1893 - Stack, J. W. Kaiapohia: the Story of a Siege [1990 reprint] - CHAPTER VI. RETURN OF VICTORS TO KAPITI, p 79-86

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  1893 - Stack, J. W. Kaiapohia: the Story of a Siege [1990 reprint] - CHAPTER VI. RETURN OF VICTORS TO KAPITI, p 79-86
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A FEW days after the capture of Kaiapoi, Rauparaha, having repaired the damage done to his canoes, embarked his army and the prisoners he meant to take with him, and sailed for Akaroa Harbour, with the intention of attacking the fortress of Onawe, and completing the destruction of Tamaiharanui's kinsmen. Finding on his arrival there that the Pah was strongly fortified, and likely to be bravely defended, and not relishing the idea of undertaking another prolonged seige he resorted to strategem. Accompanied by the most distinguished of the Kaiapoi prisoners, he approached the gate of Onawe, and began parleying with some of the defenders, whom he advised to surrender the Pah, and trust to his clemency, appealing to the presence of so many Kaiapoi prisoners as a proof that they might trust his promise to spare their lives. While this talking was going on, the gate was opened to admit some men returning from an unsuccessful skirmish. In the crowd gathered about the gate were some of Rauparaha's men, who, in obedience to secret instructions from him, had crept up unnoticed to where he stood, and

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succeeded in entering the Pah without being recognized. Once within the fortress, they commenced killing everyone about them, a panic ensued, and in a few minutes Onawe was taken.

Rauparaha having accomplished his object, gave his warriors permission to return to the north, and having received directions where to rendezvous on the coast, several war canoes put to sea at once. The one commanded by Te Hiko, 1 Chief of the Ngatiawa contingent, not being quite sea-worthy was beached for repairs at Okaruru (Gough's Bay). Amongst the prisoners Te Hiko had with him was Tangatahara, or "ugly man," so nick-named years before by a lady who resented his too persistent attentions to her. He was a renowned warrior, and the late commander of the fortress of Onawe. He was particularly obnoxious to Rauparaha owing to the fact that it was by his hand that the great Te Pehi fell at Kaiapoi. While Te Hiko was engaged repairing his canoe, a detachment of Rauparaha's body-guard who had been searching the neighbouring hills and forests for fugitives came upon the scene. They were accompanied by two women, near relations of the great Chief, and who on recognizing Tangatahara as the man with whom their family had a blood-feud, according to custom demanded his surrender, exclaiming "Light an

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oven, we must have a feast, here is our man!" Te Hiko resented this interference with his rights as captor of the noted prisoner, and refused to give him up, and to prevent his being molested placed a guard of his own men round him. At the same time he ordered a plentiful supply of food to be given to his superior officers' friends, hoping thereby to conciliate them, and to divert their thoughts from the man whom he had taken under his protection. The women of the party were not, however, easily appeased and drawn from their purpose. They persisted for a long time in pressing their demand; but finding Te Hiko firm in his refusal, they begged since they might not kill the Ngai Tahu man, to be allowed to strike his head with the kauru fibre they were chewing, and so degrade him by pretending to use his head as a relish for their kauru. This request was granted, whereupon the two women went up to the prisoner who was seated on the ground in the midst of a group of Ngatiawa warriors, and struck him several times on the top of the head with the kauru, which they then proceeded to chew. Te Hiko was very much vexed by the disregard shown to his wishes by Rauparaha's relatives, and made up his mind there and then to release Tangatahara as soon as they were gone. Accordingly during the night he roused him, and told him he might escape, which he did very easily as the camp was situated on the edge of the forest, which then covered the

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greater part of Bank's Peninsula. His escape encouraged a female prisoner, who, under the charge of two women had been taken to the outskirts of the forest to collect firewood, to attempt flight. In order that those in charge of her might grow accustomed to losing sight of her person, she kept in front of them, and never picked up a stick unless it was lying in such a position behind a tree or shrub that in stooping to get it she got out of their sight; gradually she increased the distance between herself and her guardians, and reached the base of the cliff, on the western side of the Bay. Observing a strong woodbine hanging over the face of a steep rock she seized it, and drew herself up by it to the top, pulling the woodbine up after her to prevent her pursuers using it; she then scrambled away with all speed up the steep hill side, spurred on in her efforts to escape by the shrill cries of her mortified keepers, who were calling aloud upon the men to go in pursuit of her; but she succeeded in reaching the shelter of the dense forest where all trace of her whereabouts was lost, and after a time rejoined her friends in safety.

Before the northern fleet got finally clear of Bank's Peninsula, a considerable number of prisoners escaped, the chief person among them being Te Hori, known in after years as the the highly respected native magistrate of Kaiapoi; the only man of acknowledged learning left amongst the Ngai Tahu, after Ruaparaha's last raid.

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Fortunately for the Kaiapoi captives who were taken to Kapiti, Rauparaha on returning home, found himself involved in quarrels with some of the tribes on the mainland, whose territory he had appropriated, and this disposed him to treat his prisoners with more consideration than he might otherwise have done. Amongst others of them whom he employed in positions of trust, was Te Ata o Tu, the warrior who had attracted his favourable notice during the siege of Kaiapoi, by engaging in combat with one of his officers, and overcoming him. This man Rauparaha sent on one occasion with an important message to the Chiefs of Waikanae, and on the way there a circumstance occurred which tried his courage and ability to meet any emergency, almost as much as his encounter with Pehi Tahau in the outskirts of Kaiapoi had done. Accompanied by his little son, a boy of six years old (Simeon Pohata), he crossed in a canoe to the mainland and started to walk along the beach to Waikanae. When he had accomplished about a third of the journey, he heard a bull bellowing close by, and soon afterwards saw the animal trotting rapidly towards him. He realized at once the dangerous predicament he was in: for he had no doubt that the animal now approaching him was the same about which he had heard very alarming stories. It was once a village pet, but had taken to the bush, and ever since it had done so, it always chased any persons

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it came across, and it had already crippled a good many people. Te Ata's first thought was for the safety of his boy; but what could he do? An endless stretch of sandy beach lay before and behind him; to the right lay the open sea; to the left bare sandhills. To run away would only encourage the bull to quicken his pace, and hasten the approaching catastrophe. For a moment his case seemed hopeless, when he espied some slabs lying above high water mark at the foot of a sandhill. If he could only reach them in time, he might yet save his boy; taking him by the hand, he hurried to the spot, and set five or six of them on end against the sand hillock, and got behind them just as the bull came up. The beast stood for a few moments bellowing and pawing the sand, and walked by sniffing at the planks. He did this several times, but the moment he caught sight of the man crouching behind the slabs, he charged them furiously, and tossed them over with his horns. Te Ata snatching up the child sprang from under, and as the bull charged past him, he quickly replaced two of the slabs, and put the boy behind them, telling him in the event of his escaping, to make for Waikanae, and inform the people there of what had happened to his father. The bull seeing him standing close by did not at once rush at him; but with head bent low, bellowed and growled within a few feet of where he stood, as if getting up his courage for the

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attack. Te Ata made up his mind at that moment what to do; and springing to the side of the astonished animal, he put his right arm round the base of the bull's neck, and pressed his body against his shoulder. The bull tossed his head and tried to strike the man with his horns, but in vain; the man was too agile and quick in his movements, and as he pressed with all his strength against the bull's shoulder, the animal kept shifting his position, and moved slowly down towards the sea. The tide was coming in, and soon swept over the spot where they stood. Te Ata noticed a pukio, or niggerhead, floating on the incoming waves, and as it swept past him, he seized it, and made a dash for the breakers, into which he plunged dragging the niggerhead after him. The bull followed, and kept so close behind him that he narrowly escaped being gored by it, but by continually diving in different directions he managed to widen the distance between himself and his tormentor; but nothing seemed to turn the brute from his purpose, and he appeared as much at home in the water as on the land. Loosening his shaggy waist mat, Te Ata fastened it round the niggerhead, and took several long dives before he ventured to look round, when to his intense relief, he saw the bull engaged with the niggerhead, which he was pawing at, and poking with its horns, apparently under the impression that he had at last caught his man. Leaving the vicious beast to expend

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its spite on the pukio, Te Ata swam some distance down the coast, and then drew in towards the shore, and walked along through the surf till he thought he could emerge with safety from the water, and pursue his journey on terra firma. About two miles down the coast he passed a canoe drawn up on the beach, and noticed his little boy lying asleep in the stern of it, fright and fatigue having quite overcome the child. Taking him on his back, he pursued his journey to Waikanae, where he soon after arrived without any further misadventure.

1   He was the son of Te Pehi which made his treatment of Tangatahara all the more noteworthy.

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