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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Further Wars on the Border-Land

Further Wars on the Border-Land.

In the following series of events, the exact dates are even more difficult to determine than those occurring prior to the taking of the “Boyd” in 1809, which serves as a fixed point from which Maoris count events. The memory of these occurrences is fast fading with the disappearance of the old men.

As the Ngati-Korokoro tribe of Lower Hokianga—a branch of Nga-Puhi—were engaged in many of the scenes to follow, a table showing the descent to the present time from Korokoro, from whom the tribe (or hapu) derives its name, as kindly given me by Mr. John Webster is shown on next page. Ngati-Korokoro have their home about Hokianga Heads, and consequently were not distant neighbours of Te Roroa tribe, with which they page 50 appeared to have intermarried; hence we sometimes find the two tribes allied as against Nga-Puhi proper (or the Waimate and Bay of Islands people), and again, fighting on opposite sides. It was in Hape’s days that most of this Border-land fighting took place, though his name is not mentioned, whilst Moetara was a warrior of renown at a later date.

1808.—It would appear that Te Roroa were not satisfied with their victory over Nga-Puhi at Moremo-nui, or possibly thought a good opportunity had arisen to pay off old scores. They therefore proceeded to Wai-mamaku, some two or three miles south of Hokianga Heads, and there met Ngati-Korokoro at Waio-te-marama, where they were successful in obtaining a victory over the latter tribe, killing the Ngati-Korokoro chief Te Haunui and Te Kawau of the Mahurehure tribe of Waima, upper Hokianga. Hongi Hika was present on this occasion, and a good many muskets were used, though Te Roroa had none.

In retaliation for this, Ngati-Korokoro attacked Te Roroa (where, is not stated) and page 51 succeeded in killing Waitarehu, of the latter tribe. These events probably took place in 1808–9, or about that time.

1810.—Apparently, to square the account, Te Roroa now carried the war into the enemy’s country (probably going over the Waoku plateau), where they made a descent on the Waima valley, the home of the Mahurehure division of Nga-Puhi. Here they were successful, beating Nga-Puhi and killing many men. The dead were so thickly packed in the stream on the banks of which the fight took place, that the flow of water was completely stopped, and hence was this fight named Wai-puru from that circumstance. Ngati-Korokoro were not engaged in this fight, for they had in the meantime fallen out with some of the Tokerau (Bay of Islands) people and were absent on a foray into that country. Hongi Hika was not present either; probably he was not aware in time of the Roroa raid, and, moreover, doubtless his attention was taken up by the Ngati-Korokoro foray into and past his territories.

The Nga-Puhi leaders on this occasion are said to have been Te Waka Nene, Patu-one, Moetara and Te Whare-umu, but it is doubtful.

At the landing on the Waima river, the Roroa taua found the canoes belonging to Ngati-Korokoro, then at Tokerau. Te Roroa tribe, doubtless seeing here an easier means of getting part of the way home, and not willing to allow so good an opportunity to be lost of punishing Ngati-Korokoro, took possession of page 52 the canoes and paddled off down towards the Heads. Arrived at the mouth of the Whirinaki river, they found the Opara village, belonging to Ngati-Korokoro, unoccupied by a garrison, and proceeded to land. The women, observing the approach of the canoes, at once concluded that the occupants were their own people returning and accorded them the customary cry of welcome. The Roroa landed and slew the whole of the inhabitants, and then departed for their homes along the coast. Amongst the women killed was a great chieftainess named Kau-taua-rua, of the Ngati-Manu tribe of Lower Waihou (Hokianga). This was in all probability about 1810 or 1811.

Mr. John Webster says that in retaliation for their losses, the Ngati-Korokoro, Ngati-Manu and Hikutu (of Whirinaki Hokianga) raided into the Kaipara country (northern Wairoa) and attacked Te Roroa tribe at Tikinui, beating them and losing the Ngati-Manu chief Taura-whero; but it is doubtful if the native who gave Mr. Webster the information (Pene Kahe) was not confusing this event with Pokaia’s victory over Te Roroa at the same place (see ante).

1813.—The next incident was the death of Te Tihi. Carleton, in his “Life of Archdeacon Williams,” says this occurred soon after Hongi Hika’s return from England in 1821, but a very close study of the “Missionary Record” of that period seems to show that Hongi-Hika was not absent from his home in that year until he sailed for page 53 the Thames. The “Life of Jacky Marmon” also gives 1821 as the date, but as this account —so far as many of the dates are concerned–follows Carleton, even where the latter is in error, it has little weight. I am inclined to place this occurrence at about 1812 to 1814, and it would seem the expedition which Hongi Hika then undertook was in retaliation for the Ngati-Korokoro expedition to Tokerau, mentioned above. Another reason given for this raid into Lower Hokianga was, that Ngati-Pou (nearly related to Ngati-Korokoro), under their chief Tuohu, had assisted in devouring some of the Nga-Puhi who fell at Moremo-nui. Hongi-Hika raised a taua and proceeded to Lower Hokianga, where he laid siege to the pa named Whiria at Pakanae, but he was eventually repulsed. This place is in the Ngati-Korokoro and Te Hikutu territories. Whiria pa was commanded by Te Hukeumu, who was of Te Roroa tribe, and also connected with Ngati-Pou and the adjacent hapus. He was placed in command by Moetara. The following line shows his descent from Rahiri, the great Nga-Puhi ancestor. Whilst the siege of Whiria

Whangaroa (of Wai-mamaku)

page 54

was going on, Tuohu, then living in the Maererangi pa near Pakia, Hokianga South Head, made a diversion to distract Hongi-Hika’s attention by raiding into the enemy’s territory at Kaikohe, and there took Hongi-Hika’s own pa named Pakinga,* which he had left almost defenceless. Tuohu killed many of the women and children there. Finding he was not going to be successful in the taking of Whiria, Hongi-Hika, returned homeward, but on his way learnt of the taking of Pakinga in his absence. He at once returned to Hokianga, and took Te Tihi’s pa at Lower Waihou, where he also killed Te Tihi himself, shooting him with a horse pistol (kope). He then crossed the harbour and took Maere-rangi, Tuohu’s pa. Te Tihi was nearly related to Ngati-Manu, and to Ngati-Pou, and he had been assisting also in feasting on Nga-Puhi at Moremo-nui. He was also related to the celebrated Tamati Waka Nene, our staunch ally in later years. It is related of Hongi Hika, that on killing Te Tihi he swallowed his eyes—a very ancient Polynesian custom. Maning says, in “The War in the North,” that the death of Te Tihi at the hands of Hongi-Hika, was one of the reasons why Ngati-Pou joined our side in the war with Hone Heke in 1844—Hongi and Hone being near relatives.

In the series of engagements noted above, we learn that Nga-Puhi, under Hongi Hika, had page 55 obtained some satisfaction for their losses at Moremo-nui, but only as against the Ngati-Whatua allies, none of that tribe having been pitted against Nga-Puhi since Moremo-nui.
Black and white photograph of elderly Maori male.

Tamati Waka Nene, Nga-Puhi Chief of Upper Hokianga.

The reason of this is probably due to the fact that their capable leader, Muru-paenga, was absent from his Kaipara home for some considerable time between 1810 and 1815, in an expedition to the far south, when he reached page 56 the neighbourhood of Opunake, on the Taranaki coast, which will be referred to later on.

Here ends this account of the “Border Warfare” as far as it is known. It was not until some years afterwards that Ngati-Whatua met Nga-Puhi again. In following these events and in order to present them in a proper sequence, we have got somewhat in advance of our dates.

We must therefore turn to events on the East Coast, which at this period began to occupy the attention of Nga-Puhi much more than those on the West Coast, at Kaipara and Hokianga.

* Pakinga pa is near the road from Kaikohe to Te Taheke Hokianga, and had been celebrated in ancient days as the residence of Te Wairua, and as the pa that withstood many sieges.