Guest Post by Chris Parauhi
Regarding the Maori customary practice of Raupatu, a practice similar to the British version which Ihumatao activists are vigorously protesting: I propose putting the ‘confiscation’ in a bit of context. Context, after all, is what is really missing in the new Maori youth ‘Revolution’.
You are protesting, with the democratic right to protest and freedom of speech, on land protected by property law, a Western concept developed by Europeans to avoid the sorts of misunderstandings and injustices that you believe were foisted upon you. If you want to know what happens without such a system, read some of your own history, like that which I have attached here.
Summary: Colonialism, raupatu, was alive and well centuries before Europeans got to New Zealand. This is not to excuse British actions, but simply to put it in context. Europeans sought to impose Western civilisation on the Maori people while expanding their territory and access to resources. At times, the slaughter of settlers was used as the rationale for punitive military action and confiscations. The story below is similar, in that the punitive military action was taken for the murder of a Tainui noble woman. It differs, however, in that every single member of the tangata whenua, Ngati Kau-pungapunga, was hunted down and slaughtered, such that none remain today to protest the confiscation of the ‘King Country’ by Tainui.
An excerpt from ‘Nga Iwi o Tainui’, by Pei te Hurinui Jones & Bruce Biggs (pp. 139-140; 18.1-18.9]
‘We now come to the period when the remnants of the people who occupied the land before the Tainui voyagers arrived were destroyed. Beginning with the time of Hoturoa the Tainui people had fought with the people they had found occupying these lands. Over many years local people had moved on, abandoning coastal lands and the fertile lands.
At the time we are writing of the land left to them was restricted: the banks of the Waikato from the vicinity of Puu-taaruru to Atia-muri. These are barren lands with pumice soil. During the time that the remnants of the local people lived there they were called Ngaati Kahu-pungapunga.
Close to their lands were some bird mountains, Whakamaru and Tuu-aropaki. These bird mountains of Ngaati Kau-pungapunga were envied by the descendants of Raukawa [a Tainui chief], Whaaita and his people. Whaaita’s sister Korekore had married Parahore, the chief of Ngaati Kahu-pungapunga.
Parahore’s people, in the fowling season, were set to work killing birds for Korekore. This aroused Ngaati Kahu-pungapunga’s dislike of their chief’s wife and her people. And they were apprehensive that soon their land might be seized by Korekore’s people. So Ngaati Kahu-pungapunga arose and killed her.
When Whaaita and the rest heard that Korekore had been killed they raised a war party to seek revenge and take the tribe’s lands. Whaaita and his people left their homes at Whare-puhunga and the Rangi-toto district. They passed Maunga-tautari, crossed the Waikato River and began fighting by taking the Ngaati Kahu-pungapunga forts there.
The very first fort was te Poohue. That fell and they fought with the strongholds in caves called Cannibal Cave and Deep Pool Cave. Ngaati Kahu-pungapunga were defeated there and survivors fled to another refuge called Takahanga-ahiahi. That fort was assaulted and fell. Then Whaaita’s war party was divided. One part, under Wairangi and Upoko-iti came south of the Waikato River. The other part, under Whaaitia, Pipito and Tama-te-hura, went towards the Ngaati Kahu-pungapunga forts at Te Waotuu.
6 more forts are taken by Tainui from Ngaati Kahu-pungapunga] The survivors were pursued and at Wai-mapora a chief, Tama-pohia, was caught and killed. Further on at a place called Te Ripinga-a-tahurangi others were caught and killed.
Fighting between Tainui & Te Arawa ensues for a little while and Te Arawa are initially defeated and Whaaita attacks them inside Te Arawa territory Not far inside Te Arawa territory the tide of battle turned and Whaaita’s people broke and were overwhelmed by Te Arawa. Whaaita and his people were pursued. At that time Whaaita was suffering from boils. South of Whakamaru the pain of the boils was very severe. He fell behind most of his people who were saving themselves.
Whaaita sat down by the path and called some of his people to kick the boil. One of them did, and the boil burst and the pain was eased. [It is unsure whether this is an example of rongoa or mirimiri]
Whaaiti turned again to pursue the remnants of Ngaati Kahu-pungapunga. They all assembled in their fort at Poohatu-roa beside the Waikato River and immediately below Atia-muri.
Wairangi, too, had been slaughtering the people to the south of the Waikato River, and his party regrouped again with Whaaita’s. Poohatu-roa was surrounded and there was no escape for those inside. For a time they coped but later they suffered from hunger. The fort was assaulted and fell. Not one person escaped; there were no survivors. By this battle the remnants of the local people within the area occupied by the descendants of the Tainui voyagers were totally destroyed.’