Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 42, 1909
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[Translation]

“To Mr. Smith.

“Salutations in this new year. Here is the letter of Tawhiao of Taumarunui, explaining about your letter to him asking for information

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as to the kahu-maitai” [suit of armour] “which was found by Dr. Pomare, and who has given it to the Museum containing the curiosities at Wellington. I am very glad that it has fallen to me to explain this, because I have seen in the Dominion newspaper which says, ‘This is a peace-offering by Tuwhare to Te Anaua’ (i.e., to Hori Kingi). This is mere supposition, because Tuwhare came from Nga Puhi, hence the people think he owned the armour (that was the origin), and also because they heard that Hongi visited England and brought back some armour. Thus it has been thought ever since that it was Hongi's. I confirm the story of the peacemaking between Tuwhare and Hori Kingi te Anaua in reference to Tokiwhati. It was at the Kohimarama conference that the generosity of Nga Puhi was laid before Whanganui, which has lasted to this day. There was no armour with Tuwhare when he was fighting Whanganui; had there been, the fact would not have been lost in the history of the old men of Whanganui; there would have been 'sayings’ about it. As, for instance, the news of Nga Puhi's guns, which was handed down by the escapees from the Nga Puhi fights, when our people of the South said, ‘Let those pu (guns) come to their pu,’ and then they sounded their pu-kaea (or trumpets).* When they saw the real meaning of those pu, then did Whanganui apply the words to the koanga kaahu” [? armour], “and hence the origin of the story about Tuwhare.

“But let me return to my story. This property (the armour) belonged to Te Heuheu the Great. The daughter of Te Anaua, Nga-weuweu, married Aperahama Ruke, a chief of Taupo, and the property descended to them, and was brought by them to Whanganui, and was left with Hori Kingi as a valuable property for Whanganui.

“Here is another reference to this matter. Hori Kingi te Anaua had two wives, both chieftainesses, Te Ao-tarewa of Ngati Ruaka, and Te Hukinga-huia of Ngati Ruru. In consequence of neither of them having children, they prepared a wooden image as a baby. Then Te Aotarewa composed an oriori, or lullaby, beginning ‘Taku tamaiti e, i puta nui ra koe i te toi ki Hawaiki,’ &c. (which may be seen at length in Tu-wha-whakia's narrative in your paper)” [vide Jour. Polynesian Soc. vol. xiv, p. 135]. “Te Anaua and his brother Te Mawae had also a lullaby about their image, part of which refers to the armour and to Te Heuheu: ‘Kaore te whakama ki te kore tamariki i a au,’ &c.” [I do not see the application, however.—S.P.S.]

“This is the continuation of the story. The armour descended to the chief, and finally to me at Whanganui. I will now explain how this property came to Titore. It was sent to Port Jackson and thence to Titore. The fame of this armour was that bullets would not pierce it. It was then put on by the old man” [? Te Anaua] “who then called on his son to shoot at him; and when the distance had been arranged, the son took his gun and prepared to fire, but was very anxious about the result. So he said to his father, ‘Take off your garment (i.e., armour), and let me try it first, or put it on a stump,’ to which the old man consented. Then he fired at it, hitting it on the forehead, and the bullet went through it. Said the son, ‘If I had listened to you, you would have been shot dead.’

“If the helmet should be found, the hole in it will also be seen. One of my old men has just returned to Whanganui, and he told me that he

[Footnote] * They, in fact, understood the modern word pu (gun) for the ancient word pu (a trumpet).

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had seen the helmet, with the hole through it on the forehead, but he did. not know from whence the armour came. Now you will understand.

“Now, my urgent desire is that this property shall be permanently left in the Whare-Ruanuku (Museum). It was I that directed the search for it in 1895, and Hori Pukehika and I found it concealed in a place, that had been lost” [i.e., the recollection of it]. “Last year Hori Pukehika and Dr. Pomare brought it away. Pukehika has only just returned” [? from here]. “I have sent a communication to Mr. Hamilton, but not so lengthy as this. Will you send him the enclosed copy? I have also sent to Hakiaha Tawhiao in case he should feel dark” [anxious] “on account of that property. Hence do I say that this property of Whanganui should be left in the Museum for ever.

“Enough. May you live, the only old man left of those other old who have departed to the night, Major Keepa, Mete Kingi, Hori Kingi, and many others.

“Your friend,

W. Hipango.”