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Volume 28, 1895
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Art. IV.—The History of Otakanini Pa, Kaipara.

[Read before the Auckland Institute, 5th August, 1895.]

The Maori documents sent by Hami Tawaewae to Mr. Fenton when he presented the tiki from Otakanini Pa to the Museum have been placed in my hands for translation. Knowing something of the old history of the Otakanini Pa, which I gathered from one of the principal chiefs of the Ngati-whatua Tribe in 1860, I have added a few explanatory notes to Hami's history.

The Otakanini Pa is situated on a navigable creek, which joins the Kaipara waters about six miles south of Aotea Bluff. It was a strong pa in former days, having the deep, muddy creek on one side and swamps on all others. The hill on which it is built is about 100ft. high, and, as usual, is terraced and fortified on top. It is somewhat celebrated in Ngati-whatua history as having been besieged on more than one occasion.

At the foot of the hill on which the pa is built a spring gushes forth, from which, in former times, the inhabitants obtained their drinking-water. Tradition says that it was in going to fetch water from this spring that Rona struck her foot against a stone, and therefore cursed the moon, which just at that moment had gone behind a cloud. The result was that Rona, as punishment for her impiety, was taken up to the moon, where she may be seen to this day, as any old Maori will tell you. This is a capital illustration of the localisation of a world-wide myth, which the Polynesians brought with them from the far-west in their migrations, and which is known to probably all branches of that race. Even the Ainu people of Japan have the same story. With us it is “the man in the moon,” not a woman.

The first occasion on which we hear of Otakanini in Maori history was in the time of Maki, a great man who lived about ten generations ago, and who was the principal chief of the Nga-riki or Nga-iwi Tribe, that formerly owned the whole of the southern Kaipara district and the Isthmus of Auckland, as far as the Tamaki River. It was these people who built the great pas around Auckland. For some reason not now known, Maki attacked and took the Otakanini Pa, and killed a great many of its inhabitants.

It was about the time that Maki flourished that the Ngati-whatua Tribe first made its appearance in the Kaipara district, having conquered their way down from the North

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Cape and from Kaitaia. It was not, however, until the time of Kawharu, Hakiriri, and Te-Ati-a-kura, about six or seven generations ago, that they advanced so far south as Kaipara proper. Their advance was due to some murders committed by the Wai-o-hua Tribe—a branch of Nga-riki—and who at that time occupied Otakanini and the adjacent country. Amongst others who were killed by the Wai-o-hua people was Hau-mai-wharangi, and it was to avenge his death particularly that the expedition, which finally conquered Kaipara, left the Wairoa, where Ngati-whatua were then living. One part of this expedition was under the command of Pou-tapu-aka, Papa-karewa, and Ati-a-kura. They landed near Otakanini, and occupied the hill just above where Te Otene lived, at Papurona, in 1860. They found Otakanini Pa too strong to take by a rush, and so adopted a method of siege which was not at all uncommon in former days. It has been denied by a well-known authority on Maori matters that the Maoris ever used any projectile weapon: the following will prove the contrary. The description of the Siege of Otakanini was given to me by Te Otene, the most learned man of Ngati-whatua alive in those days, and one well acquainted with the tribal history. As we sat on the same hill his ancestors occupied, as described above, he explained that Hakiriri and his men plied the pa with spears from that position, thrown by means of the kotaha or kopere, and, although the distance is some 150 yards, the besiegers made it so hot for those within the pa that they dare not come outside. Under cover of this shower of spears an advance was made, and the Pa of Otakanini finally taken, with very great slaughter. It was explained to me that the spears used were made of long, straight manuka poles, cut on the bank of the creek just below where we were sitting, and that, after having their ends sharpened by burning in the fire, they were thrown by aid of the kotaha.

Many of Us have seen this method of propulsion, no doubt, as used by the Maori boys in play. The spear is struck into the ground on a slant, inclined towards the direction in which it is intended to fly. A short stick, about 18in. long, with a string at one end, is used to propel the spear. The short stick is, in fact, just like a whip. The string or thong of the whip is twisted round the spear in a peculiar manner, so that it will readily come undone. The operator, standing on one side, with a strong, jerk, draws the spear out of the ground, and propels it to a long distance. Te Otene told me that a spear cast in this manner was capable of piercing two men at once, especially if thrown so as descend at a high angle.

This siege occurred about six generations ago. Hakiriri was Te Otene's great grent grandfather. From estimating

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Te Otene's age at seventy in 1860, this would make the date about the year 1690 or 1700, if not before. It was not long after this that the Ngati-whatua conquered all the country from Kaipara to the Tamaki, and practically exterminated the whole of the Wai-o-hua Tribe, who were its then owners.

We now come to Hami te Waewae's narrative:—

Ko nga korero tenei o tenei pa, o Otakanini, e tu nei i roto o Kaipara.

Ko Tauhia te rangatira o tenei pa. Tona iwi, ko Ngati-whatua. He moko-puna ia na Pokopoko-whitite-ra. He pa toa tenei i ana whawhai katoa. Ko te pa tenei i whakataukitia: “Ko te pa o te Aitanga-a-Tiki”; o “Tetaetaea”; “Te tunga o te totara.” Ko enei whakatauki, he whakatauki mo te iwi rangatira. “Ko te ringa heke tohu nui a Tangaroa”; “Ko te whare o te manuka”; “Ko te poko-poko o Rotu”; “Te autete awhea.” Ko enei whakatauki, he whakatauki mo te toa ki te whawhai.


This is the history of the Otakanini Pa, which is situated at Kaipara.

Tauhia was the chief of this pa, and his tribe was Ngati-whatua. He was a grandson of Pokopoko-whiti-te-ra. The people of the pa were celebrated for their bravery. There are several “sayings” in reference thereto: “The pa of the descendants of Tiki”; of “Tetaetaea”; “where stands the totara.” These are all sayings applied to a high-born people. The other sayings are in reference to the courage of the people in war.


The above are mottoes or sayings descriptive of the bravery of the people and the strength of the pa. Pokopoko-whiti-te-ra was a celebrated ancestor of the Ngati-whatua Tribe, who was a great peacemaker in his day; hence, in making peace, if it were likely to be lasting, it was said to be like those of “Pokopoko-who-causes-the-sun-to-shine.” He was also celebrated as a taniwha slayer, and many places in Kaipara are pointed out at this day as the former dwelling-places of noted taniwhas that were killed by him. Rotu, mentioned in one of the “sayings,” was the wife of Maki, already referred to.


Ko tetehi o nga pa o Tauhia ko Rangi-te-pu. Kotahi mano te ope a Takurua i eke ki te whawhai ki taua pa. Rokohanga atu, ko Tauhia i te pa, toko-ono nga hoa, ko ia ka toko-whitu ai; ko tona whaea ka toko-waru. Te ingoa o tona whaea ko Koieie, he tamahine na Pokopoko. Ka mea atu a Koieie ki tana tamaiti—ki a Tauhia, kia kakahuria ana kakahu mo te wha-whai. Katahi ka whakakakakakahuria e Koieie, ka tiaina tona matenga ki te raukura—ara—ki te kotuku. Katahi ka mau ki tana patu; te ingoa o te patu, ko “Nga-tai-i-turia-ki-te-maro-whara.” Heoi; te taenga atu o te ope a Takurua, ka karanga atu nga hoa ki a Tauhia


Another pa of Tauhia's was Rangite-pu. On one occasion Takurua came with a thousand men to as sault that pa. On their arrival they found Tauhia in the pa, with six comrades, he making seven, and his mother eight. His mother's name was Koieie, and she was a daughter of Pokopoko. Koieie told her son (Tauhia) to dress himself up in his garments of war. She proceeded to help him, and decorated his head with a plume made of the feathers of the kotuku (or white heron). He then seized his weapon, which was named “The-tides-fought-with-the-war-girdle.” When the army of Takurua approached, his companions called

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(me te wiri ano o ratou), “E ! ka kapi te whenua i te nui o te ope !”

Katahi a Tauhia ka karanga atu, “Moku anake ano ena hoa-wha-whai; kahore mo koutou.” No reira, ka nui te hari o ana hoa, a, ka mutu te mataku.

Katahi ka peke atu a Tauhia ki te patu i te ope a Takurua. Tokorua ki te hinganga i tana patunga kotahi; no konei ka whati te ope, a, patua haeretia e ratou ko ana hoa, a, hore rawa atu he tangata i ora. Me te rangatira hoki, me Takurua, mate katoa.

Katahi a Koieie ka piki ki runga ki tetehi puke, ki Puke-kowhiwhi, ka karanga, “Kei te whetu au e ! kei te marama !” No reira i rongo mai ai taua iwi—a Ngati-whatua—i matau ai hoki, kua hinga te pare-kura a Tauhia. Na, ka whakahua te hari a Tauhia ratou ko ona hoa i muri i te hinganga o ta ratou parekura:—

Aue ! uhi mai te waer !
A, ko roto ko taku puta !
A, he puta aha te puta ?
A, he puta tohu te puta,
A, e rua nei, ko te puta-e !

I muri i tenei, ka hoki mai a Tauhia ki tona pa, ki Otakanini, a, taea noatia tona matenga.


out to Tauhia (at the same time trembling for themselves), “Ah ! the land is covered by the greatness of this army !”

Tauhia replied to them, “Those enemies are coming for me alone, not for you.” In consequence of this his companions were very glad, and they no longer feared.

Tauhia then sprang forward to combat the army of Takurua. Two of them fell at the first blow; hence the army fled, and they were followed up by Tauhia and his companions, who killed them as they ran, so that not one escaped. The chief Takurua was also killed with the rest.

Then Koieie ascended a hill named Puke-kowhiwhi and shouted out, “I am as the stars, as the moon !” Hearing this, her tribe—Ngati-whatua—knew at once that Tauhia had won his battle. Tauhia and his companions then repeated their song of triumph after the battle:—

[I do not attempt to translate this—the words have no sense, the meaning it originally had being lost. It is not by any means an uncommon hari or species of song used to accompany the war-dance.]

After this, Tauhia returned to his pa at Otakanini, and dwelt there until his death.


Tauhia, mentioned above, was the grandson of Pokopoko-whiti-te-ra, and son of his daughter Koieie, who married Whai-whata. Tauhia lived four generations ago; many of his descendants lived at Te Kawau, Kaipara, in 1860. Te Waru was Tauhia's son by his second wife, Matangi.


He tokomaha nga uri o Tauhia, erangi, e rua anake nga mea i haere ki te whawhai—ara—ko Te Waru, ko Te Wana-a-riri.

Ko ta Te Waru nei ope, i ahu ki Ngapuhi, a, horo katoa te pa o Ngapuhi. Te ingoa o te pa, ko Te Tu-huna. I muri i tera, ka horo ano tetahi atu pa; te ingoa o te pa, ko Tai-a-mai. No konei ka houhia te rongo, a, ka hoki mai a Te Waru me taua ope katoa ki Otakanini. Huaina ana te ingoa o tena parekura “Ko te patu turoro.


Tauhia had many offspring, but only two of them ever engaged in war, namely, Te Waru and Te Wana-a-riri.

Te Waru's army went to the Nga-puhi country, where he took a pa belonging to that tribe, called Te Tuhuna. After this he took another pa, the name of which was Tai-a-mai. In consequence of this, peace was made, and Te Waru and his army returned to their pa at Otakanini. These battles were called “Te-patu-turoro.”

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I muri i tenei, ka haere te ope a tona teina, a Te Wana-a-riri, ki Ngapuhi ano. Ka tutaki ki a Nga-pubi ki Moremonui; a, katahi ka whawhai; ka mate a Ngapuhi. Huaina ana te ingoa o tenei pare-kura ko, “Te-kai-a-te-karoro.” Ka houhia ki te rongo, a, ka ora nga mea i ora, me Hongi Hika. Otira, ko te rangatira nui o te ope, ko Pokaia, i mate. Heoi ka hoki mai a Te Wana-a-riri me taua ope katoa ki Otakanini.

Ko nga take enei i haere ai a Hongi Hika ki Ingarangi, ki a Kingi Hori, ki te tiki pu, paura, me taua kakahu mata.


After this, the army of Te Waru's younger brother, Te Wana-a-riri, went to Ngapuhi. They met the latter tribe at Moremonui, and there fought a battle in which Ngapuhi were defeated. This battle was called “The-food-of-the-sea-gull.” After that peace was made; those who were not killed escaped, amongst them Hongi Hika. But the principal leader of the Ngapuhi army, Pokaia, was killed. So after this Te Wana-a-riri and his army returned to Otakanini.

It was on account of these defeats that Hongi-Hika went to England to King George to fetch guns, powder, and his coat of mail.


The expedition under Te Waru took place in the early years of this century, and the cause of it was as follows: Pokaia, a great chief of Ngapuhi, ardently desired to marry Kararu, a sister of Hongi Hika; but the lady was obdurate and would not consent. To escape Pokaia's attentions she married an old man named Tahere, of Kaikohe. Pokaia, wild with rage, adopted a plan of giving vent to his feelings which is not at all uncommon in Maori history. He raised a war party and wantonly attacked Taoho, a chief of Kaihu, and slew many of his people. To obtain revenge for this, Ngati-whatua made the incursion into the Ngapuhi country, in which Te Waru joined as related above, and met with such success that Ngapuhi in honour bound could not do less than wipe out the disgrace that had fallen on their arms. Pokaia and Hongi raised a war party of five hundred strong, and advanced on Kaipara by way of the west coast. They were met at Moremonui, on the beach about ten miles south of Maunganui Bluff, and, after a very severe fight, Ngati-whatua gained the victory, killing Pokaia, Te Waikeri, Hou-awe, Tohi, Tu-karawa, and many other leading men of Ngapuhi. The bodies were left on the beach (such as were not consumed) in such numbers that they were eaten by the seagulls—hence the name of the battle, “Te-kai-a-te-karoro.” This defeat was one of the main reasons why Hongi went to England with Mr. Kendall in 1820 to obtain arms with which to chastise Ngati-whatua and the Hauraki Tribes, who had both defeated Ngapuhi very seriously. The result was a series of slaughters—too numerous to mention here—which ended in the complete victory of Ngapuhi, and the devastation of the whole of Kaipara and the Auckland Isthmus for many years.


I te hokinga mai o Hongi Hika i Ingarangi ka whawhaitia e ia nga iwi o runga—ara—o Rotorua, o Nga


On the return of Hongi Hika from England he made war on the tribes of the south—namely, Rotorua,

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tiporou, o Ngati-maru, o Waikato. I muri i enei whawhai, katahi ka huri mai ki a Ngati-whatua. Ko te ingoa o te pare-kura ko “Te Ikaranga-nui.” Heoi, hinga ana a Nga-puhi, hinga ana a Ngati-whatua, engari i riro te papa i a Ngapuhi. No konei ka haere a Te Tinana ki Waikato; tona taenga atu ki reira, ka puta te whakaaro o Ngati-te-ata ki te rangatira o Ngati-mania-poto, ki a Tu-korehu, kia patua a Te Tinana, a, patua ana, mate ana. Ko te take tenei i haere ai ngaiwi e rua, a Ngapuhi, a Ngati-whatua ki Waikato, ki te taki i te mate o Te Tinana. No reira i mate ai a Pomare me Te Whare-o-riri, me etahi atu o nga rangatira o Ngati-whatua. Engari, ko te nuinga o nga rangatira i ora, a hoki mai ana ki Kai-para nei.

Ka moe tetahi wahine o Ngatiwhatua i tetehi tangata o Ngati-teata; katahi ka tikina ano taua wahine e Ngati-whatua, ka tangohia mai. No reira i puta ai te whakaaro o Ngati-te-ata, puta noa i Waikato, kia whawhaitia a Ngatiwhatua. No taua takiwa i hangaapoutia ai tenei pa, a Otakanini, i whakaarahia ai hoki tenei Tiki; ko tona ingoa ko “Te Whare-o-riri.” Ko te tangata nana i whakaara tenei Tiki, ko Mate, ko tetehi o nga rangatira o Ngapuhi. Otira, kahore i tae mai a Waikato.

E toru nga tau i tu ai tenei Tiki ki Otakanini, ka whawhai nei a Hone Heke ki te pakeha, i Koro rareka.

He kupu poroporoaki enei naku, na Hami Tawaewae, ki a “Te whare o-riri”:—

Ka toto nga kohu e-i roto o Kai-para,

I te puna whakatoto riri, e,

Na o tupuna, na o matua nga ki-e,

He tahuri waka nui,

E kore e ngaro-e,

He kopua nganangana i rangi.

Me tuku atu koe ra,


Ngati-porou, Ngati-maru, and Waikato. After this he turned towards Ngati-whatua. The name of this battle was Te Ika-ranga-nui. Here both Ngapuhi and Ngati-whatua fell, but the victory remained with the former. [This was in February, 1825.] It was in consequence of this defeat that Te Tinana [of Ngati-whatua] went to Waikato; on his arrival there the Ngati-te-ata Tribe persuaded the chief of Ngatimania poto, named Tu-korehu, to kill Te Tinana, which was done. This death, again, was the cause that the two tribes of Ngapuhi and Ngati-whatua went to Waikato to seek revenge for Te Tinana's death. In consequence, Pomare, of Ngapuhi, and Te Whare-o-riri, of Ngati-whatua, were killed, besides others [at Te Rore, 1826]. At the same time most of the chiefs of Ngati-whatua escaped, and subsequently returned to Kaipara to dwell.

Subsequently one of the Ngati-whatua women married a Ngati-te-ata man, when the former tribe took her away from her husband. Hence, the Ngati-te-ata Tribe, together with the Waikatos, proposed to make war on Ngati-whatua. It was at this time that the Pa of Otakanini was rebuilt, and the Tiki-which is called Te Whare-o-riri [after the chief of that name]—was erected. The Tiki was set up by Mate, one of the chiefs of Ngapuhi [who lived at Puatahi, Kaipara, in 1860]. But the Waikato people never came after all.

The Tiki had been erected about three years at Otakanini when the war between Hone Heke and the Pakehas commenced at Kororareka [1844].

These are my farewell words, of Hami Tawaewae, to “Te Whare o-riri”:—

The misty clouds in Kaipara gather

In the anger-propelling fountain;

'Twas thy ancestors, thy parents declared.

'Tis like the wreck of a great canoe,

Which will never be forgotten—

Like a deep-red cavity in heaven.

From hence thou must depart

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Nga whare o Kuini,

Ka tapua koe ra,

Te hua o te waero,

He taonga ruru tonu-e,

I roto te whare kino,

Ka he nga hau-e,

I a tatou, e te iwi-e !

Haere e Kara! e Te Whare-o-riri !

Haere atu i roto o Kaipara ! Haere atu ki roto ki nga whare nunui o to taua iwi, o te Pakeha!

Me mihi atu koe ki o tatou hoa Pakeha ina tae atu kia kite i a koe !

“Ko ahau tenei, ko Te Whare-o-riri, e mihi atu nei ki a koutou.”

Tena koutou, me to tatou Kuini Wikitoria. Ma te Atua ia e tiaki, e hoatu hoki te kaha, kia kaha ai ia mo te whakamarama i nga ture pai mo tatou, kia rite te kupu o te Waiata cxxxiii., 1: “Na, ano te pai, ano te ahuareka o te nohoanga tahi-tanga o nga teina, o nga tuakana, i runga i te whakaaro tahi.”

Heoi ano aku mini ki a koutou; Tena koutou ! Tena koutou ! Tena koutou !

Na Hami Tawaewe.


To stately mansions of the Queen, And there be sacred kept,

With many dog-skin garments.

Thou art a treasure closely prized In the depths of this gloomy heart.

The winds seem gone astray With us, O people !

Go, oh sir ! Te Whare-o-riri ! Go hence, depart from Kaipara! Depart to the mansions of our European people !

Thou shalt greet our friends the Pakehas when they come to visit thee, saying, “'Tis I, Te Whare-o-riri, that salutes you all.”

Salutations to you all, and to our Queen Victoria ! May God protect her, and give her power and strength to enlighten us with good laws, that the words of Psalm cxxxiii., 1, may be fulfilled: “Behold ! how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

This is all my greeting to you. Salutations! Salutations! Salutations to you all!

From Hami Tawaewae.