History and traditions of the Maoris of the West Coast, North Island of New Zealand, prior to 1840
Te Heke Niho-Puta. — 1824
Te Heke Niho-Puta.
The above is the name of the second exodus of the North Taranaki tribes to Otaki and that neighbourhood, near Kapiti. The word means "Boar's tusk," and we shall see why it was so called very shortly. Rangi-pito says that this heke took place about a year after Te Rau-paraha left Ure-nui; but this cannot be right. Mr. Shand, Mr. Travers, and Watene Taungatara all agree that it occurred after Wai-o-rua, so it must have been in 1824. They started away in the winter of that year.
Rangi-pito says, "Sometime after the battle of Te Motu-nui (about December, 1822), a man named Kainga, belonging to the Ngati-Mutunga tribe of Ure-nui, went on a visit to his relations at Waikato, the Nguti-Apakura tribe. Whilst there, Turi-manu, of the last-named tribe and a relative of Kainga's, warned him that Waikato had not forgotten or forgiven Ati-Awa for defeating thorn at Te Motu-nui, nor were they unmindful of the many reverses they had suffered at the handsof Ngati-Tamaatand near Pou-tama." Kainga was also informed that Waikato would soon take an opportunity of avenging these losses —"Te Motu-nui could never be forgotten." Kainga replied, "Waikato page 400came of their own accord, and hence we fought and beat them." Turi-manu then said, "You had better all leave and go to Kapiti. Abandon your country or Waikato will eat you." From others Kainga got the same advice, and so on his return home he told Ngati-Mutunga what he had heard, which caused considerable apprehension; and after discussion it was decided to migrate and join Te Rau-paraha. This was the origin of the "Niho-puta" heke.
With this migration also returned to Kapiti many of those who came back to their homes after the massacre of the Mua-upoko at Horo-whenua. The Ngati-Mutunga was the tribe that furnished the largest contribution to the party, but there were also members of the Ngati-Hinetuhi, Kai-tangata, Te Kekerewai, Ngati-Hine-uru, Ngati-Tama, and others, under the chiefs Rere-tawhangawhanga (who died at Wai-kanae, 26th September, 1843), Te Puoho, Te Arahu, Te Poki, Ngatata,* and many others. Generally, most of the people from the White Cliffs to Waitara went away in this heke, including some from Pou-tama; but not all, some remained behind to keep "the fires burning." The movements of this heke had been hastened by receipt of the news that all the tribes on the coast were about to combine and attempt to annihilate To Rau-paraha at Kapiti. This news seems to have dispelled the feeling that some of those who had accompanied Te Rau-paraha on his migration had against the latter for his overbearing conduct, and Ngati-Mutunga were again ready to help him, as they did at Motu-nui. They arrived too late, however, for Wai-o-rua had been fought and won when they got to Otaki.
"The heke," says Rangi-pito, "now went on their way, not stopping to avenge the deaths, but postponing that for the future. They reached Whanganui without further trouble, nor were they molested here, for the people of the place were all away inland up the river. Had there been any there, some fighting would have taken place" And so the migration passed on to Wai-kanae, on arrival at which place they found that the combined force of the allies had been defeated by Ngati-Toa at the fight of Wai-o-rua. On their arrival and occupation of Wai-kanae and the adjacent country, the Ngati-Toa were so strengthened that they were able again to return to the mainland to cultivate and live, a thing it had been impossible for them to do for some time past, for the remnant of Mua-upoko and Rangi-tano were always on the watch to pounce on any unwary straggler of Ngati-Toa.
* From this expression the migration derives its name.