Volume 52 1943 > Volume 52, No. 4 > Rangitatau pa, by Henry M. Christie, p 202-203
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- 202

IN August, 1931, I was collecting information about old pa-sites on the Miramar peninsula, and asked the late Mr. Elsdon Best for help, which was generously given. His assistance was greatly appreciated. Amongst the mass of interesting matter obtained is an account of the sacking of Rangitatau pa about 1819-1820, which does not appear in The Land of Tara and They Who Settled It (E. Best), reprinted from the Journal of the Polynesian Society in 1919.

In that historical record some reference is made on pages 101 and 110, where Mr. H. N. McLeod has contributed notes of the pa, but Mr. Best had not then received the details of the sacking. The information was given by the late Mr. H. T. Whatahoro, known as “The Scribe” in The Lore of Whare-Wananga” (Polynesian Society's Memoirs, Volumes 3 and 4). For my use Mr. Best translated the notes which follow:—

“When the raiders under Tuwhare and others reached Pukerua, they found Waimapihi pa there strongly held by Ngati-ira, Ngati-kaitangata and some of Muaupoko. The raiders disclaimed all hostile designs and lured the local folk outside the defences, then suddenly attacked them, slaying Te Ata-hapara, Te Rangi-whaka-rurua, Paekohe, Te Arataua, Te Uruora, and many others. Coming on to the Whanganui-a-tara the raiders found the Rangitatau pa, situated across the entrance from the lighthouse, occupied by folk of Ngati-ira, Ngati-rakai, and Ngati-rangi. The raiders camped over toward the Newtown side (of the isthmus), and at dawn concealed themselves near the kumara-plantations. Many of the Rangi-tatau folk went out at dawn to fish, while others went to work in the kumara-fields. The latter were attacked by the raiders, who killed Te Uruahi and Puahu of Ngati-rangi, Te Whawhapo of Ngati-ira, Takatua of Ngati-rakai, also Pauata, Kopani, Te Rongarua, Puakato, Hungahunga, Koroua, and Huatoki, all men. The women slain were Huirua, Te Arahe, Pukurua, Te Koki, Te Rehu, Tangiaru, Hineuhi, and Tihitihi. Altogether fifty or more were slain. Poito, the fortified village of Ngati-rakai, was burned, as also were Rangitatau (the pa of Ngati-ira) and Te Kopahou, the pa of Ngati-rangi, and Ngati-hikerata. The fishermen from the places at sea saw the burning, and so paddled shoreward. When they reached the beach they found the raiders in possession, and knew by their speech that they were not members of any southern tribe, so the fishermen paddled down the coast to Orongo-rongo where they explained matters to Ngati-hinerau-moa and Ngati-puku clans, and so a force was sent to Te Karaka near Parangarehu to intercept the raiders.

“When the advance party of the raiders reached Te Karaka, their rear-guard was at Te Koromiko. The rear was attacked and Te Kiore, Te Peha, and Moturoa (local men) were slain. The people of the land then fled to the forest. Tuwhare and the raiders went on to Wai-rarapa where they attacked Ngati-hinerau-moa, Ngati-puku, Ngati- - 203 rakairangi, clans at Mawhitiwhiti, and killed Takawai-rangi, Te Kopu, Te Arahe, Rakau-wharoha, Te Matiori, Te Hoe, Kurakura, and about ten others it is said, while the raiders lost Kaukau of Ngati-maru, after which they returned to their northern homes.”

The northern Maoris who took part in this raid were part of the expedition of Ngati-whatua, Ngapuhi, and Ngati-toa, led by Patuone, Tuwhare, Te Rauparaha, Te Rangihaeata and other chiefs. Apparently Ngati-maru had sent warriors, for one Kaukau has his name on the casualty list above.

The exact location of Rangitatau pa has not been determined, but it appears to have been situated on the western bluff of Tarakena bay at the south-eastern extremity of Miramar, a few hundred yards to the east of the reef on the eastern point of Lyall bay, known as Hua-te-taka. On the eastern bluff of Tarakena, very ancient and much-weathered hut sites show that the place had been occupied at some remote period, but the supposed site of Rangitatau pa had indications of comparatively recent occupation. The writer first visited this site in 1899, and the signs were then quite plain. Close to the edge of the cliff, on the seaward side, the charred slab of totora-palisade was still in the ground. It seems obvious that this is the place referred to by “The Scribe”. From 1820 to 1899 was only a period of seventy-nine years.

A large midden on the sand to the north-east of this site may have been the rubbish-dump of the dwellers who used Rangitatau as a resort in times of stress. Many artifacts have been recovered here, and stone anvils were found beside the small stream, Te Poti, which flows into the bay.