Topic: Traditional Story: The Burning of Te Arawa

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Raumati lived at Katikati, in the area now known as Bowentown. His mother was of Ngamarama, the tangata whenua, and his father was one of the people who stayed when the Tainui canoe called there. Like the other young people who were growing up around Tauranga Moana in those days, Raumati heard a great deal about Te Arawa, the rival canoe which sailed from Hawaiki at the same time as Tainui.

Archived version here. 

The final resting place of Te Arawa was at Maketu, at the mouth of the Kaituna. The canoe had been pulled up on the shore in the place which is now marked by a stone monument. Raumati and his young friends also heard about the long-standing dissension between Tainui and Te Arawa, how Tamatekapua of Te Arawa had tricked the tohunga of Tainui, Ngatoroirangi, into sailing from Hawaiki with Te Arawa and so on.
When he grew to manhood, Raumati was seized with a strong desire to go and see this canoe Te Arawa that he had heard so much about. He gathered around him a gang of young men, all very fit and eager for a bit of adventure. And so this taua set off for Maketu. They travelled the length of Tauranga Moana and landed near Whareroa where they picked up the track through the sand dunes to the ocean beach at Papamoa. They followed the line of sand dunes along the beach past Papamoa and Te Tumu, right along the sand spit that ends at the mouth of the Kaituna. From here they could look across the narrow stretch of water to the headland of Maketu. There was Te Arawa pulled up on the shore well above high-water mark with a timber shelter built over it and thatched with raupo to protect it from the weather. There was no one guarding the canoe. As they looked at it these young warriors hit on the idea of paying back Tamatekapua for his trickery toward Tainui. They threw lighted darts across the Kaituna toward the canoe. These landed in the dry raupo thatch which caught alight. Very soon the whole structure and the canoe underneath it were ablaze. In no time at all the great canoe of Te Arawa was reduced to a pile of ashes.
There was great consternation among the people of Te Arawa as the news spread of this attack. A war party was organised, led by three brothers, Hanui, Haroa and Karika, of Mokoia in Rotorua. A younger brother, Hatupatu, anxious not to be left out of this campaign to avenge the insult by Tainui to Te Arawa, organised his own war party. Hatupatu went ahead to Maketu and engaged in battle against Raumati and the Tauranga people. Raumati was defeated here and he and his men fled back along the beach toward Maunganui with Hatupatu and his war party chasing close behind. One by one the warriors of Tauranga Moana were killed, until finally there was only Raumati still running toward Maunganui. Hatupatu was determined that he would be the one to get the young chief Raumati and return to Mokoia with his head, to show his father and older brothers that he was a worthy warrior of Te Arawa.
Raumati raced on toward Maunganui. His position was hopeless. Hatupatu was gaining on him. He bounded around the base of Maunganui and plunged into the channel at the entrance to Tauranga Moana. He struck out furiously and swam toward Matakana. Hatupatu plunged into the water after him. He too was a strong swimmer. Raumati pulled himself up on the sandy shores of Matakana. Hatupatu reached the shore about the same time. Hatupatu was on Raumati. His patu struck deep into the flesh of Raumati and Raumati was felled. Hatupatu dragged the lifeless body to a large flat rock in the sand dunes and there cut off the head of Raumati. He wrapped it in his korowai cloak and carried it back to Mokoia, to his father, as utu for the burning of Te Arawa. The place where Raumati was killed was called Panepane, meaning a head. Somewhere in the sand there is the flat rock, at the southern end of Matakana. This area is still called Panepane Point, a sandy spit stretching toward the entrance to Tauranga Moana.

Other stories are found off the article - An Introduction to this collection (please click) 


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