Part 2: South Island Raids and the Arrival of the “Tory”
HAVING SUBDUED the tribes living on the West Coast of the Wellington province in the early 1820's Te Rauparaha became the undisputed master of Cook Strait. He had built up and encouraged a brisk trade with visiting whalers and sealers through whom it is said he was the sole channel by which others obtained supplies of European goods. In his dealing with some of the white traders he was often arrogant and bullying, always demanding more than had been bargained for from those he considered too timid to ignore his threats. Most of the Europeans, however, were not slow to realise that his power and influence over other tribes depended largely on the trade their ships had to offer. “Tis for the interest of these natives to keep on good terms with us,” wrote the Captain of an American whaler, “as they know if ships are hindered coming here, adieu to their darling tobacco, muskets and pipes”.
Although European goods were always in keen demand there was one other commodity which Te Rauparaha longed to monopolise the trade of. This was the coveted waipounamu, or greenstone of the South Island. It would have been contrary to Maori etiquette, and a breach of the rules of warfare for any chief to attack another without just cause of provocation. Thus when a certain Ngaitahu chief of Kaikoura named Rerewaka openly boasted that if Te Rauparaha dared set foot on his land, he would rip his belly open with a niho manga (shark's tooth knife), the challenge was gleefully accepted by the Northern invader as a perfectly good excuse to wage war against the whole of the Ngaitahu tribe residing in the South Island. He lost no time in equipping his warriors with newly acquired muskets and powder, and towards the end of 1828 a large fleet of canoes, many of which had been captured at Kapiti in the battle of Waiorua, set sail on a campaign against the Southerners. A branch of the Rangitane living at Wairau and Queen Charlotte Sound were known to have taken part in the assault on Waiorua along with the Ngatikuia of Pelorus, as well as the
Ngatiapa and Tumata-kokiri of D'Urville Island, and it was therefore decided to wreak vengeance in that quarter before moving on to Kaikoura.
The invaders moved swiftly, and with terrifying effect, until the whole of the Northern portion of the Marlborough Province had been thoroughly invested and the inhabitants either killed and eaten or finally forced into subjection. When the “Tory” visited Pelorus in 1839 E. J. Wakefield observed that the Ngatitoa had been so thorough in their task of eradicating the Ngatikuia that “only a few poor natives were seen, and these were engaged in dressing flax for their conqueror, Rauparaha, to enable him to purchase more muskets to continue his devastating raids.” Ngatitoa were assisted in this invasion by other tribes. Arapawa and Queen Charlotte Sounds had apparently been singled out for the Puketapu and Ngatirahiri hapus of Atiawa, while the conquest of Tasman Bay was undertaken mainly by Ngatirarua and Ngatitama.
It was during the height of these attacks that Rauparaha was rejoined by his relative, Te Pehi Kupe, who had journeyed to England in 1824 solely for the purpose of asking King George for muskets. Although unsuccessful in his request for firearms he received from the King many valuable presents which he traded for muskets at Sydney on his way home. With these additional arms, and the assistance of Te Pehi's able leadership, Te Rauparaha turned his canoes towards Kaikoura. Here the defenders were taken completely by surprise, hundreds were killed and many more taken into captivity, including the boastful Rerewaka, who some time later suffered at Kapiti the fate he had insolently predicted for his captor.
Flushed by the success of these Southern conquests, Te Rauparaha began formulating plans for an assault on Kaiapohia, one of the most formidable strongholds in the South Island. But before putting these plans into effect he decided to accede to a request from Ngatiraukawa that a war party should be sent up to Whanganui in order to avenge the death of Te Ruemaioro who had been killed on the heke southward. The following is a brief reference to the Whanganui expedition as reported by Rauparaha's son Tamihana:—
“After some time Rauparaha consented to this request. A war party left for Whanganui, including some of the Ngatiawa Tribe, to attack the pa at Putikiwharanui which was held by one thousand warriors twice told; for in those days the Whanganui were a numerous people. This pa was invested for two months before it was taken, and some of the defenders escaped up the Whanganui river. The chief Turoa was not taken, nor Hori Kingi Te Anaua who escaped by dint of his power to run. Thus the Ngatiraukawa obtained revenge for their dead.”
It may be of interest at this stage to trace from an earlier period some of the events which led up to the attempt on Kaiapohia. When Ngatimutunga attacked the Ngatiira of Port Nicholson at about 1823 they succeeded in defeating that tribe whose remnants were forced on to the small island at Wellington called Taputeranga. The area is known today as Island Bay. Amongst those who managed to escape from the island in canoes were Tamairangi, a chieftainess of great fame. With her little group of Ngatiira she fled by way of Cape Terimurapa (Sinclair Head), and Cape Terrawhiti to Ohariu Bay on Cook Strait situated due west of Wellington. Here she was held prisoner by a hostile band of Ngatiawa who were in company with Te Rangihaeta and some of his people. S. Percy Smith's account of the incident is as follows: —
“Dreading, however, that the usual rate would meet her, she asked her captors to be allowed to sing a farewell to her people and her lands. This lament was of so pathetic a nature that it appealed to Te Rangihaeta of Ngatitoa, who begged Atiawa that she might be given to him, and, on their compliance, she and her children were taken to Kapiti Island where they lived for some time.”
One of Tamairangi's sons was a handsome young chief named Te Kekerangu, and during his stay on Kapiti gossip was rife that he had been guilty of an affair with one of Te Rangihaeta's wives. Fearing the wrath of his overlord, Kekerangu consulted his mother who decided that they should flee to the South Island for in Rangihaeta's jealous eyes the penalty for such a crime would be nothing less than death. Little time was lost in preparing for their escape, and having secured a canoe with suitable provisions they slipped quietly away under cover of darkness. Kekerangu's flight to the South Island coincided with Rauparaha's plans to attack Kaiapohia. As the Ngaitahu were believed to be sheltering him the wily Te Rauparaha suggested this as a sufficient excuse for launching a further attack on that tribe.
Late in the year 1829 a large Ngatitoa war party headed by the chiefs Te Rauparaha, Te Pehi and Te Rang [ unclear: ] haeta landed at Kaikoura where they found that the fugitives had fled further south with most of the Ngaitahu of that district. They were overtaken at Omihi where a battle ensued in which most of the Ngaitahu were killed, the rest having escaped to Kaiapohia. Te Kekerangu is believed to have escaped from Omihi with his relatives to a place twenty-two miles from Cape Campbell. Nothing certain is known of his fate but the story is told that Ngaitahu in their eagerness to gain revenge for their defeat at Omihi regarded Te Kekerangu as the main cause of their trouble and forthwith sent out a war party who killed him at a river which still commemorates his name to this day.
Some of the Ngatitoa war party remained at Omihi in charge of prisoners while the remainder journeyed to Kaiapohia. On his arrival at this pa Te Rauparaha deceitfully assumed a peaceful attitude towards the occupants, pretending that he had come only for the purpose of bartering firearms for greenstone. His treacherous intent was immediately suspected by Ngaitahu, who although they began trading with some of the Northern chiefs, were anxious to strike the first blow. They
hoped by feigning the utmost cordiality towards their visitors that they would succeed in enticing Rauparaha within the confines of the pa. But after three days he was still reluctant to enter, and at this stage it was the over-confident Te Pehi who made the first blunder. While bargaining for a piece of greenstone within the pa, he lost his temper with a Ngaitahu chief to whom he sarcastically remarked, “why do you with the crooked tattoo, resist my wishes—you whose nose will shortly be cut off with a hatchet?” Within a few minutes all entrances to the pa were closed and Ngaitahu began a general massacre of their guests. Te Pehi, Pokaitara, Te Aratangata, and several other chiefs were quickly despatched and their bodies consigned to the ovens. Meanwhile Te Rauparaha hastily withdrew to Omihi where he sought immediate consolation by having all prisoners captured on the way down put to death. Some months later when the English brig “Elizabeth” put in at Kapiti the sagacious Rauparaha persuaded the ship's master, Captain Stewart, to have himself and an armed force conveyed to Akaroa. With Stewart's help they managed to entice Tamaiharanui, the leading Ngaitahu chief of that place, to come on board. The unfortunate chief was soon clapped in irons, and after some of his people had been killed and their mutilated bodies placed in the ship's coppers, the “Elizabeth” returned in triumph to Kapiti. Tamaiharanui was taken to Otaki where he was handed over to Tiaia, the widow of Te Pehi, who with savage cruelty tortured him to death by driving an iron ramrod through his neck.
A second attempt on Kaiapohia proved successful. After a lengthy siege of the pa Te Rauparaha had his warriors dig two lines of sap up to within eight feet of the pallisading. They then piled dry brushwood at the head of the sap in preparation for burning as soon as a favourable wind offered. The defenders anticipating this move tried to frustrate the plan by firing the brushwood while the wind blew in the opposite direction. A sudden change, however, proved disastrous, and before long the fire had enabled the enemy to make the necessary breach by which they gained entry. There followed the usual slaughter and customary cannibalistic feasting, after which the invaders returned to Kapiti.
This was the last expedition which Te Rauparaha made against the pas of the South Island but it was by no means his last encounter with the still powerful Ngaitahu who, in the years that followed, led many raiding assaults on the settlements he had established in the Marlborough Province. On one occasion during a bird hunting trip to the Vernon Lagoons and Lake Grassmere (Kaparate-
Mausoleum of Te Rauparaha's eldest sister Waitoki on Mana Island. She died in 1839, and this richly ornamented tomb was constructed a short distance from Rangihaeta's pa. It was made of wood painted and decorated with feathers. The border of a splendid kaitaka mat is seen hanging in front of the papa tupapaku (within which the body was originally placed in a sitting posture.) All the ground within the rail was strictly tapu. (TURNBULL LIBRARY PHOTOGRAPH)
hau), Rauparaha and his party were taken completely off guard by a Ngaitahu war party. A Ngatikuri chief managed to seize him a short distance from where his canoes were hastily embarking, and although he was held for some moments in a tight grip, the elusive old warrior wriggled free leaving only his cloak in the hands of his captor. According to traditional accounts he then swam out to one of the canoes where on finding it overloaded he ordered some of its occupants overboard to make room for himself.
The year 1839 saw the beginning of a new era in the southern part of New Zealand. Tamihana Te Rauparaha recorded that at this time “Christianity was first proclaimed in this part, and Matere Te Whiwhi and I went to Tokerau (Bay of Islands) to bring a minister to this end of the North Island, so we might put an end to the desire for war in Rauparaha's mind”. The result of this journey was the arrival some months later of the Rev. Octavius Hadfield, a man who quickly exercised a profound influence over the tribes under Rauparaha's control. Later in the same year the death occurred on Mana Island of Rangihaeta's mother Waitohi. She was Te Rauparaha's eldest sister, and as was customary on the passing of an important person a huge gathering of the local tribes was assembled. As many as three thousand people were said to have been present. A Rangitane slave who had come to bring tribute from his people at Pelorus was killed by Te Rauparaha and served up as a delicacy for some of the more honoured guests.
During this meeting a dispute arose between Ngatiawa and Ngatiraukawa when the old grievances were aired and bitter hatred was renewed. Fighting broke out between the two tribes at Waikanae where the Ngatiraukawa had to pass a large Ngatiawa settlement while returning to their homes after the tangi. This conflict, in which the Ngatiawa succeeded in completely routing their opponents on the beach near Waikanae, was known as the battle of Te Kuititanga. It is important as being the last of the tribal wars in the southern part of New Zealand. E. J. Wakefield, in his journal, describes his arrival at Kapiti in the “Tory” on the day following the dispute. After meeting Te Rauparaha, Wakefield, accompanied by the ship's surgeons, crossed over to the scene of the battle, where they attended to some of the wounded. Te Rauparaha had taken no part in the fight, but in Wakefield's opinion he had been the instigator, having incited Ngatiraukawa to annoy the Ngatiawa on their first arrival from Taranaki. He says, “feuds, bloody wars, and a bitter hatred of each other had been the consequence; and some of their old grievances had been revived by their meeting at Mana. Rauparaha cunningly fanned the flame and mutual insults and recriminations followed.” According to Rusden the quarrel was about Wakefield's own ill-omened gifts at Port Nicholson. A fact that was admitted by the natives of both sides.
Disputes over the payment and sale of land to the New Zealand Company were quite common and followed in the wake of the “Tory” at many of her ports of call. Even Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeta actually came to blows over the sharing of goods received for the sale of some land purchased from them by the pakeha. This fight was witnessed by Te Rau-O-Te Rangi who as a little girl was one of the crowd of natives who gathered on the beach near Taupo pa at Plimmerton to watch the two chiefs do battle with Maori weapons. Neither of them was badly hurt and evidently no serious consequences resulted. Wake-field's impression of Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeta is summed up in the following extract from his “Adventure in New Zealand”.
“Their respective stations were pithily described by one of the whalers, who told us that ‘the Robuller’, as he mispronounced his name, ‘cast the bullets, and the Rangihaeta shot them’. Rauparaha was the mind and his mate the body on these blackmail gathering rounds. They had both acquired a violent taste for grog; and this, and firearms and powder, were the principle articles demanded.” Although Colonel Wakefield, on behalf of the New Zealand Company, had claimed to have purchased most of the land in the vicinity of Cook Strait, certain misunderstandings arose between both parties to the sale. It was evident that the native signatories to the deed, amongst whom were Rangihaeta and Rauparaha, had signed away large tracts of land which they had not intended parting with, and they had also put their signatures to a transaction which included huge territories where they had little or no title whatsoever. With the arrival of Capt. Hobson, the first British Government Agent, a proclamation was published declaring all land sales void. A court of enquiry had been set up, and a Mr Spain had been appointed as Land Commissioner to thoroughly investigate all claims.
Early in 1841 the Ngatitoa tribe began to voice a strong disapproval of European settlement in the Porirua district. Both Rauparaha and Rangihaeta emphatically denied having sold that area, and the ferocious Rangihaeta had crossed over from Mana to tell the white settlers that under no circumstances would he part with the land. He wished it for his people, and would maintain his right, but acknowledged himself a British subject having signed the Treaty of Waitangi with his uncle and other chiefs at Kapiti in the previous year. Colonel Wakefield was nevertheless insistent that the land belonged to the Company by right of purchase, and he was determined that a European settlement be established there. Work had already been started on the cutting of a road through to the new proposed Porirua settlement, and in April 1841 Mr C. H. Kettle was sent to survey the area.
Kettle soon found on his arrival that Rangihaeta had given explicit instructions to his tribe to obstruct all attempts by the Europeans to survey the place. During the first few days Kettle
reported that the progress of surveying was becomingly exceedingly difficult, and every morning he awoke to find that the station posts had been removed by the natives. Rangihaeta was at that time on Mana Island although he also had a pa on the mainland at Porirua where he was sometimes known to reside for short periods. Kettle constantly dreaded his arrival. He was fortunate that rough seas prevented the chief from crossing over during the first two weeks and taking an active part in obstructing the work. In the meantime he avoided all conversation with the natives as he considered that his very presence there was in itself dangerous enough. When at last Rangihaeta did arrive the unfortunate surveyor was compelled to abandon his work and return to Port Nicholson without delay. He told a committee of the House of Commons a year or two later that his life was in danger when the chief landed. “As soon as he came on shore,” said Kettle, “he knocked me down, and made me go away immediately, and we were not on friendly terms.”
Throughout the following year Rangihaeta created further disturbances in preventing the settlers from occupying the Porirua district. At a public meeting in Wellington a resolution was passed expressing “the willingness of the entire population to assist the sheriff in the due execution of the law.” When brought to the attention of the Police Magistrate. Mr Murphy, his only reply was that when he thought it expedient he would call upon them. The agent for the land lodged informations against Rangihaeta for riot, etc., with the Crown Prosecutor, who filed an indictment upon which the agent applied to Mr Murphy to issue process in the shape of a capias, to arrest the chief. In a letter, to Capt. Hobson dated 29 April 1842, Murphy explained “I declined to have anything to do with the matter as it had been taken entirely out of my hands and because a capias could only be issued by a court competent to try the offence.”
While Te Rauparaha had established a large pa on the mainland at Plimmerton called Taupo he had in the meantime taken up temporary residence at Otaki. From this place he announced his intention of preventing the spread of European settlement further up the Hutt Valley as he claimed that it all belonged to him and he had not received any payment for it. The Ngatitama chief Taringa Kuri (Dog's ear) was therefore sent with some of his people to clear land in the valley, and at Porirua Rangihaeta began organising reinforcements to assist him.
Throughout July and August of 1842 Mr Hals-well. Commissioner of Native Reserves on the Company's settlement received many letters complaining of outrages committed by the natives on the settlers in the Hutt district. Several personal applications were made, and one in particular from a Mr Molesworth requested Halswell's interference to reinstate some tenants on one of the upper sections of the Hutt, whose houses had been destroyed by the natives, and the settlers driven off.
Taringa Kuri with some of his people had chosen to build a settlement on the property occupied by Mr Swainson who tried in vain to dissuade the chief from felling trees close to his house. At Swainson's urgent request Halswell journeyed to the Hutt where he had a long conference with Taringa Kuri, Te Kohira, Te Rehi, and other chief speakers of the Ngatirangatahi. He then offered to put Te Kuri on any native reserve he might prefer, and the chief is said to have agreed to this arrangement while the Ngatirangatahi promised to remain quiet until Mr Spain made his award. Halswell considered the Hutt disturbances to have been settled. But the arrival of more emissaries from Te Rauparaha and Rangihaeta with further instructions produced a renewal of hostile acts which necessitated more visits.
Te Wharepouri, Te Puni, Wi Tako, and many other Ngatiawa chiefs approached Halswell expressing their strong indignation at these outrages. They were anxious for permission to attack Taringa Kuri and his people in their old way, but needless to say Halswell declined their offer. In a report to Wakefield on the Hutt Valley disturbances he expressed a grave fear that unless some demonstration of physical force be made, either by a company of men or a small body of militia, then the consequences would be very serious.