Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:
Pomare’s Death, 1826
Pomare’s Death, 1826.
On the 26th March, 1826, Archdeacon Williams returned to the Bay from Sydney, bringing with him his brother, William Williams, afterwards Bishop of Waiapu. The former notes in his journal under date 12th July, 1826, “Pomare has lately been cut off with great slaughter in the Thames, and this will lead to fresh bloodshed.” For “Thames,” read “Waikato.” Mr. Fenton says this event occurred in 1827, but it was clearly in 1826. The exact reason of Pomare’s expedition is not certain, but no doubt some of the incursions of Waikato and Ngati-Paoa of the last few years had page 376 resulted in the loss of some of his relations–pretexts for man-killing were very easily obtained in those days. The Kawhia people say that when Pomare announced his intention of again making war on Waikato, Nga-Puhi all said, “E hoa! Kauaka e haere; he maungarongo na te wahine. Ki te haere hoe, riro tonu atu.” “Friend do not go; it was a peace made by a woman. If you go you will never come back.” In this they referred to the peace concluded between Waikato and Nga-Puhi after Matakitaki in May, 1822, in which Turi-ka-tuki, Hongi’s blind wife had been principally instrumental. But Pomare persisted, with what consequences we shall see.
The Chevalier Dillon, who was at the Bay 13th July, 1827, met two of Pomare’s sons, who gave him the following account, and allowing for Dillon’s want of a complete knowledge of the language, though he says he understood it well—having previously visited New Zealand —the story is very similar to the Maori account. The following is abbreviated from D’Urville’s translation of Dillon’s account: The young men recalled to Dillon’s recollection the fact that he had on his previous voyage arranged with Pomare to proceed to the Thames with 2,000 men to cut spars, for which he was to pay Pomare in muskets and powder. Pomare got together his men and went to the Thames, where he found that Dillon had sailed; he then went up the Thames, where he left his canoes, and proceeded overland to “the country of Borou” page 377 (which was a nick-name given to a young Maori that came from India with Dillon in the “Saint Patrick”), where they were hospitably received. Pomare wanted his hosts to accompany him on an expedition against Waikato, but they refused. Pomare then returned to the Barrier Island, where he met Tawai, who declared that he would not return without killing somebody. Tawai then crossed to the mainland, but meeting some of the people there in an ambuscade, he was killed with all his people. Pomare, fearing some evil had befallen his friend, went in search of him, and in passing up a river (the Waipa) he was suddenly attacked, first by a discharge of firearms, then by spears and stones, where nearly all of them were killed. Pomare was shot in the side and fell on his knee, but before being finally speared he shot two of his enemies. The Waikatos preserved his head and ate his body. Pomare’s two sons, who told the story to Dillon, were present, and one of them seriously wounded, so that in trying to escape they were taken prisoners and finally sold to the “father of Borou,” who furnished them with a canoe and allowed them to return home.
* Te Rore is a few miles north of the modern town of Pirongia.
* Te Mauparaoa, a noted warrior of Ngati-Kahungunu, of Mohaka, Hawke’s Bay. He was taken prisoner by Nga-Puhi in one of their raids on the East Coast, and then joined Nga-Puhi in many of their battles. After Pomare’s death, by his force of character, he became the leader of Pomare’s people. He subsequently fought in Heke’s war of 1844 against the Government. He died at his pa, Te Karetu, Bay of Islands. His son, Honihana, died there on 26th July, 1909, at the age of 86—a much respected chief.