Hawke's Bay Conflicts
When Te Rauparaha left Kawhia his kinsmen of Ngati Raukawa remained on their lands at Maungatautari, but their frequent collisions with Ngati Maniapoto and their other neighbours eventually led to their moving southwards to the west Taupo district. There they joined forces with the Ngati Tuwharetoa tribe and became embroiled in a remarkable series of battles which centred round Te Roto a Tara, a pa situated in the lake of that name (now drained) near the present site of Te Aute College in Hawke's Bay.
In 1820 Ngati Tuwharetoa, under their chief Te Heuheu Tukino II, assaulted this pa, but without success. In a raid into the surrounding area Te Heuheu's brother was killed. This death was avenged by an attack on Te Aratipi pa on the bank of the Maraetotara Stream.
In 1822 Te Heuheu enlisted the aid of Ngati Raukawa and, strange to relate, their old enemies Ngati Maniapoto, Waikato, and Ngati Maru, to make a further attack on Te Roto a Tara. The pa was defended by the chief Pareihe and the Ngati Whatuiapiti branch of Ngati Kahungunu. The attackers cut down trees in the surrounding bush and built a causeway from the lake shore to the island. Pareihe countered this by building a tower overlooking the end of the causeway and did considerable damage to the invaders. Later he led a determined sally from the pa and drove back the enemy with many casualties. As it seemed inevitable, however, that the siege would eventually succeed, Pareihe quietly led his people out of the pa during the night and escaped, leaving it to the enemy. The odds against him were so strong that Pareihe went to Nukutaurua on the Mahia Peninsula and settled there with many of his people.
In the following year Te Wera, one of Hongi Hika's greatest leaders, arrived at Mahia with a local chief, Te Whareumu, who had been captured in a previous raid by Ngapuhi on the East Coast. His purpose was to restore Te Whareumu to his people and make peace with them. He was persuaded by the Ngati Kahungunu people to settle at Mahia and help them against their enemies.
In 1824 Pareihe went back to see what was happening in Heretaunga (the Hastings district) and, while in the vicinity of Waipawa, he sighted a war party comprising forces of Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Tuwharetoa, and tribes from inland Patea. He attacked them at Whitiotu on the Waipawa River and routed them.
In spite of this success Pareihe did not yet feel strong enough to reoccupy his lands and he returned to Mahia. Some of his people refused to go, however, and remained at Te Pakake, a small pa on a sandy islet near the present Ahuriri Station at Napier. There they were attacked by another mixed force of Waikato, Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Raukawa, and Ngati Maru. This was a powerful force of over 1,000 men, with 400 muskets. The weakly-held pa soon fell and most of its inmates were slain, although some important chiefs were taken back to Waikato as prisoners. Among those captured were the chiefs Tiakitai and Te Karawa. Te Wherowhero, the Waikato leader, took pity on these men and decided to return them to their tribe. He accordingly sent a message to Ngati Kahungunu at Mahia to send a party to Waikato where peace would be made and the captives returned. After some hesitation the invitation was accepted and peace was duly made.
But the saga of Te Roto a Tara was not yet ended. Late in 1826 a mixed war party of Ngati te Kohera of West Taupo, Ngati Raukawa, and others decided to make a determined effort to complete the conquest of the Heretaunga district. Led by Te Momo, they set out for Hawke's Bay after having been refused assistance by Te Wherowhero and Te Heuheu. They took over the Kahotea pa on the shore of Te Roto a Tara Lake and settled down there. News of this fresh incursion reached Pareihe at Mahia and, with the aid of the Ngapuhi Chief Te Wera, a war party of 2,000 men was assembled. They proceeded to Te Roto a Tara and made a successful assault on Kahotea. Te Momo was absent at the time of the attack, but was hunted and killed. This fight took place early in 1827. Te Wera returned to Mahia with some of the Ngati Kahungunu, but others remained in the Heretaunga district.
The remnants of Te Momo's force gradually built up their strength and reoccupied Te Roto a Tara pa. From there they made raids on Ngati Kahungunu as far as Napier. Pareihe was not the man to put up with this and once again he took a war party up the Tukituki River. The canoes were hauled overland to the lake from a point up stream from Patangata, and Pareihe settled down to a siege which lasted for two months. When the pa was without food Pareihe ferried a party across to the island at night. They hid in the raupo until dawn and then scaled the palisades. The pa was captured and almost all of its defenders were killed. This ended the attempt of Ngati Raukawa to settle in Hawke's Bay. A large section of the tribe had joined Te Rauparaha at Otaki about a year earlier and those who escaped from Te Roto a Tara joined them there.
This account of tribal warfare is confined to the exploits of a few tribes and makes no pretence of completeness. To achieve this would require many volumes. All that has been attempted is to illustrate by selected examples the nature of the intertribal clashes of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. There are a number of tribal histories available which give much greater detail and much wider coverage. Some of these are listed below.
by Jock Malcolm McEwen, LL.B., Secretary, Department of Maori Affairs, Wellington.
- Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century, Smith, S. P. (1910)
- King Potatau, Jones, P. te H. (1960)
- Tuwharetoa, Grace, J. te H. (1959)
- Tainui, Kelly, Leslie G. (1949)
- Tuhoe, Best, E. (1925)
- Takitimu, Mitchell, J. H. (1944)
- The Stirring Times of Te Waharoa, Wilson, J. A. (1907)
- The South Island Maoris, Stack, J. W. (1893)
- The Life and Times of Te Rauparaha, Travers, W. T. L. (1906).