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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Te Wera goes to Here-taunga, 1824

Te Wera goes to Here-taunga, 1824

We have seen that about the end of 1823 Te Wera-Hauraki of Nga-Puhi arrived at, and agreed to settle down at Te Mahia peninsula with the Ngati-Kahu-ngunu tribes of that part. The local tribes of Ngati-Hikairo, Ngati-Rakaipaka, and others, were brought in by his emissaries from the mountains and from Wai-kawa (Portland Island), and all gathered together at Te Mahia to meet the chief Te Whare-umu, whom Te Wera had just brought back after his captivity at the Bay of Islands. The news of the fall of Te Roto-a-Tara to Te Heuheu had spread thither and caused much alarm, for it page 301 was anticipated that the death of Te Arawai at that pa would lead to further and more extensive incursions of the Taupo, Waikato, Ngati-Manio-poto and other tribes in which the people of Te Mahia would become involved. Hence these people were very glad to secure so able an ally as Te Wera, and his well-armed Nga-Puhi.

Te Whare-umu now persuaded Te Wera to cross Hawke’s Bay with large party, with a view to ascertaining how matters stood at Heretaunga. This must have been in the early months of 1824. The party landed at the mouth of the Tukituki river, and then moved inland to near the present settlement of Pa-kowhai. In the meantime, Pare-ihe, the chief of Ngai-Te-Whatu-i-apiti, who had suffered so severely at the hands of Te Heuheu at Te Roto-a-Tara, hearing of the friendly relations subsisting between Te Wera and the Mahia branches of Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, decided to try and obtain Te Wera’s friendship also. After consulting his tohunga, Te Ngōi, and finding the omens propitious, he proceeded with his tribe to meet Te Wera at his camp near Pa-kowhai, at a place named Tane-nui-a-rangi. After many speeches, Pare-ihe sung his tau, or song, to the assembled Nga-Puhi, which is said to have been greatly admired by Nga-Puhi, and after further talk it was agreed that Pare-ihe and his people should remove for a time to Te Mahia, for rumours of a fresh incursion by the Taupo and Waikato people were then current.

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But before doing so, at the instance of Tiakitai, a well known chief of Hawke’s Bay at that time, Te Wera and his band of well armed musketeers, accompanied a taua of these Hawke’s Bay people as far south as Oporae, a fine limestone peak some twelve miles southeast of Dannevirke, where many were killed, because their relations of Castle Point had procured the death by witchcraft of Pani, a relative of Tiakitai’s. It is said by some accounts that immediately after Oporae the battle of Whiti-o-Tu was fought near Tikokino on the Rua-taniwha plains, and that Te Wera was present. But it is doubtful.

Te Wera after this departed for his home, whilst Pare-ihe first proceeded to Te Pakake pa, situated just inside Port Ahuriri, to try and persuade the people there to follow his example and remove to Te Mahia. But the people thought they were safe on their little sandy island and refused to go, so Pare-ihe went on and rejoined Te Wera at Te Mahia.