The battle of Pilot Bay, at Mount Maunganui,
Tauranga, in 1820, is a magnificent, if terrible epic in
our New Zealand history.
Morenga, that raider chief of the Northern tribes, the Ngapuhi
fleet sailed for Tauranga, and fell upon the Ngaiterangi
at Pilot Bay, that lovely and peaceful anchorage beneath
the shadow of the Mount. In the fierce strife between the
armed men of the North and the Ngaiterangi with their native
weapons, three hundred warriors of the Tauranga tribe were
halted in their triumphal advance to prepare a great canriibal
feast of the bodies, and their chief went out upon a scouting
expedition across the harbour to Otumoetai, that long slender
finger of land which runs out opposite to the Tauranga point,
across the narrow estuary of Waikareao. He left his men
in the canoe, and sat down under a ngaio tree to think over
his triumphs, and fell asleep. As he slept, Te Waro, the
head chief of the Ngaiterangi, crept upon him alone, and
made him a prisoner. The Ngapuhi prepared to meet death
as a chief should, but amazingly enough Te Waro led him
down to the Waikareao within sight of the canoe and warriors,
and cut his bonds.
bind me …” said Te Waro, “And carry me
back to your people at the camp beside the Mount.”
landed, and the warriors gathered round swinging their long-handled
tomahawks, and exulting over the capture, Te Morenga held
up his hand for silence.
hear how this man treated me when I was bound and at his
mercy!” he cried.
The old Mount
must have looked down upon a strange scene, as the two stood
there in the ring of blood-thirsty fighting men, in the
flickering gleam of the fires from the cannibal ovens, that
fierce raider Te Morenga, and Te Maru, with his bearing
of a chief, bound, and calm and dignified.
cried aloud the. story, and when the Ngapuhi men heard it,
they threw down their spears and tomahawks, and the guns
of the white man, and said … “We cannot fight
against such a man as this. Let there now be a covenant
of peace between the Ngapuhi and the Ngaiterangi.”
As the seal
of their good faith, the Ngapuhi went to the ovens, and
took out the bodies prepared for the feast, and gave them
honourable burial in the rock caves, and, in the dying smoke
of the quenched fires, the treaty of peace was pledged.