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Musings in Maoriland

The March of Te Rauparaha.1

page 40

The March of Te Rauparaha.1

With the exception, perhaps, of the celebrated Ngapuhi chief, Hongi, no Maori warrior, during the present century, was the cause of so much bloodshed as the remarkable subject of the following poem. The Ngatitoa, of which Te Rauparaha was the head occupied, for centuries, the beautiful country lying between Kawhia and Mokau on the western side of the North Island, and though insignificant in point of numbers, when compared with many of the leading tribes around them, they had long been celebrated for their prowess as warriors. About the year 1820, firearms began to be extensively used in native warfare, and the shrewd chief, Rauparaha, seeing the immense advantage which the lucky possessors of these destructive weapons had over their enemies, resolved to capture Kapiti and the country around Wellington, in order to come

1 Pronounced "Rouprrah"

page break
A lithograph of Te Rauparaha in grey tones against a beige background.

Bold of heart and strong of hand,
Formed to rule and to command!

page 41into closer communication with the Pakeha traders, who at that time were importing muskets in large quantities from Sydney and England. He conceived the idea of invading the country, and he was strengthened in this resolve by a visit which he paid to Kapiti in company with the renowned warrior, Tamati Waka Nene, who strongly urged him to undertake the expedition. Accordingly he mustered his whole tribe, numbering about 400, and left the land of his forefathers for ever. The scene at the setting out of the expedition was very affecting. The entire tribe gathered on the hill of Moetoa, and wept like children over Kawhia. a short time previous to this, Hape Tuarangi, chief of the Ngatiraw-kawa, appointed Rauparaha as his successor, his own sons refusing to take the lead; and consequently this and some other tribes were allies, to some extent, of the Ngatitoa, and several of them took part in the expedition. The line of their march lay through Waitara, Hawaka, Taranaki, and Manawatu, at all of which places they fought and conquered, feasted and rested, sweeping hostile tribes before them in all directions, and making hundreds of slaves, whom they kept for their feasts on the march. After capturing Kapiti and the surrounding country, Rauparaha directed his attention of the Middle Island, and invaded it with a strong band of warriors, who carried death and destruction before them. The siege of Kaiapoi, one of the bloodiest battles in the annals of Maori warfare, is still remembered by many of the Middle Island natives, and "Bloody Rauparaha's" memory is yet held in execration by them. a most interesting paper, entitled the "Life and Times of Te Rauparaha," by W. T. L. page 42Travers, F. L. S., will be found in the "Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, 1872," to which the author of the following poem is indebted for the information which suggested "The March of Te Rauparaha."

The March of Te Rauparaha
Rauparaha's war chant,
Rauparaha's fame song,
Rauparaha's story
Told on the harp strings,
Pakeha harp cords
Tuned by the stranger.

Mighty chief of the Ngatitoa,
Sprung from the hero, Hotorua,
First of the braves who left Hawaiki
Over the sea in the great Tainui,1
Petrified now by thy shore, Kawhia.
Weird Tainui,
Tapu, Tapu,2

1 The sacred canoe in which the first Maories came from Hawaiki or Hawea.

2 Sacred, holy.

page 43

Tapu, long ere the pale pakeha
Came to the shrine, adored for ages,
Came to the shrine! oh desecration,
Prying into the things forbidden.
Moan the waves,
Moan the waves,
Moan the waves as they wash Tainui,
Moan the waters of dark Kawhia,
Moan the winds as they sweep the gorges,
Wafting the sad laments and wailings
Of the spirit that haunt the mountains—
Warrior souls, whose skeletons slumber
Down in the caverns, lonely and dreary,
Under the feet of the fierce volcano,
Under the slopes of the Awaroa!
Moan the winds,
Moan the winds,
Moan the winds, and waves, and waters,
Moan they over the ages vanished,
Moan they over the tombs of heroes,
Moan they over the mighty chieftains
Sprung from giants of far Hawaiki!
Moan they over the bones of Raka,
Moan they over the Rangatira
Toa, who founded the Ngatitoa!
Moan they over Wera Wera,
Sire of him,
Sire of him,
Sire of him they called Te Rauparaha!

page 44

Echoes of the craggy reeks,
Echoes of the rocky peaks,
Echoes of the gloomy caves,
Echoes of the moaning waves,
Echoes of the gorges deep,
Echoes of the winds that sweep
O'er Pirongia's summit steep,
Chant the Rangatira's praise,
Chant it in a thousand lays,
Chant the Rangatira's fame,
Chant the Rangatira's name,
Te Rauparaha, Te Rauparaha!

Sound his praises far and near,
For his spirit still is here
Flying through the gusty shocks,
When the sea-ghosts climb the rocks
Clad in foam shrouds, thick and pale,
Woven by the howling gale
In the ocean's monster loom!
Warp of green and weft of gloom
Woven into sheets of white
By the wizards of the night;
Chant his name each ocean sprite,
Te Rauparaha, Te Rauparaha!

page 45

No wild hero of romance,
Born in dreamy poet's trance,
Cradled in some mythic fane,
Built up in the minstrel's brain
On imagination's plan!—
No such hero was this man,
He was flesh and blood and bone,
Standing forth erect, alone,
High above his fellows known!—
Hist'ry paints what he hath done,
Maori valour's bravest son—
Te Rauparaha, Te Rauparaha!

Quick of eye and lithe of limb,
Warriors bent the knee to him!—
Bold of heart and strong of hand,
Formed to rule and to command!
Suckled on a breast that gave
Milk of heroes to the brave!—
Richest fruit of Toa's seed,
Scion of heroic breed,
Born to conquer and to lead!
Strongest branch of noblest tree
From Hawaiki o'er the sea,
Te Rauparaha, Te Rauparaha!

page 46

Wild as eagle, tame as dove,
Fierce in battle, fond in love,
When Maroré, his young bride,
For some sweeter relish sighed—
Some more dainty toothsome dish—
Than the Kamera1 and fish,
Rushed he, with a chosen band,
To the great Waikato's land,
And procured a relish sweet—
Raunga's flesh was tender meat—
Soon Maroré had a treat,
Te Rauparaha, Te Rauparaha!

Mothers of Waikato wail,
Spearmen of Waikato quail,
All the deeds that ye have done,
All the glories ye have won,
Pale 'fore Wera Wera's son!
He is master of the field,
To his sway your homage yield,
He has tamed Waikato's pride,
To your whares run and hide!
Fly before his conqu'ring spears —
Bursts his war-cry on your ears,
Te Rauparaha, Te Rauparaha!

1 Sweet Potato.

page 47

Te Taurangi, dying, said:
"Who shall lead when I am dead?
Who shall prove my people's might
On the war-path, in the fight?
Will my sons not take my place,
Guard the honour of my race?"
Silent were the chiefs and men
The Ariki spake again:—
"Who will now my station fill?"
All the chiefs were silent still:—
Cried a voice; "I will, I will."
Te Rauparaha, Te Rauparaha!

"Listen to your chief, ye braves,
Kapiti, by distant waves,
Where the pakeha's canoes
Laden with the fire-spears cruise,
Shall be utu2 for our dead! —
Valiant Waka Nené said—
As he there stood close by me
On the coast: 'Oh, Raha,3 see
That great people sailing free,
With your tribe to them draw nigh,
And your enemies shall fly."'
Te Rauparaha, Te Rauparaha!

2 Reward, satisfaction.

3 Great, open, extended.

page 48

"Oh; my people, let us go
Where the distant waters flow,
Leave Kawhia unto those
Who no longer are our foes!
Great Te Wherowhero, stay,
Guard our land when we're away,
From Kapiti's distant shore
To this land we'll come no more;
Bring our axes, mats, and spears,
Onward, onward, conquest cheers,
On Kawhia leave our tears,"
Te Rauparaha, Te Rauparaha!

Beneath the purple canopy of morn
That hung above Kawhia's placid sheet
Of waters crystalline, arose on high
The golden shield of God, on azure field,
With crimson tassels dipping in the sea!
And from its burnished face a shower of rays
Shot up the hills and gilt their spires and peaks
In lambent sheen, until the turrets seemed
Like precious ornaments of purest gold
On mighty altars raised by giant priests
In olden times, to offer sacred fire
As sacrifice unto the Fount of Light,
From whence the planets and the myriad stars

page 49

Drink their effulgence!
   In the wild ravines
And gorges deep, the limpid babbling creeks
Sang matins, as they left their mother hills
To mingle in united waters, where
They lost their little selves, and merged in one
Pellucid flood that gathered stronger life
From day to day as God's great Human Church,
Now building on the earth, shall gather all
The little sects and creeds and small beliefs
That split mankind into a thousand parts,
And merge them in one universal flood
Of boundless charity.
   The dazzling points
Of morning's lances pierced the bursting hearts
Of all the flow'rets on the fertile slopes,
And waked the red Kowhai's drops from sleep,
And shook the dew-beads from the Rata's lids,
Until its blossoms opened up their breasts
And gave their fragrance to the early breeze
That played among the Koromiko's leaves,
And stole the rich Tawhiri's sweet perfume,
And strung the flax-leaves into merry tune
To woo the Bell-bird from his nest, to ring
The Tui up to sing his morning hymns.
The scene was made for man, not savage man,
The cunningest of brutes, the crafty king
Of beasts! but Man, the Spiritualized,
With all the light of knowledge in his brain,

page 50

With all the light of love within his heart!
And yet they were but savages who stood
On Moeatoa's hill, above the scene,
Mere savages, a step beyond the brute!
But still there were bright sparks of God-lit fire
Within their breasts! they loved their native vales
With heart and soul! for they had hearts and souls
Far nobler than some milk-faced races who
Have basked 'neath Calv'ry's sun for ages long,
And yet lie grov'lling in the nation's rear,
With hearts encased in earth too coarse and hard
For Calv'ry's glorious light to penetrate.
Poor savages that Orient had not yet
Shed its benignant rays upon their souls,
To melt the dross that dragged them down to earth
In carnal bonds! they knew not yet the road
To reach the standard of their better selves.
Yet they were men in all save this! brave men
With patriots' hearts, for as they stood and gazed
O'er fair Kawhia's waters, hills and vales
That stretched unto the sea, o'er which their sires
In ages past sailed from Hawaiki's shores,
The tears ran down their tatooed cheeks, and sobs
Welled from their bosoms, for they loved the land
With all the love intense a Maori feels
For childhood's home! the hist'ry of their tribe
Was written there on every rock and hill
That sentinelled the scene, for these had known
Their deeds of prowess, and their fathers' deeds

page 51

Of valour! and the caverns held the bones
Of those from whom they'd sprung! Their legends wild,
And weird traditions, chained them to the place,
And ere they burst those links of love, they gave
A long sad look on each familiar spot
And wailed above Kawhia's lovely vale.

"Oh! Kawhia, remain,
Cavern, gorge, and bay,
Valley and hill and plain,
We are going away.

"Oh! Kawhia, remain,
Take our tears and our sighs;
Spirits of heroes slain,
Rise up from Reinga,1 rise.

"Oh! Kawhia, remain,
With thee, Tawhaki,2 stay,
Long may he o'er thee reign—
We are going away."

1 Abode of departed spirits.

2 A hero god.

page 52

"Enough, enough of childish grief,
Ready, ready for the fray,
March behind your mighty chief,
Chant aloud the battle-lay.

"Away, away with tears and sighs,
Water stains the warrior's eyes,
Conquest is the hero's prize,
   Te Rauparaha is here.

"Away, away with sighs and tears,
Raise your war-cry, point your spears,
Onward, onward, vict'ry cheers,
   Te Rauparaha is here.

"Away, away each plaintive wail,
Only cowards whine and quail,
Sniff we blood upon the gale,
   Te Rauparaha is here.

"Warriors march, warriors march,
   On, on, on to Kapiti.
 Pillage and slay,
 Away and away,
   On, on, on to Kapiti.

page 53

Warriors march, warriors march,
   On, on, on to Kapiti.
  Scour every plain,
  Feast on the slain,
   On, on, on to Kapiti."

March the warriors ahead,
 Conquest in their fiery eyes,
Haughty Tutakara's dead,
 Ngatimaniapoto flies!
False Te Wherowhero's band,
Left to guard Kawhia's land,
 Steal like robbers in the night,
Steal like dogs upon the brave!
 Ha! they're vanquished in the fight,
 Crushed beneath the hero's might;
Cries their chief— "Oh, Raha, save
 My people!" False Waikato, run,
 Dim not Ngatitoa's sun!
 Ho! the feast has now begun,
Heroes, sit ye down and eat,
This Waikato flesh is sweet.
By the banks of Taupo's flood
Valiant Whatanui stays!
Whatanui's words are good,
Speaks he in our chieftain's praise.
 Taranaki's hills are passed,
 The Waitot'ra's reached at last.

page 54

Now our Rangatira reigns
Lord of Wanganui's plains.

 Treach'rous Muapoko sends
Greetings unto Rauparaha—
"Raha, we are faithful friends,
Come, oh come, unto our Pa,
 You can take and you can use
 Muapoko's war canoes."
See base Toheriro creeps
 From the wharè where the chief,
Unsuspicious, dreams and sleeps.
 Ha! he wakes, and madly leaps
Through the darkness; shriek and wail
 Tell to him the bloody tale
Of his slaughtered kinsmen! grief
 Fills the hero's bosom. Ho!
 Traitor dogs, ye soon shall know
What it is to thus betray
 Ngatitoa's chief; your foe
He is now by night and day.
 Soon your leader's bones shall bleach
White by Rangitiki's flood:
 Let your women scream and screech,
Ngatitoa claims your blood!
 Vengeance now, Waipata falls,
 Vengeance now, Waikeikei's walls

page 55

Tumble! bursting breach on breach,
   Ngatitoa's warriors rush,
   Red with vict'ry's crimson flush.

Ngatitoa rules supreme.
 Kapiti is conquered now—
Do I sleep, or do I dream?
See! a thousand axes gleam,
 And a thousand spears, I trow,
Held in strong avenging hands,
 Point to Ngatitoa's bands.
Wanganui's warriors strong,
 Turakina's spearmen bold,
Sweep like hurricane along
 With Patea's men, enrolled
With Waipounamus1 fierce throng,
 To uproot usurping power.
 Luckless day and luckless hour
That ye met, and dared to face
Ngatitoa's conqu'ring race.
Wairoa's stream is red
With the life-springs of your dead;
Wairoa's beach is strewn
With the bodies of your slain—
Rauparaha shall rule alone,
 Victory is his again!
Make the song of triumph known,
Till the hills give back refrain.

1 Middle Island.

page 56

"The sea rushed up with plunging shocks,
  Kapai!1 Rauparaha!
To claim the land and beat the rocks,
  Kapai! Rauparaha!
The rocks stood firm and broke the waves;
So stood the Ngatitoa braves—
Ngatitoa's foes are slaves,
  Kapai! Rauparaha!

"The stars came out to match the sun,
  Kapai! Rauparaha!
To claim the crown that he had won,
  Kapai! Rauparaha!
The sun shot forth its brightest rays.
And quenched the stars in fiery blaze;
Then chant the Ngatitoa's praise,
  Kapai! Rauparaha!

"The Tuis came the Hawk to kill,
  Kapai! Rauparaha!
And yet the Hawk is living still,
  Kapai! Rauparaha!
The Hawk can soar, the Hawk can fight—
The Tuis tried to stay his flight—
The Hawk shall have a feast to-night,
  Kapai! Rauparaha!"

1 Good.

page 57

The conqueror's red eyes are now fixed on the distant coast,
For news has reached the victor's ears of Rerawhaka's boast,
That he, with tooth of shark, would rip Te Rauparaha in twain.
The hero cannot rest until this braggart chief is slain.
The war canoes are ready, and the warriors are here;
From Rangitoto, flushed with pride, to Kaikoura they steer.
Three hundred braves have landed, and sweep upon their foes,
As fiercely as the cataracts fed by Mount Una's snows
Sweep wild through Spencer's mountain cleft, and down through Ada's vale!
The dying shrieks in chorus harsh are borne upon the gale.
Te Rauparaha has waded deep in boastful foemen's gore,
And Rerawhaka's bones shall bleach on far Kapiti's shore.
Full fourteen hundred victims have been conquered in the fray—
The Niho Manga1 shall be famed in legend and in lay
For evermore, for there was tamed proud Rerawhaka's pride;
But Kaiapoi is defended still, and strongly fortified—
Te Pehi has been slaughtered within its treacherous walls—
The Ngatitoa cannot rest until base Kaiapoi falls.

Fierce and fast, fierce and fast
Rush the Ngatitoa men,
Now the outer works they've passed—
Now they're beaten back again.

1 Battle of the Shark's tooth.

page 58

Bullets fly, bullets fly,1
Valiant men of battle fall,
Still the force within defy
Ngatitoa, chief and all.

Through the swamp, through the swamp
Comes Taiaroa to their aid;
Rush the outposts, fire the camp,
Burn each fence and palisade.

Through the fire and through the smoke,
Swiftly Ngatitoa broke
With a scream and a yell;
And the glare and the flare
Of the fire-tongues in the air,
Flung a demoniac light
On the horrors of the fight;
And the children in affright,
And the women in despair,
Shrieked for mercy, but in vain.
And the blazing timbers threw
A ghastly lurid hue
On the wounded and the slain.

1 Muskets and other European weapons were used at the siege of Kaiapoi.

page 59

And as the fierce light gleamed
On the warriors, they seemed
Like fiends unloosed from hell.
A struggle, fierce and short,
And the keepers of the fort
Were slaughtered for the feast,
And the red sun in the west
Went down as Kaipaoi fell.

"Tangi,1 tangi o'er the dead,
Kapai! Rauparaha!
Make the ovens hot and red,
Kapai! Rauparaha!
Death, and bondage, and disgrace
Come to all who dare to face
Ngatitoa's conqu'ring race,
Kapai! Rauparaha!

"Slaves should have but little words,
Kapai! Rauparaha!
Little songs for little birds,
Kapai! Rauparaha!
Little Tuis should not try
With their little wings to fly
Where the Hawk is perched on high,
Kapai! Rauparaha!

1 Shout, cry.

page 60

"Come, O sea! and don't refuse
Kapai! Rauparaha!
Treasure-laden war canoes,
Kapai! Rauparaha!
All are conquered, all is won,
Wera Wera's mighty son
Rauparaha's great march is done,
Kapai! Rauparaha!"