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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Te Morenga’s Expedition to Tamaki, and Death of Koperu, 1820–21

Te Morenga’s Expedition to Tamaki, and Death of Koperu, 1820–21.

In Mr. Fenton’s “Orakei Judgment,” he notes that a party of Nga-Puhi, in the year 1821, touched at Tamaki Heads on their way to Maketu. I think this is probably Te Wera, page 177 Hauraki’s and Titore’s expedition above referred to, but that the year is wrong, it should be 1820. Mr. Fenton also adds:—“Another party under Koperu came down from the Bay in canoes, and attacked Mau-inaina, on the Tamaki, but were repulsed by Ngati-Paoa, assisted by Apihai Te Kawau and his Ngaoho people of Ngati-Whatua. Apihai Te Kawau came from and returned to Mangere on the Manukau.”

The above expedition was that under Te Morenga and others, which, according to Mr. Francis Hall, returned to the Bay on the 29th July, 1821, just two days before Hongi’s return from England. Mr. Hall says:—“We hear Te Morenga’s party have returned from the Thames (all Hauraki, Wai-te-mata, &c., was the Thames in those days), after taking vengeance on Hinaki’s people, who had killed Te Morenga’s brother some time since. They killed and ate many, and brought home many heads, besides prisoners. They made their attack in the night, when all were at rest, or Hinaki’s people, who are very numerous, would have been too many for them.”

The Rev. Mr. Buddle, in his lectures, (see Karere Maori, p. 78, 1851) says:—“A man called Koperu, of the Nga-Puhi, was on a visit to Ngati-Paoa at the Tamaki, at a pa where Panmure now stands, called Mau-inaina. Tiniwai, for some cause or other, by singing a song, induced Te Paraoa-rahi of Ngati-Paoa to kill Koperu. They often conveyed their wishes in page 178 this way. Paraoa-rahi understood it and killed him instantly.” Arama Karaka Haututu, a well known chief of Te Uri-o-hau, one of the branches of Ngati-Whatua, speaking at a meeting held at Aotea, Kaipara, in April, 1883, said: “Ko Mokoia, na Te Morenga, na Taki, na Te Uri-kapana; te putake, ko Koperu. He kohuru na Paraoa-rahi, waiho a Hongi hei hapai.” “Mokoia was (assaulted) by Te Morenga, by Taki and the Uri-kapana hapu of Nga-Puhi; the reason was because Koperu had been killed by Paraoa-rahi; it was left to Hongi-Hika to avenge this.” We do not know the particulars of Te Morenga’s expedition beyond the above, or whether Koperu was killed during it or previously. At any rate this death was one of the reasons of Hongi’s raid on the Tamaki at the end of this same year, the other reason specially mentioned in the Maori accounts was the death of Te Raharaha, of Whangaroa, at the hands of some of the Ngati-Whatua. Colonel Gudgeon tells me there was another cause, as follows: After the battle of Kaipiha, the Nga-Puhi people returning from Hauraki, called in at Whangarei, and there dug up and ate the potatoes planted by the Parawhau tribe. This, in the opinion of that tribe, was done purposely to incense them against Ngati-Paoa. Shortly after this, Nga-Waka and Koperu with many Nga-Puhi went to make peace with Ngati-Paoa and Ngati-Maru, and they were accompanied on this expedition by Iwi-tahi of Te Parawhau. When the two parties met, the usual war-dance page 179 took place, and Te Iwi-tahi, to satisfy his sense of injury at the potato episode, shot one of the Ngati-Paoa people. In some way Nga-Puhi succeeded in smoothing over this difficulty for the time, and peace was made between them and Ngati-Paoa. Then Iwi-tahi, being somewhat strong-headed, insisted on entering the pa of Mau-inaina, and was there killed and eaten.

Rev. H. Paora says Koperu was killed during Hongi’s absence in England, or in 1820. Hongi-Hika returned from England by the ship “Westmorland,” with Mr. Kendall and Waikato, 11th July, 1821.

On August 10th, 1821, Mr. Butler notes: “News has just arrived that a chief named ‘Lalala’ (? Raharaha) has just been killed and eaten together with his wife and several other chiefs by the Kaipara people. The natives are in all quarters preparing for war.” I believe Te Raharaha was killed at Pataua, a little north of Whangarei. Mr. Butler continues: “August 23rd. A party of natives from Hokianga came this morning to join the great expedition now fitting out to revenge the death of ‘Lalala.’” Again, September 2nd, he notes: “The armament now fitting out will consist of 2,000 men, more formidably prepared for destruction than any former expedition. 3rd September. Another division of the crews leave to-morrow to join the main body. The natives have been casting balls all day in Mr. Kemp’s shop.” On the 4th September he writes: “Four large and beautiful canoes mounted with from 60 to page 180 70 men each, rowed up and down the river for exercise and to show their skill. Hongi-Hika was dressed in his scarlet uniform. There is an old priest goes with him (probably Kaiteke). We think they will have at least 1,000 muskets with them.”

The Rev. J. Butler says: “On the 5th September, 1821, Hongi-Hika, Rewa and several of their friends set off for the Thames on a war expedition; indeed the natives for 100 miles round are already on their way, Hongi-Hika, Rewa and Waikato bringing up the rear. The place of general assemblage is Whangarei, about 100 miles from the field of action. There has never been anything like such an armament in New Zealand before; Tui and Titore and their friends are all engaged in this general onset. I asked Rewa if they intended to save anyone alive. He replied, “A very few, if any, would be spared, and these would be women and boys.” Little boys would in some measure be spared, as they would be brought up as slaves, and without knowledge of father or mother, and without animosity against their masters. I enquired if there were any particular chiefs that they wished to kill; he named eight: Hinaki1, Totahi, Te Kawau2, Kaiwaka3, Murupaenga4, Matohi5, Patehoro and Tyheah (? Taiaha), with all their people. Mr. Marsden page 181 and myself in our journey to Mokoia, Manukau and Kaipara (in 1820) went through the district belonging to these people and were treated with great kindness by them.”

This great expedition was directed against the Ngati-Paoa people of the Tamaki, whose principal places of residence were Mokoia and Mau-inaina.

1 Hinaki, principal chief of Ngati-Paoa of the Tamaki.

2 Te Kawau, principal chief of Taou hapu of Ngati-Whatua.

3 Kaiwaka or Te Haupa, principal chief of Ngati-Paoa.

4 Murupaenga, chief of Ngati-Rongo hapu of Ngati-Whatua.

5 Matohi, a principal chief of Te Roroa, of Kaihu, Kaipara.