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The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions. Te Arawa [Vol. VII, English]

Chapter XII

Chapter XII [sic]


The following is an account of Tu-whare-toa, a renowned ancestor, after whom is named the tribe possessing the country around Taupo and Roto-a-ira Lakes, the mountains of Tonga-riro and Rua-pehu, the rich Patea, Kari-ori, Muri-mutu, Kainga-roa, and O-kahu-kura Plains.

Tu-whare-toa, of Ari-pouri, was an Arawa, and lived at Tama-rakau, at the Awa-o-te-atua and Kawe-rau. He was renowned as a warrior, and had fought the tribes living on the coast, and, having subdued them, had returned home and hung up his weapons in his house, he and his people, together with those of Tu-te-wero, son of Maru-ka, having made the neighbouring tribes to fear them.

After a time it occurred to Ha-tu-pere to fight with Tu-whare-toa and Tu-te-wero. Now, Tu-whare-toa was living at peace, with his wife, Hine-u-o-tu and his children – some ten or twelve – at Kawe-rau, and was quite ignorant of the attack on Tu-te-wero. Ha-tu-pere and the Marangaranga were defeated and fled towards the Whaiti and the mountains dividing Taupo Plains from Here-taonga (Hawke's Bay). When Tu-whare-toa and his sons heard of the battle which had taken place, and that Ha-tu-pere was defeated, they felt ashamed (sick with shame) about the battle of Tu-te-wero.

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Then arose the army of the sons of Tu-whare-toa, Raka-hopukia, Rakei-poho, Rakei-makaha, Taniwha, and Rongomai-te-ngangana. Their sons, the grandchildren of Tu-whare-toa, went also. They pursued and overtook the enemy at Kakatarae, near Runanga, where a battle was fought with Marangaranga.

The children of Tu-whare-toa were beaten. The battle is known as the battle of Kakatarae. Rakei-poho, Rongomai-te-ngangana, and Taniwha were the chiefs killed there. The women were taken prisoners by Marangaranga, and one hundred men killed and one hundred and forty left alive. Tu-whare-toa retreated to the Ahi-o-nga-tane (where the Taupo road emerges on the plains near Runanga). They there caught a kiwi (Apteryx) and killed it, and offered one-half to the gods and one-half to Papa-nui (a religious ceremony connected with war). Taka-tore was the name of the priest of the party who directed these things to be done. They slept there, and in the morning they marched forth and surprised the enemy, who were cooking a man for food. They rushed on them, and defeated the Marangaranga at Rarauhi-papa, and captured all the women of that tribe and killed perhaps two hundred men.

The old man Tu-whare-toa was residing at Kawerau all this time. The killed were carried to Hine-maiaia, on the shores of Taupo Lake. The party then proceeded along the shore by Mania-heke and the Kowhai-a-taku, and on arriving at the point at Umu-kuri they blew the pukaea (a trumpet made of wood bound together, about five feet long) as a signal to the Nga-ti-kura-poto living at Roto-ngaio. When the woman named Hine-kaho-roa (a priestess) heard the sound, she went mad with rage, and called out the curse "Pokokohua-ma" (a Maori curse signifying "Mummified heads," or "May your skulls be used to heat water in").

When the sons of Tu-whare-toa heard this curse they continued to blow the pukaea thus: "To-roro-to-roro" ("Thy brains, thy brains"). Then called Hine-kaho-roa, the priestess, and said, "I will liken my fern-root to the bones of your ancestors Rangi-tu and Tanga-roa." Then were the hearts of those people dark, and they said, "Why abide here to be put in kits of toetoe (Arundo conspicua)?" So they marched off to the coast to the kainga (settlement) of Tu-whare-toa, and told him that they had been cursed by the Nga-ti-kura-poto, and that the fern-root of Hine-kaho-roa had been called the bones of Rangi-tu and Tanga-roa. The old man was very sad, and went straightway to the auguries that the curse might be put off him and fall upon the woman.

In the morning the sacred army, which had been sent for by Tu-whare-toa, arrived from Puehuehu, near Tara-wera-moana, and a lizard was killed by them, by which means the curse passed off. The army then returned to their home, where they waited perhaps ten nights, and prepared food.

Then said Tu-whare-toa, "Go kill the Nga-ti-kura-poto." The army then started and marched on till they reached Wai-kato and on to Takapau. There they divided into two parties, one going by way of Aputa-hou, Tau-hara, and on to Wai-pahihi, Whare-waka, and so on to Roto-ngaio. On the day of their arrival they killed Kuri-manga, the priest, and cooked him in an oven, from which circumstance the place is called Umu-kuri.

They slept there that night, and next morning attacked two pas, both of which fell into their hands. The names of those pas were Tara-o-te-marama and Pa-powhatu. Some were killed, and others saved. Those of that tribe who were spared went to live on the plains in the direction of Here-taonga (Hawke's Bay). The army then proceeded along the shores of Taupo Lake.

The other division of the war-party had gone by the plains, and arrived at the Kotipu without meeting any one. They there smelt a fire, and, on searching, found a woman named Mono-ao, whom they killed as a sacrifice to the gods. The chief of the party which went by the plains was Rere-ao. The other chiefs were with the party which went by Taupo. Their names were Taringa, Wai-kari, Patu-iwi, and many others.

The party under Rere-ao marched on to Tuariki and descended to Tauranga (on the shores of Lake Taupo), where they found the Nga-ti-hotu living. They killed Tara-o-te-marama, and made a prisoner of Kura-waha, a chief of Nga-ti-hotu, at Kanihinihi. When Ata-iwi-kura, daughter of Rere-ao, saw what a fine man Kura-waha was, she saved him and took him unto herself as a husband.

When Rere-ao and party had made an end of staying at Tauranga, they proceeded by way of One-mara-rangi. The Nga-ti-hotu were collected at Kaka-pakia. That pa was then attacked, and the people, to the number of two hundred, were killed. An oven was at once dug by Rere-ao, and one hundred and forty were put into that oven. They hung up Tipapa-kereru, the chief of the pa. Rere-ao's killing of men ceased here. He then went about the country making landmarks (taking possession). The saying, "The long oven of Rere-ao," has been handed down to this generation.

After this he and his party proceeded to Motiti, the Kotuku-o-rere-ao, the Kowhiti-o-rere-ao, the Pungarehu-o-rere-ao, and to Pukawa-o-rere-ao. Here they stopped, and here they met the party which had travelled by the other shore of Lake Taupo. The chiefs now decided to proclaim peace, all the chiefs and all the tribes consenting. A woman was therefore presented to the chief of Nga-ti-hotu named Paepae-tehe. The woman's name was Hine-uru, sister of Tau-maihi of Puteketeke and of Roro-taka. Some of the party then returned to Kawe-rau, the abode of Tu-whare-toa in the Bay of Plenty, and some remained at Taupo.

The district now remained for many years at peace, and the Tu-whare-toa people considered the country theirs, when it occurred to Nga-ti-hotu to seek revenge by murder for their former defeat and the lives of their relatives killed by Tu-whare-toa. The Nga-ti-hotu were then living at Motiti, in the mountainous country of Kai-manawa.

Roro-taka, Puteketeke, Tau-maihi, and others of the Tu-whare-toa Tribe went at that time to Motiti, and were beckoned by the people of the place (Nga-ti-hotu) to enter the pa. They did so, and sat down in the assembly-house. The inhabitants of the place then put feathers of birds on the oven, so that the guests might think from the smell reaching their noses that birds were being cooked for page (36)them at the fire. It was only a deceit, for the chiefs of the pa (Nga-ti-hotu) had planned to kill Puteketeke, Roro-taka, and Tau-maihi. Their sister, it will be remembered, had been given as a wife to the chief of the pa-viz., Paepae-tehe of Nga-ti-hotu. She was sitting in the house talking with her brothers of the Tu-whare-toa, quite ignorant of the murderous intentions of her husband and his tribe. The visitors inquired of her what was going on outside, and she answered, "They are preparing some food for you." She then went out to see how things were getting on, when she met the Nga-ti-hotu coming to kill the people. She then cried out, "Sirs, an attack, an attack."

The fight then commenced. The enclosure round the house and the verandah were full of people. Roro-taka stood at the door and Puteketeke at the window with ten others. Roro-taka had a pukaea (bugle made of wood). He commenced to jump about in the house, shouting and yelling. The people fell back into the enclosure of the village. Roro-taka threw his pukaea at them, exclaiming, "I will have the heart of the first killed." The people all gathered outside the house, and the fighting then continued between the ten and the three hundred.

Tau-maia called out, "O Puteketeke! oh! we cannot hold out any longer, the people are collecting spears."

Puteketeke now observed that Roro-taka was out of wind, so he rushed to the front, and there got stabbed in the thigh; but he did not fall, he continued rushing on while the enemy fell back before him, so he and his party escaped. No chief was killed. Puteketeke alone was wounded, but not killed. They then fled to Whaka-pou-karakia, and concealed themselves there. Those who were able went on to Taupo.

When Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa saw them, and discovered that they had been beaten, they at once sent and collected all the people around Taupo. When they were all gathered together they advanced against Nga-ti-hotu, and a battle ensued. Several were killed on both sides. Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa then sent Wai-kari to collect followers from Kawe-rau, from the Awa-o-te-atua, and from Whakatane. They all came with Tu-te-wero and his people, and brought the god Rongo-mai (god of the whale) with them to strengthen them in battle. They all mustered under Wai-kari and Tu-te-wero, at Taupo. It was proposed that the people should separate and take different roads, which arrangement was consented to. Taringa was chief of the party which went by Wai-marino, Karihi was chief of the party to go by Whakapou-karakia, Wai-kari was chief of another party, and Tu-te-wero of another. So they all started. Wai-kari reached the Ngau-i-taua Pa, which was taken and the people killed. The whole district was cleared, and Nga-ti-hotu destroyed. A remnant fled to Tuhua and Whanga-nui, and so Taupo came entirely into the possession of Tu-whare-toa. Nothing was left of Hotu at Taupo, and Nga-ti-kura-poto were totally subdued by Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa.

After a time another tribe – namely, the descendants of Tama-ihu-tu-roa – came and abode at Taupo. The grandson of Tu-whare-toa, named Rua-wehea, made terms with these people, and they remained as his subjects. The pas occupied by these people (the Nga-ti-tama) are called Wai-haha and O-puru-kete.

Rua-wehea's residence was called Whakaue-nuku, at Karanga-hape. When he desired to visit his people he went in his canoe, and on approaching the pa sounded his pukaea as a warning to them of his coming, in order that food might be cooked for him. His call was, "Prepare food, you poko-kohua-ma to-roro-to-roro" ("you mummified heads [or skulls to heat water in], your brains, your brains").

As soon as he landed food was presented by the people. This was done on all occasions when he visited them. The thought then occurred to the chiefs of Nga-ti-tama – viz., to Rongo-hape, Rongo-haua, and to Atua-rere-toi – to murder Rua-wehea. Shortly after this Rua-wehea and his slave came paddling to their pa, cursing as usual. The people then burnt some weeds to induce Rua-wehea to think it was food that they were cooking for him. As soon as he landed he was invited to the house of the chiefs Rongo-haua, Atua-rere-toi, and Rongo-hape. These men placed themselves in the following positions in the house: Rongo-hape sat at the window, Rongo-haua was in the centre of the whare (house), and Atua-rere-toi at the far end. As soon as Rua-wehea came near the door he was invited in. "Come inside, friend," they said. He then entered, and when his head was inside Rere-toi muttered, "Who was the man with Rongo-mai-whiti, eh?" The old man was then killed, and was carried away and hidden under the waterfall at the precipice. He was not eaten. His slave escaped to the opposite side of Taupo, and informed the Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa Tribe that his master had been murdered. Messengers were at once sent to all parts of Taupo to collect the Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa for the purpose of utterly destroying the tribe of murderers. In a few days they were all collected together. They then paddled over in canoes, to the number of eight hundred men. The brave Wai-kari accompanied the army, his weapon being a taiaha. They paddled to the Whakaue-nuku, where they landed, and distributed food amongst the several hapus (family tribes). Tu-mata-ngana divided the pounded fern-root, and while doing so observed Wai-kari sitting in his canoe, the reason for his doing so being he had brought no food with him, and felt ashamed. Tu-mata-ngana gave him some fern-root, which he did not eat, but put it in his belt.

During the night the army paddled on, and in the morning landed below the pa and occupied all the approaches. They then made an attack, and the pa fell into their hands. Several people were killed. One chief, Rongo-hape, who was taken prisoner, tried to escape by the cliff. He descended into the water, and came near a canoe in which a boy named Ranga-ita and his slave were sitting. The boy seized Rongo-hape by the head and pulled him into the canoe and killed him. Upon inquiry being made for a chief who could not be found among the prisoners or the slain, Ranga-ita exclaimed, "I have the man lying in my canoe." He was asked if he was a full-grown man, and he answered, "Yes, with a lame leg." The prisoners were then bound (d) and placed with the army.

Wai-kari took Roroi-hape, a chieftainess, prisoner, whom he took away with him. The men all begged for Roroi-hape for a wife, but Wai-kari would not consent, as he intended to give her to Tu-mata-ngana as compensation for his liberality in having presented him with the pounded fern-root.

The chiefs of Nga-ti-tama who were killed in this engagement, as payment for the murder of Rua-wehea, were Rongo-hape, Rongo-haua, Atua-rere-toi, and others. Afterwards another attack was made on the Nga-ti-tama, when the pa Puru-kete fell. From that originated the proverb, "Aue! Mate he mate wareware, te kite au i o Puru-kete" ("Oh, woe is me! death, death unknown. Oh! that I could have seen Puru-kete!"). The reason of that proverb was because Rua-wehea was not eaten. The remnant of Nga-ti-tama fled to Roto-rua and Lower Taupo. Ka-pawa collected a few of the tribe to reside with him.

That is all in reference to the Nga-ti-tama Tribe, who were subdued by Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa. All Taupo became the property of Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa, who still hold it, and are now living there.

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The First Gun [Seen] In Taupo

The following is an account of some of the battles fought when there was only one gun in Taupo district:—

The descendants of Tu-whare-toa are still noted for their bravery; none of the tribes of this island have been able to subdue them. A tribe called the Nga-ti-maru came to Taupo [from the Thames] intent on conquering them. They came at first unexpectedly and took the people by surprise, but were forced to retire. On their second coming all the men of Taupo had collected together on Motu-taiko, an island situated in the Sea of Taupo, and there they determined to defend themselves against the Nga-ti-maru. All the people of Taupo, when they saw that Nga-ti-maru had come with the full intention of subduing the Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa, got into their canoes and made for the Island of Motu-taiko. At that time only one gun had reached Taupo. As the enemy appeared on the shore a man in one of the canoes, named Riu-pawhara, fired the gun and killed two of them. They took fright, and retired; and in the morning we followed and overtook them at Lake Roto-aira, at the foot of Tonga-riro Mountain, where a chief named Ara-kai was killed by Poinga with a taiaha. Whare-maru-maru, a Wai-kato chief, was also killed, as well as many others, perhaps two hundred, including women. But some escaped and fled to Hau-raki (the Thames), where they gave an account of their defeat. The Nga-ti-maru had brought a number of women with them for holding the prisoners they expected to take, but, having beaten them, we kept their women as slaves for the people of Taupo.

Shortly after this the same tribe returned reinforced, seeking revenge for their dead. They came four hundred strong, under the leadership of Hono-rehua. A battle ensued, and they were defeated. The Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa had but the one gun, while the enemy were well supplied with such weapons; but what was that to the men of Taupo? They could stab and kill with the huata (spear) and meremere, and other Maori weapons. Enough! The Nga-ti-maru Tribe fled, and have never since returned.

Invasion of Nga-ti-Raukawa

This is another account of a war that occurred after the fight with Nga-ti-maru:—

Another tribe which in times past has striven with Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa was the Nga-ti-rau-kawa. The quarrel between them originated through the Nga-ti-rau-kawa digging up and taking away the bones of Rangi-tua and Mata-taru. Tawei and Hurihia fled naked to the Heuheu and informed him of what had taken place. He then assembled all Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa and marched to Rangatira, where they encountered the Nga-ti-rau-kawa and defeated them, killing about two hundred, including the chief Pa-taua. They rallied, however, and the fighting continued to rage in Taupo, many on both sides being destroyed – so much so that several of the Taupo people became afraid and fled. Those from Lower Taupo went to the Arawa, Roto-kakahi, and Lake Tara-wera, others to Tara-wera beyond Runanga.

The people who remained to keep possession of Upper Taupo were the Heuheu and his hapu (family tribe) and Tau-teka and Rangi-monehunehu, with two hundred men of their hapus. The name of the pa in which they were collected was Whakatara.

The hapu (family tribe) which kept possession of Lower Taupo was Nga-ti-rangi-ita, comprising the families of Matatoru, Hau-tapu, Tauarai, and Whare-ngaro. The pa in which they collected was called the Tarata. From these pas, the only ones held in Taupo, fighting was carried on without ceasing until peace was made. After everything was quiet those who had fled returned to their former habitations. Thus have the Nga-ti-tu-whare-toa maintained their mana (influence, power, claim) in Taupo.