Volume 1 1892 > Volume 1, No. 3, 1892 > The occupation of the Chatham Islands by the Maoris in 1835: Part II - The migration of Ngatiawa to Chatham Island, by A. Shand, p154-163
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- 154

AS already stated, the Ngatitama escapees from the massacre at Te Tarata came back to Port Nicholson and dwelt there with the Ngatimutunga tribe. Prior to this time, many Maoris had made voyages to the islands south of New Zealand1 as “hands” on board whaling ships, or had joined in sealing expeditions. Hohepa Tama-i-hengia, of Ngatitoa, well known about Wellington formerly, went on a sealing expedition, and lived peaceably for a short time with the Morioris, on Chatham Island, at a small kaainga named Wharekauri. Either he or his companions mentioned this circumstance on their return; and hence the Maoris gave the island the name of Wharekauri, a name they could pronounce more easily than the Moriori one of Rĕkŏhu. Others had been to Sydney and Tasmania, as well as to many of the islands of the Pacific. On returning from these trips they related their experiences to their wondering friends, telling them of the sunshine and warmth of these islands, and the abundance of fruit so easily gathered there. Amongst others who had visited the Chatham Islands, was one Paki Whara, who returned to Port Nicholson, and there related his experiences to Ngatiawa. As told by one of the old men of the Ngatitama, he said: “There is an island out in the ocean, not far from here to the eastward, which we visited. It is a land of food—he whenua kai! It is full of birds—both land- and sea-birds—of all - 155 kinds; some living in the peaty soil; with albatross in plenty on the outlying islands. There is abundance of sea and shellfish; the lakes swarm with eels; and it is a land of the karaka berry—he whenua karaka. The inhabitants are very numerous, but they do not understand how to fight, and have no weapons.” “This was the story,” he said, “which induced us to go to the Chathams.” As before said, the Maoris, after their migration southwards from their old homes at Taranaki, and residence on the Waikanae coast, Port Nicholson, and the Middle Island, had become thoroughly restless and adventurous. The picture of the abundance of young albatross, and other seabirds to be obtained there, excited them very much. One chief, in anticipation of their migration, and to establish a right, cursed or tapued the island, saying “that the albatross on the Sister islands (Rangitutahi) should be the grey hairs on his head”—a statement which few would have dared to question, well knowing what would be the result. Te Wharepa, eldest son of Te Poki, to tapu Pitt and the adjacent islands, named his canoe—then either just made or making—Rangiauria (the Moriori name of Pitt island). His canoe was made of a very large totara tree, from the River Hutt (Heretaunga); and out of the same tree, when split, another sister canoe called Ngawheua was also made. The latter belonged to Patukawenga and Ketu Te Ropu. Both canoes were taken to the Chatham Islands in the Rodney. Owing to the excitement of the people, and the strong desire to proceed to the Chathams, the Ngatimutunga held a meeting (runanga) at Kumo-toto (nearly opposite the present Supreme Court, Wellington), where Pomare one of their leading chiefs resided, with his wife Tawhiti,2 when it was agreed to proceed to the Chatham Islands at the first opportunity. The Ngatitama and Kekerewai held a similar meeting at Raurimu, a kaainga or pa between Pipitea Point and Kaiwharawhara. Whether these meetings took place on the arrival of the Rodney in Port Nicholson or previous to it is uncertain; in all probability it was on her arrival.

According to the account recorded of the brig Rodney, she belonged to Messrs. Cooper & Holt, of Sydney, and had come to New Zealand on a trading voyage. The name of the captain is stated to be Harewood; but that always given by the Maoris was Rapete—presumably “rabbit.” The name of the first mate was Ferguson, a name well known to the Maoris prior to the migration, and subsequently also at the island, where he traded with them frequently. - 156 The account goes on to say that the brig arrived at Entry Island (Kapiti), 16th October, 1835; sailed thence on the 19th, and reached Cloudy Bay on the 21st; left again on the 25th, and arrived in Port Nicholson on the 26th October, 1835. Almost immediately after this, or between that date and the 7th November (when the Maoris were watering the Rodney to proceed to the Chatham Islands) they had seized the Rodney.

The account of this as given by Te Wharepa and others, is as follows: “After her arrival, we persuaded the captain to take his boat and go with us to Somes's Island—Matiu—where we told him we had a quantity of muka (scraped flax) and pigs. On arrival at the island we seized the crew, but did not tie the captain, telling him that we did not wish to injure him, but only desired him to take us all to the Chatham Islands; and that we would pay him well in muka and pigs, or even firearms, for doing so. The captain demurred for some time, and said ‘that the Chatham Islands were owned by King George, and that the natives were his subjects; therefore he might be called to account if he took the Maoris thither.’ Finding, however, that they were determined, and alarmed for his own safety, he assented; they then released the boat's crew.” It does not appear clear at what time it happened that Wharepa injured permanently the hip joint of the mate,—Ferguson,—who, Wharepa's brother said, wished to take “his tribe”—the Ngatitoa—to Chatham Islands. If the story is correct, it would give color to the rumour, subsequently current in Sydney, that the Captain was a consenting party to taking the Maoris to the Chathams. Against this, however, is the fact that at the time when he was compelled to agree on Somes's Island—according to Maori testimony—he was certainly unwilling to do as they desired, whatever he may have done afterwards.

We find that, on the 7th November, the Maoris were watering the vessel, and between that date and the morning of November 14, 1835, at 5 a.m., when the Rodney sailed for the Chatham Islands, the Maoris were putting their potatoes and seed on board,—a quantity estimated at 70 tons,—although that could scarcely have occupied all the time. The day before leaving, so many Maoris crowded on board who wished to go, that there was no room to work the ship. She finally took away about 500 souls all told, including women and children; after having landed a large number of others at Evans' Bay. These latter people took the second mate ashore with them, fearing that the captain might not return, according to agreement, to to take the next shipload, unless they held a hostage. According to the Captain's statement, this was nearly coming to pass, on his return - 157 after landing the first party of Maoris at Whangaroa Harbour in the island. It is stated that he only fulfilled his agreement on the assurance of his trading-master, that if he did not return the life of the second mate would certainly be forfeited.

As already mentioned, the Rodney left Port Nicholson on the 14th November; she reached Whangatete, the next small bay to Whangaroa, Chatham Island, late on the 17th. The same evening a European named Baker,3 in charge of a sealing and bay-whaling establishment, at Whangaroa, came off in a whaleboat, and visited them. There also came in the same boat a white man,—James Coffee,—Tauru-Matioro, and Rihari Patuhora, Matioro's sister Mukakai, and some others, all of whom lived peaceably with the Morioris on shore. Baker informed the captain of the proper anchorage at Whangaroa, to which he moved the ship next day, and where the Maoris were immediately landed.

Before the first party left Port Nicholson, many of the Ngatimutunga, particularly Nga-Whairama, objected to and refused to allow the Ngatitama tribe to come on board, asserting that they were an evil lot, and both wizards and witches—he iwi mukutu. Wharepa, Patukawenga, and others, to whom they were related, interfered however, and permitted them—being relations—to come on board, together with a section of the Ngatihaumia or Taranaki tribe.

According to the captain's account, they suffered much from want of water, being unable apparently, to carry sufficient for such a number; and on trying to pass the water to the women and children, the men seized and drunk it. According to the Maori's own story, they were packed so closely in the hold that they could only squat down with their heads resting on one another, and so sleep as best they could. Speaking of the incident years after, they said that when they landed on the island, had the Moriori's attacked them, owing to their sufferings on the voyage, they might have been killed with ease, being quite too ill to resist.

On the 23rd November the Rodney returned to Port Nicholson from Whangaroa, to the great relief of the Maoris there waiting. According to Captain Harewood's account, they had sacrificed and hung up certain dogs, and killed a girl likewise, who is said to have been dealt with in similar manner. This was done to induce the - 158 return of the brig. It took a whole day for those who returned to tell all about the island to their friends. Captain Harewood was now paid for carrying them to the Chathams.

In the second trip, which left on the 30th November, 1835, seven canoes were taken, together with the remainder of the Ngatimutunga, Kekerewai, Ngatitama, and Ngatihaumia,—a section of the Taranaki people,—in all about 400 souls. The vessel was not nearly so crowded or confined as on the first trip. She arrived at her destination on the 5th December, 1835.

Prior to leaving Wellington on the first trip, the leaders of the Ngatimutunga gave out that no one was to take possession of the land on the Chatham Islands, until the matter had been duly arranged. This, however, was apparently ignored by some of themselves, as well as the Ngatitama, who immediately on their arrival set out and took possession of Waitangi and its vicinity. Another section, under Meremere, took possession of the north-east end of the island, including Kaingaroa Harbour; the rest of the island being in the possession of the Ngatimutunga, Kekerewai, and others, who in many instances obliterated one anothers “possession” (takahi), by living on the land, ignoring the footprints (waewae) of their predecessor, who in such cases generally found it convenient not to interfere, through not having sufficient force to repel the aggressor. All such matters, however, became more definitely arranged after the war which ensued between the Ngatitama and Ngatimutunga, when the Ngatitama—beseiged at that time in a pa called Kai-mataotao, at Waitangi—were shipped away with their allies, the Kekerewai, to Kaingaroa, which event occurred in June, 1841. The New Zealand Co.'s Agent,—. Hanson, Esq. (afterwards Chief Justice in South Australia), performed this service in the Cuba, the account of which, with the causes of quarrel, will be detailed later on.

After the landing of the first party of Maoris from the Rodney, in Whangaroa, they had barely recovered from the effects of the voyage before parties set out in all directions to take possession of and occupy the land. The unfortunate Moriori's living thereon, within the boundaries claimed by each Maori rangatira or his hapu, hence-forward became their property. They looked on in terror at the proceedings of these “Kaupeke,” as they termed the new arrivals. Generally speaking each Maori claimed the Morioris within his boundaries; many at first were taken elsewhere from off their lands: while others subsequently were taken to New Zealand, with their masters, at various times.

On being thus enslaved, the Maoris set them to works which they - 159 did not understand, such as carrying heavy burdens, and so forth, for which their previous life had quite unsuited them, for they were not a race of cultivators. Not understanding the new order of things, in many cases they ran away from their masters, for which they were often killed; or at other times, scared by a side blow from a tomahawk, or severely thrashed with the first thing handy. Many instances occurred in which a wife was taken from her husband, if she was at all attractive to her master, which often resulted in her running away to her former husband, who was often killed to prevent a recurrence of a like behaviour; and the woman likewise thrashed severely for her fault. When a Moriori wished to marry the woman he loved, he was not permitted to do so, lest the services of the woman should go to another master. The Maoris on their arrival being very short of food—until their crops grew—compelled the Morioris to produce anything they might possess; and searched for the steeped karaka berries of the Morioris, if they thought they were secreted. All this might perhaps be excused, as the natural brutishness of a savage race, who knew no better; but the behaviour of the sub-hapu, Ngatiwai of the Ngatitama tribe, both at Te Raki and Waitangi, was inexcusable. They committed the greatest atrocities on the unfortunate Morioris. Te Wharekura, of Te Raki, with his hapu, killed and roasted 50 Morioris, in one oven,—it night have been more than one,—for no reason whatever that could be assigned. There was some story of the infringement of tapu; but this was doubtless a convenient excuse for the exercise of their innate savagery. They could not excuse themselves on the ground of dread of the Morioris, for the latter were quite unarmed and incapable of attacking them. This deed of savagery was put in the shade, however, by a worse one committed by another branch of the same Ngatiwai hapu, at Waitangi, where Tikaokao and others fell upon the Waitangi Morioris within their radius, killing men, women, and children; and laid them all out on the sand beach of Waitangi, in length over a quarter of a mile. One Moriori, recently dead—Heremaia Tau—said “they were laid out touching one another, the parent and the child.” “Ko te Matua, ko te tamaiti.” Some of the women, with stakes thrust into them, were left to die in their misery. This statement was corroborated by a Maori, one Pama, also now dead, who expressed his ignorance of the cause of the slaughter. He was living at Waitangi at the time of the occurrence.

If the statement can be relied on as to the extent of beach covered by the bodies, there could scarcely be less than 150 of them killed; but even if an exaggeration, the fact still remains undisputable that - 160 there was a great slaughter, as nearly all the Morioris belonging to Waitangi were exterminated. When so many both of Ngatimutunga and Ngatitama were subsequently killed on board the Jean Bart, French whaler, the Morioris rejoiced that some retribution had overtaken the Maoris for the suffering they had inflicted on themselves. None of all those who took part in these atrocities survive. Apart from the cases detailed, comparatively few more were killed all over the island; but the Morioris began to die very rapidly after the arrival of the Maoris, the cause of which they attribute to the transgression of their own tapu, for the Morioris were an exceedingly tapu race.

The reason of their dying so rapidly after the arrival of the Maoris may be due to a variety of causes. In the first instance, isolated as they were in a small island or islands, not exceeding some 220,000 acres in extent, for a length of time extending over 27 or 28 generations, it was impossible for them to marry anyone but blood connections, even if those connections were removed by several stages. A noteworthy fact with regard to this people is, that all marriages of near connections were forbidden, and were considered incestuous (tiware). In cases where such relationships were likely to occur, a song was sung to warn transgressors of the danger they ran. Continued intermarriage in this manner could scarcely do otherwise than reduce the stamina of the race. Then there was the advent of the Sydney sealers, many of whom lived on the island for a time, and consorted with Moriori women, leaving behind them the usual train of syphylitic diseases, which naturally would be distributed around. With the arrival of the sealers, between 1828 and 1832, a disease was imported of a very virulent kind; and which the Morioris quite unwittingly brought on shore from a sealing vessel. It was said by some of the old men that 800 topu—1,600—died from its effects. This is, however, denied by some of the younger ones; at any rate very many died. It is said that they were in such a state of terror, that they remained in their huts, leaving the dead and dying to take care of themselves. The disease, whatever it was, was very quick in developing, coming out about the arms and body in large dark spots, and ending by carrying off the victim after about two days illness. Owing to the length of time that has elapsed, the description of it may be inaccurate; but, in any case, it was very rapid in its effects. In addition to this, was the harassing experiences of the Maori invasion; to which may be added their lack of clothing—due to the destruction by the sealers of all the fur seals, both old and young, on the outlying reefs or islands, which caused much destitution in that - 161 respect. Owing to the great numbers of seals in former times, the Morioris had forgotten how to weave mats, and had become accustomed to use in their place the skins, fur-side inwards, for clothing. This caused much suffering by cold in the winter months; and in all probability induced chest complaints as well. All of these matters assisted in the mortality which supervened, so that out of an estimated population of 2,000 in 1835, and 212 in 1855, the Morioris are reduced to 35 at the present date; many of them being crossed with other strains, and are not pure Morioris.4

A calculation was made by one of the Morioris, in which he gave the names of 200 which were killed by the Maoris; but he felt sure that there were many more whom he could not recollect, more especially the younger people and children. In like manner he could account for the names of 1,600 living in 1835; but many in like manner he could not recollect, so that the approximation of 2,000 at that date may not be very far out.

Speaking of their numbers before the Maori invasion, the Karewa people, who lived in the centre of the island, likened themselves to the young of the wild grey duck (morīs), as seen on the Whanga (big lagoon) in numberless flocks before the arrival of the inevitable European pests,—pigs, dogs, cats, and rats,—which rapidly thinned and destroyed both sea and land birds. The sea-birds swarmed in all the peaty and higher lands or prominences of the island; and their holes were either dug out by pigs, who eat up the young, or by cats and rats, which destroyed the eggs and the birds themselves. In the case of the wingless birds, they were destroyed by dogs, brought by sealers, which were allowed to go wild. These dogs even killed and devoured one or two of the Moriori, besides attacking others, as well as some of the Maoris; they were ultimately all destroyed. The Morioris of other parts of the island likened themselves in numbers to the korari, or flax stalks; an exaggeration no doubt, but still showing that they were very numerous originally.

Owing to the “possession taking” (takahi) of the islands happening before the arrival of the second shipload of Maoris, the latter had no claim to the island, nor any rights of their own, but lived among their relatives on sufferance; or with those who, as rangatiras, claimed the land. Thus a spirit of envy gradually arose on the part - 162 of Ngatimutunga, of Whangaroa, against the Ngatitama, of Waitangi, more especially as vessels often called at the latter place, where the cultivations were near at hand, consequently the people had not far to carry potatoes; whilst at Whangaroa the bush land was extremely limited, and potatoes had to be carried from a long distance. A year or so after the arrival of the Maoris, Patukawenga, of the senior branch of the Puanaki5 family, died. His influence, both as a relative and friend of the Ngatitama and Kekerewai, preponderated, thus increasing the authority and influence of his uncle Te Poki, who, together with the Pomare following, combined in their envy of the Ngatitama position at Waitangi; added to this was the grievance—at that time called in commemoration Paana rae—that the Ngatimutunga had against Ngatitama, because they were not allowed to bring their potatoes from a distance outside the Ngatitama radius, and barter them with the whalers in Waitangi. Pomare, at this juncture, got some one to write a letter or letters to the Ngatitama at Waitangi, the exact reason for which is not clear; but evidently it had some reference to vessels. This the Ngatitama—who did not stick at trifles—tore up; a proceeding which constituted a grievous insult to Pomare. All of these circumstances caused much tension at the time between the two tribes, and make their relations unpleasant.

On the first arrival of the Maoris, many whalers called at the Chatham Islands; but shortly after the English whaler—the - 163 barque Caroline, Captain Robertson—left, a very long time elapsed—over a year or more—before any more came; and there was therefore no tobacco obtainable, many of the Maoris being without any. Moreover, the old feelings of discontent again arose, due partly to the smallness of the island; and partly to the old restless feeling engendered by their various migrations; and also to the knowledge that there were other lands than the Chatham Islands which they might go to. Te Tupe-o-tu, elder brother of Matioro, the head chief of the Otaraua hapu, at this time returned with the Caroline to Waikanae, in Cook's Strait.

Soon afterwards one Ray, captain of an American whaler, called at Okawa, on the N.E. coast of the island. Wiremu Kingi Meremere, a Ngatitama chief, went on board and tried to make an arrangement with the captain for himself and the Kekerewai tribe to go to Samoa, or Nawaikite (Navigators) as they called it. Captain Ray, it is said, told them all to go round to Waitangi, where he would shortly return, after going out to the whaling grounds, and there arrange matters with them. Accordingly a large proportion of the Ngatitama and Kekerewai, from the Kaingaroa end of the island, went to Waitangi to await his arrival as promised. Meanwhile the Ngatimutunga, it is said, also began to stir; and wished to go to Norfolk Island, which by some means they had heard of. Such was the unsettled position of affairs at that date, when an event occurred which altered all their plans.

[To be continued.]

1  The Sydney whalers and sealers first began to visit the islands south of New Zealand in 1828. Chatham Island was first discovered by Europeans on 29th November, 1790, when Lieut. Broughton, in H.M. brig Chatham, visited the island on his way to join Vancouver, at Tahiti.—Editors.
2  Tawhiti was a daughter of Te Rauparaha's; she was discarded by her husband on account of the trouble brought about by Te Rauparaha at Hao-whenua. Subsequently Pomare took Hera-Waitaoro as his wife.
3  This Baker was the head of a shore party of sealers and whalers (right whales), who had been living on the island some time previously, at Whangaroa—said to have been so named by him, but more probably by his Maori companions. The old name in Moriori, given by “Kahu,” being Tei kohuru; or, in Maori, Tai marino, placid, calm tide.
4  Touching the Moriori mats, it may be added that on the sealskins being no longer obtainable, they had began to try and recover the old mode of making mats when the Maori migration arrived, who taught them their own process instead. A few specimens of the old Moriori mat have been seen; they were beautifully fine in texture, far more so than those of the Maori.
5  There were two leading families in the Ngatimutunga tribe, that of Puanaki's descendants, and that of Piritaka's. Puanaki had:—eldest born Te Anu (an idiot), next Kaiwhakarua, Warea, Te Umu, Te Poki. Kaiwhakarua was a man of great strength and ferocity as a warrior; a wrestler perhaps unequalled in his district. Among other things he showed a most impartial class of mind, quite peculiar in a Maori: thus, on some part of his tribe asserting an injury against another, he would join them to punish as well as kill and eat their adversaries. This done, however, his evenly balanced sense of justice would not allow him rest until he had avenged their losses in like manner,—he being related to both sides,—thus affording him an opportunity of tasting the flavour of his sometime friends—hence his name: Kai-Whakarua, “eating both sides.” Consequently neither side had cause of complaint, each being duly avenged. His son was Patukawenga; a second son was killed at Haowhenua. Warea (female) was mother of Kitu te Ropu and Tipi, wife of Taui. Te Umu's children were: Te Iringa (female),—who married a Ngapuhi man, and accompanied her husband on the way round by Wellington (Whanganui-a-Tara) in one of the first Ngapuhi tauas with Ruaparaha, where Te Iringa was killed, which constituted a take whereby the Ngatimutunga claimed Wellington in their southward migration. Tapae, Tupara, and Tangari were the other children of Te Umu. The two former went to Auckland Islands from the Chathams, and dwelt there, in 1843. Te Poki's children were:—Te Wharepa, Toenga, Te Matahi, Te Nohinohi, Haena, and Paina te Poki. Te Nohinohi was killed by the Jean Bart's crew. Pomare left no direct descendants; his relatives are children of a half-brother and sisters.