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Toa

Renowned fighting rangatira of Te Roroa

Toa was a renowned fighting rangatira of Te Roroa descended from a long line of warriors. The son of the Te Roroa fighting chief Ikataora by his Pouto wife Rangihuamoa, his uncles were the warriors Taramainuku, who defeated Rori of Ngapuhi at Wairarapa pa Waipoua, and his brother Whaiputuputu, the great defender of Kawerua from incursions by other iwi. As the Te Roroa pepeha proclaims “ Takoto ana Whaiputuputu, te waka te tau ki Kawerua” – When Whaiputuputu is present, canoes can land at Kawerua.


It was Whaiputuputu who successfully protected Kawerua from trespass by Ngati Awa ki Hokianga. Although a rahui had been placed by Te Roroa over the whole of Kawerua, Ngati Awa were observed by Whaiputuputu fishing in the local hapuku fishing ground. Seizing his light, fast raupo canoe named Kawerua , Whaiputuputu led Te Roroa in attacking Ngati Awa at sea during which the Ngati Awa canoes were upset. In his waka Kawerua Whaiputuputu chased the trespassers killing the survivors one by one as they swam. Not one was left alive. As he approached the shore Whaiputuputu heard a man call out as to who had caused so much harm to Ngati Awa. Whaiputuputu’s reply, which has passed into a whakatauki, was “ Ko au ra tenei, ko Whaiputuputu, ko Kawerua, ko te waka te tauria” (It is I Whaiputuputu and Kawerua, the attacking canoe). Hence, in later generations trespassers were cautioned by Te Roroa to remember Whaiputuputu and his waka Kawerua.


As a great fighting chief whose deeds unified Te Roroa, Toa’s mana eclipsed that of his father and uncles.


Probably born at Waipoua or in the Waihoupai valley, south of Maunganui Bluff, he early received training in arms from his father. On one of his early war expeditions, he camped overnight at what later became known as Baylys Beach. Because of his high-born status, that place was named Moe-a-Toa ( the Sleeping of Toa). He also lived at Waipoua, where his freshwater spring was called Te Waimana-a-Toa (The powerful Water of Toa) and his pa were called Pahinui, Matatina,Te Rurunga, Kiwinui and Pananawe. At Maunganui Bluff he dwelt at Onepango, Manuwhetai, Pupuwaia, Tuituirangi and Taputapuatea.


As his principal wife, he married his cousin Waitarehu a descendant of the Te Roroa chief Rangitauwawaro of Waimamaku. This was an important marriage for it linked the various Te Roroa strands which existed at Omapere, Waimamaku, Waipoua, Maunganui and later Kaihu and the Northern Wairoa. The daughter of the wahine rangatira Te Kura of Te Roroa ki Waimamaku, Waitarehu’s mother achieved some fame through causing an invasion of Whangaroa . Disputing at Kawerua when cleaning fish with the Whangaroa wife of Tomuri as to whether west or east coast fish were bigger, Kura instigated Tomuri to mount an attack against Whangaroa. The stream at Kawerua, where she disputed, called Okuratore (The Place of Criticising Kura) remains as her memorial to this day.


It was probably at Waipoua that Tiro and Te Haara, the sons of Toa and Waitarehu, were born. Later, those boys moved to Kaihu with their parents.


Following the death of a relative, a Ngati Whatua woman named Hinehawaiki at Whangape, Toa and his father participated with Ngati Whatua in an attack on Rangiputa pa, Whangape. Observing the movements of Ngati Ruanui in and out of Whangape harbour from their lookout point at Te Hunoke, South Hokianga, Ikataora and Toa determined on the best time for an attack but initially found their plans thawrted by an atahu (charm) placed by Ngati Ruanui at the harbour mouth which whipped up rough seas. Eventually moving on to Rangiputa pa, the taua took the pa with great loss killing the chiefs Kaha and Urekotia and capturing a number of women amongst whom were Te Hei and Te Ripo, the wife of Urekotia. Te Hei became the wife of Toa and returned with him to Waipoua.


Remaining with the Ngati Whatua war party, which had farewelled Te Roroa at Waipoua, Te Ripo became suspicious as to her captors’ intentions towards her and at Kaimanu, Maunganui Bluff, paused to recite her whakapapa in the hope that it could save her from harm. However, before she had finished, she was pushed by Ngati Whatua off the Bluff and into the sea to her death.


Upon the recovery of her body, her heart was removed by Ngati Whatua and dispatched to the Ngati Pou chiefs Te Whareumu and Tarahape at Waimamaku in utu for the death of a Ngati Pou at Whangape. That act was resented by Te Whareumu and Tarahape who viewed it as an attempt by Ngati Whatua to involve them in further fighting with Ngati Ruanui. As a consequence Ngati Whatua were attacked by way of revenge at South Kaipara by Te Whareumu and Tarahape.


Ngati Ruanui under the warrior Tarutaru also went to South Kaipara where at Okaka pa they wreaked revenge on Ngati Whatua for the death of Te Ripo. It was there that the name Te Rarawa originated for Tarutaru and his warriors used for their cooking fires funerary biers upon which remains of Ngati Whatua dead lay hence the saying “Ko Te Rarawa Kai Whare”, Consumers of Resting Places (for the dead). As the Rarawa actions indicated no respect for tapu, they were considered a great offence by Ngati Whatua.


Upon his return to Waipoua, Toa set out to attack Ngati Pou at Waimamaku which story has been related in the account of Te Whareumu and Tarahape.


He then turned his attention to seeking utu for the deaths of his Ngati Rangi relations who had been killed by Haumoewarangi’s people at Kaihu and their lands taken from them. Joining with his whanaunga Maheu of Te Roroa, he attacked Hau’s people at Te Pare, Ripiro defeating them. Probably expecting reprisals, Maheu and his elder brother Rangituke then abandoned Maunganui Bluff burying alive their aged father Pinea, the noted Te Roroa tohunga, at the back of his Manuwhetai whare and migrating separately to Tautoro and to Araparera, South Kaipara. In Maheu’s party were Ngati Rangi and Ngati Manu.


Later Hau’s people again were defeated at Opanaki, Kaihu following which Toa regained the Kaihu pa Te Kawau and Taumatini and pursued the survivors to the Northern Wairoa river. He there took Waira, Maungaroho and Tokatoka pa and returned to Kaihu the land all being under his mana.


Tiro, the eldest son of Toa, lacked interest in warfare and became famous as a food providor. His gardens at Mamaranui and Maropiu (which later was named by Taoho) were extensive and so impressed the Ngati Pou maiden Te Mairanga – who had been brought by her father Riutaia to Kaihu to marry Tiro’s brother the warrior Te Haara – that she chose Tiro over his brother much to the objections of her father. Te Haara, who later was killed at Whangaroa, eventually married Ngamako of Ngati Miru ki Taiamai.


With his wife Te Hei Toa had one child Paikea who married Kawa of Ngai Tahuhu and had a son Taramainuku. That Taramainuku must be distinguished from his namesake Taramainuku, the brother of Ikataora. Following family disputes the former Taramainuku, who lived at Kateanui, Waipoua where he had a pa, migrated to the Northern Wairoa. His mokopuna was Parore Te Awha.


Toa died of old age while living at Waipoua and initially was interred in the great urupa Whangamoa at Waipoua. Later his koiwi were removed to Pahinui urupa Waipoua where they still rest.


Na Gary Hooker