Alistar Isdale: The Coming of Man
It may be mentioned at this stage that there has been quite an amount of
modification since exploitation of the original forests and
"clearing" of land by Europeans. In the case of the Tapu stream, we have Kinder
photographs of 1867 before such events took place.
Turehu.The orally transmitted records spoke of the
Turehu or Patu-Paia-rehe, "short of stature and of fair skin” who fled to
the hills from later arrivals, and whose last home was near the summit of Mt.
Moehau at the northern end of the Coromandel Peninsula, going down by night to
the shore to fish by a steep and difficult track to which they would be well
accustomed. They appear to have been hunter-gatherers, of seafood in
particular. When others came, their populations were sparse and scattered, and
they were slow breeders, which is said to be characteristic of
Hunter-gatherers, Hence later comers in various parts of New Zealand
saying they found the land empty. Mr. Hammond was told that when they had to
defend themselves they made forts of interlaced supplejacks. According to Suggs, the Polynesians have a
Caucasoid element. This is recessive
genetically, so that throwbacks among present day Polynesians are only
occasional, but Suggs particularly noted that when they intermarried with white
people the offspring had a much higher average of paleness than could have
been expected, due to the recessive genes finding outlets.
Kupe People. Possibly around 950 A.D., Kupe came in
the big seagoing vessel "Te Mata-houra," with 80 men and women. He
was said to have come from "Kupe's Temple"
on the island of Rai-atea, or white ridge in the Society group, where there was
a central school of learning and navigation for the Polynesian Pacific. The
temple was called "Tapu tapu atea," or holy holy white. Hence a
stream of that name at Whitianga, or Te Whitianga-a-Kupe, the crossing place of
Kupe. Kupe people area said to have
intermingled with later arrivals. Carbon
dating at Whitianga is said to have indicated that Whare-kaho pa was
continually occupied for around a thousand years, however the current doctrine
is that there are no certain carbon dates further than 800 years back, some
earlier ones having been erroneous or misinterpreted.
The Coromandel Peninsula had a kind of secret weapon, which probably few know about. Going along the top of the main range at night, which is unusual, but gives coolness in summer, from around midnight there would be a continual pattering of drops of water falling from leaf to leaf, even during times of droughts lasting months. The moist breath from surrounding seas condensed in the cool heights on the leaves, rather like the misty condensation brought by the wind on the rainless sands of the Namib coast of southern Africa. Unlike the scorched sands, during the day the leafy canopy here kept in that moisture. Thus there were no fires in Hauraki's standing forests till European bush felling opened great gaps in the canopy, at the same time as leaving kauri "heads" to dry and provide furnace heat to spread fires. Hohua Ahowhenua, who, like Horeta te Taniwha, met as a boy Captain Cook, some years later witnessed a fire that swept the whole of the great swamp where now stand the Hauraki Plains. The fires swept "to the roots of the mountains," and there stopped.
Therefore we do not have to reckon with pre-European forest fires in the area under discussion.
But there was scope for deeper traces. Toi people, and others that arrived by various vessels (the Toi and Whatonga search seems to have given plenty of publicity), had to reckon with growing populations and growing friction, remains of early "moa-hunters", suggest somewhat sparse populations without wars. At the same time, such matters as good fern root areas even before such matters as kumara cultivation - tended to tie people more to definite spots, requiring strongholds.
Thus behind Greenmeadows near Napier, Hawkes Bay, there is a tremendous system of excavations and mounds which would have been crowned with palisades. Now all is covered by the short grass of sheep pastures, and giant ditches partly filled in, but I found them still deep and huge, as parts of a vast complex which a military man said would take ten thousand to invest or defend. One account indicates big fern root digging areas nearby, as a good reason for such great fortifications. Incidentally, that account tells of a pretended withdrawal by raiders, so the besieged, running short of supplies, went out to their nearby fern root hill and were ambushed, while their buildings and palisades went up in flames behind them.
Much of the massive terracing of promontories and such like along the Thames Coast in the vicinity of Tapu-Te Mata could be older by some centuries than a common attribution to the later Ngati-Huarere. That also gives some more centuries for the accumulation of the enormous seashell middens of thousands of tonnes. (Some geologists told the late Mr. Hammond certain ones were too vast for human agency. He soon dug up some cooking stones).
There is scope here for excavation and carbon dating of quite early Toi (and
mixed) pre Ngati Huarere evidences on a considerable scale. This would need to be taken into consideration
when investigating around the hill pa
As the Toi people first settled elsewhere and it took some time for them to
increase and start moving out, any remains that could be dated to around 1100
A.D. or whatever would have to be from Kupe people or other arrivals. Any
marked change over short periods in shell deposits and middens of same or other
materials would seem to indicate either interlopers coming in or new
"fashions" being taken up relatively quickly.
The "Fleet" - Arawa. It has "become somewhat
fashionable to play down the idea of a ‘Fleet’ of seven or whatever vessels
coming to New Zealand
at one time, circa 1350 A.D., in favour of a number of single voyages by single
vessels. Which there were.
One matter that had consequences even for Tapu-Te Mata concerned rivalry that arose between the Arawa and the Tainui, as well recounted in Leslie Kelly's ‘Tainui.’
The Arawa had ‘borrowed’ the Tainui’s tohunga-navigator, delaying the Tainui till it could find another. With those great bimarans able to sail very close to the wind, the Tainui set off practically in the teeth of the gale. Instead of being part of a line abreast, the Tainui could only follow the Arawa, occasionally dimly visible ahead through surging seas.
"Follow Te Arowa; if she be not overtaken, She will have been overwhelmed."
The captains of the Arawa and the Tainui had been good friends, but resentment grew in the Tainui, which arrived last. When it came to places to settle, the Arawa people chose around Maketu on the Bay of Plenty, while the Tainui people settled at Kawhia Harbour, to the north and on the other side of the North Island. It would be two or three centuries before their descendants would meet again, with the Tainui grievance apparently intact, and leading to conquest of the Hauraki region which the Arawa aristocracy took over during the first generation of the brothers of Tama Te Kapua, the captain of the Arawa. Hei took over a big area on the eastern side of the Peninsula, Huarere the western side of the range. Other such tribes were The Ngati-Hako, the Ngati-Marama and the Uri-o-Pou, all with Arawa aristocracy and genealogies and basic Toi (with admixtures that happened during the centuries between say, 1100 and 1350) stock. Those from the Arawa were noted warriors, who had just been engaged in the intense fighting that preceded the mass migration, and were no doubt usefully up to date in all aspects of Polynesian warfare. Coming in an imposing flotilla likely brought prestige. And as well as the latest developments in warfare, they were no doubt well up in all the latest developments in Polynesian civilisation. It would be interesting to see if middens etc., yielded changed artifacts, by adoption rather than conquest.
The big scale terracing, particularly noticeable on promontories along the Thames Coast till recent tree growth made them less evident, has been ascribed to the Ngati-Huarere. However, Judging by the immense earthworks at Hawkes Bay or Heretaunga, the Toi and other people with them had probably done a great deal of the work of what some investigators have called "the bulldozer period of Maori culture."
The enemies to fear were mainly from the north, particularly the Ngapuhi of
the Bay of Islands. There are big shell deposits on
the northward looking terraces of Totara Pa, Just south of Thames,
where the people could eat shellfish and watch for the approach of enemy canoes
on the Firth. If there are terraces looking out over the firth at the
stronghold between the Tapu and Te Mata streams, they quite likely would have
good shell deposits.
Tainui According to Tainui accounts, when their vessel came around 1350, the favorite wife of the captain Hoturoa, named Whaka-o-tirangi, brought seed kumaras in her belt. When her husband was brought to the planting ceremony "When Hoturoa saw the cultivation he wept at the sight of the food from Hawaiki." This provided for an increase of population which the establishment of a reliable food supply of such a kind encouraged, giving weight to a fighting expansion that followed, at first slow, but tending to quicken over the centuries. In time, others would obtain some of the precious tubers, one way or another, with spread thereof and cultivation techniques, but the Tainui people had a useful initial advantage.
(There have recently been somewhat theoretical studies of how the kumara and
its cultivation spread.)
Tamatera founded the Ngati-Tamatera, Whanaunga the Ngati Whanaunga, Tama te po the Ngati Eongo-u, and Te Ngako the Ngati-Maru. Whanaunga and Tamatera quarrelled, and Tamatera went round to KatiKati, where a tribe of warriors grew and were there for a couple of centuries.
As all the tribes grew, and the Ngati-Huarere and the Ngati-Hako obliged by giving provocation, around the mid 1600s the conquest of Hauraki took place in successive stages. The Ngati-Hei wisely stayed neutral, and continued to occupy around 500 square miles all along the eastern side of the main divide, from Whangapoua to Whangamata.
They would later be directly involved with the subject of this study.
Which probably had more than just a change of masters, as the Tainui conquest involved a good deal of killing, 4,000 in one battle south of Hikutaia. However, that was of warriors, and women went to victors, keeping a strong subterranean Toi presence among the people.
Strongholds changed masters. Much later, Totara Pa
was not reoccupied by Marutuahu people after the 1821 defeat and massacre. But Oruarangi at Matatoki, which had been the
principal regional pa, a place that was taken by Totara following the Marutuahu conquest of the mid
1600s, continued to be used by the conquerors. It was the others that had lost
there and digesting the heads of chiefs would effectively remove any lingering
There seems to have been less work put into terracing, but the shell deposits continued to grow.
As their position in Hauraki consolidated over the years, and their number grew, the Marutuahu confederation began to strike back at northern raiders, and in the 1790s were rolling back the northern tribes as far as present day Whangarei, and threatening the Ngapuhi stronghold of the Bay of Islands.
This was just as contacts with the outer world would soon bring guns, unfortunately for Hauraki.