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No. 25 (December 1958)
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THE SIEGE OF TOKAAKUKA PA

Owing to its admirable geographical position and other features favourable for the purposes of defence it can be readily understood why the Whanau-a-Apanui established “Toka-a-Kuku pa” as their chief stronghold. The pa is situated on Te Kaha point and is approximately fifteen acres in area. The point extends seaward for some considerable distance, its cliffs being particularly rugged and precipitous. The defenders had little to fear from enemies attacking in canoes and could therefore concentrate their energies in guarding the only practicable approach to the pa which was landward. The first known raid on the stronghold was conducted by Hongi Hika, a powerful Ngapuhi fighting chief. Although the attackers failed to overcome the defenders, their assault was so vigorous and determined that Te Uaaterangi, the Apanui chief, fearing possible defeat, appealed to the Ngapuhi for a cessation of hostilities. His request was favourably received and the outcome of a meeting between the combatants, which followed, was the forming of a truce. One of the stipulations was that on all future occasions the invaders were to keep out of the waters within the Apanui boundaries. This meant that even if engaged in hostilities with other coastal tribes, they had to keep out of the stipulated area. Hongi consented to follow and respect these conditions to the letter and duly returned to Whangaroa. Some years later, Te Whareonga, while returning from a successful raid on Ngati Porou, with a fleet of canoes loaded to capacity with captives and other spoils of war, made the grave error of entering the forbidden boundaries in the vicinity of Tikirau. Perhaps he committed this offence with the idea of shortening his homeward journey, or out of sheer bravado. But, by the fact that he flung imprecations and insults at the Apanui people who witnessed his manoeuvres, one has a tendency to believe the latter assumption. That the Apanui took exception to his act, and uncalled for remarks, was manifested in their lighting beacon fires apprising others of the tribe along the coast of the presence of an enemy. Te Uaaterangi receiving this information immediately instructed his lieutenant “Te Mango-Kai Tipua” alias King William to man canoes for the purpose of intercepting the intruders. It was the chief's intention to teach the voyagers a severe lesson. He wanted Te Whareonga's life spared for a definite purpose. The Apanui canoes overtook the Ngapuhi near White Island and after a brief encounter between the rival captains the latter were captured. On reaching the Maungaroa beach, contrary to the wishes of Te to its admirable geographical position and other features favourable for the purposes of defence it can be readily understood why the Whanau-a-Apanui established “Toka-a-Kuku pa” as their chief stronghold. The pa is situated on Te Kaha point and is approximately fifteen acres in area. The point extends seaward for some considerable distance, its cliffs being particularly rugged and precipitous. The defenders had little to fear from enemies attacking in canoes and could therefore concentrate their energies in guarding the only practicable approach to the pa which was landward. The first known raid on the stronghold was conducted by Hongi Hika, a powerful Ngapuhi fighting chief. Although the attackers failed to overcome the defenders, their assault was so vigorous and determined that Te Uaaterangi, the Apanui chief, fearing possible defeat, appealed to the Ngapuhi for a cessation of hostilities. His request was favourably received and the outcome of a meeting between the combatants, which followed, was the forming of a truce. One of the stipulations was that on all future occasions the invaders were to keep out of the waters within the Apanui boundaries. This meant that even if engaged in hostilities with other coastal tribes, they had to keep out of the stipulated area. Hongi consented to follow and respect these conditions to the letter and duly returned to Whangaroa. Some years later, Te Whareonga, while returning from a successful raid on Ngati Porou, with a fleet of canoes loaded to capacity with captives and other spoils of war, made the grave error of entering the forbidden boundaries in the vicinity of Tikirau. Perhaps he committed this offence with the idea of shortening his homeward journey, or out of sheer bravado. But, by the fact that he flung imprecations and insults at the Apanui people who witnessed his manoeuvres, one has a tendency to believe the latter assumption. That the Apanui took exception to his act, and uncalled for remarks, was manifested in their lighting beacon fires apprising others of the tribe along the coast of the presence of an enemy. Te Uaaterangi receiving this information immediately instructed his lieutenant “Te Mango-Kai Tipua” alias King William to man canoes for the purpose of intercepting the intruders. It was the chief's intention to teach the voyagers a severe lesson. He wanted Te Whareonga's life spared for a definite purpose. The Apanui canoes overtook the Ngapuhi near White Island and after a brief encounter between the rival captains the latter were captured. On reaching the Maungaroa beach, contrary to the wishes of Te

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Uaaterangi, the whole of the Ngapuhi party was massacred, including Te Whareonga, the captives being liberated.

The victims of this wholesale slaughter were hanged on the pohutukawa trees at Kopuakoeaea. Te Uaaterangi was greatly distressed at this turn of events. He realised that through the indiscretion of one of his subordinates his dreams of a lasting peace were shattered. To him it was the beginning of the end. Accordingly he with his people repaired to Tokaakuku and anticipating rightly that the relatives of the hapless victims who had suffered death at their hands, would retaliate mercilessly, they carried provisions in the form of kumaras, dried fish, etc. into the pa in quantities sufficient to last them for months. News of the massacre soon spread. The Ngapuhi, aware of the almost inaccessible nature of the Apanui stronghold, sought the assistance of the Ngati Porou and Kahungunu people, which culminated in the formation of a powerful alliance. The allied tribes occupied two adjacent pas, one on either side of Tokaakuku. The pa situated on the eastern side of Tokaakuku is now known as Wharekura and was occupied by Ngatiporou, while the western one served as a retreat for the Northerners. By this time a foreign ship had anchored out of the Tokaakuku point and became friendly to the local tribes. Its crew later married into Whanau Apanui. Te Uaaterangi named his nephew after the Captain of this ship (Thompson). The Apanui people had acquired muskets from these mariners and I was told they in turn took part in the defence of Tokaokuku Pa.

For approximately twelve months the combined forces laid siege upon the Apanui, but in spite of superior numbers, the defenders held their own. (No te Ngahuni i tae mai ai, a, no te Ngahuni ano i rere ai.)

Interesting to relate, the Ngapuhi employed tactics used by Hongi Hika at Rotorua in dragging their canoes overland from the point where they were stationed to the Wharekura Pa. This was done owing to the fact that to join their allies they could not get past Te Kaha point as the Apanui fleet was too formidable. The Apanui replenished their provisions during the night and by canoes which went to Torere via White Island. The Ngapuhi were no match for the Apanui on the waters.

Wiremu Kingi (named after the King of his Pakeha allies) Te Mango Kai Tipua was in command of the home fleet and was responsible for several victories.

The spirit of the defenders, although many died of fever and extreme starvation, was maintained through Karakia chanted by Te Uaaterangi's brother-in-law, who was then the High Priest, the sole defender of Te Ruataniwha Pa at the mouth of Te Kereu river, which was hidden by the early morning mist during Ngapuhi's first raid.

This is only a brief story from inside. My uncle “Ngamotu Tu Kaki” of Te Kaha may elaborate more fully on the raid and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defence of Tokaakuku Pa. (Te Whanau-a-Tama-tamaarangi was the responsible hapu.)