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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Te Mau-tara-nui Goes to Tai-a-mai, Bay Of Islands, 1824

Te Mau-tara-nui Goes to Tai-a-mai, Bay Of Islands, 1824.

The Ure-wera tribe had now several takes against Ngati-Kahu-ngunu, some of which had only been partially repaid. It was obvious to all that the Wairoa tribes were getting too bumptious, and must be put down, but it is clear from what follows that the Ure-wera doubted their own power to effect this alone. It must be remembered that Ngati-Kahu-ngunu is one of the largest and most powerful tribes in the country.

Some desultory fighting now appears to have taken place about Waikare-moana lake and near the Wairoa, but not sufficient to satisfy the Ure-wera chiefs, especially Tipihau. In order to raise a war-party on a larger scale, he conceived the idea of enlisting other tribes in their quarrel, and especially some of those who page 316 had acquired muskets. The many warlike expeditions of Nga-Puhi on the east coast had induced a wonderful belief in the power of these weapons, and the successes of the Northern tribe was the theme upon which each warrior dwelt at every gathering. But first Tipihau had to rouse his own tribe to a sense of the importance of his project. With this object, taking advantage of the visit of Te Mau-taranui* to Maunga-pohatu, he adopted an old Maori custom, and sang a song, which in this connection is called a tiwha. This is it, but it was in reality an oriori or lullaby sung to his grandson, Tupua-horo-nuku:—

E Tama! E Tupua! e tangi nei ki te kai mahau,
A, whaia e koe i muri i a Hongi-Hika,
Kia homai ai ana kai m&acar;na
Koia te pungapunga, koia te para-reka,
Koia te poaka; nga kai ra—e—
I whakaahua ai te poho;
Ka tika, hoki mai, kia whangaia koe,
Ki te putiki whai-hanga,
Kia takaia koe,
Ki te maim rere rangi—
“Te rau o Titapu,”
Kia pai ai koe te haere ki waho ra,
Nga wai e rere i roto Te Wairoa,
Tena ano ra to koka te moe tonu mai ra,
I te umu-pongipongi, i te umu-whakaware,
I te umu-kai-kino; nohea e mana!
Whaia e koe nga kupu o te riri,
He mea ka tupono ki mua ki te tangata
Ka kapiti runga nei,
Ka kapiti raro nei,
Ka kapiti te whenua nei,
He pokanga Nuku, he pokanga Rangi,
He tai ka tuku atu, he tai ka heke atu,
Mimiti pakora, te tai ki Hawaiki.

* Te Mau-tara-nui was at once one of the principal chiefs of Tama-kai-moana branch, of the so-called Ure-wera and also of Ngati-Awa, Whakatane, Bay of Plenty.

page 317

O my son! O Tupua! crying there for food;
Thou should follow after Hongi-Hika,
That he might give thee of his strengthening food
Of the pungapunga and parareka (potatoes),
Of hogs also, the strengthening food1
That makes a fair round belly;
’Tis so, and on thy return thou shall be fed
With the gallant plume,
And be adorned
With the bird of skyward flight.
The plume of Titapu (of huia feathers)2
That thou mayest handsome appear,
On the streams that fall into Te Wairoa beyond,
Where liest thy mother (female relative) in death-
In the ovens debasing, ovens insulting,
But it shall not disgrace us!
Follow thou the words and deeds of war,
And if may be thou fronts thy enemy,
Then all above shall close—
All below shall close—
The very earth shall close.
The earth shall pierce, the heavens shall pierce,
Like a passing tide, a falling tide,
A dried-up tide to far Hawaiki (death).

The tiwha is a song sung to induce others to join in the quarrel of the singer. The meaning of the above is conveyed in metaphor as usual, but it is quite clear to those accustomed to such a style of composition, and Te Mau-tara-nui at once understood it and made preparations to act on the hints conveyed. After a discussion lasting all night, he decided to visit the Nga-Puhi tribe at their home in the north to induce page 318 them to take up the cause of the Ure-wera. Before leaving on this errand, in parting from the people, he said: Hei konei! Nga huahua i muri i ahau, maku (“Remain here! Let the birds, preserved after I am gone, be for me”), meaning that the Ure-wera people should lay in a store of huahua (or preserved birds) as provisions for the succour he intended to bring. How many people accompanied Te Mau-taranui on his adventurous journey we know not, though Piki, of the Ngati-Koura hapu, and Te Iripa, a younger brother of Te Mau-tara-nui’s, formed part of the expedition; but a high chief like him would not travel without a sufficient following to sustain his rank. He proceeded at first to his own relatives at Whakatane, and thence on to Tauranga to visit the Ngai-Te-Rangi chief Te Waru, who agreed to render assistance. From there he went on to Hauraki (Thames) and enlisted Tu-te-rangi-anini of the Ngati-Tama-te-ra tribe in his cause. Again he passed onwards—by water, for it would have been dangerous to have gone by land—to the Bay of Islands, the Ngati-Paoa tribe of the Thames providing the canoe, to Tai-a-mai, to visit Pomare. After the usual ceremonies, Pomare asked, “What is the reason of thy journey?” “A death has occurred at the Wairoa, Rangi-wai-tatao has been killed.” “It is well,” said Pomare, “I will help you.” Then *

* Mata-riki, the Pleiades.

page 319 said Te Mau-tara-nui, “After I have gone, when Mata-riki* is high up, and the huahua have been preserved, in the fourth month (i.e., October), follow after me.” They then arranged that Pomare should follow by sea, “by the west,” in which I think the Maori narrator makes a mistake, whilst Te Mau-taranui should make the attack on the Wairoa overland. It was arranged that Pomare should proceed by sea, as it was feared that Nga-Puhi would not be able to restrain themselves, and would get embroiled with Ngati-Awa if they came overland viâ Whakatane. And then Te Mau-tara-nui returned home to make preparations.

The Ure-wera say that Pomare’s expedition left the Bay of Islands soon after Hongi’s expedition got back from Mokoia, Rotorua, but this was in September, 1823, and I think the date given by Lesson is the correct one, i.e., about May, 1824. He came on right round the East Cape and down the coast to Te Mahia, where the Nga-Puhi chief Te Wera was living, and thence to Wairoa.

In the meantime the allies from the other tribes, who were to take part in the coming expedition, had gathered at Rua-tahuna, where no doubt the huahua (or preserved birds) arranged for by Te Mau-tara-nui was duly appreciated, for the Ure-wera country is celebrated for this delicacy.

* Matariki, the Pleiades.

1 These foods are intended to be emblematical for powder, bullets, and muskets.

2 “Te rau o Titapu,” sometimes said to represent huia, at others, albatross plumes. Titapu is the name of an island (traditionally) said to have once existed off Cook Straits, and frequented by albatross, but now sunk beneath the sea.