Story: Ngāti Porou

The murder of Poroumata

The murder of Poroumata

This story by Mohi Tūrei tells of the murder of the Ngāti Ruanuku chief Poroumātā at Whareponga. It was in revenge for his murder that Tūwhakairiora, Poroumātā’s grandson through his daughter Te Ataakura, took retribution against Ngāti Ruanuku.

This is the first part of the story in the translation by Archdeacon H. W. Williams, which appeared under the title ‘Tuwhakairiora’ in Te Ao Hou, Spring 1953. The illustration by Russell Clark is from the same journal. The story begins:

‘Poroumata and his wife Whaene were well born, being descendants of Porourangi. Their tribe was Ngati Ruanuku. The chief clans of the tribe were Horo, Mana, Te Koreke, Te Moko-whakahoihoi, Te Pananehu, and Pohoumauma.

When the tribe procured food, they brought for Poroumata game, fish, and all other kinds of food. When the tribe made a catch of fish, the attendants of Poroumata’s pa went to landing places to fetch the fish day by day; for some time all went well with the fetching, then trouble arose. It had come to be the habit for them to take the fish themselves from the thwarts: the fish that were left they cut off the tails, the belly-fat, and the heads of the hapuku (these were the choice portions of the hapuku). His sons had been taking part in this business; for himself, he knew nothing of it; he cherished only kindly feelings for the tribe.

The tribe laid a plot to slay Poroumata. One night he looked at the clouds beyond the crayfish beds, resting close and compact, at the Milky Way and the Magellan Clouds, at the flakes of mist running together and settling in masses on the mountains. He said: “It will be settled calm tomorrow, the wind will be a light sea-breeze making gentle ripples on the water; I shall put to sea.” In the morning he embarked in one of the canoes and reached the fishing ground. A number of canoes made up the fleet. While he was occupied with baiting his hooks, the men in the bow exchanged knowing glances with those in the stern, and those in the stern with those in the bow.

All the men of the canoes exchanged similar glances, indicating that he was to be slain. They slew him and he died. They tore out his entrails and vitals, and threw them into the sea, and they were cast ashore. The place where they were cast ashore came to be called Tawekatanga o te ngakau o Poroumata (the place where the vitals of Poroumata hung entangled). The fishing ground was called Kamokamo (knowing glances). Those names still remain.

So Poroumata died, and who was there to avenge his death? For the tribe was rejoicing, and ate its own food with no one to interfere. His daughters, Te Ataakura, Materoa, and Tawhipare, mourned for their father. Long was the mourning and grieving of these women for their father. Enough of that.’

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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Reference: Te Ao Hou 2, no. 1 (Spring 1953), p. 12.

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How to cite this page:

Tamati Muturangi Reedy, 'Ngāti Porou - Toi descendants', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/document/653/the-murder-of-poroumata (accessed 24 May 2019)

Story by Tamati Muturangi Reedy, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 22 Mar 2017