Site Assist Professional

Kawhia.Maori.nzSpiritual and Ancestral Home of Tainui.

Te Rauparaha - The Ngati Toa Maori Warrior Chief from Kawhia - Part 2

Te Rauparaha - The Ngati Toa Maori Warrior Chief from Kawhia - In 1820 or early 1821 the Waikato tribes decided to rid themselves of their troublesome Ngati Toa neighbours.

With their allies, Ngati Maniapoto, the Waikato tribes made a well-planned attack on Kawhia and Taharoa with three forces totalling over 3,000 men, the advance being made simultaneously from the north, the east, and the south.

Waikato were led by Te Wherowhero and the Maniapoto by Tukorehu.

As the enemy closed in upon him Te Rauparaha withdrew his men from the strongholds of Te Maika and Te Totara on the south shore of Kawhia Harbour. 

He concentrated his forces at Te Kawau and Te Roto at the western end of Lake Taharoa. Here Te Rauparaha fell ill and, after handing over the command to his nephew, Te Rangihaeata, he retired to Te Arawi, a pa between Honipaka point and the entrance to Kawhia Harbour.  

The main battle took place at Te Kakara, between Lake Taharoa and the coast. Te Rauparaha, on the verge of collapse, rejoined his army to exhort them to defend their lands and then went out on the lake in a canoe to watch the fight.

 After a desperate struggle Te Wherowhero's combined forces split the Ngati Toa army in two. One half retreated southwards to the friendly Ngati Tama south of Mokau.

 The remainder moved back into Te Kawau and Te Roto fortresses. These, with inadequate garrisons, soon fell, and the only Ngati Toa force left intact was a small band with Te Rauparaha at Te Arawi, a pa situated on a headland connected to the shore by a razor-backed ridge. 

As the pa could not be taken by storm the Waikato army laid siege to it. After the siege had lasted for several weeks the Ngati Maniapoto, under the Chief Te Rangituatea, took their turn in standing guard.  

While the Waikato men were away seeking food Te Rangituatea held a parley with Te Rauparaha, to whom he was related, and arranged for his escape by canoe, while some of the garrison were permitted to move south overland. 

Owing to his illness Te Rauparaha did not go far, but took refuge with some of his relations in a cave at Tirua point, while Te Rangihaeata, Te Pehi Kupe, Tungia, and others moved south to Taranaki with the main body of the tribe. 

Eventually Te Rangituatea surreptitiously arranged for Te Rauparaha and his party to escape to Mokau.  

They were seen by Ngati Maniapoto after they had crossed the river but Te Rauparaha had a large number of fires lit to convey the impression of a large force and they were able to move south again without further molestation, finally joining their tribe, which was living with Ngati Tama. 

Some time later (in 1822) Te Rauparaha and his Ngati Toa were living at Okoki pa in the Ngati Mutunga territory in the Urenui district.  

A Ngati Maniapoto war party under Tukorehu, while on an expedition, were besieged in Pukerangiora pa, on the south bank of the Waitara River, by the tribes of North Taranaki. 

Te Rauparaha heard that his old enemy, Te Wherowhero, was bringing his Waikato army to relieve Tukorehu.  

He thereupon laid plans to even up the score with Te Wherowhero. When the Waikato army was approaching Okoki, the Maori warrior 'Te Rauparaha' sent out a decoy party to lure Waikato thither.  

Although Te Wherowhero tried to restrain his men, they pursued the decoy party into a well-laid ambush and the Waikato were soon put to rout. 

In the pursuit which followed, Te Wherowhero was overtaken by Te Rauparaha and some of his Taranaki allies.  

One of the latter was about to shoot Te Wherowhero when Te Rauparaha kicked his musket aside and allowed the Waikato chief to engage his attackers in single combat.  

After he had withstood attack after attack from various Taranaki warriors, Te Wherowhero was saved by his army, which had rallied and returned to look for him. 

The Waikato disengaged from Te Rauparaha's combined force and moved off to the relief of Pukerangiora pa. Te Rauparaha in the meantime gathered his tribe together and moved southwards, many of the North Taranaki people going with him. 

Early in 1823 the Ngati Toa moved into the Horowhenua district and proceeded to drive the Muaupoko tribe out of their lands.  

After capturing the pa built on artificial islands in Lake Horowhenua, theMaori warriors proceeded to Paekakariki, where they successfully assaulted another pa occupied by the Muaupoko.  

This prompted an attack by the mixed Ngati Ira and Ngati Kahungunu people of Wellington and Wairarapa, who drove Te Rauparaha back to Waikanae with considerable loss. 

This reverse caused the Maori warrior 'Te Rauparaha' to abandon his efforts to occupy the mainland for the moment and to cross over to Kapiti Island.  

He proposed to make his base there until he could call on the assistance of his Ngati Raukawa relations from Maungatautari. Kapiti was actually captured from the Ngati Apa tribe by Te Rauparaha's uncle, Te Pehi Kupe, while Te Rauparaha made a feint withdrawal to the Manawatu. 

After the move by Ngati Toa to Kapiti, Te Rauparaha heard that the Rangitane tribe had erected a large pa at Hotuiti on the north bank of the Manawatu.  

He and Te Rangihaeata immediately proceeded to Hotuiti with a war party and captured the pa by treachery, killing many of the Rangitane and also three Ngati Apa Maori warrior chiefs from the Rangitikei. 

The Ngati Toa withdrew to Waikanae and, while there, they were attacked by Te Hakeke of Ngati Apa with a considerable force from his own tribe and from Rangitane and Muaupoko.  

Upwards of 60 of the Ngati Toa were killed, including the four daughters of Te Pehi Kupe. When reinforcements of Ngati Toa arrived from Kapiti, the attackers withdrew. 

In 1824 the combined tribes of Rangitikei, Manawatu, and Horowhenua, including a large contingent of Rangitane from the South Island, assembled a huge flotilla of war canoes with the intention of overwhelming Ngati Toa on Kapiti Island.  

Te Rauparaha's warriors heavily defeated them at Waiorua and dealt with them so severely that Kapiti was never again attacked.

Ngati Toa o Kawhia - Today

Nearly two hundred years after that great and sad battle, where the tribe was ousted from Kawhia, there are still remnants of Ngati Toa, that claim an un-broken line of residence and occupation of the Kawhia harbour for approx 800 years, at least since the arrival of the Tainui waka.

Their contact details are:

Ngati Toa o Kawhia, 1 Ngati Toa Tce, Te Maika, PO Box 19, Kawhia...


Ngati Toa Today:

 Te Runanga o Toa Rangatira: 

Today the Cook Strait domain of Ngati Toa, while vast, is a tiny fraction of what it once was. Partly to prevent any further loss of land and resources that were traditionally part of the tribal estate, Te Runanga o Toa Rangatira (the tribal authority) was established in 1989.  

As the representative body of Ngati Toa it consists of 13 elected members whose goal is to protect and advance the mana of Ngati Toa activities. 

The authority employs around 70 people in activities relating to health, environmental management, local government, tourism, fisheries, Treaty of Waitangi claims, research, sports and recreation, and education.  

These are intended to promote the tribe's socio-economic and cultural development, so that it can provide for present and future generations. 

The authority also plays an important role in leading Ngati Toa's quest for redress for past injustices inflicted by the government. 

The South Island aspect of the Ngati Toa claim to the Waitangi Tribunal was heard in June 2003. Crown representatives sat for the first time in Ngati Toa's ancestral house, Toa Rangatira.  

They heard 150 years of grievances retold, as Ngati Toa gave their account of past events. 

This was a significant turning point in the history of Ngati Toa. In telling their story, the people of Ngati Toa were able to overcome much of the pain, loss and anger caused by the Crown.  

This represents a significant step in restoring Ngati Toa to the dynamic tribe that it once was. 

There is no doubt that Ngati Toa's journey has at times been fraught with hardship and adversity, but today they are a vigorous people well poised to meet the challenges of the future.

In this context, Te Rauparaha's famous haka Ka mate, ka mate, ka ora, ka ora which speaks of the triumph of life over death is as relevant and inspirational as it was in 1820.


Back to Te Rauparaha 1

More on the Ngati Toa Tribe