THE COMING OF THE MUSKET
Guns came down
To Te Taniwha
Calling out to the weak ones
Driven here by the guns—
Ha! Come to me, black death,
Come to my thighs, conquering earth—
They shiver at his breath
He beats and burns and roars
Ha! He is done.
What a weapon of love
A sharp bullet from above—
Ha! I am caught in his cold fire
There is no end to his desire—
Ha! He is done!
This was sung by some women of the Te Namu pa which had successfully withstood a siege from a taua (war-party) of Te Ati-Awa. The war-party was armed with two muskets. They made a great noise but killed nobody.
The first muskets had a proper name, a reputation and a history like the old Maori weapons of honour.
Although the old-time Maori knew of the Teka (dart) and had once known the throwing-spear, he seems to have refrained from their use, except on sporting or ceremonial occasions (for controversy on the subject, see “Transactions of the N.Z. Institute” Vol. 1, p. 15, Vol. 10, p. 97 and Vol. II, p. 106). But the musket proved too much for him.
Within ten years, these people of the Taranaki tribe who had sung so lightly of the first muskets were to be killed or driven away by the guns from the North.
With the musket, tribal warfare became a source of unendurable tension. When Christianity gave the Maori the chance of an honourable and enduring peace, tribal warfare disappeared—almost overnight.