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

Chapter VII. — Lands Taken In War, And How Given To The Tribes. (Travers.)

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Chapter VII.
Lands Taken In War, And How Given To The Tribes. (Travers.)

Tari-ao, the star, now mounts on high,
As gnaws the love within my breast
For thee, O Nuku! yet so silent still.
I dream—yet it is but a dream—
I dream I see thee, then awake and see thee not.
Then drip the tears from out mine eyes
As drips the water from the plant Astelia banksii
Then sing, O bird! that I may learn by heart
That cold south wind may carry me afar
To top of Rangi-toto's distant peak,
That I may see the Nga-puhi, and
The Wai-nuku-mamao, and Mori-a-nuku,
To catch the living soul to give me life.

Rau-paraha's immediate designs were in the meantime somewhat interfered with by a rupture between a section of his people and the Nga-ti-tama under Pu-aha, some fighting taking place, which resulted in loss to both sides; but he at once peremptorily ordered peace to be made, an order which was obeyed by both sides. It seems that this dispute arose out of the occupation of some of the conquered land, which was claimed by both parties; and Wai-tohi, a sister of Rau-paraha, foreseeing that constant disputes were likely to arise from the same cause, more especially when their numbers were increased by the expected arrival of the main body of the Nga-ti-raukawa, page 73 unless there was some definite arrangement as to the division of the country between them, suggested to Rau-paraha that the Nga-ti-awa should all remove to Wai-kanae, and should occupy the land to the south of the Kuku-tauaki Stream, whilst the country from the north bank of that stream as far as the Wanga-ehu should be given up to the Nga-ti-raukawa. This suggestion was adopted by all parties, and it was determined that the Nga-ti-raukawa already with Rau-paraha should at once proceed to occupy O-hau, then in the Nga-ti-awa. Having been assembled for this purpose they were escorted to their new location by Rau-paraha and all the principal chiefs of Nga-titoa, travelling along the beach. On their way up they were feasted by Nga-ti-rahira (a hapu of Nga-ti-awa) upon the flesh of black-fish, a large school of which had been driven ashore at low water, where the Natives ingeniously tethered them by their tails with strong flax ropes, killing them as they were wanted for food. The Nga-ti-raukawa having been put into quiet possession of the houses and cultivations of the Nga-ti-awa, the latter removed to Wai-kanae, which continued for some time afterwards to be their principal settlement. The wisdom of Wai-tohi's suggestion above referred to is apparent from the fact that no further land-disputes occurred between the several tribes until the fighting at Horo-whenua, which took place many years afterwards.

Between this event and the date of Whata-nui's return to Kapiti with the main body of his people, a heke (migration) composed of a hundred and forty fighting-men, with their families—called the heke kariri tahi (migration of one cartridge), from the circumstance of having very little ammunition, and that the warriors armed with muskets had enlarged the touch-holes so as to be enabled to keep up a more rapid fire upon an enemy by saving the trouble of priming — came down from Maunga-tautari under the command of Tara-toa. Whata-nui accompanied this heke (migration) for the purpose of conferring with Rau-paraha; but, finding that the page 74 chief was absent, he at once returned to Taupo in order to bring down his people. The constant arrival of these armed bodies, and the manner in which they roamed over the Manawa-tu and Rangi-tikei districts, treating the remnant of the Nga-ti-apa and other original tribes with the greatest rigour, induced the latter to throw themselves upon the hospitality of the Nga-ti-kahu-ngunu at Wai-rarapa. In pursuance of this resolve, some three hundred of them, including women and children, proceeded thither; but, in consequence of a murder, followed by an act of cannibalism, by some of the Rangi-tane upon a Nga-ti-kahu-ngunu man not long before, that tribe not only refused to receive the refugees, but attacked and drove them back with slaughter. The Nga-ti-apa then formally placed themselves at the mercy of Rangi-hae-ata, whose connection, so frequently alluded to, with a chief of their tribe induced him to treat them with leniency, and they were accordingly permitted to live in peace, but in a state of complete subjection. The remnant of the Mua-upoko in like manner sought the protection of Tua-uaina, a chief of the Nga-ti-awa, who agreed to defend them against the long-standing wrath of Rau-paraha; but in vain. It seems that, having been informed by some of the Nga-ti-raukawa that these people were again settling at Papai-tangi and Horo-whenua, Rau-paraha and Rangi-hae-ata, with a war-party of Nga-ti-toa and Nga-ti-raukawa, proceeded thither and attacked them, killing many and taking a number of others prisoners, amongst whom was Tohe-riri, their chief. Tohe-riri's wife composed a lament on the occasion of the death of her husband, which is still recited amongst the Maoris. In this song she reflected on the broken promise of Tua-uaina, who, though very sad at this slaughter, was entirely unable to prevent it. I merely mention this incident here in order to show that lapse of time had in no degree weakened the revengeful feelings of Rau-paraha, and that he considered the manes of his murdered children insufficiently appeased by the slaughter of the hundreds whom he had already sacrificed.

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In about a year after the visit of Whata-nui with Te-heuheu, the former returned to Kapiti with the main body of his tribe, this migration being known as the heke mairaro, or “migration from below,” the north point being always treated by the Maoris as downward. From that time forth for some years parties of the same tribe constantly recruited their countrymen in their settlements on the Manawa-tu, gradually extending their occupation over the whole country between O-taki and Rangi-tikei, although their chief stations were in the Horo-whenua and O-hau districts; whilst the Nga-ti-apa, under the protection of Rangi-hae-ata and Tara-toa, occupied some country on the north of the Rangi-tikei, yielding tribute to both of these chiefs as a condition of their being left in peace.

Not long after the arrival of Whata-nui with the heke mairaro Rau-paraha put in execution his long-meditated project of invading and permanently occupying the northern coasts of the Middle Island. His fame as a warrior had reached the ears of Rere-waka, a great chief of the Nga-i-tahu, whose principal settlement was at the Kai-koura Peninsula. This chief had been excessively indignant at the defeat of the allies at Wai-o-rua, and on hearing of the song of triumph chanted by Rau-paraha on that occasion, in which the latter indicated his intention of attacking and subduing the Nga-i-tahu, he had declared “if Rau-paraha dared to set a foot in his country he would rip his belly with a niho-manga, or barracouta's tooth,” a curse which was reported to Rau-paraha by a runaway slave, and which—his memory for small matters being remarkably tenacious — would afford him at any distance of time ample pre-text, and, indeed, justification, for attacking Rere-waka and his people. In 1828, having accumulated a considerable quantity of fire-arms and ammunition, he started with three hundred and forty picked warriors, comprising Nga-ti-toa, Nga-ti-awa, Nga-ti-tama, and Nga-ti-raukawa, under Niho, the son of Pehi, Takerei, Kanae, Koihua, and Pu-oho, with other chiefs page 76 of note, and first made for Rangi-toto (D'Urville Island), at the north-east head of Blind Bay. At this time D'Urville Island, the Pelorus and Queen Charlotte Sounds, the Wairau and the Awa-tere, were all occupied by a numerous section of the Rangi-tane Tribe, which had settled in these places after destroying the Nga-ti-mamoe, some two hundred years before. But, though numerous, and in that sense powerful, so long as their warfare was carried on with the ordinary New Zealand weapons, they were no match for the chosen warriors of Rau-paraha, more particularly when armed with the more deadly European weapons. The consequence was that they were everywhere disastrously defeated, hundreds of them being killed and devoured on the spot, whilst numbers of the prisoners were taken to Kapiti to undergo the same fate, the wretched remnant being kept in slavery by such of their conquerors as settled in the newly-acquired district.

Whilst Rau-paraha was engaged in these operations Pehi (Tu-pai Cupa) returned from England, and at once joined him. Shortly after this the main force divided, a subdivision of the Nga-ti-toa, named the Nga-ti-ra-rua Hapu, under Niho and Takerei; the Puke-tapu and Nga-ti-wai hapus of Nga-ti-awa, under Koihua; and the Nga-ti-tama, under Pu-oho, proceeding to Blind and Massacre Bays: whilst Rau-paraha, Pehi, and other chiefs, with three hundred well-armed men, flushed with victory, left Rangi-toto for the Kai-koura Peninsula, in order to afford to Rere-waka the opportunity of putting his long made threat into execution. But the Nga-ti-toa chief felt sure of a comparatively easy victory, for, notwithstanding a great numerical superiority on the part of the enemy, he knew that they were indifferently, if at all, supplied with fire-arms, whilst the great bulk of his own men were well furnished with guns, powder, and ball. In accordance with the well-known habit of the New-Zealanders, Rau-paraha had never forgotten Rere-waka's curse, and he felt elated at the prospect of a revenge which the force at his command rendered almost certain. But, besides this prospect of vengeance, and the anticipated page 77 additional gratification of devouring the bodies of the slain, he expected to acquire large quantities of greenstone weapons and ornaments, in which, as he had been informed by the slave who had reported Rere-waka's foolish boast, the Nga-i-tahu of the Kai-koura and Amuri were especially rich; for, notwithstanding the introduction of fire-arms into their system of warfare, the mere pounamu, or greenstone battle-axe, and other implements of war manufactured from that substance, were then, and, indeed, always had been, held in great estimation by the Maori. Rau-paraha longed to add the acquisition of such treasures to the gratification which he would derive from wreaking vengeance upon the Nga-i-tahu chieftain for the insult under which he had so long suffered.

The greenstone, or nephrite, from which the more valuable of the weapons in question are made, is found exclusively on the west coast of the Middle Island. The Nga-i-tahu of Kai-koura and Amuri especially had long been in the habit of sending war-parties across the Island for the purpose of killing and plundering the inhabitants of the district in which it was obtained. During these expeditions large quantities of greenstone, both in rough blocks and in well-fashioned weapons — an art especially known to the west coast Natives—were often obtained if the approach of the invaders was not discovered in time to permit the inhabitants to conceal themselves and their treasures, and it was the accumulated wealth of many years which Rau-paraha expected to acquire in case he should prove victorious in his projected attack upon Rere-waka and his people.

It was not until the morning of the fourth day after leaving D'Urville Island that the war-party reached the Kai-koura Peninsula, and as they had arrived before day-light they anchored a short distance from the shore, in order that they might be enabled at dawn to reconnoitre the position of the enemy before landing. It would appear that the Nga-i-tahus at that time expected a visit from a southern chief of their own tribe with a considerable following, and that on the morning in page 78 question, seeing the canoes of Rau-paraha's party at anchor, and not having noticed the direction from which they had come, they mistook them for those of their friends, and large numbers of the people of the pa ran down to the shore, shouting the cry of welcome to the supposed visitors, who, at once seeing the advantage which the mistake would afford them in their intended attack, made for the shore with all possible speed, and, having reached it, jumped out of the canoes and immediately commenced the attack. The unfortunate people, being quite unarmed and taken by surprise, endeavoured to escape by retreating towards the pa, which in the general confusion was taken without difficulty, some fourteen hundred of the people, including women and children, being killed or taken prisoners, amongst the latter of whom was the chief Rere-waka, whose threat Rau-pahara was then avenging. After remaining for some time, to feast upon the bodies of the slain and to plunder the pa of its treasures, the victorious Nga-ti-toa returned with their prisoners to Kapiti, where the greater number of the latter, including Rere-waka himself, were put to death and eaten, the chief being killed with great cruelty on account of the threat which had been the prime cause of the attack. In consequence of this circumstance Rau-paraha named the battle the “Niho-manga,” or Battle of the Barracouta-tooth. At the time of this event another section of the Nga-i-tahu Tribe occupied an extensive pa called Kai-a-poi, about fourteen miles north of Christchurch, with the inhabitants of which Rau-paraha made up his mind to pick a quarrel at the first convenient opportunity; but he felt that the force he had under his command at Kai-koura was too small for the purpose of any attack upon it, particularly after the enemy had received notice of the fall of Kai-koura, and had had time to make preparations for defence. In the following year, before he had had an opportunity of devising any particular scheme for the purpose of bringing about a quarrel between himself and the Kai-apoi people, he was induced again to attack the remnant page 79 of the Nga-i-tahu at Kai-koura, in consequence of an insult put upon Rangi-hae-ata by a Nga-ti-kahu-ngunu chief named Kekerengu, who, dreading the consequences, had fled across the strait and taken refuge with them. Rau-paraha collected a considerable force of Nga-ti-toa and their allies under his own leadership, with Pehi, Pokai-tara, Rangi-hae-ata, and other principal chiefs under him, and started for the Wairau, from whence he made his way along the coast to Kai-koura. On his arrival there he found that the pa had been evacuated on their approach, the inhabitants flying down the Amuri. They were over-taken by the war-party at a pa called O-mihi, where they were attacked and routed with great slaughter, numbers of prisoners being taken. These were left in charge of a detachment, whilst the rest of the force pushed with all speed for Kai-apoi, in order that Rau-paraha might put his design against its inhabitants into execution. The pa of that name was situated just within the line of the coast dunes of Pegasus Bay, about a mile to the south of the River Ashley, and was erected upon a promontory about nine or ten acres in extent, which extends into a deep swamp lying between the sand-dunes and the bank of the river. This swamp, which is very deep, nearly surrounds the site of the pa, and prevented it from being attacked at any point except in front; and along the line of the front, extending from one branch of the swamp to the other, a distance of about 250 yards, it was defended by a double line of heavy palisading and a deep ditch, with two large outworks, from which a flank-fire could be maintained on any party attempting to scale the palisades. I (Travers) have frequently visited the site of this pa, which still exhibits unmistakable evidences of the conflict which took place there, including many relics of the special festivities with which the Maoris invariably celebrated their victories. I was informed that after its fall (which will shortly be fully detailed) the principal defenders threw large numbers of their choicest greenstone weapons and ornaments into the deepest part of the swamp, where they still page 80 lie to reward any enterprising person who will drain it for the purpose of recovering them.

When Rau-paraha and his people arrived at the pa they at once opened intercourse with the chiefs, pretending that they had come to seek their friendship, and desired to barter firearms and ammunition in exchange for green-stone, in which the people of Kai-apoi, like their kinsfolk at Kai-koura, were extremely rich; but the latter, having been informed by some refugees of the slaughter at O-mihi, distrusted the good intentions of their visitors. In order, however, to remove all pretext for hostilities, they received them with great appearance of cordiality, and treated the chiefs who visited their houses with ostentatious hospitality. Rau-paraha himself, however, could not be induced to enter the pa, the wily chief feeling that he had too surely earned the animosity of its inhabitants by the slaughter of their kinsfolk, and therefore could not justly place much trust upon their professions of friendship. It appears, according to the Nga-ti-toa account of the affair, that Pehi, in order to keep up the deception, had carried on a trade with some of the Nga-i-tahu people. A Nga-i-tahu chief having expressed great unwillingness to part with a coveted greenstone weapon, was told by Pehi, in anger, “Why do you, with a crooked tattoo, resist my wishes—you, whose nose will shortly be cut off with a hatchet ?” This confirmation from the lips of one of the chiefs in command of the Nga-ti-toa of their preconception of the real designs of Rau-paraha's party, determined the people in the pa to strike a blow which would prevent Rau-paraha from further prosecuting his design—at least, at that time; and for this purpose they resolved to kill the chiefs then in the pa, amongst whom, besides Pehi, were Pokai-tara, Ara-tangata, of Nga-ti-raukawa, and others of note. Pokai-tara had taken to wife from amongst the prisoners at Kai-koura the daughter of Ro-nga-tara, one of the Nga-i-tahu chiefs then in the pa, and, having been invited to the house of the latter under pretext of receiving a present of green-stone, proceeded thither without page break
Horomona (Blind Cheif of Wai-kato).

Horomona (Blind Cheif [sic] of Wai-kato).

page 81 suspicion of foul play. As he stooped to enter the house the old chief Ro-nga-tara took hold of his mat, saying, “Welcome, welcome, my daughter's lord,” at the same time killing him by a blow on the head with the greenstone club which he expected to have received as a gift. The death of Pokai-tara was the signal for a general slaughter of the Nga-ti-toa chiefs, who were at once despatched, their bodies being destined to the umus (ovens) of their murderers. The slaughter of his uncle (Pehi) and of so many of his leading chiefs was a severe blow to Rau-paraha, who, with the rest of his party, at once fell back on O-mihi, where he reunited his forces. In part revenge for the murder he at once slew all the prisoners, and, after devouring their bodies, returned to the Wairau, from whence they crossed over to Kapiti.

The Nga-i-tahu account of the origin of the quarrel is different: “Had the defeat of the people at this land been equal to that of the people of Rangi-tikei and Manawa-tu by Rau-paraha and Nga-ti-raukawa, where the people were killed and the land taken possession of, and has been kept up to this time, then it would have been right that we should suffer the loss of our land. But, as to the defeat of the Natives at Kai-apoi, we consider that it is very clear that the battles in which the Kai-apoi Natives were defeated were not followed up by occupation on the part of the victors. According to our view, the killing of the Kai-apoi Natives was caused by the Rangi-tane, who said that Rau-paraha was to be killed with a stick used for beating fern-root. He then attacked the Rangi tane, and defeated them. When Rere-waka heard that his relatives had been slain he said that he would rip Rau-paraha's belly up with the tooth of a barracouta. It was through that that this evil visited this place. Rere-waka was living amongst the people of Kai-apoi when he said that. Rau-paraha should have killed that man, for he was the cause of the crime: he spared him, but killed the descendants of Tu-te-a-huka. O friends! the men of Kai-apoi were in deep distress on account of the killing of their relatives page 82 at Kai-koura and at O-mihi. Now, these two pas were destroyed by Rau-paraha; then Nga-ti-tu-te-a-huka and Nga-ti-hika-wai-kura, the people of Kai-apoi, bewailed their defeat. Rau-paraha should have borne in mind that the flesh of our relatives was still sticking to his teeth, and he should have gone away and left it to us to seek payment for our dead after him. But he did not: he came to Kai-apoi. When he came the old chiefs of Kai-apoi wished to make peace, and sent Tama-i-hara-nui to Rau-paraha. On their meeting they made peace, and the talk of Tama-i-hiara-nui and Pehi was good. After Tama-i-hara-nui had started to come back Rau-paraha went to another pa of ours, called Tua-hiwi, and there sought for the grand-mother of Tama-i-hara-nui. They dug her body up and ate it, all decomposed as it was. Tama-i-hara-nui was greatly distressed, and threatened to kill the war-party of Rau-paraha. Then his elder relatives, the great chiefs of Kai-apoi, said to him, ‘O son ! do not, lest further evil follow in your footsteps.’ He replied, ‘It would not have mattered had I been away when this decomposed body was eaten, but, as it is, it has taken place in my very presence.’ Well, as the chief gave the word, Pehi, a great chief of Nga-ti-toa, and others were killed. Then Rau-paraha went away.”

Such is the Nga-i-tahu account of the origin of the quarrel. It will be thought strange that Rau-paraha did not, without seeking any pretence for the act, attack the pa in force; but to have done so would have been a violation of Maori etiquette in matters relating to war. He had taken vengeance for the threat of Rere-waka, and it was for the relatives of the latter to strike the next blow, which it appears they were unwilling to do, dreading the very results which afterwards followed in revenge for the killing of Pehi.

Rau-paraha brooded much over this murder of his relative, who, having accepted a secondary position in the tribe, no longer excited his jealousy, and had greatly assisted him as a wise counsellor and valiant leader. After full consultation with the page 83 other chiefs of the tribe, he resolved that his revenge should be carried out by an act as treacherous as that by which the death of Pehi and his companions had been brought about; and, whilst still revolving in his mind the best means of accomplishing this design, a European vessel arrived at Kapiti from Sydney, after having passed through Foveaux Strait and visited the Auckland Islands for the purpose of leaving a party of sealers at the latter place. Among the passengers by this vessel was Hohepa Tama-i-hengia (who lately died at Pori-rua), a near relative of Rau-paraha, who on reaching Foveaux Strait had heard of the murder of Pehi and his companions from the Maoris there. Hohepa himself at once conceived the project of seizing and killing some of the Nga-i-tahu chiefs in utu (payment) for their death, and entered into arrangements with the master of the vessel to proceed to Akaroa for that purpose. This plan, however, having become known to some European passengers who were about to join a whaling party in Queen Charlotte Sound, they dissuaded the master from carrying it into effect, and the vessel proceeded direct to Kapiti. Hohepa communicated his design to Rau-paraha, who determined to follow it out on the first convenient opportunity. Some time after the departure of this vessel the English brig “Elizabeth” arrived at Kapiti. This vessel was commanded by a person named Stewart, to whom Rau-paraha offered a large cargo of flax if he would carry him and a chosen party of warriors to Akaroa for the purpose of seizing Tama-i-hara-nui, the principal chief of the Nga-i-tahu, who had been present at Kai-apoi at the time of the murder of Pehi, and had, indeed, taken an active part in counselling it.

Stewart assented to the proposal, and conveyed Rau-paraha and his warriors to Aka-roa (Haka-roa), where the European scoundrel, at the instigation of his charterer, opened communication with the unsuspecting Tama-i-hara-nui, and ultimately induced him, with his wife and daughter, by the promise of some guns and powder, to come on board, where he page 84 was at once seized by Rau-paraha who with his men had up to this time remained concealed in the hold of the vessel. Having bound the captured chief, they remained quiet until nightfall, and then, landing in the ship's boats, attacked the Nga-i-tahu in their pa, of whom they killed large numbers. The bodies of the slain were taken on board the vessel, which at once set sail for Kapiti. On the passage up the successful taua (war-party) feasted on these bodies, using the ship's coppers for cooking them. It may be that when Stewart engaged his vessel for this expedition he was not made aware of the intentions of Rau-parahia, or did not foresee the results which followed, whilst he was certainly unable to prevent the atrocities which were perpetrated on board of her; but his name will always be infamous for his connection with this atrocious affair. It appears that the unfortunate Tama-i-hara-nui attempted to commit suicide, in consequence of which he was chained in the cabin, but, his hands being free, he managed to strangle his daughter and to push her body through one of the after-ports, in order to save her from the indignities to which she would be subjected by her ruthless captors; but he himself was taken alive to Kapiti, where he was delivered over to the widows of Pehi, who subjected him to frightful tortures, until at length he was put out of his misery by a red-hot ramrod being passed through his neck.