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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Te Roto-a-Tara (Kau-papa), 1822

Te Roto-a-Tara (Kau-papa), 1822.

I have had considerable difficulty in fixing the date of the fall of Te Roto-a-Tara to Te Heuheu, but from a consideration of evidence from outside, came to the conclusion it must have been towards the close of 1822. I am aware that it has been indicated as occurring in the year 1832, but that is impossible. The Maori history continues:—

“When Te Heuheu arrived at Taupo, he sent away messengers to Ngati-Maru of Hauraki, to Ngati-Raukawa of Maunga-tautari, to Waikato, and to Ngati-Maniapoto to come to his assistance. This was in the days that Te Rauparaha page 298 had not left Kawhia for Otaki.* Messengers were also sent by Ngati-Tuwhare-toa to Waikato, to Ngati-Pehi, to Ngati-Urumakina, to Ngati-Te-Rangi-ita, to Ngati-Rauhotu, to Te Rauponga-whewhe of Taupo, and also to Nga-Puhi, who were staying as guests at Hauraki at that time. This force assembled at Taupo, and then started, coming by way of the forest so that it might be hidden and not seen by the spies. The taua came out at Waipawa and Rau-kawa (inland of Te Aute College), and killed all they came across in those parts.

At this time Pare-ihe was the supreme chief at Te Roto-a-Tara, and he was a man possessed of great knowledge of good government for the people. During three months were he and his people besieged in the pa, without its being taken. Then the taua made a causeway (whatakaupapa) out from the shore on the eastern side towards the pa, so that they might thereby reach it. The timber for this was brought by the taua from the forest at Te Aute. When Pare-ihe saw what the taua were about, he directed that a tower should be built to command the causeway, at a considerable height above it, so that stones might be cast and spears thrown at the taua.

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“It was Te Ara-wai, son of Tu-korehu of Tauranga sic. (of Ngati-Mania-poto of Waipa really), who was killed by a stone thrown from the tower. His head was split open, which caused his death. So the people of the pa continued their defence bravely, until one day the taua managed to throw some fire from the causeway, which set fire to the roofs of the houses in the pa. Pare-ihe now assembled all the people at the west side of the pa, whilst the other side was burning. The taua now assaulted the pa by way of the causeway, and then Pare-ihe and his people dashed at them, when a fight took place, resulting in the retreat of the taua, which was chased into the water, where many were killed. Numbers were killed on both sides.

“At night Pare-ihe and his people abandoned the pa, crossing the lake by the western side, and then retreated to Poranga-hau, whilst the taua took possession of the pa and consumed those whom they had killed, and proceeded to preserve the heads of their friends who had fallen, but only the heads of the chiefs, not the younger (or common) people. They also took the bones away to their own homes.

“The taua then started for their own homes, Te Heuheu returning by way of Pakipaki and Port Ahuriri, the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu people of Te Pakake pa crossing him and his party over Te Whanganui-o-Orotu. Te Pakake pa was situated on the sandy island where the Spit page 300 railway station now stands. Then Te Heuheu returned to his home at Taupo.”

I regret that I cannot state which of the Nga-Puhi chiefs it was that accompanied this ope from the Thames, but it probably was some of Korokoro’s relatives, for his hapu was the only one at peace with the Thames people at that period.

It is clear from what followed during the course of the next few years subsequent to Te Heuheu’s capture of Te Rota-a-Tara, that the incursion of these northern and inland tribes caused very great alarm in the Hawke’s Bay district, and engendered the idea of migrating from their homes to a place of safety. As we shall see, this took place to a large extent not long afterwards.

* Te Rau-paraha left Kawhia about September, 1821. He had been to see Te Whatanui about January, 1822. According to Rawiri Uepo, of Taupo, Tu-korehu was with this expedition, no doubt leading his own people, the Ngati-Maniapoto.