Ngapuhi seek revenge for the death of Te Paeoterangi

Raimona Inia





Within a year Hongi Hika had raised a great war party to avenge the death of Te Pae-o-te-rangi. Ngapuhi travelled by waka tauā to Pongakawa led Te Awakiohau and Ngaropatukino who were captured at Tauranga. Their intimate knowledge of the Waiariki region would prove most valuable to Hongi Hika. It is estimated that with near 500 warriors the Ngapuhi warband travelled along the eastern shoreline before entering the Waihi estuary, eventually travelling via Pongakawa before reaching Pariwhāiti. Once the warband had rested Hongi split the party into two. Te Wera Hauraki was given command of the section who continued along the Pongakawa to Whangaikorea whilst Hongi and the remainder took the Ohineputatara track, hauling their war canoes overland heading for Lake Rotoehu. As a cautionary measure, Hongi sent another band of warriors ahead to scout out the territory. This group consisted of a handful of bold men led by Kaikinikini who, after reaching the shore of Rotoehu, camped at Maungatapu settlement below the ridge of Kākānui. Here, as their fires burned through the night, a group of 50 Ngāti Tamakari, Ngāti Makino, Ngāti Paruaharanui and Tamateatutahi warriors attacked the musket men under cover of darkness. Led by Te Rakataha, Te Hatete, Tohetaua, Taharua, Te Whawhanga and others, the fight did not last long. Tahuriorangi, who was visiting from Waerenga, joined the war party and is credited with spearing Kaikinikini. Only two men escaped that night, fleeing the combined war party of the Rotoehu area and taking with them the heads of their victims. It may have been on the following day that the great bulk of Hongi’s force reached the Haupapa inlet at Rotoehu. Ngāti Pikiao could do nothing but watch as this combined force surged across the dark waters exiting at Te Pohue. Never before has such a sight been witnessed in these lands. So determined was Hongi on attacking Mokoia that he had a second pathway cleared joining Rotoehu to Rotoiti — this track is still travelled by local and international vistors today. In rememberance of Hongi’s great expedition the path today is still called Hongi’s Track. A remarkable feat of human endurance that also greatly highlights the extent that Hongi and his generals were willing to go to balance out the insult they had incurred at the hands of Te Arawa. The impact that Te Wera had on Whangaikorea led to the death of many people especially one chief who was chased and killed at Te Tahuna named Te Amotu Takaanewa. Those who were living on the shores of Lake Rotoiti immediately scattered into the surrounding hill ranges, whilst others made for the safety of Mokoia Island. While the area was clearing out the massive Ngapuhi war party camped at Tapuaeharuru, scouting parties were sent abroad. One, in particular, was sent to Lake Okataina with specific orders to capture the famed Ngāti Tarawhai priest, Tūmakoha Te Whanapipi. Here was an opportunity to spiritually cripple Te Arawa. As Te Wera arrived at Okataina the battle between the two priests began — Tūmakoha on this occasion proved victorious for he called down a great storm that cloaked the area for three days, preventing Te Wera and his men from capturing him. Giving up the chase, Te Wera returned to the main body where they moved along the backbone of the Rotoiti, landing at Te Wahahiakai where they camped below the great Ngaukawakawa deserted stronghold and planned the great assault of Mokoia whereby now, all Te Arawa had retreated to, believing that the seclusion of the island would protect them. Their hearts must have turned to stone when they saw the many waka of the Ngapuhi and many warriors armed with muskets. All they could now was await the inevitable assault. ■ Tune in next week for part three.