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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

The Waitemata in 1827

The Waitemata in 1827.

In the middle of February, 1827, the French Captain, Dumont D’Urville, in the frigate “L’Astrolabe,” sailed into the Hauraki Gulf on his way from Cook Strait to the Bay of Islands. This was D’Urville’s second visit to New Zealand, he having been lieutenant on board the same ship—then called “Coquille” page 384 —when that vessel visited the Bay of Islands in April, 1824. The ship anchored off Whangarei for two nights and communicated with a party of Maoris in three fine war canoes, who were under Rangi-tuke, the son of Te Koki of Paihia, Bay of Islands, and whic formed the advance guard of a fleet on its way to make war on the Ngati-Paoa of Tamaki, under the leadership of Kingi Hori (or Te Uru-ti), Te Koki, Whetoi* and others. D’Urville landed just inside Whangarei Heads, and says that he saw neither people nor smoke in any direction, except at Rangi-tuke’s camp. This expedition (a taua hikutoto) sailed to obtain utu for Pomare’s death at Waikato the preceding year.

The “Astrolabe” from Whangarei coasted along to the south and entering Rangitoto Channel, anchored between Motu-korehu and Motu-ihi on the 20th February, 1827. Captain D’Urville during the same day visited Takapuna and ascended Mount Victoria, having an idea that he could see from there the western ocean. He says there were no signs of inhabitants to be seen there, though in passing the Weiti they had seen a little smoke on the distant hills. From Takapuna, D’Urville crossed to the opposite side of Wai-te-mata, and with two companions made for a high hill which he says was about six miles from Takapuna; no doubt this was Mount Eden. They

* This name Whetoi was formerly borne by Pomare before he adopted the latter name. It is probable that the Whetoi here mentioned was Pomare’s son.

page 385 found a deserted village, which was probably at Okahu, near Orakei, and from where they landed followed a slight path in the direction
Black and White photograph of a Maori Male.

Nga-Tai, one of Rangi-tuke’s warriors.

they wanted to go, which however soon gave out. They struggled through scrub and swamp and a dense wood, but as it was late they had page 386 to return without accomplishing their object. A tree had been felled here and there, showing that inhabitants had visited the place, though they saw no one. It is probable that the dense wood referred to was that which grew where the present town of Newmarket is situated.

The ship had not been long anchored off Brown’s Island before a canoe came off from the Tamaki in which were Rangi (Rangi-hue) and Tawhiti, chiefs of that part, and the next day Kaiwaka visited them. Their relations with these people were very amicable, and the officers got a good deal of information from them about the country and the names of places, which are very correctly rendered by D’Urville. Rangi informed them that they had been engaged the previous year in a battle in the Waikato wherein Pomare was killed, and that he (Rangi) had killed him—meaning, no doubt, that his tribe had done so. He moreover offered, if D’Urville would wait five days, to go to Waikato and fetch Pomare’s head, which had been preserved, and sell it to D’Urville. They also learnt from these people that at the head of the Tamaki—which D’Urville calls Mogoia (Mokoia, the place where Panmure is built)—it was only a short distance to the western sea. On learning that Rangi-tuke was at Whangarei, the people were much alarmed and their boasting demeanour quite left them —such was the fear Nga-Puhi had instilled into all these people. Tupaea, a chief of Waikato, was said to be then living on the Manukau. page 387 D’Urville learnt that Hihi, one of Hongi’s companions, had been drowned off the mouth of the Tamaki by the upsetting of his canoe the year previous—in 1826—and that Te Haupa, of the Thames, had died a few years previously.

All of these Maoris were Ngati-Paoa, and, through the kindness of Mr. G. T. Wilkinson, I am able to give a table which shows their connection with that of Totokarewa, whose death was described in the “Journal of the Polynesian Society,” vol. vi., supplement p. 98.

Determined to test the truth of the story about the western sea, on the 29th February D’Urville sent his first lieutenant, Jacquemot, with the whale-boat up the Tamaki under the guidance of one of Tawhiti’s men. They passed a village on the way where the people were drying fish, and at the head of the river found a broad road-way used in hauling canoes across (at Otahuhu), and after fifty page 388 minutes’ walk came to the salt waters of the Manukao—as D’Urville spells it. Not far from this they were taken to a considerable village, where a chief named Hinaki* was living, who had about 100 men armed with muskets, who turned out armed and dressed and danced the war-dance as a welcome. The officers ascended a hill near the village to try and see the western sea, but failed to do so, for—as is well-known—it would be hidden by Puponga point. Hinaki is referred to as a rangatira-paraparau, and as he was looked down on by Rangi-hue and the others as inferior in position, he was probably a slave–as the word implies—who by force of character had risen to some rank in the tribe.

From the Tamaki, D’Urville sailed down the Waiheke channel, being guided by one of Tawhiti’s men, and passed out into Hauraki gulf by the northern channel. He then anchored off Whakatiwai and landed his pilot. From there he coasted along the eastern side of the Gulf, remarking that he saw no signs of inhabitants nor smoke all the way—due to the warlike incursions of Nga-Puhi. Later on his return north, just opposite Whangarei heads, he saw a fleet of between 20 and 30 canoes bound south, and a column of smoke arising from Rangi-tuke’s camp within the

* Not to be confounded with Hinaki, the chief of Mauinaina, who was killed at the taking of that pa in November, 1821.

Probably this hill was Mount Richmond.

page 389 heads. This was the main body of the expedition, which was followed from the Bay on the 15th March by another large party under Whetoi and Te Koki*; the expedition numbered about 2,000 warriors. At the Bay, D’Urville purchased from Whetoi the preserved head of Hou (probably Hu), who was said to have been the father of Hinaki, killed at Mau-inaina in 1821. Whetoi was then a young fine looking man, about 25 years old, and when he visited the “Astrolabe” he was accompanied by another fine young man, said to be the son of Muru-panga (or Muru-paenga), whom Marsden had visited at Kaipara in 1820. Muru-paenga seems to have had great fame as a warrior, for he is mentioned more than once as holding Hongi-Hika in check, both by D’Urville and Lesson (who wrote the “Voyage of the Coquille,” which visited the Bay in April, 1824). D’Urville says Muru-paenga was killed by Te Puna, of Rangihoua, about 1824 (it really was in 1826).

D’Urville was under the impression that Lieutenant Jacquemot, of “L’Astrolabe,” was the first white man to see the waters of the Manukau harbour, though Marsden heard in 1820 of the existence of the port and subsequently in that year, he and Mr. Butler visited it and went by canoe down to the heads. Marsden therefore was the first white man to visit and describe Manukau. (See his journals in possession of Dr. Hocken, F.L.S.).

* Te Koki died at The Bay, February, 1829.

page 390

The “Astrolabe” seems to have been the second vessel to anchor in the Wai-te-mata, the schooner in which Major Cruise visited there in 1820 being the first—she was certainly the first man-of-war to do so.