Volume 13 1904 > Volume 13, No. 1, March 1904 > Notes on the art of war, as conducted by the Maori of New Zealand, by Elsdon Best, p 1-19
NOTES ON THE ART OF WAR, AS CONDUCTED BY THE MAORI OF NEW ZEALAND, WITH ACCOUNTS OF VARIOUS CUSTOMS, RITES, SUPERSTITIONS, &c., PERTAINING TO WAR, AS PRACTISED AND BELIEVED IN BY THE ANCIENT MAORI.
IT was a practise among some tribes, when expecting an attack, to cover the outside of the stockade of their fort with bundles of flax leaves tightly lashed on to the palisades. I am not sure as to the object of this process, whether it was a covering of green flax in order to save the palisades from fire, or simply meant to block up the narrow spaces between the palisades so that an attacking force could not see through. Neither am I sure that it obtained in the old days, before guns were introduced. A native who took part in the raid on Wellington and Wai-rarapa by northern tribes, in 1819, speaks of a pa so covered at the latter place. That, I believe, was the first use of guns in those parts.1
When the east coast war party, under Paetahi and others, attacked the Papakai pa at Maunga-pohatu, they entered the fort on a wet, miserable day, when the people were collected in a large house within, the pa, having no watchman on duty. Surrounding the house, they speared many of the inmates by thrusting their spears through the bark roof and the puta auahi, or smoke hole. The others broke through the enemy and fled. Te Ika-poto and another fled together, the former wailing for his dead as he ran. His companion cried, “Why do you lament before you are in safety, leave it until you have escaped” (te waiho kia puta te ihu). Te Puehu received six spear wounds in this affair, but managed to escape.- 2
When Te Whakatohea assaulted and entered the O-te-nuku pa at Rua-toki, they found that only half their task was completed, inasmuch as the fort was divided into two separate and strong redoubts, by means of a massive earthwork and deep ditch run across the centre. The eastern part fell, but the defenders thereof retreated to the western half of the fort, and still defied their assailants. The latter then collected many of their long huata spears and laid them together across the ditch, the upper ends resting on the top of the high earth-work. Tohi-a-manu then essayed to clamber up this somewhat uncertain bridge, but one of the garrison managed to pull the spears apart, and the hapless Tohi fell into the moat. However, one Hine-auahi managed to climb up on to the earthwork and was soon followed by others. These jumped down into the fort and commenced the attack, while those in the rear pressed on to their assistance. They took that pa.
When the numerous force of Tuhoe, Ngati-Maru and other tribes raided the east coast in order to avenge the death of Te Mai-taranui of Tuhoe, one of the feats was the reduction of the Puke-karoro pa at Te Mahia. This involved a long and tedious siege, which caused much suffering among the garrison. It is said that they were so reduced by famine as to be compelled to slay and eat their children, and also ate clay to allay the pangs of hunger. Hence that siege has ever been known as Kai-uku (clay eating). The place finally fell, and many of the garrison were slaughtered.
The native forts were sometimes situated in the most inaccessible places from an attacker's point of view. On the summit of precipitous cliffs their remains are noted, places to which access must have been by ladders or a steep flight of steps. Lone rocks, buttes or mesas, were also utilised as fortresses. Some of these were most picturesque in regard to situation, such as the Pohatu-roa pa at Atiamuri, on the Waikato river. Others again were situated on capes or promontories extending into the sea, rivers, or lakes. A small sample of such is Te Pa-o-kapo at Titahi, near Wellington. Sometimes these were connected with the land by a narrow neck only, the other faces being precipitous cliffs.
It is difficult to understand the Maori character, their modes of thought and apparent eccentricities and incongruities. In this wise, the Maori, although he does what he thinks fit and proper, will often take an exactly opposite course to that which would be followed by an European. Many things, for instance, done in war, are somewhat bewildering to the pakeha mind. As for example, the singular custom, if it may be so termed, of the members of hostile parties visiting and mingling with one another, during a fight. When the Waikato host raised the siege of Te Namu pa, Taranaki, a member of - 3 the discomforted horde entered the fort and had a pleasant cry with the inmates thereof, to whom he was related. He cheerfully betrayed the plans of his party, and warned the garrison against leaving the fort for some time, lest they be cut off by an ambush.2
When Ngati-Awa were preparing to march against Tuhoe, Tikitu, of the former tribe, sent a message to Tuhoe, acquainting them of the fact, and urging them to give the invaders a severe drubbing.
What time the sons of Ira were besieged in Pakaurangi pa, on the east coast, those of the garrison who were connected with any of the investing force, were in the habit of leaving the fort and paying visits to such relatives in the lines of investment. As the garrison were suffering severely from lack of water, these strolling gentry used to wear thick flax cloaks when leaving the pa, and on their return would soak them in the water as they crossed the creek, thus conveying a welcome quantity of water to the thirsty people of the fort. Hence that siege and fight has ever been known as Puweru-maku (wet clothing)3
At the present time my castle, an 8 x 10 one, stands at a place known as Pa-puweru. The origin of this place name is a singular one. In the days of yore, when armed bands of cannibals ranged the land in search of fame and fresh meat, and long before the song of the pu titi was heard by the Child of Tamatea, there abode the Ngati-Tuhea people here. And it came to pass that these people were in need of a rest, or something, when they heard of a hostile party on the march to attack them. Then did their village priest proceed to the trail hard by, and which led to the outer world, and there suspend a flax cape across said trail, and having endowed that garment with certain magic powers, he returned to his village, doubtless chuckling to himself at having so easily discomfited the enemy. For know one and all that, should the advancing party disregard that sign and proceed on their way to the attack, they would imagine a vain thing, and might look out for squalls in the near future. For they had disregarded the mana and invocations of a priest, which is a serious item. Anyhow that is the origin of the name, Pa-puweru—pa, to obstruct or block up puweru, clothing, a garment. Q.E.D.
Other place names in this district have a similar origin, as Parangiora, where branches of the rangiora shrub were used as an obstruction. And Pa-kaponga, on the Wai-potiki Block, where fern trees (kaponga) were used in a like manner.
When a pa fell there was generally, of course, a great killing toward, and a cannibal feast, and much human flesh carried away in baskets. The pa falls, the dead of the enemy are dragged together - 4 and piled in a heap, the one of highest rank being placed on top. Then one of the victors will begin to wananga or declaim against that dead chief, to revile the same after the manner of his kind:—“You thought yourself a great man, lofty as the heavens. But you are brought low now. You! lying there with your legs stuck out, your staring eyes, your tongue hanging out. You will now go into my oven and provide me with a fine meal, etc.” But probably some of the enemy have been spared as to their lives, and led away into slavery. And in the days that lie before, some of those may escape and return to their people, and they will say to them, “So-and-so was wanangatia by our foe.” Then will that remain as a casus belli with that people. It will never be forgotten, but will sink deep into their hearts. Some time, in a year, or ten years, or a generation, it will bear fruit. Then the sons of Tu the Red-eyed will gird themselves with tu and maro, grasp the stone club and trail the pliant huata across far lands, as they swing out once more on the old, blood-stained trail which leads to victory and defeat, to death and slavery, and desire accomplished.
But about the pa Maori. It has not yet fallen.
Some curious examples of stratagem may be noted in the accounts preserved of Maori warfare. To wit: in the first attack delivered by Tuhoe on Oputara pa they found the defences of that old time fortress too strong to be taken by assault. Still, it would not do to retire, for Hape was inside that grim stockade, Hape of the Pu Taewa, who had slain Tahaki-anina. So the warriors of Tuhoe collected on the flat below the pa and gave a free exhibition of their powers in the haka line. This drew the attention of the garrison, and after some time, Hape ventured forth from the defences in order to obtain a better view of the dance. While gazing at the spectacle, he was surrounded and slain by a party of Tuhoe, when the pa soon fell likewise. Ever since that hapless Hape has been known to local fame as Hape-ware or Forgetful Hape.
When a besieged pa wished the enemy to believe that the garrison had plenty of food, they would be most diligent in lighting fires at times when it would be thought it was being done in order to cook food.
Again, when besieging a pa the attacking force would endeavour to pull down the stockade by means of a rou. This is a long pole, to one end of which is securely lashed a short bar, in a transverse position. To the other end of the pole is attached a rope. Those bearing the rou endeavour to pass the cross bar end over the stockade, i.e., between two of the pallisades, and then a turn will bring the cross bar in a horizontal position across the palisades, thus giving the desired grip. All hands then “tail on” to the pole and rope, and all pull - 5 their hardest to the time given by the time chant. In this way, with a large number of powerful men at the main ropes, the whole face of stockade might sometimes be torn down. Anon.
When Te Ahi-raratu escaped from his captors at Wai-riko, he at once started to run up the valley, crying as he ran “Te whakaariki … e .. e .. e! Te whakaariki!”4 until he arrived at Karioi. Tama-ngautu saw the marching column of invaders, and proceeded to challenge them (the wero, see ante). The column took no notice of him, but marched steadily on and invested the pa at Karioi, which was occupied by the Urewera hapu under Te Arohana, and by a division of the ancient Nga-Potiki tribe known by the euphonious name of Te Hokowhitu-pakira-o-Romairira. When the siege had lasted about two weeks one Kore-kai-whenua left the pa and joined the investing force. It was a kaikai-waiu, he was related to them. Then Te Arohana knew that the case was desperate. For Kore informed the investing force that there was no food or water in the fort. Te Arohana left the pa with his people and marched to the Hurahia fort. The remaining garrison at Karioi lit their fires regularly and caused plenty of smoke to rise over the stockade in order to delude the enemy into the idea that they were cooking food. To give an impression that there was plenty of water in the fortress, they performed a much more extraordinary action.
Then the attacking force came forward with a rou and succeeded in gripping the stockade therewith, but a warrior of the garrison sprang forward and hacked off the cross-bar with his stone adze. This occurred several times, until the enemy gave it up.
After some waiting and consultation on the part of the invaders, one of their number came forward and called out to the garrison: “Come outside. You shall not be slain, but all of you come down to our camp.” They at once returned to their camp, leaving only Puhiraka to escort the garrison down. Then the garrison, men, women and children, poured out of the pa and proceeded to the camp of the enemy at Te Putere. On arriving there, one of their number, Tama-whai, was seized and slain as a sacrificial offering to the atua or war-god of the invaders. For Tama-whai was a tangata păpă or tangata moemoea. He had been seen in a vision by the priest of the war party and his death was necessary in order to preserve the prestige, luck, life, health and success of that party, as already explained lest the eyes of the gods turn redly upon them.
The starved garrison were given food, and then, like the knights of old, Kare-kohu-ora and Tama-riwai took the trouble on their own shoulders and stood forth to settle the matter in single combat.- 6
The constant strain on the mind in old fighting days must often have made for panics, as the following incident will show:—When the country from Ruatoki to Opotiki was in a state of turmoil on account of the wars of Te Whakatohea, Te Kareke, Tuhoe and other peoples, there dwelt in a certain pa two old chiefs and their retainers. One dark night one of these chiefs, being athirst, told a slave to bring him some water. The slave took a calabash and proceeded to descend a steep trail to the creek. But he managed to stumble and drop the vessel, which rolled merrily down the trail, striking at intervals the roots and stones on the track. The occupants of the pa heard these sounds and believed them to be caused by the slave's head being crushed in by blows of an enemy's weapon. So alarmed were they that all deserted the fort and fled to the forest, where doubtless they passed an unhappy night. When the slave returned with the water he was surprised to find no one to drink the same.
Several incidents of the following nature are on record:—When attacking an enemy, more especially in a night attack, a person would carry with him a dry gourd or calabash and would smash the same with his patu at the moment of attack, crying out at the same time that he had disposed of one man. It is stated that the sound caused by the breaking of the vessel is similar to that caused by smashing in the skull of a man with a club. I have never compared them myself. If true, it might tend to unnerve a surprised foe.
Some ten generations ago the tribe known as Te Whakatane, who were descendants of Tamatea of the Nukutere migration, were living at Te Waimana, one of their forts being at Tauwhare-manuka. Rongomai-pawa, the chief of those people, led a party to Puke-pohatu in order to hunt kiwi (a large wingless bird, formerly much used as food in Tuhoe-land. It was hunted with dogs). They were trespassing on the lands of Nga-Potiki (the ancient name of the Tuhoe or Urewera tribe), and hence an unpleasantness arose between them, in which Te Whakatane were defeated. They returned to Te Waimana and organised another party. It was a hokowhitu, seventy twice told were the warriors. Crossing the range to the Whakatane Valley, and descending near Karioi, they turned up the valley. On their way up the gorge they were attacked at an overhanging cliff by Te Rangi-monoa of Nga-Potiki, and his merry men. So soon as they caught sight of each other on the narrow space between the river and cliff, the two parties ran forward and closed, for it was hand to hand fighting in the days of yore. Tama-rōkī, son of Rangimonoa, obtained the mātāika and again Te Whakatane were defeated. There was no escape for them in that gloomy cañon and they were slain to a man. And ever since has that place been known as Te Ana-kai-tangata-a-Rangimonoa—Te Rongimonoa's Cañon of the Cannibal Feast- 7
After a square meal Nga-Potiki, one hundred and forty strong, started for the Wai-mana. Just before reaching the Tauwhare-manuka pa they halted and employed themselves in plucking ferns and weeds, which they made up into bundles to resemble swags of human flesh. Slinging these bundles on their backs, and each man with a bunch of fern in his hand, they proceeded on to the fort of the enemy. As they approached each man walked slowly, with bended back, as though weary of carrying the loads of human flesh they were supposed to be carrying. Then they all sat down in sight of the pa as though resting while the proper preparations were made to receive them. When they were seen by the fort, the garrison thereof marched out in column in order to challenge and welcome their supposed friends, the victorious. Nga-Potiki rose and advanced, each man holding a quivering bunch of fern before him, so as not to be recognised as an enemy. The garrison column sent forth the wero (challenger), who cast his spear and returned. A second challenger advanced and cast his spear, when Nga-Potiki sprang forward in pursuit as one man. With fierce outcry they swept up to the matua or column of the fort, who were all kneeling down, with downcast eyes, waiting for the whiti cry to spring to their feet and perform the peruperu. Then the weapons crashed on bare heads, and Te Whakatane flowed like water down to Hades.
And another chapter of the long drawn conquest of Te Waimana was writ in characters that all might read.
We are told that the stout and successful resistance made by garrisons was often the result of the superior knowledge, power and mana of the tohunga or priest. Thus when the famous Taraia attacked the Heipipi pa of Maruiwi, near Petane, that old time fort was held intact through the power of the spells of the Maruiwi priest, one Tunui by name.
And, in modern times, when eighty Taranaki held Te Namu pa at Opunake against five hundred Waikato, they knew full well that the credit was due to their tohunga, Nga-tai-rakau-nui by name.
The men selected to act as watchmen or sentries were selected from those who had keen eyesight and were quick to note all signs pertaining to war, to detect an ambush, to divine the meaning of unusual cries emanating from birds, or the sudden cessation of a bird's song, and a thousand other things which were learned only by long training in the stern school of Maori bush warfare. Such men were termed matataua. They were the eyes of a war party.
Often sentries were posted at convenient places away from a pa, and where a view of a reach of a track leading to the fort could be commanded. Probably one would be stationed at the edge of a bush where the track crossed a clearing or open plain. Such a place is termed a putaanga.- 8
The pu-kaea was a trumpet used for signalling in war time, or was sounded at night by the watchman stationed on the puwhara, or watch tower. It produces, when blown by powerful lungs, a loud booming sound of a somewhat doleful nature. This war trumpet was made of totara or matai wood. It was made in two pieces, about six or seven feet in length. Each half was hollowed out and properly prepared and these two pieces were put together and lashed in a remarkably neat manner with aka-tea, a tough forest creeper, the bark being taken off before it was so used. The small, mouth-piece end, is termed the kongutu, and the big, bell-shaped end the whara. The edges of the whara were notched. A small piece of wood inserted in the trumpet near the mouth-piece I know not the name of.5 The pu-tatara was made of a large sea shell and was used for signalling.
Islands on the coast, in lakes and rivers, were sometimes utilised as forts, the defences being of earthworks or stockades, according to the nature of the ground. The islet of Tapu-tē-ranga in Island Bay, Wellington, was so used by refugees of Ngati-Ira. The remains of a wall built of loose stones was there visible at the time of my visit. I have also heard that remains of defences are to be seen on Makaro or Ward Island, in Wellington Harbour, but I have never visited that arid isle. Māna and Kapiti Islands were famous strongholds in former times. At Wai-kare-moana the islets of Pa-te-kaha and Nga-whaka-rara were used as forts, and most picturesque they must have been, as also was the headland knob Nga Whatu-a-Tama, and another at Mokau. Pa Waimori, on the same lake, is a singular little detached hillock at the mouth of the Hopu-ruahine creek. It is an island when the waters of the lake are high.
O-poukehu pa was on an island in the Rangi-taiki river, below Fort Galatea. It fell to a party of Ngati-Pukeko warriors who swam across to it. A pa on an island in Papaitonga lake, near Otaki, was taken in a similar manner.
But the most interesting of lake pa were the artificial islets of Horowhenua lake. These were constructed by the Mua-upoko tribe as a safe retreat from their foes. They were formed by driving stakes into the bed of the lake and filling up the enclosed space with logs, stones and earth. There were six island pa in that lake. They fell to the ferocious warriors of the treacherous Rau-paraha.
Strongholds were sometimes constructed in swamps, which were more difficult to cross than a lake. To support the pa, posts would be driven down until they were fixed in the solid. To gain access to such a place the attacking force would have to pass along the narrow causeway used by the garrison, and which same might be defended by - 9 a few men. If a natural island were in the swamp so much the better. Such was Nga Pu-kanohi, which is a hill standing in a swamp near Taneatua. Earthworks, a wall and moat, are still visible on the hill, while the swamp, having been drained, has sunk and exposed to view a series of piles which had been driven into the swamp in times long passed away. For eleven generations have come and gone since Te Kapo-o-te-rangi camped in that drear swamp.
Sometimes an investing force, by means of much labour, would construct a timber causeway to an inland pa, in order to deliver an attack. In this manner fell Te Roto-a-Tara pa on the Heretaunga side, as also an island pa in one of the Waihau lakes, near Tiniroto.
In making an approach to a swamp pa fascines would be employed, as was done at Te Ngaere.
Te Ana-puatai, a stronghold of Ngati-Kahungunu, taken by Tuhoe, Nga-Puhi and others, was a cave with a strong barricade across the mouth thereof.
A curious stronghold was constructed and occupied by the Muaupoko tribe at a place near Otaki. It was a tree fort. Three huge pine trees, standing close together, were utilised for the purpose. Stout beams were laid from fork to fork of the branches. On these was laid a decking of timber, and upon this platform the houses were built. A fence encircled the platform, stores of food and water were kept in this aerial pa, as also were heaps of stones for the purpose of bombarding an enemy. On the approach of an enemy, the people retreated to their stronghold and pulled the ladders up. The platform was about fifty feet from the ground. But one fine day a war party from the far north came, bearing with them arms unknown in the south. They were muskets, and the days of the tree pa were numbered, or at least those of the occupants thereof. As one of their descendants informed me, “It was like shooting pigeons.”
For an account of another tree pa, see White's “Ancient History of the Maori”—Vol. V., p. 32.
In some cases forts were provided with covered ways or passages to water.
Te Kaho, a nephew of Rongo-karae, lived at the Hui-te-rangi-ora pa at Ruatoki. Motumotu, of Ngati-Awa, lived at Te Tawa pa. The latter went to snare parrots at a certain place. He found Te Kaho there, engaged at the same task. Motu asked him for one of his decoy birds, and it was given him. He took it away some distance and killed it. Then returning to Te Kaho, he asked for another, saying that he had fallen and lost the first one. He was given two. These he also took away and killed, returning and asking for another. Kaho saw him returning again, and knew that there was treachery afoot. - 10 So he rose up and slew him, carrying the flesh of the body to Hui-terangiora, where it was cooked and eaten. Ngati-Awa heard of this and marched to avenge the death of Motumotu. They surrounded the Kahika pa. Rongo-Karae, chief of the pa, did not like the appearance of things and set his men to work at excavating an underground passage from the fort to a gully hard by. It was completed, and the garrison escaped thereby under cover of night. When the warriors of Ngati-Awa delivered their next assault, they had no difficulty in entering the pa. They found it quite empty, which was annoying.
When Maru-iwi attacked the Oue pa at Te Wai-mana, they approached it under cover of night. Lest the garrison should hear them approaching through the brash scrub, they imitated the cries of the kiwi, weka, and kakapo, all wingless night birds. The chief of the pa, Tama-ruarangi, heard the cries of the birds and said, “The food of Tama-ruarangi is quite tame,” and returned to his virtuous couch. He slept well, inasmuch as he has not since wakened. And nine generations of men have lived and died since that night.
When a pa had been attacked and some of the garrison slain, that pa would become tapu on account of blood there spilt. If a priest of sufficient mana or power was available, he would remove the tapu from the pa by means of a ceremony known as huki toto. But if it so happened that only priests of the second or third grade were obtainable, then that pa would be deserted and another one built elsewhere.
Sometimes a pa was built more to make known a tribal policy or decision, than to be occupied or used. The Kokotahi pa near Taua-roa was built by Matiu and others of Ngati-Whare as an act of defiance towards Ngati-Manawa, who had joined the Government, while the former were staunch Hauhau, or rebels, as we were pleased to term them.
Mariner describes stockades erected by the Tongans, which must have resembled the Maori pa. Some of them were square in shape and some were circular. The defences comprised two lines of palisades which were ornamented with white shells. Two ditches were made, one outside each stockade, and the earth taken therefrom was formed into banks. Fighting stages or platforms were erected inside, like the puhara of the New Zealand pa.
When a chief paid a visit to a people residing in their pa, on arriving at the stockade, he would in many cases, not enter by the gateway but climb over the palisades and so enter the fort. In like manner, a young chief, in visiting an elderly relative, would often enter his house by climbing through the window, instead of passing through the doorway.
We have seen that a native of standing in his tribe had very strict notions concerning personal honour, and that it was by no means an unknown thing for a man to slay his own son on his escape from - 11 slavery, rather than let him live and beget descendants, who would be taunted with the fact that their ancestor had been a slave. A similar occurrence took place near Rua-toki, when a pa at Owhakatoro was besieged. A chief in the pa burned his children to death rather than let them fall into the hands of the enemy. In like manner, men have been known to slay their female relatives, in desperate situations, an act quite approved of by the Maori. The last pa built in Tuhoeland was erected some time in the seventies, when Ngati-Pukeko were trying to sell the O-whakatoro lands.
In the Rev. W. Colenso's account of his first trip through Tuhoeland in 1841, he speaks of his arrival at Waikare-moana:—“We soon arrived at the village, situated on a high headland jutting into the north side of the lake (? Mātūāhu pa). The gateway was, as is often the case, embellished with a pair of huge and hideously carved figures, besmeared with red pigment, armed with spears and grinning defiance on all comers.”
There was, of course, a change made in the construction of these native strongholds after the acquisition of fire arms. The Maori, ever intelligent and quick to grasp a situation, soon adapted his mode of warfare to suit the use of firearms. Plans of various forts, constructed and held by them during the racial war in the North Island, show how well planned their defences were. Guns might breach his palisades, but did little harm to his earthworks, and during a bombardment the wily Maori would be safely concealed in underground chambers, and hence fresh and energetic to withstand an attack by infantry. In these latter days small breastworks, consisting of a ditch and bank, termed parepare, were made at points of vantage, sometimes to command a track or river, or connected with a pa by means of a passage way, as at O-rakau, where such a small outwork was manned against the English troops.
When Tuhoe laid siege to the Tapiri pa of Ngati-Manawa in 1866, they built four small pa to enclose or command that of the enemy. Between these covering stockades were small camps, with a few men in each, so that Te Tapiri was quite surrounded. The besiegers kept on the alert at night in case the garrison tried to break through the investing lines, which they eventually did, with some loss. Ngati-Manawa state that their dead were eaten by Tuhoe on that occasion, but the latter say that merely their eyes were swallowed by Kereopa.
Unuhanga arawhata.—Should a man be living among people other than his own, and, having been injured or insulted, determine to collect his own people and attack the offenders, he will, as he leaves their pa, draw aside the arawhata or bridge from the moat, and so depart. That was a token of his intention, he had wiped the dust of that place off his feet and had severed his connection with it. Pretty soon trouble followed.- 12
The above sketch of the pa Maori is remarkably imperfect. The reason thereof is simple in the extreme—it contains all I know of the subject. I will therefore conclude this sketch with an anecdote:
When the Harema pa at Te Whaiti fell to Col. Whitmore's column in May, 1869, the escapees fled to the bush and brush-covered terraces and there concealed themselves. When night fell, pickets of the Government force were located at Matiti and the old mission station. After dark two rockets were sent up from the captured pa. These greatly alarmed the unhappy refugees, who, when they saw these “flying candles,” as they term them, burrowed further into the scrub and covered themselves with grass and rubbish, in order to avoid being discovered by the “flying candles” of the pakeha.
The Introduction of Firearms.
As observed above, the introduction of firearms caused a considerable change in methods of native warfare. The old hand to hand fighting gave place to skirmishing, and cover taking, and long distance fighting, to a great extent. The kawau māro was no longer seen on the battlefield, the natives became excellent bush fighters, as we found out to our cost during the slight unpleasantness which obtained between us for ten years.
The first guns obtained by the natives were flintlock muskets of various kinds, which were known as pu-titi, pu-toriri, ngutu-parera, &c. They were obtained by barter from traders in the early years of the nineteenth century by the northern tribes, and by the year 1830 must have been generally known throughout the island. So keen was the desire for guns among this warlike people, that several chiefs under-took the long voyage to England for the purpose of obtaining them. So delighted were the northern tribes with the new weapons that they at once turned them against their less fortunate southern neighbours, and raids by powerful war parties of a thousand or more fighting men were made from the far north down both coasts as far as the Wellington district. Enormous numbers were slain during the intertribal wars between 1820 and 1840. Some tribes were dispossessed of their lands and forced to live as serfs to the conquerors, while others were practically annihilated, or compelled to retreat south to escape that fate.
Inland tribes, such as Tuhoe and Ngati-Tuwharetoa, obtained most of their guns and powder from coast tribes, the latter being brought into contact with white traders. The Bay of Plenty tribes, including Tuhoe, mostly obtained their first supplies of firearms from Ngati-Maru, of Hauraki. A party of Tuhoe visited that place and obtained their first guns and ammunition. Ten slaves were given in exchange for each of the guns, but the price soon fell to five slaves each. The prisoners taken by Tuhoe when they conquered the Pa-puni district, were taken to Hauraki and bartered for guns.- 13
The expedition of Tuhoe to Hauraki for the above purpose was undertaken soon after the Ngati-Kahungunu raid on Rua-tahuna (Mahaka's raid), when Mata-ngaua was slain. The party stayed some time at Hauraki as the guests of Taraia and other chiefs of Ngati-Maru, and they joined their hosts in the battle of Taumata-wiwi. Piripi, a very old man, who died at Rua-tahuna in 1898, was a member of that expedition. He was taken prisoner by Waikato when Waiari was killed, and, long after, was allowed to return home.
After the return of the above party, the first fight in which the newly-acquired guns were used, was that of Te Kaunga, where Ngati-Awa were defeated.
The first musket obtained by Tuhoe was named Te Riaki, and the first pistol, probably an old fashioned horse pistol, was called Marama-atea. They were, of course, both flintlocks. This pistol was the only firearm carried by the band of Tuhoe which raided the Wairoa district and attacked Pohatu-nui pa. Te Au carried the weapon and used it in the assault to astonish and alarm the garrison. These first acquired weapons still live in song and story, as the following lament will shew:—
“He aha kai te raro
He pari waikohu nei
Taoronga na te tungane ki te Pongaihu
E roa iara nga heketanga ki Pa-harakeke
Me tuku e au kia haere, ka hoki au i konei
Whaia na koe kia riro mai a Tamaiti-i-pokia
Ngarue ana i to whenua, i Toko-o-Tu
Ka kite au i te napinga o te kope
Na Te Au e whakakeua, ko Marama-atea.”
What strange thing is this, borne by the north wind?
That rises like a mist before my eyes;
'Tis the echoing wail for the brother at Ponga-ihu.
Long was the descent to Pa-harakeke;
I abandon them to their course, whilst I return,
Thou followed on, that Tamaiti-i-pokia might fall.6
The earth trembled at Toko-o-Tu,
Where was seen the effect of the horse-pistol,
Aimed by Te Au, and named Marama-atea.
Pistols are termed kope by the natives. The person Te Au mentioned was Te Au-ki-Hingarae, a famous warrior of Tuhoe.
The old fashioned flintlock muskets were used by Tuhoe until the time of Te Kooti, in the sixties, when they obtained rifles, and the old muskets were abandoned.
Te Puku-o-Wharepakau was a name given to a keg of gunpowder obtained by Ngati-Whare from a trader named White at Matata in the early days, and used in the old inter-tribal fights. New things are always given a name in this manner.- 14
The principal articles used for barter with Europeans were flax fibre, pigs, and sometimes dried, tatooed human heads. The latter were sought as curiosities and were sent to Europe.
When the town of Auckland sprang up, the natives of Tuhoe used to drive mobs of pigs from Rua-tahuna to that town in order to sell them and obtain articles of European manufacture, a distance of some 250 miles.
When guns were first used against them, the natives thought they were some new and powerful atua (demon, war god in this case). The Taranaki natives, when attacked by the northern tribes in their first gun-bearing southern raid, imagined that the god Maru was slaying them in this wondrous manner.
When Nga-Puhi, Tuhoe, and other tribes attacked Titirangi pa in the Wairoa district they had with them the first guns seen in those parts. The garrison were informed of the approach of the army, and that they had guns (pu) with them. Ranga-ika said, “Let them bring their pu against our pu,” meaning the pu-kaea or war trumpets, which he supposed them to be. When the gun bearers raised their muskets to fire, the garrison said “Why the small end of their pu is in front.” They thought it a singular manner in which to hold a trumpet. However, they soon found out all about it, for the men crowded on the fighting stages of the fort offered a fine mark for the muskets. As the men fell, struck down by unseen missiles, the people said, “Ha! He atua te mea nei”—this is something supernatural.
Ngati-Awa obtained some of their guns from Nga-Puhi, after the fight of O-Kahukura, when peace was made.
When Ngati-Awa and others defeated Nga-Puhi at Motiti, they captured a cannon (pu-repo) from them. This gun was brought Opotiki, and used to be fired on the death of a chief.
Cartridges used to be made by the natives for their muskets and rifles. Coarse packing paper was utilised for the purpose. The paper to form the cartridge was wrapped round the teki, a piece of round wood or bone, to make it assume the correct size and shape before being filled. These teki were often carefully made and embellished with carving. I have one made of the bone of a sperm whale. It is exceedingly well made and carved. It was used by Paora Pukaha of Tuhoe when fighting against us at O-rakau.
Cartridge belts, termed hamanu, were made of pieces of tawai or rata bark. Holes to receive the cartridges were bored in the bark by means of a rude centre-bit made of a piece of flat iron and having a handle affixed to it. This belt was fastened round the waist with a cord or over the shoulder as a bandolier (pakihere).- 15
During their war with the Europeans the natives appear to have had plenty of bar lead, powder, bullet moulds, &c., obtained from traders prior to the war. Ladles for melting lead were roughly made from pieces of flat iron, having a wooden handle attached. Match heads were sometimes used in lieu of percussion caps. When bullets ran short during the fight at O-rakau, the Tuhoe contingent made shift with peach stones, a peculiar substitute.
In some cases the old native weapons defeated guns. The gun-bearing Nga-Puhi were defeated by the gunless sons of Awa at O-Kahukura, Ngati-Hau practically destroyed the war party of Tuwhare in the Whanga-nui gorges. Other such instances are on record.
As observed, Tuhoe obtained muskets after Mohaka's raid and before Te Kaunga fight. The war party of Ngai-Te-Rangi, under Mauri, which met disaster near Turanga, had guns, as also had Te Whakatohea when they attacked the Keke-paraoa pa on the Waikohu-Mātāwai Block.
The thoughts of war and fighting must have been ever present with the old time Maori. He would ever be planning how to avenge some insult, real or imaginary, or expecting an attack, or executing some act of cannibalism, etc., in order to keep his hand in practice. Tribes living in open country relied on the pa for protection, but a bush tribe, such as Tuhoe, relied on the forest and rough country. In old fighting times, the aim among the bushmen was to have as small clearings as possible, in order to escape detection by raiding war parties. This was more practicable in their case, as cultivation was an unknown art in Tuhoe-land, until they acquired by conquest the fertile lands of Ruatoki and Te Waimana, where the kumara, the taro and the gourd plant flourished. Their food in pre-potato days consisted solely of the natural products of the forest. Hence they lived in small communities, and in most out of the way places usually. Even after potatoes were acquired cultivations were small, merely a few yards square, for the better concealment thereof. For Tuhoe were ever a small tribe in numbers, though somewhat heavy handed.
Aborigines of New Zealand.
This term we apply to the first migrations of Polynesians which peopled these isles long centuries before the later migration of the same primal stock arrived in the fourteenth century.
It would appear that these original people of the Bay of Plenty district were by no means a warlike people, or at least were no match in battle for the warlike warriors of the latter migration. For instance, it is stated that Te Tini-o-Tuoi, an aboriginal tribe of Matahina, when - 16 attacked by the Hawaikian vikings, never even attempted to defend themselves, and so were slaughtered in great numbers at Te Ana-ruru and elsewhere.
Tradition also states that Te Tini-o-Te-Marangaranga, another ancient people, whose dominion extended from the lower Rangitaiki to Taupo, and who were allied to Ngati-Māhu and Nga-Maihi, had but little knowledge of war craft, and hence fell an easy prey to gentlemen of the Tangiharuru stamp. A descendant of Ngati-Māhu informed me that the Marangaranga, in quarrelling among themselves, used no weapons, but merely their hands. This may or may not be true, anyhow the conquest of those old time people appears to have been a very easy matter.
Many of the old natives state that the ancient tribes of this district were an unwarlike people, a peace-loving people, and that it was the later migration that brought the evils of war to this land.
Names of Battles or Fights: Their Origin.
Battles were often named from some peculiar circumstance in connection with the fighting, and not from the name of the place where the trouble took place, We give a few examples:—
A fight which occurred at Te Kiokio was named Kohi-pi, because so many children were there captured. From kohi= to collect, gather; and pi= young of birds, but here used to denote children.
When the Warahoe tribe were defeated at Taupo, the bodies of many of them were placed in baskets (shortly to be cooked and eaten). Hence that fight is ever known as Kohi-kete (kohi = to collect; kete = a basket.
The fight between the people of Kawerau and Te Teko, already described, was named Te Wharangi, after the last man slain, who was so named.
When Ngati-Maru of Hauraki defeated the O-potiki tribes at Wai-aua, the fight was styled Paenga-toitoi because the dead lay thickly, covering the beach like a stranded shoal of toitoi=a fish.
When Kahuki and Tua-mutu fought out their feud at Te Motu-o-tu, many were slain in the creek, their blood reddening the waters thereof. Hence that fight is known as Wai-whero = the reddened waters!
In like manner both tribal and personal names are sometimes derived from certain incidents in war. The tribe Patu-heuheu, now living near Galatea, acquired their tribal name from the fact that some of their ancestors were surrounded and slain in the scrub or brushwood on the banks of the Wai-pokaia stream (patu= to kill; heuheu= scrub or brush. The Patu-wai sub-tribe derive their name from the fact of an ancestor being slain in a river (paiu=to kill; wai=water or stream.- 17
When Awa-kanoi was slain by Rakai-pāka at Puhue, Rakai turned the body of his enemy over as it lay on the ground, saying “Ha! He ika poto te ika nei” (This is a small fish). Hence Te Ikapoto has since been used as a personal name by the descendants of Awa-kanoi, while the Maunga-pohatu people took the tribal name of Ngati-Huripapa (the decendants of he who was turned to earth).
Coolness and presence of mind is a desirable quality in time of war, and many illustrations might be given concerning the display of these qualities. Old Tu, of Maunga-pohatu, when he went a fighting the pakeha at Te Karetu, nearly fell a victim to the bullets of Ngati-Porou. In the pursuit he was seen while crossing a stream and fired at. He dropped his gun and swam under water for some distance, and so escaped. During the same pursuit, Tu was once nearly surrounded by the Government troops (native allies), but he took matters so coolly that they took him for one of their own party, and so he again escaped. His eldest son was killed in the fight at Te Karetu, hence the slain youth's sister took the name of Te Karetu, discarding her former name.
Here follow a few items which have been obtained since the foregoing was written.
When Haeana, head chief of Te Marangaranga, was slain by Tangi-haruru, the wanderer, Paumapuku, a relative of Haeana, thought it high time to take a hand. He therefore marshalled his forces and marched on Puke-hinau where he slew Tangi-haruru, whose body was carried back to O-hui. The genial Pau then composed and sung the following jeering song or ngeri:
Hence Te Ao-uru, daughter of Paumapuku, acquired the name of Hine-tara, and a hill at O-hui was named Te Tehe.
When retreating before a pursuing enemy, the boldest warriors would remain in the rear, in order to check the pursuit, and give the women and those bearing the wounded time to forge ahead.
A war party of Ngati-Kahungunu, under Takua, came to Nga-huinga, on the Rangi-taiki river, and camped at Kopua-a-toto. Their camp fire was seen by Ngati-Apa, who, in skirmishing round, encountered a portion of the hostile forces and slew them. They then marched on the camp where Tukua had remained. When near the camp, they sent forward the same number of their men as the scouts they had slain, and bearing the bodies of the dead, that Takua and his followers in camp might think they were his own men returning victorious. The warriors of Ngati-Apa were thus enabled to approach close to the camp before being discovered. Takua was slain by them. A post was erected and a pit sunk in the ground at the spot where he fell.
The Whakatohea and Ngai-Tai tribes were at peace. Karia, of the former people, thought it a good opportunity to get even with Ngai-Tai, who had slain his two sons in former troubles. Certainly the two peoples were now on friendly visiting terms, but that was all the better. It made things easier. So Whakatohea raised a large crop of taro and invited Ngai-Tai to a sumptuous feast. Ngai-Tai came, and many of them remained on the feast ground. The survivors fled to Torere.
Several traditions are on record concerning fights at sea between hostile forces. Also several engagements have taken place on the waters of Waikare-moana. But the native canoes were not suited to that style of fighting.
Heoi! We will now cease the long story of the rise and fall of the kawau māro. We have sent forth our war party with the tapu heavy upon them. They have held themselves as warriors true beneath the sway of the gods of old. They have returned victorious, bearing the māwe of their victory to the sacred altar of the war god. They have flowed like water down to Hades, on stricken fields. They rose as one man, at the sign of the charred cloak; they smote fiercely many enemies beneath the shining sun.
The old warriors who are yet with us have outlived their age, there is no place in modern life for their old associations. But the spirit is not dead, it is but weakened. When they speak of the fights of old they are the Ika-a-Whiro once more. They charge with the grim phalanx of the Children of the Mist on the bloody field of Puke-kai-kāhu, they sullenly await the behest of Te Rehu-o-Tainui on the shores of the Sea of Taupo. They join the surging crowd which - 19 smote the rising sun, and once more go into camp with old-time comrades who have long passed away. They man once more the crumbling walls of O-rakau, and ram home the rough cartridges in the trenches of Te Tapiri.
The war trails of the men of yore are overgrown, their weapons are laid aside for ever. No more shall the kawau māro spring to action at the sound of the booming war trumpets, never again will the earth tremble to the rythmic thunder of the war dance. No Volscian succours may aid the war worn Sons of Tu, never more shall they lift the war trails of their fathers.
“Te whare patahi .. e hui te rongo,
E hui te rongo, e puta mai ki waho.”
1 There is no question as to the use of green flax leaves tied up in bundles three to four inches in thickness, which the Maoris used as a defence against bullets in modern warfare, but it is doubtful if it is an ancient custom. Such bundles of flax would, however, be quite impervious to spears. — [Ed.]
2 Gudgeon's “History and Traditions of the Maoris.”
3 “History and Traditions of the Maoris,” by T. W. Gudgeon.
4 The enemy! The enemy!
5 Usually termed a tohe.— [Ed.]
6 Killed near Wairoa, H.B.