The bloody his­tory of sa­cred Kaiapoi Pa¯

Northern Outlook - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

Around 1828, Te Rau­paraha, the Ma¯ori ran­gatira and war leader of the Nga¯ti Toa tribe, had at­tacked Kaik­oura and came fur­ther south to trade.

How­ever, Nga¯ti Toa war­riors des­e­crated a grave at Tuahiwi and traded mus­kets with­out fir­ing pins. In re­sponse Nga¯i Tahu at­tacked. Te Rau­paraha es­caped but re­turned for re­venge.

In 1830 he at­tacked Akaroa and then came south again at the close of 1831 with a force of 600 war­riors to Kaiapoi.

Out­gunned, Nga¯i Tahu dug in and the siege of the pa¯ lasted over three months. With win­ter loom­ing and Te Rau­paraha on the verge of head­ing home, his forces had be­gun pil­ing manuka bun­dles against the pal­isades.

Nga¯i Tahu lit the fire first to clear away the threat only for the wind to change. With the 100-yearold pal­isades burn­ing down, Te Rau­paraha’s forces swarmed the pa¯ and it was the fall of Kaiapoi.

Of the thou­sand men, women and chil­dren in the pa¯, a few hun­dred es­caped in through the swap in the smoke­screen.

Te Rau­paraha laid waste to the pa¯ site and sev­eral ka¯inga within march­ing dis­tance be­fore he re­turned home.

Nga¯i Tahu’s south­ern re­la­tions came to their aid, trad­ing mus­ket and Nga¯i Tahu then am­bushed Te Rau­paraha at Ka¯para-te-hau (Lake Grass­mere), claim­ing a vic­tory but Te Rau­paraha es­caped.

In 1839 the Nga¯i Tahu and Nga¯ti Toa reached a peace.

With Kaiapoi Pa¯ de­stroyed, Nga¯i Tahu re­lo­cated firstly to Tio­r­i­ori be­fore re-es­tab­lish­ing at Tuahiwi - which had been dec­i­mated by Te Rau­paraha fol­low­ing the fall of Kaiapoi.

Rev. Canon J. W. Stack, who’s church drew the Nga¯i Tahu peo­ple back to Tuahiwi, erected a memo­rial on the site of the Kaiapoi Pa¯ in 1898.

A cen­tury later, the tiki fea­ture at the top of the tower fell down in the Can­ter­bury earthquakes.

‘‘It is yet to be re­stored. Once we get our trus­tees in place again the re­pairs will be dealt with,’’ Tau said.

‘‘All of our trus­tees passed away over the past decade so we take time to reap­point them. Th­ese things take time.’’

While the Kaiapoi Pa¯ site is a vastly dif­fer­ent set­ting 180 years since its down­fall, an eerie va­cant grass­land still boast­ing ge­o­graph­i­cal fea­tures of the pa¯ de­fenses, it still holds a sa­cred place in the his­tory of lo­cal Ma¯ori.

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