Impacts on inter-iwi socio-political interactions

In document Between people and things: understanding violence and theft in early New Zealand transactions (Page 115-118)

Here some particular tāonga are examined. As already described, they embody the human social relationships in which they have been involved, as well as the actions where they have themselves been social actors. They also embody the internal socio-political discourse surrounding these human social relationships and actions, and the localities where the actions took place. Earlier in this chapter I referred to the fact that I have focused particularly on interactions of Ngāi Tāhu with Ngāti Māmoe on the one hand, and the Ngāti Toa alliance on the other. I have suggested, that the dynamics of these interactions, would have been informed by the cultural schemas of iwi,27and therefore their inter-cultural transaction behaviour with Europeans would


also have been affected by that. This does not deny that members of these iwi could also have acted contingently and agentively in such interactions. These kinds of actions will be described here in the examples of greenstone mere and cloaks that have ‘participated’ in both war and peace amongst them.

There are two issues here. Firstly, there are the narrativesabout the origin of the objects; and secondly, the names they carry. Both, complicate the socio-political dynamics surrounding the tāonga in much the same way as happens for the stories and names of the people with whom they are co-actants. Also in the same way as for people, their names, and reported actions, it is possible to examine a variety of

narratives, both Māori and European, and search for commonalities and discrepancies, that will help unveil their likely ‘accuracy’. It is, however, important also to be

cognizant of the fact that ‘accuracy’ is not what social behaviour is always based upon. In the course of history, it is hearsay and ‘believable’ stories that feed into public discourse and these are the more frequent determinants of peoples’ decision- making and action than are ‘certain truths’.

Amongst the reasonably well-documented battles in nineteenth century Te Wai Pounamu, was Te Rauparaha’s invasion of the Kaiapoi pa in 1820. Tau and

Anderson’s “Carrington text” (2009), published eyewitness accounts and interpretive comments including reference to a number of pounamu weapons which were of great interest to Ngāti Toa, and are represented as being the reason for the initial visit to Kaiapoi by Te Rauparaha with his uncle Te Pēhi Kupe. Amongst the surviving eyewitness accounts, is the joint account of Ngāi Tahu’s Hēnare Mahuika and Īhāia Tainui, who told H. K.Taiaroa in 1880 about the intentions of Ngati Toa when they arrived at Kaiapoi pa:

… The leaders went into the pa, their intention being to acquire Ngāi Tahu’s greenstone weapons by stealth and to take them for themselves. But they still went in fighting for the right to take the greenstone weapons that they wanted. The names of the weapons were Kaoreore, Papatahi, Tuhiwai and Rakauparawa, among others. From the time that Te Peehi proceeded to leave with the greenstone weapons, he said that the weapons were his… (in Tau & Anderson, 2009: 181)[my emphasis].

Ngāi Tahu understood that their motive was to trade in greenstone, which is confirmed by another eyewitness, Pāora Taki, who told Taare Tikao’s daughter that Te Rauparaha had said their would be no trouble by repeating that:


“ It is well - as they went into the pa to trade guns, powder and flint with the residents for blocks of greenstone and articles of pounamu. Tamaiharanui himself traded for guns… (ibid: 180)

Again, this intention of going to Kaiapoi for greenstone, is confirmed by Katu (Tamihana) Te Rauparaha of Ngāti Toa, who (being a child at the time of the battle) relied upon his father’s dictated narrative, written up c. 1880:

Te Rauparaha said to his friend Tamaiharanui at Kaiapohia “ Let all be peaceful”.

Tamaiharanui agreed. Then Te Pēhi and his friends went into the pa. Tamaiharanui and Te Pēhi greeted each other… having met previously at Port Jackson. For this reason Te Pēhi requested to have Paewhenua, a block of greenstone that had yet to be made into a weapon… Te Rauparaha asked Te Pēhi to be careful…” (T.Te Rauparaha, in Butler, 1980: 35)

Te Rauparaha went only into the outer ramparts of the pa, and on the thither side of the palisading to look on at the bargaining proceeding for guns in exchange for greenstone. One weapon was acquired by Te Rauparaha – Te Kaoreore. Being asked for by one of his younger relatives (taina) to carry about – he gave it. Then the taina went into the pa to Te Peehi and others…” [Tamihana Te Rauparaha, G.Graham trans., in Tiniraupeka, c.1918: 57)

However Taare Wētere Te Kāhu of Ngāi Tahu told Tame Parata that: They asked for pounamu; some was brought, but those people despised the pounamu with angry words; they quarrelled with the people of the place about it. After a time it became serious, and Te Peehi called out to the people outside the pa to… assault it… (1910: 95-6) So, from the first invasion of Kaiapoi c.1828, Māori oral histories generated were written down within the lifetime of eyewitnesses belonging to iwi on both sides of the conflict. These confirm that named greenstone pieces were at least stated by the Ngāti Toa attackers, as a motivation for their visit; a reason initially believed by Ngāi Tahu. The fame of the greenstone had preceded the arrival of Ngāti Toa, because they had been told at Omihi about its existence, when they asked slaves they had captured at Kaikōura, and were told, “Yes there is plenty at Kaiapoi” (Te Kāhu, in Parata, 1910: 95). Comparing the Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Toa narratives establishes the names of three specific pounamu pieces that both parties mention as being under contention: Tuhiwai, Paewhenua and Kaorere. Both parties also mention that there were others. On reading all the complete accounts, it is clear that these pounamu were social actors, as crucial to the proceedings of the battle as were the named human participants, Te Pēhi Kupe, his opponent Takatahara, and so on. Additionally, the issue that sparked the assault on the was, in the first instance, a perception about the pounamu. I therefore return here to these issues of ‘accuracy’ and perception, in order to examine in hindsight from the available primary sources just what aspects of


Tuhiwai, Paewhenua and Kaoreore could have made them desirable to Ngāti Toa. The life trajectory of Tuhiwai has already been described in the previous section, and will be revisited here along with that of Paewhenua and Kaoreore. All three have by now accumulated some narratives that differ between Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Toa. Some European eyewitness references from the same era, as those of the Māori eyewitness accounts, can provide some clarification. Amongst them is the diary of Arthur Wakefield a New Zealand Company representative killed by the Ngāti Toa chief Te Rangihaeata at the Wairau affray in 1843, and the journal of J. Barnicoat, surveyor who observed his death. Ngāti Toa also have a story about Tuhiwai being involved at Wairau in 1841 (Mātini Te Whiwhi, 1872; online). This cannot be so because it was still in the possession of Ngai Tahu in 1843 when Taiaroa presented it toTe Rauparaha at one of the peace ceremonies.

In document Between people and things: understanding violence and theft in early New Zealand transactions (Page 115-118)


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