Tūtekawa’s story is closely linked with Ngāi Tūhaitara (hapū descending from Tūhaitara) and their chief Tūāhuriri and begins in the Wellington area. His tale ends in Te Waipounamu with his eventual death in retaliation for earlier events against Tūāhuriri and his whānau.

Tūtekawa descends from the senior line of Ngāti Porou, with Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Māmoe (through his mother) connections he therefore had very senior lineage. His wife Tūkōrero was sister to Tūāhuriri’s wife Hinetewai (mother of Hāmua, Tūrakautahi and Moki) thus strengthening his connections to Ngāi Tūhaitara and Ngāti Kurī hapū. Tūtekawa was also a first cousin to the Ngāti Kurī chief Te Rakiwhakaputa and the Ngāti Māmoe leader Tukiauau.

Tūtekawa and Tūāhuriri

It is through his interactions with Tūāhuriri that Tūtekawa’s story unfolds. His involvement in the assault by Hikaororoa on Tūāhuriri’s pā led him to taking the lives of Tūāhuriri’s wives Hinekaitaki and Tuarāwhati.

His actions during this event are interesting - on the one hand he warned Tūāhuriri to flee to safety and on the other he killed his wives. Later Tūāhuriri showed him leniency by telling him to seek a safe place to wait out the storm that followed the assault on the pā. Tūtekawa would make his way to the south and eventually settled at Waikākahi on the shores of Waihora (Lake Ellesmere) with his Ngāti Mamoe relatives.

Moki Seeks Revenge

Tūtekawa and his followers were one of the first groups to migrate to Te Waipounamu. Others were to follow from Ngāti Kurī and Ngāi Tūhaitara firstly across the straits and then to Kaikōura. Among them were the sons of Tūāhuriri; Hāmua, Tūrakautahi and Moki the younger son (the warrior of the family). (Some stories state that Hāmua was drowned crossing Cook Strait with his father, others that he settled in Kaikōura and died young).

With the inevitable jostling for lands and resources it was discovered that Waitaha and Horomaka to the south were largely uninhabited but rich in resources a huge incentive for Ngāi Tahu to spread through the island. It was also discovered that Tūtekawa (by now an old man) was living at Waikākahi.

This was an opportunity to avenge his actions with Tūāhuriri’s wives. In his waka Makawhiu (the desolater) Moki would arrive at Koukourarata and from there strike out to overcome a number of small settlements on the way before leading his warrior force against the old man’s pā. Tūtekawa was found in his whare lying with his back to the fire. Moki, mindful of his father’s leniency, might have spared him but Whākuku, brother of the slain sisters, killed him with his spear.

Te Rakitāmau, son of Tūtekawa was away at Taumutu at the time of the assault, noticed the smoke coming from the fire that his wife had lit back at the pā. Sneaking back into his father’s whare (house) past the guards, he found his wife, Punahikoia and children unharmed, and she explained what had happened.

Moki remained asleep unaware of his presence in the whare so Te Rakitāmau quietly laid his dogskin mat over him and left. In the morning the message to Moki was clear that his life had been spared by Te Rakitāmau. On seeing what had transpired Moki exclaimed,

Ngāi Tūhaitara matahori.

Translation - Oh deaf-eared Ngāi Tūhaitara.

Eventually peace was restored between Tūtekawa’s people and his Ngāi Tūhaitara relations.


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