Volume 40 1931 > Volume 40, No. 157 > Matakitaki Pa, Pirongia, by L. G. Kelly, p 35-38
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MATAKITAKI PA lies in the heart of the Waikato territory, and is situated on the point of land where the Mangapikopiko River joins the Waipa about half-a-mile north of the village of Pirongia, the road from Pirongia to Te Rore actually cutting through the site of the main fosse. When I last visited this famous spot in April, 1930, the old pa had been cleared and was being farmed by Mrs. Sterritt. She informed me that when they first took possession the whole area was a wilderness of blackberry and gorse, and, indeed, those earthworks that still remain are still in that condition. During the course of their farming improvements the owners were forced to level the main fosse, which formerly stood between their residence and the road, and thus proved a hindrance to wheeled traffic in and out of the farm. However, this fosse, in which most of the Waikato met their fate during the Hongi Hika raid, can still be traced by a slight depression, and, indeed, a small portion at either end still exists, though so overgrown with blackberry that it was impossible for me to judge the depth. According to accounts given by other writers, this pa consisted really of three pa in one, being known respectively as Matakitaki, Taurakohia, and Puketutu. Puketutu is that on the inland side flanking Te Rore Road, and on which stands Mrs. Sterritt's residence. It is now in grass with a hedge and flower-garden and numerous farm buildings. On the right flows the Mangapikopiko, while on the left is the Waipa. About a hundred yards from the homestead is a large fosse and parapet, which runs from river-bank to river-bank. This earthwork is still in good preservation with the exception of about twenty feet on the Mangapikopiko side, where the parapet has

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been cut away to allow for a cattle gateway. Roughly, the bottom of the fosse measures twenty feet in width, while from the bottom of the fosse to the top of the parapet is about twelve or thirteen feet. Passing over this parapet one enters Taurakohia, to find a pasture as in Puketutu. Here were two slight depressions that suggested rua (pits), all the rest of this portion of the pa being more or less level, the plough having obliterated anything else that may have existed. Here at Taurakohia, the Mangapikopiko makes a bend in its course to the north, to return again until it nearly meets the Waipa before again flowing northward. Across the narrow neck between the two rivers is another fosse and parapet of about the same dimensions as the one described above, with the exception that it is much shorter. This fosse apparently separates Taurakohia from Matakitaki proper, although it appears that the name Matakitaki applied to the whole pa in former times. Inside this second fosse is a small triangular area, the two rivers being quite close to each other at this point. On the south side the land drops quickly to nearly the level of the Waipa, while to the west it is formed into a small fosse and parapet. This fosse, however, is in a reverse position to those before mentioned. The first two were constructed to protect the pa from an attack from the inland side; this one protects it from an attack from the river. Up to this last fosse the whole of the pa has been on a level with the surrounding country, but here, as has already been described, it falls quickly to the river-level, where it remains so on the Waipa side. Just below the small fosse mentioned above, and alongside the Mangapikopiko, the pa rises again to a narrow ridge which continues to within a short distance of the junction of the two rivers. Although covered with a heavy growth of gorse, the top of this ridge appears to have been levelled, and is protected at either end by a ditch and parapet. These earthworks were the only ones discovered by me during the course of my short inspection, and, indeed, I doubt if any others remain, so well has the hand of the farmer done its work. I was unable to ascertain the exact site of the Hongi Hika camp, but apparently it was on the opposite side of the Waipa near its junction with the - 38 Mangapikopiko. Just exactly where the Nga-Puhi first attacked I was also unable to ascertain, but, from observations, I should say they first landed on the low levels near the Waipa and fought their way up the slope to the pa. Roughly, Matakitaki is half a mile long and, palisaded, it must have been a formidable place in its time. Apparently it was the fear of the musket, more than Nga-Puhi's fighting quality, that assured them their success.

NOTE—A rough sketch of the Matakitaki pa appears in White, Ancient History of the Maori, vol. 5, p. 170.


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MAJOR-GENERAL HORATIO GORDON ROBLEY of 1st battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.