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The Story of a Maori Chief

Chapter 9 — Two Eras in Ngati-Porou History

page 63

Chapter 9
Two Eras in Ngati-Porou History

Two Eras are often referred to in Ngati-Porou history, viz., “Te Tau i a Rewharewha” and “Te Tau i a Waiwaha,” i.e., “The Year of the Epidemic” and “The Year of Waiwaha.”

A woman, Rakerake, composed a love song about the chief Mauriatea in which she refers to “the year of the epidemic.” The chief Mauriatea was a contemporary of Kakatarau and his brother, Mokena Kohere. The former, we know, was the leader of the Toka-a-Kuku expedition in 1836. We know also a very severe epidemic of measles broke out in the North Island in 1854, when it was estimated over 4,000 natives died of it. It was a prevalent notion among the natives that the best thing to do when the rash made its appearance was to plunge into cold water.

The other era is easily ascertained. It refers to Waiwaha's marriage to Naua, Rangimatanuku's son. Rangimatanuku was the paramount chief of the Whakatohea Tribe, and his home was Omarumutu, a native village to the east of the town of Opotiki. It occurred to Rangimatanuku that he would cement friendship with the Ngati-Porou Tribe. He first called on the chief Huripuku, who lived near Kawakawa (now known as Te Araroa). Accompanied by Huripuku, Rangimatanuku went to see Mokena Kohere at Waioratane. Rangimatanuku made known the nature of his mission to the Ngati-Porou chief, who readily agreed. Mokena Kohere proposed that his relative, Makere Waiwaha, should be the bride. Rangimatanuku, satisfied with the success of his mission, returned to his home in the Bay of Plenty, there to await the coming of his intended Ngati-Porou daughter-in-law.

It took months to prepare a convoy to escort the prospective bride to Opotiki. New canoes had to be constructed and suitable gifts as dowry for the bride were carefully collected and sorted. It was essential that gifts must be worthy of the occasion—the marriage of a member of a well-known family and of a tribe like the Ngati-Porou.

The convoy of canoes was a large one, the largest of its kind. It put in for the night at Raukokore, where it was received by the chief Aopururangi. Early next morning the page 64 fleet was again at sea, and, a good pace being kept up, early in the afternoon it entered Pakihi, the entrance into the river. The Ngati-Porou, with their moumouranga, or gift-bride, received a great welcome from the Whakatohea and the neighbouring tribes.

All the tribes were witnesses of the marriage when Naua was joined to Waiwaha and their respective tribes as well. There was, moreover, an ancient link between these tribes, which was welded further by the historic marriage.

Amongst the gifts offered by the local tribes to their guests from the East Coast was the Hanaia Hill, but it was never claimed. When Waiwaha's first child was old enough another large convoy of canoes was organised, the object being to bring Waiwaha and her heir to her people and so return the compliments. Great preparations were made for the entertainment of the visiting tribes, food was collected and extra houses were erected. Tribes as far north as Whakatane came in the convoy. In the entertainment of the visiting tribes two people were outstanding in their graceful movements. They were the famous chief Te Kani-a-Takirau and the chieftainess Rawinia Te Aungira. After a week's stay the guests returned to their homes in the Bay of Plenty.

Naua and Waihaha had several children who died childless. The youngest, Hiria Te Kiekie, left behind her one son, Henare, who unfortunately died without issue.

Mokena Kohere With his son, Tuhaka.

Mokena Kohere
With his son, Tuhaka.