of this now, as he had killed some of his enemy. The great chief of the Nga-ti-mania-poto called Tutakaro was killed in this attack by Rau-paraha's people, and all the tribes who heard of it were surprised at the knowledge displayed by Rau-paraha in taking such action on so short a notice, and in making a few women take the place of a band of warriors, to intimidate the enemy. Had this surprise been made on most of the chiefs of other tribes, they would not have been able to devise a plan as Rau-paraha had done, and thus save their people, but they would have been taken and killed.

When Rau-paraha had got to his friends (relatives) the Nga-ti-toa, Nga-ti-tama, and Nga-ti-awa, he told them of the battle which had taken place between him and the Nga-ti-mania-poto, in which five of that tribe had been killed and the Nga-ti-mania- page 21 poto had left their head chief Tu-takaro dead on the battlefield. This news so pleased the Nga-ti-awa and the Nga-ti-tama that they in their glee jumped as in a war-dance, and rejoiced that their hated enemy, their object of revenge, had been killed, and in his death they had obtained satisfaction for past murders and defeats. These tribes rose in a body, and went to Mokau to cut the dead bodies into joints, to cook and to eat, according to ancient Maori custom. And now for the first time did these two tribes, the Nga-ti-awa and Nga-ti-tama, give food in large quantities to the party of Rau-paraha. This consisted of kumara, taro, and large pigs; and now for the first time did this migrating people have food sufficient to satisfy the longings of hunger. Perhaps if Rau-paraha had not killed these Nga-ti-mania-poto, especially their head chief, the food they had now given to them would not have been supplied by the Nga-ti-awa and Nga-ti-tama: this is supposed because when this migrating people first arrived at the home of the Nga-ti-awa and the Nga-ti-tama those tribes gave little food to the migration, and this was not more than sufficient to satisfy hunger.

Rau-paraha had not been long with the Nga-ti-awa and Nga-ti-tama when a war-party arrived from Wai-kato, of eight hundred twice told, commanded by Whero-whero, Hia-kai, and Mama, with very many other chiefs. These had come in pursuit of their old enemy Rau-paraha, but had not taken note of the words which Rau-paraha had spoken to them when he told them he was about to migrate southward, when he said, “Do not follow me; live in quiet at our home at Kawhia, and at Wai-kato.” This war-party attacked Rau-paraha, and in the open day a battle was fought between them. Each at times gained an advantage over the other, till Rau-paraha in a loud voice called to his people and said, “So it is, he acts in this way. Close on him hand to hand.” A charge was made by his warriors on the Wai-kato. This was repelled by the Wai-kato to their utmost ability, but Rau-paraha charged so fiercely that the Wai-kato gave way and fled, and all that could be seen of them was the page 22 black part of the back of their heads in fleeing away. The Wai-kato did not even once look back, so Rau-paraha and his allies, the Nga-ti-awa and Nga-ti-tama, had full opportunity to kill their enemy as they fled, and they killed seventy twice told. The Wai-kato chiefs killed in this battle were left by their people: these chiefs were Hia-kai (hunger), and Mama (leak), with other chiefs of lesser note. This battle was called Te-motu-nui (the big isolated clump of forest-trees). Wherowhero-po-tatau was the only great chief who escaped, and for this he was under obligation to Rau-paraha, who, if he had wished, could have killed Wherowhero. If the Nga-ti-tama commanded by Kaeaea (sparrow-hawk) had been in this battle, all the Wai-kato war-party would have been cut off; but, as Kaeaea was away at Te-kaweka (the top of the hill), and at Ure-nui (great block of wood in a canoe, to which the thwart is tied), and at other places, by the time Kaeaea had arrived the battle had taken place, and the Wai-kato had been defeated and had fled.

It was night when the battle was ended, when Whero-whero called to Rau-paraha and said, “O Raha [Rau-paraha]! how shall I be saved?”

Rau-paraha called and said, “Go away at once, even this night. Do not wait here. Go, and be quick.” So the Wai-kato did as told, and went away that night. So that when a war-party under Kaeaea-taringa-kuri had arrived, and went in pursuit of the fleeing Wai-kato, he found their fires still alight in their houses, but some of the dead had been taken away with them. The dead found by Kaeaea were cut up, cooked, and eaten, as also were those killed in the great battle by Rau-paraha. So ends this.