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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Te Rangi-tukia’s Expedition to the Thames, 1827 or 1828

Te Rangi-tukia’s Expedition to the Thames, 1827 or 1828.

It was either at the end of 1827 or beginning of 1828 that Te Maunu, a chief of Ngati-Maru of the Thames, was on a visit to Aotea, the Great Barrier Island, when a party of Nga-Puhi appeared. After a time there was friendly intercourse between the two tribes, and Te Maunu and his wife Kahu-kaka paid a visit to the Nga-Puhi camp. The Nga-Puhi people now persuaded Te Maunu to accompany them in their canoes and point out the local fishing grounds. Whilst at sea they killed Te Maunu. On the return of the canoe to the shore, Kahukaka discovered that her husband had been killed, and she then composed the following lament for him, for which I am indebted to Mr. Elsdon Best:—

Tu tonu ko te rae, i haere ai te makau,
E kai ana au e, i te ika wareware,
E aurere noa-e, i te ihu o te waka,
E kore hoki au-e, e mihi ki a koe.
page 395 E mihi ana au-e, kei a Ngahua, te ipo,
Taku kahui tara-e, no roto i a au,
Taku totara haemata-e, no roto no Moehau,
I haere te makau-e, i te ara kohuru,
Kihai i tangohia-e, i te mata rakau,
Totohu to hinu-e, nga one hungahunga,
I waho Te Karaka-e, ki te hau kainga,
To uru i piua-e, ki te wai ngarahu,
A, noho mai ra koe, te puke i Rangipo,
Ka whakawai mate ra, te wahine a ’Tipuhi,
Kauaka e koaia e, he ngawha toki nui,
Kowai ra tohu e, hei ranga i te mate,
Ma Te Rohu e ukui-e, mana e homai,
Tau noa te makau-e, he huia rere tonga,
He unuhanga taniwha-e, tere ana ki te muri-i.

Boldly stands forth the Cape where my beloved
I gaze at it as one demented,
I hear the unavailing cry in the canoe’s bow,
I will not greet in vain for thee,
I bewail Ngahua, the lover-like husband,
O! my flock of white terns!
My green totara tree from Moehau’s heights;
My loved one passed by means of treachery,
And fell not in fair fight by the weapon’s edge,
Sunk is thy blood in the fine sands
Beyond Te Karaka, the loved home;
Thy fine head with tattoo adorned,
Will rest on the hill at Rangi-po,
Jeered at by the women of Nga-Puhi;
Exult not! ’tis as a gap in a precious axe.
Who then will avenge thy death?
It shall be for Te Rohu to efface this evil.
The loved one was like a huia bird,
But now, like the death of a taniwha is this affliction.

Kahu-kaka, was spared by Nga-Puhi, for she returned to her tribe, the Ngati-Maru, when she incited them to obtain revenge for her husband’s death, and persuaded Te Rohu (to whom she appealed in her lament), to undertake the duty, and the opportunity was not long wanting.

page 396

Shortly after April, 1828, an expedition sailed from the Bay under Te Rangi-tukia, to wage war on the people of Hauraki. The Ngati-Maru tribe of the Thames met him at a place called Port Jackson, near Cape Colville, and annihilated his force, only one canoe escaping back to Nga-Puhi. My friend HoaniNahe told me that this expedition of Ngati-Maru went to seek revenge for Te Maunu killed at the Great Barrier Island, as related on p. 394, and Ngati-Maru, who were then living on the Horotiu river, Waikato, sent forth a party under Te Rohu against Nga-Puhi, to avenge his death. They were on their way down the gulf to Aotea, or Great Barrier Island, and had camped for the night at Port Jackson. Nga-Puhi, under Rangi-tukia, seeing their fires, came across from Aotea in the night, and at once attacked Ngati-Maru, in the darkness, when several of them were killed; but as soon as daylight appeared, the tables were turned and Nga-Puhi were defeated, losing twelve canoes, only one escaping to carry back the news. Hoani says, “this was confirmed by Hoterini Tawatawa in 1863 at the time of the loss of the “Orpheus,” who said that he was engaged in this fight and in his flight he was chased by Whaiapu of Ngati-Maru, both reaching a rock in the sea at the same time, where Whaiapu seized Hoterini’s belt, which luckily broke thus allowing him to dive off from the rock and swim to the only canoe that escaped.” This expedition of Rangi-tukia’s was under page 397 taken to seek revenge for some deaths at the hands of the Hauraki people.

On receipt of the news of this second defeat of Nga-Puhi at the hands of their old enemies, it created a good deal of consternation at the Bay of Islands, as mentioned in Bishop Williams’s “Christianity amongst the Maoris,” p. 95, for it was reported that all the Waikato and Hauraki tribes were about to make a descent on the Bay of Islands on account of the peace having been broken by Rangi-tukia in an expedition which did not meet with the approval of the whole of Nga-Puhi. The northern tribe lost in this fight the following men of consequence, Utu-ariki, Rangi-tuoro, and Te Ngere.

The peace referred to was that made by Te Wharerahi of the Bay, who visited Hauraki in 1828, and brought back with him a number of the Hauraki people, but this did not affect our Ngati-Whatua friends, who were still living in Waikato, as exiles from their own country.

Nga-Puhi, though losing much prestige by these late defeats, were not disposed to leave an utu account unsquared without an attempt to adjust it; but it was three years before they returned to Wai-te-mata and Waikato, and in the meantime the great battle of Hao-whenua or Taumata-wiwi (not far from Cambridge, at the foot of Maunga-tautari hill), had been fought in 1830, between Waikato and the Hauraki tribes, both of whom by this time had become possessed of many guns.