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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



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Attacks on the South Island

Soon afterwards Te Rauparaha was joined by Ngati Raukawa and also by a Ngati Tama party. With a large force at his disposal he began to accumulate firearms for an attack on the South Island. Te Pehi even journeyed to England to get more guns. In the meantime Ngati Raukawa were occupying the Horowhenua district. The defeated Muaupoko made a last effort to retrieve their lands and assembled at Lake Papaitonga, near Ohau, but Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata attacked and defeated them once more.

In 1828 Te Rauparaha was ready for his first attack on the South Island tribes. On this occasion he was accompanied by his Taranaki allies of Ngati Tama and Te Atiawa. While Te Rauparaha was defeating the Ngati Apa on D'Urville Island (Rangitoto), the Taranaki party raided settlements in Queen Charlotte Sound. Te Rauparaha then crossed to Pelorus Sound, where he slew many of the local people. The Taranaki left Queen Charlotte Sound and proceeded to attack the Ngati Apa in Blind Bay and Massacre Bay, while Te Rauparaha and his Ngati Toa went down the east coast by canoe to Kaikoura. There he defeated the local branch of the Ngai Tahu tribe, who mistakenly believed the canoes to be those of a party of visitors they had been expecting. The unarmed people were completely taken by surprise, some 1,400 being killed or taken prisoner. Among the prisoners was Rerewaka, a chief who had some time previously insulted Te Rauparaha. He was taken back to Kapiti where he was put to death with great cruelty.

In 1829 Te Rauparaha again crossed to the South Island, this time to avenge an insult paid Te Rangihaeata by Kekerengu, a Ngati Ira chief who had taken refuge with the Ngai Tahu at Kaikoura. The Ngati Toa landed at Wairau and went overland to Kaikoura. The Ngai Tahu had, however, heard of their coming and fled southwards. They were overtaken at Omihi, where they were attacked and defeated with great slaughter.

The Ngati Toa then proceeded to the great Ngai Tahu fortress of Kaiapohia (Kaiapoi), where they pretended to be trading guns for greenstone. The Ngai Tahu, however, had their suspicions aroused and, when Te Pehi and some other notable chiefs were inside the pa, they were set upon and killed. Te Rauparaha, having lost a number of his principal chiefs, withdrew and returned to Kapiti to prepare his revenge.

Soon afterwards the Elizabeth (q.v.), commanded by one Stewart, called at Kapiti and, in return for a load of flax, Te Rauparaha and some of his men were taken to Akaroa for the purpose of capturing Tamaiharanui, a leading chief of Ngai Tahu who had been present at Kaiapoi when Te Pehi was killed. Tamaiharanui, with his wife and daughter, was lured on board by Stewart and was carried back to Kapiti, where he was put to death by Tiaia, Te Pehi's widow.

Subsequently Te Rauparaha, with Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa, and Te Atiawa, went to Kaiapoi to complete their revenge. They found the Ngai Tahu force somewhat depleted, as many of their warriors were accompanying the Otago chief, Taiaroa, back to his home following a visit. After the pa was invested, some Ngai Tahu messengers slipped through the surrounding swamp and succeeded in overtaking Taiaroa's party, who returned to Kaiapoi and made their way into the pa. As the siege went on Te Rauparaha became impatient and he ordered his men to dig saps to enable them to approach the palisades. The inmates of the pa sought to hamper this work by piling brushwood outside the palisade and setting fire to it. To their dismay the wind changed and the defences were soon enveloped in smoke and flames. The attackers dashed through the ruins of the palisades and defeated the Ngai Tahu with tremendous slaughter. Following the capture of Kaiapoi, Te Rauparaha ravaged Canterbury as far south as Rakaia and also attacked settlements on Banks Peninsula, where Onawe pa was destroyed and many of the Ngai Tahu were killed.

Having conquered Ngai Tahu, Te Rauparaha was asked by Ngati Raukawa to assist them to avenge a defeat they had suffered from the Wanganui people. With nearly a thousand warriors they attacked Putiki pa on the south bank of the Wanganui River. After a siege of two months the pa fell and ample revenge was obtained.

In subsequent years Te Rauparaha was engaged in several battles which took place between Ngati Raukawa and their erstwhile allies, Te Atiawa, who lived at Waikanae. The last of these was the fight known as Te Kuititanga, which took place at Waikanae in 1839. Te Rauparaha arrived from Kapiti to find his Ngati Raukawa friends getting the worst of it and he deemed it discreet to make a hurried return to Kapiti, his escape being helped by a vigorous rally by Ngati Raukawa. Te Rauparaha's subsequent career concerns the early European era of New Zealand history and will not be dealt with here.