Volume 2 1893 > Volume 2, No.2, June 1893 > The tree-fort of the Muaupoko tribe of Maoris, at Whakahoro, by Elsdon Best, p 87-88
                                                                                             Previous | Next   

- 87
Illustration
THE TREE-FORT OF THE MUAUPOKO TRIBE OF MAORIS, AT WHAKAHORO.

THE following is the only case in which I have heard of the Maori making use of a tree-house or fort:—

In former times, before the invasion of Ngati-toa, Ngati-raukawa, and Te Atiawa, the country between Paekakariki and Manawatu, on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, was occupied by the Muaupoko tribe One of their settlements was at the Whakahoro clearing, situated on the Waikawa River, a short distance from the present township of Manukau. These people were often harassed by the war parties of Ngatiapa and other tribes, even by the Ngati-kahungunu of Wairarapa, who reached this coast by the old war trail across the Tararua and Hanawera Ranges. As a means of defence, and to insure the safety of their women and children, the Muaupoko of Whakahoro constructed a tree-village or fort, in the tops of three immense kahikatea, or white pine trees, situated at the northern side of the clearing. Beams were laid from fork to fork of the three trees, and upon these was laid a platform, upon which the houses were erected. A fence encircled the whole stage, and stores of food and water were always kept in this aerial pa. Upon the platform were piled heaps of stones, which were hurled down upon the enemy when he approached the trees. The adjoining clearing has been cultivated from ancient times, and on the approach of a taua the Muaupoko retreated to the tree-fort, pulling the ladders up after them. As the platform was situated fully fifty feet from the ground, the besieged might well defy their enemies as long as their food and water held out, for in those days guns were unknown weapons in the south. - 88 When, however, Te Rauparaha arrived in the district with firearms, the days of the tree pa were numbered. The children of Kupe could then see that the position was untenable, and therefore they declined to remain aloft to be shot like birds—“Me he pupuhi manu,” as my informant has it.

The site of this fort was pointed out to me some thirteen years ago; but on revisiting the spot lately I found but one of the trees remaining. The circumstances are still related by the old people of the Ngati-wehiwehi hapu of Ngati-raukawa, and by the Muaupoko of Horowhenua and Poroutawhao.

Illustration