Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 26, November 1982
The following are notes describing some influential people of the District, of the last century, were written by the late Mr. W.T. Hammond a good number of years ago - at the age of 96 - Ed.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
TARAIA NGAKUTI TE TUMUHIA.
He belonged to the Ohinemuri district and was a leading chief and warrior of the Ngati-tamatera tribe. In the late sixties and early seventies he was a frequent visitor to Thames. He sometimes lived at Waiomu and sometimes at Puru, his tribe owning the whole coast land from Waikawai to Thorntons Bay.
He took part in many inter-tribal fights. He and members of his tribe, joined Rauparaha when their Chief made his attack on the Kaiapoi pa in 1831. He also joined an expedition that went into the Urewera Country 1824. In 1842 he made an attack on a Maori pa near Katikati and killed several. When a government officer came to Puru to arrest him he openly defied them and he was left alone. He died at Paeroa in 1872. He was living at Waiomu in 1840 when Sir John Logan Campbell was spending six months in that district.
Paroto lived at Manaia between Thames and Coromandel. He frequently attended the Land Courts at Shortland where as an assessor he helped the presiding judge. Many hundreds of years ago, the Ngati-pukenga were a powerful tribe living near Whakatane. They gradually lost power, and during early part of last century assisted the Thames Maoris, the Ngatimaru in wars near Tauranga. In recognition of these services the Thames Maoris gave asylum to a remnant of the Ngati-pukenga tribe at Manaia on the Thames coast. Here some of their descendants still live. Paroto was a member of this tribe.
Hoterene Taipari was a well known figure in the Thames district until the year of his death, 1880. He was a leading chief of the Ngati-maru and his home "Pukerahui" was situated on the rise between the Hape Creek and Grey Street, Thames, now the site of many State houses.
About the year 1835 he and other Thames Maoris made a voyage to the Bay of Island to bring home some who had been made prisoners when Hongi Hika attacked the Totara Pa in 1821. It was when on this visit that his son Wirope Hoterene Taipari was born.
The names Wirope and Hoterene were adopted in more modern times "Wirope" being the Maori way of saying "Willoughby" and "Hoterene" for Shortland. These Taiparis apparently were proud to call themselves after Willoughby Shortland. Both these chiefs; father and son were of great help to James Mackay from 1864 till 1867 in inducing their people to allow gold mining in the Thames district.
MATENE TE NGA.
This well-tattooed old chief lived at Kiri Kiri, Thames, and from him the Watene family claim descent. In 1894 Captain Gilbert Mair interviewed the old fellow, and from him received a history of the memorable fall of Totara pa in 1821. Matene Te Nga at the time of the fight was a young man about 17 years of age, and was an eye witness of the terrible scenes enacted on that occasion.
This handsomely tattooed old Maori warrior lived at Kiri Kiri, Thames, with whom the Murray family were connected.
[third letter of second name not clear – E]
This finely tattooed Maori chief lived at Parawai, on the southern side of the Kauaeranga stream near where the Booms crossed the stream. His son "Billy Nathan" married a half-cast woman Ada Bennett, and there were two daughters by the union - Amelia (Mrs. Royal) and Polly (Mrs. Hillman). Their children were well known High School athletes.
NOTES ON MAYOR ISLAND "TUHUA" (by W. Hammond).
Named by Maoris "Tuhua" owing to the obsidian there - much sought after by the Maori people for tool-making (Tuhua - obsidian). Named by Captain Cook - Mayor Island. Vacated by Maoris 50 years ago. Largest pohutukawa 31 feet girth.
"Children of Tane" by Mona Gordon.
In the early days this island abounded with peacocks. (I do not know how they came to be there). The feathers were much sought after by Maoris - evidently for cloaks, etc. which they made to sell. A trader named Captain Skinner (owner of the fleet of five schooners named "Gisborne White Fleet") used to trade with the Maoris on the coast from Gisborne to Auckland. His men would shoot the peacocks on Mayor Island for their feathers. He then traded peacock feathers and clothing receiving for payment from the Maoris, pigs, fowls and maize.
The schooners were:-
1. The KEA Captain Skinner
2. The AWANUI Nicollis
3. OTEA Burgess
4. WAIAPU Martin
It was this fleet that traded sulphur from White Island to Gisborne.
Mr George McCarthy, Albert Street, Thames, was one of the crew of Waiapu in this trade.
TE PUKEROA'S TRIAL
(by the Late Mr W.T. Hammond, M.B.E.
(20-9-1880 - As reported that day. Ed.)
A meeting of Hauraki, Piako, Ohinemuri and Coromandel natives was held at Paeroa today for the purpose of trying Te Pukeroa, an aged man. He was accused of bewitching several influential Maoris in various parts of the district, thereby causing them to die. Over two hundred natives are now assembled at the place of meeting, Haora Tarerenui's settlement. The "vivid" [a river steamer – E] is now bringing the Piako Maoris, and the Coromandel natives now at Thames will arrive at Paeroa in a war canoe today bringing with them the alleged wizard Pukeroa. The steamer "Te Aroha" will bring the Hauraki Maoris. It is probable that the old man will be subject to a violent death to appease the wrath of his fellow country men.
On 22nd September the case came to an end as Meka Te Moananui was 84 years of age at the time of his death. It was considered that he died from natural causes and Pukeroa was declared innocent. Apparently the matter did not end there for Thames papers of the time give an account of an attempt to kill Pukeroa, an attack that failed.
Those who still thought that Pukeroa by witchcraft had brought about the death of Meka Te Moananui were determined to have satisfaction and a meeting was held at Thames to deal with the matter. Mr. Allom, Clerk of the Court and Mr. Puckey head of the old mission party and several other Europeans were present at the meeting and did their best to bring about a peaceful settlement. But the dissatisfied party expressed their determination to bring about the death of Pukeroa. It was a serious matter, and the police were instructed to proceed to the home of the old Maori and arrest him on some made up charge. This was carried out successfully.
Pukeroa's home was close by the Kauaeranga stream and in the early morning just before daybreak of the day following Pukeroa's arrest, shots from rifles were heard. A woman of the settlement hearing the shots went out to investigate and was just in time to see the departure of the firing party - members of which she could identify. Police having heard about the firing of shots went out to investigate. Bullet holes were seen in the door, and on the bed where Pukeroa would have been sleeping was a bundle of the old fellow's effects, left there by the police when they made Pukeroa's arrest. The firing party may have been deceived by this bundle thinking it was their intended victim.
On closer examination bullets were found in this bundle of clothing. It is apparent that had a timely arrest not been made, a serious crime would have been the consequence and a punishment of the shooting party would have brought about more trouble. The matter seems to have ended here, for no arrests for attempted killing were made.