Volume 15 1906 > Volume 15, No. 4 > Ngati-Awa in the North, by A. G. Yarborough, p 221-223
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- 221
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NGATI-AWA IN THE NORTH.

THE history of Ngati-Awa is interesting but somewhat obscure, and would be well worth following up by students of Maori history in each different locality.

This people appear to have been hard working and industrious, and to have exercised a great deal of ingenuity and skill in building pas throughout the north of Auckland. This excess of energy seems in the course of time to have shown a result in placing this people as masters of all the other tribes north of Whangarei and Kaipara Heads. They overan the whole country, and built numerous pas in all parts of the Peninsula, and must have been looked upon as the successful conquerors of the tribes who previously occupied that portion of the North Island. Having entered into occupation, having built the only strongholds existing at that time, and being presumably numerically stronger, as a tribe, than any other single tribe amongst their neighbours in Hokianga, it is difficult to understand why, suddenly, within a man's lifetime, their position should have become untenable, and they should have been compelled to abandon their homes and their adopted country in ruin and disgrace. Ten generations ago Ngati-Awa were masters of all Hokianga and the north, and yet by the efforts of one man, Rahiri, they would seem to have become fugitives, from Maunga-nui Bluff to Taheke, on the Upper Hokianga, in a very short space of time.

Maori cnstom and Maori law would seem to show that a conquering tribe would either treat the conquered as slaves, or as subjects, or in some cases would allow them to reinstate themselves on their land in friendly relationship with the conquerors. The Ngati-Awa appear to have treated the people whom they subdued in a friendly manner, and to have lived amongst the various tribes for a matter of 150 years on terms of equality; at all events they intermarried and many of our principal men can trace their genealogy back to Ngati-Awa although, as there is nothing to be gained by doing so, it is not usual. About ten generations ago Rahiri expelled them from South Hokianga and captured their pas. He drove them back through Whirinaki until their power on the south side of the river was broken, although it was not until the time - 222 of Taura-poto, his son, or grandson probably, when he himself was getting old, that they were finally expelled or left. On the north side of the Hokianga river they seem to have lingered on longer, in a part of the country densely wooded and not so thickly populated. On the Manga-muka and Waihou rivers, but along the coast and at Whanga-pe they had already begun to retreat shortly after Rahiri's first capture of the only pa existing at that time at Pakanae, called Whiria. At Horeke, on the Waihou, are three pas, one of which was occupied by Ngati-Awa, who were not driven out until six generations ago by Rahiri's great grandsons, Taura-tumano and Toma. The migration of Ngati-Awa from Whanga-pe, or a small part of it, came down the Manga-muka to the Island of Motu-iti, where they took refuge, were surrounded and massacred. With the capture of the pas at Horeke and Wairere the Ngati-Awa seem to have finally cleared out from the valley of the Hokianga and retreated eastwards, making their way south by the sea coast.

Rahiri evidently was a man of mark, who established such a record, either from his feats of arms in driving out the stronger race of Ngati-Awa, or for some other marked characteristic, that all Nga-Puhi to Hokianga are satisfied to be able to trace their ancestral lines back to him, without going any further back, in laying claim to land. Pakanae, in the old days, appears to have been the centre of disturbance. Rahiri took the Ngati-Awa pa there, named Whiria, and the Ngati-Pou drove them off from all the coast line between that place and Maunga-nui Bluff. They themselves, however, were driven away by the Roroa*, and finally had to migrate to Whangaroa. The present occupants of that district are the Roroa and Ngati-Korokoro, while the northern side of the river, near the Heads, is occupied by the Pahitoka. The Ngati-Awa had one, and only one, pa at Pakanae, but after Rahiri had taken it his son lost no time in building others, namely—Panitehe, near Motu-toa, and Aotahi, in Pakanae. He also built Wharariki on the north side of the river. It seems more than probable that, when the Ngati-Awa were driven out of Hokianga the remaining tribes awoke to the necessity of building pas, and so it is found that Taurapoto, Rahiri's son, is credited with building numerous strongholds up the Waima, while Toma built two at the entrance to the narrows and one at the Kohukohu, where the river divides, thus securing the whole extent of the Manga-muka watershed. In the same way Taura-tumano captured the pa, Puke-tutu, from Ngati-Awa, near Horeke, and with the asststance of his brothers, Toma and Kawau, built the two pas, Karewa and Tutehe. Hence it comes that no native in all the - 223 north-eastern portion of the Hokianga district has any occasion to trace his ancestors back beyond Taura-tumano and Toma, grandsons of Rahiri; who effectively occupied all that country.

A Maori tribe conquered by a Maori tribe has usually to put up with very hard times, if they were not indeed massacred to a man; but surely the fate of the Ngati-Awa was particularly lamentable. They could scarcely be called a tribe; they were a people who occupied a large and varied country, and were evidently complete masters of it until—something happened. What? We don't know. But we do know that what appeared to be a sort of instinctive determination to resist this dominant race set in. It may have been commenced by Rahiri, but the revolt spread northwards through Whanga-pe, eastwards to Te Taheke, and north-eastward to Utakura, and the Ngati-Awa soon found themselves despoiled of their land and their strongholds, and fleeing to save their lives. The ultimate result was that they were termed dogs, and their bones considered undeserving of a resting place. They were piled into creek beds and placed in heaps in rocky places, and received no honour. There are literally hundreds of such places in Hokianga, where superstitious natives have been so unsuperstitious where Ngati-Awa was concerned, that cultivations have lapped over into the very resting places of the bones, and if you ask why this is so, your Maori friend will tell you that these are only the remains of Ngati-Awa, “which we treat as we do the remains of a cow or any other beast.”

Sic transit gloria mundi.

1 Sub-tribe of Ngati-Whatua of Kaipara.

The following is the genealogy of Paroki, aged about 65, now living at Horeke:—

Rahiri, Taura-poto, Tupoto, *Taura-tumano, Te Kope, Here-waka, Te Waha, Koroa, Paroki (alive at date), 2 Toma
1   Ancestor of all those claiming land on north-east side of Hokianga from Narrows upward.
2   Ancestor of all those claiming land from Narrows upward in Hokianga north, including Manga-muka and part of Manga-nui-o-wae.