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Chapter Nine

page 62

Chapter Nine

The Brief Histories of Other Commanders

We now present briefly the stories of certain other heroes who during the main migration arrived in Aotearoa in canoes other than the Takitimu. Their names are perpetuated in the Takitimu carved house as a tribute to tribes in other parts of the land who name these heroes as ancestors.


Tama-te-kapua was the commander of the Te Arawa canoe, which left the western shore of Tahiti Island with the Main Fleet of 1350. He was said to be the second tallest man to Rongo-kako, being nine feet in height and built in proportion. It was related that the reason of his leaving his homeland was the theft by his brother Whakaturia and himself of fruit (poroporo) from a tree belonging to the high Chief Uenuku, Rakau whaka-marumaru o Uenuku (Sheltering tree of Uenuku).

During the preparations for the voyage, while the two canoes Te Arawa and Tainui were moored close together, and the passengers were taking the places allotted them by their commanders, Kearoa, the wife of Ngatoro-i-rangi, who was already seated in the Tainui canoe, was called to by Tama-te-kapua and asked to come ashore. When she reached Tama-te-kapua she was enticed to take her place on Te Arawa, Tama-te-kapua offering her a seat in front of him. Ngatoro-i-rangi, who had alreadybeen designated as priest of the Tainui, observing this, chargedTama with his high-handed action. Tama pleaded saying that his canoe was priestless, and begged Ngatoro to have compassion on him and become the high priest of Te Arawa. To this Ngatoro consented. When the chosen passengers and crew had taken their seats, and were nearly ready to depart, Tama-te-kapua allured Whakaoti-rangi to take a seat next to his in the canoe. When Reao, the husband of Whakaoti-rangi, saw this, he questioned the action of the Chief. Tama having soothed the excited husband by promising him a passage also, asked him to page 63go and fetch his comb. This he had forgotten, and had left stuck in one of the rafters of his house behind a low ridge some 40 chains away. On reaching the house, the comb could not be found anywhere. While searching for it Reao heard the people crying out their last farewell to the voyagers. Running to the top of the ridge he saw, to his horror, that his loved one was well out to sea with Captain Tama sitting alongside her.

The voyage met with no mishap until about midway between Rarotonga and New Zealand, when Ngatoro-i-rangi learned that his domestic life was being interfered with. It turned out that while the high priest was faithfully carrying out his duty, Tama was amusing himself with the women. In his anger Ngatoro-i-rangi called on the parata. This was the huge sea monster which the Maoris believed swallowed the waters of the ocean only to spit them out again, thus causing the low and high tides. As the canoe was being engulfed by the parata, the voice of the grand daughter of Ngatoro-i-rangi was heard crying out: E Toro e; Tukua ra te iwi kia puta ki te ora (O Toro; Let the people be carried to safety). Ngatoro-i-rangi, hearing the cry of his grand daughter, succeeded by a powerful incantation in drawing the canoe to the surface from the mouth of the parata.

The concluding part of the incantation is as follows:

"She lifts, she ascends,
She glides into safety.
Hui e, taiki e e."

Te Arawa landed at Maketu, where Tama-te-kapua settled. His descendants peopled this part and the Hot Lakes region, while those of the Priest Ngatoro-i-rangi spread on to Lake Taupo. Today their descendants say of Te Arawa canoe that the bow-piece is Maketu and the stern-piece is Mount Tongariro.

Subsequently, through some quarrels, Te Arawa canoe was burnt by Raumati.

In order to commemorate and preserve this historic landing place, the Arawa people, through the Arawa Trust Board, have purchased the site.

The Carroll Memorial Marae at Waihirere is greatly indebted to the Arawa people for their magnificent gift of the most elaborately carved flag-pole which now stands majestically on the Marae.

In recognition of this noble gift, the figure that stands at the foot of the pole is named Tu-Tanekai, in honour of the brave whose name is coupled with that of Hinemoa in the famous Rotorua love story.

page 64


The history of this Maori hero has been very much wrapped up in mythical and supernatural powers. It is, however, well known that he was a man of high priestly prowess and was held to be a superman. He came to New Zealand as the high priest of Te Arawa canoe, the history of which and the settling of the immigrants on this Island is fully recorded in the history of Tama-te-kapua. He peopled the Hot Lakes district from Roto-rua to Mount Tongariro. It has been related that during his journey to this mountain he was overtaken by storm and snow. Unable to light a fire and almost perishing with cold, he called on one of his relatives in far-off Hawaiki. The relative came with a torch, and reaching Whakaari (White Island) travelled underground, setting fires along the route until the helpless Ngatoro was reached and rescued.

Another account of this mythical story is related by the late Mr. Elsdon Best as follows:—

"Ngatoro-i-rangi, of the Arawa immigrants, was a lineal descendant of Te Pupu and Hoata, hence his power over volcanic fire, which he introduced to this land. Ngatoro went inland exploring, and a spring of water known as Te Puna takahi a Ngatoro-i-rangi was caused to appear by his stamping his foot on the ground. The enchanted ti trees (Cordyline australis) on Kainga-roa, known as Ti whakaawe, which ever recede as a traveller advances, owe their strange powers to Ngatoro. He ascended Tongariro, where he almost perished, so intense was the cold on that mountain. Hence he called upon his ancestors to send fire to him, lest he perish. One of his invocations was:—

E Para E; Titoko o te ao marama
Tukua au kia puta ki tawhangawhanga nui no Rangi, no Papa
He aio; tu atu te makariri haramai te werawera
Hika ra taku ahi ki a Kautetetu
Hira ra taku ahi ki a Te Pupu
Hika ra taku ahi ki a Te Hoata
Ki a Te Moremore-o-te-rangi.

The Tipua (demon) fire was sent hither from Hawaiki in answer to his request. The fire came first to Whakaari, or White Island in the Bay of Plenty, where it still burns, as all may see. Then it came to the mainland, where it originated the boiling spring, also named Whakaari, near Te Tiringa, on the Whakatane-Te Teko Road, and in fact all the volcanoes and hot springs were caused by that fire of the tipua known as Te Pupu and Hoata."

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Maoris Fishing in the Wai-roa River.In the background is the historic Ti-kouka tree under which the the Rt. Hon. Sir James Carroll was born.

Maoris Fishing in the Wai-roa River.
In the background is the historic Ti-kouka tree under which the the Rt. Hon. Sir James Carroll was born.

Site of Maungakahta Pa. Kahungunu's stronghold on eastern side of Mahia Peninsula.—G. O. K. Sainsbury Photo.

Site of Maungakahta Pa.
Kahungunu's stronghold on eastern side of Mahia Peninsula.
—G. O. K. Sainsbury Photo.

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page 65


Little is known or recorded of the history of this great ancestor of the Maori people beyond the fact that he was the chief of the Tainui canoe, which left the western shore of Tahiti with the Main Fleet of 1350, and first landed at Maketu, East Coast. The Tainui came in company with the Te Arawa canoe, as has been recorded in this book. It appears that the Te Arawa. canoe landed in the afternoon, and the crews had gone to sleep ashore. During the night the Tainui canoe arrived and anchored alongside of Te Arawa. When morning came, a dispute arose between the two parties as to which had landed first. On inspection of the anchors it was found that the cable of Tainui was underneath that of Te Arawa. The people of Te Arawa, believing that they had been cheated by the people of the Tainui canoe by running their cable under theirs, would not give way. The dispute nearly resulted in bloodshed. Whether this was done for a joke or not is not known, but the people of the Tainui canoe gave in and departed to seek a landing place elsewhere. It has been related that this canoe sailed north, and landed at Kawhia. Two stones mark the length of the canoe where she crumbled away to dust. The King Country and Waikato tribes, with those of Hauraki, claim descent from Tainui. Even the Ngati-Kahungunu, of Wairoa, have a direct line of descent from Hoturoa. It is for this reason that Hoturoa was selected as one of the figures on the Takitimu Carved House.

Toroa and Puhi-Kai-Ariki

The history of Toroa, chief of the Mata-tua canoe, and that of his younger brother, Puhi-Kai-Ariki, is so involved that it is necessary to combine both histories. The landing of the Mata-tua canoe at Whaka-tane River has already been recorded. Toroa and his people settled at the pa called Kapu-te-rangi, on a high terrace above the present township of Whaka-tane. This was originally built by Toi-Kai-rakau, and its history set out in an earlier chapter.

The first serious task performed by the immigrants was the making and sanctifying of a tuahu, or sacred place, called the Pouahu. A post or manuka tree was set up on that sacred spot, said to have been situated on the low mound in front of the court house near the river bank. At this tuahu was deposited the mauri of the migration, the material emblem or symbol that ensured the prestige of the vessel and the welfare of its crew. When deposited ashore, mauri represented the life and health of the people, and has ever since been appealed to as the saviour page 66of man, in case of illness and danger. The manuka at Whakatane was the visible symbol of life and well-being.

The next task undertaken by the immigrants was to build houses for themselves and to plant their seed kumara. The most important house was named Tupapaku-rau, and is said to have been a Whare-wananga, or house of learning, wherein was taught the history of the people, and other lore pertaining to their religion, mythology, anthropology, etc. Their cultivated ground was called Matire-rau. The house Tupapaku-rau belonged to Toroa, while his brother Puhi constructed for himself and his followers an earthwork redoubt, and built therein a house named Rahiri-te-rangi. This fort stood at the top of the spur, extending from Kapu-te-rangi to Kohi point, where the remains of it may still be seen. Apparently the immigrants were fearful of being attacked by the Hapu-oneone, or Tini-o-Toi, the owners of the land. The pa or fort of Puhi was also known as Rahiri.

This matter of constructing pas or fortified villages is an interesting subject. These immigrants from Eastern Polynesia had not been builders of pas defended by earthern ramparts and stockades, and yet they seem to have adopted the practice when they landed on these shores. This could only mean that, being numerically weak, they stood in fear of the Original inhabitants, and probably put to their own use this aboriginal mode of defence. Assuredly those few newcomers must have lived here on sufferance, as it were, their well-being depending on the goodwill of the local people.

The immigrants were not to dwell peaceably together at Whaka-tane. Before long trouble arose. When Iraweka (the father of. Toroa and Puhi) farewelled the Mata-tua migration at Hawaiki, he said that, on arrival at Aotea-roa, his eldest son Toroa must conduct the labours and ceremonies pertaining to agriculture, house-building, and maawe, or talisman. But when the time came for the planting of the crops, which would be about seven months after the arrival of the migration in Aotea-roa, Puhi strove to take over the management of these important rites. This led to a quarrel between the brothers. One day, when the folk were busy planting the kumara, Puhi lifted up his voice and sang the following:—

Korokoro iti, korokoro rahi,
Tu ana te manu i runga i nga puke rara.
Tenei te kai ka iri, he kai whakarere te kai;
He kai i pokaia noatia i runga i a Tu kariri,
I a Tu ka ritarita.
page 67 E haere ana ki uta he tangata kainga kore,
Ka pau te ki o namata.
He nui kai maoa e tu ana i runga i o a Toroa,
He nui te kai, he mano te kai, he tutae taua,
Ka kai tiko iho ki waenga.
Heaha aku kai te pau noa ai,
Maku te tohenga ki te whitu, ki te waru,
Ki te roa o te tau.
Waiho nei matau hei timokamoka kai,
Mo te ngahuru.
Tangi ana te whakatopatopa o kai,
O kai mai he toroa, he taiko e e.

This effusion was composed and sung with the intention of annoying his brother Toroa. Puhi has also a jeer for Tane-atua when he sang "Travelling inland is a homeless man," for the latter was a restless wanderer. Puhi also expressed his intention of continuing the dispute. "I will contend throughout the seventh and eighth months, and for the whole season. Leave me and mine to pick up morsels of food in autumn. Then shall be heard the sound of food planting." Here comes the dire insult: "Your food shall be toroa and taiko." These are the names of two birds, but the former was also the name of his brother. The mentioning of a chief's name in such a manner was deemed a great insult, and termed a tapatapa, or challenge. So it was on account of this insult in claiming his elder brother as a food that Puhi received his second name Puhi-Kai-Ariki, or Puhi the eater of his elder-born.

It must be here understood that the seed tubers of kumara, or sweet potato, were always planted in a most ceremonial manner, accompanied by the chanting of planting songs, rendered by one, two, or three of the adepts at such proceedings. Hence the chanting of such a song by Puhi would, no doubt, have been perfectly correct, he being a younger son of the principal family of the immigrants. But this song was composed and sung by Puhi for the express purpose of insulting his elder brother Toroa. the ariki or the leader of the family by the law of primogeniture, who was necessarily an important and tapu person.

When Toroa heard the insult directed at him by his younger brother, he retaliated by singing a tewha, or planting song, into which he introduced a belittling use of the name of Puhi:—

Te komiti runga, miti raro, miti haha,
Ka tipu te wai, ka ora te wai.
Ko te wai na wai,
page 68 Kote wai na Uru-mananawa.
Ka tohi atu tama ki te akerautangi,
Te hekenga o Tu ki tauaraia.
E Puhi, E; Ngahoro E;
Kai tai, kai te whakarua koia e-e.

Te ko o makauea ki runga o Maketu,
Tatara mai i Hikurangi,
Ko te ika moe iahuaroa.
Ka piri te hono ko mau whakaarahia,
Uru o Weka ki te tuku roa ki te wai puatea.
Ka mahuta e Puhi E;
Kai tai, kai tai, kai te whakarua koia e e,

The quarrel between the brothers had now become so bitter that Puhi decided to take the Mata-tua canoe and seek a home elsewhere. For some reason nearly all the immigrants accompanied him, including his son Rahiri, who is said to have given his name to one of the northern tribes.

The only immigrants left at Whaka-tane were the six members of Toroa family. Neither the Mata-tua canoe nor any of its crew ever returned southward to Whaka-tane. They are said to have settled in the North and to have become the founders of the tribe Nga-Puhi.

It is for this reason that the name of Puhu-Kai-Ariki was selected as one of the figures on the Takitimu Carved House, while that of Toroa represented the Mata-tua people of Whaka-tane.


Turi, the great ancestor of the Taranaki, Ngati-Ruanui, Nga-Rauru and Whanganui tribes of the West Coast, New Zealand, was the commander of the Aotea canoe. It is well known that he arrived here about twenty-four generations ago, at the same time as the Fleet, of which, however, the Aotea did not form a part. This would be about 1350. The following is what has been related of him, and though the stories are much mixed up with the supernatural, as so often occurs with distinguished Polynesian heroes, the historical part is easily sifted: Turi, who was born at Mahaena on the north-east coast of Tahiti, was a great chief. Here he grew up to manhood, and married his first wife, Hina-raurea, of whom he was both very fond and very jealous. On one occasion, before going inland to procure wild bananas, he enclosed his wife's house in a hedge of prickly page 69thorns so that no one might go near her. Presently Turi's two sisters appeared, and declared that it was a shame that so pretty a woman should be shut out from all enjoyment, and finally persuaded Hina to go with them to the beach to indulge in the favourite pastime of whakaheke-ngaru (surf-riding). Hina was a novice at this amusement, but Turi's sisters were adepts. On coming ashore, Hina trod on a whe (cater-pillar) which had been endowed with supernatural powers by Turi, for the purpose of watching Hina, and to inform him of any infringement of his orders that took place during his absence. On Turi's return he was duly informed of Hina's disobedience, at which he was greatly enraged, so much so that he decided to leave Mahaena. He gathered together his people, and leaving Hina-raurea sailed away to Rai-atea, where many adventures happened to him.

According to Dr. Te Rangihiroa, the reason of Turi leaving the homeland was through a quarrel between him and the High Priest Uenuku. It was part of the law of the place that the lesser chiefs should contribute a certain amount of food annually as an offering to the ariki.

After the gathering of the crop, Turi sent his own son Potiki-roroa with the offering to Uenuku. Uenuku considered the quantity sent totally inadequate and killed Turi's son to augment it. Turi in return slew Hawe-potiki, son of Uenuku. Reprisals followed. After initial successes Turi found that Uenuku was assembling all his forces against him. Turi's wife in the night heard Uenuku reciting in his packed house an incantation, the theme of which was the total extermination of Turi and his tribe. Realising that the position was untenable, Turi dared the dangers of the deep rather than await the cruelty of man. In spite of early successes he realised that mere bravery could not avail against the forces and the power of the ariki. The tribe, therefore, decided to set out for a far land, remote from the tyrannv of Uenuku and make, for themselves new homes.

The Aotea canoe did not accompany the Fleet, but sailed at approximately the same period from Rai-atea Island. During the voyage she strained the lashing of her top-boards and the balers were kept busy until she beached on the island of Rangitahua (Kermadec Island). There they refitted her and killed a dog as an offering to the gods. The karaka tree (corynocarpus laezvigata) is generally held to have been brought on the Aotea canoe, as this tree, the kernels of whose berries subsequently formed a useful food supply, is found on Sunday Island, and some stone implements have also been found there. It seems page 70probable that the Aotea canoe actually landed on this island.

The Aotea canoe preceded the Fleet by a different route, and made her landfall on the West Coast at Patea. She was the only canoe to land directly on the West. It was there that Turi built his village, and planted the kumara seed brought in the double belt of his wife Rongorongo. From here their descendants spread to form the Ngati-Ruanui, Nga-Rauru and Whanganui tribes, as has been related above.

We have no other records of Turi's activities during his life residence in New Zealand. Probably this is in common with the rest of the immigrants of the Fleet, who met with very little opposition from the peaceful inhabitants of the land.

It is a very remarkable thing—explain it as you may—that Maori accounts are very persistent in saying that Turi's spirit, after his death, returned to Hawaiki. One of the stories says that Turi was living at his home, Matangi-rei, on the bank of the Patea River, when the news came of the death of his son Turanga, who had been killed in battle at Te Ahu-o-Turanga (named after him), Manawatu Gorge. The old man was sorely affected by the news, and went out of his house and was not seen again—hence the Maori belief in his return to Hawaiki.