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Te Kooti in Tiniroto

Why did Te Kooti come to Tiniroto?

Te Kooti was a member of the Ngati Maru hapu of the Rongowhakaata tribe and was a famous Maori guerrilla leader who led many campaigns in which hundreds were killed. Te Kooti believed he was forced into war to seek justice for past wrongs.

Te Kooti came to the Tiniroto area in 1868 after he had escaped prison in the Chatham Islands and was being chased by British soldiers. There are many stories about the time Te Kooti spent in Tiniroto evading the British troops.

During his journey through the Tiniroto area it is said that Te Kooti was charged by a taniwha because he was killing so many people. He ran through and hid in the bush with his followers, killing soldiers as he went. There are sites in the area such as a crossing on the Hangaroa River below Hackfalls Station which is still called ‘Te Kooti’s Crossing’ today by locals .

The following extract I found on the www.pathfindernz.co.nz website and it describes the ambush at Paparatu near Tiniroto.

Extract: 'Redemption Songs' by Judith Binney

"On the 23rd July 1868, messengers from Ngati Kohatu of Te Reinga, who maintained both kinship and residential connections with Poverty Bay, defeated the rain and snow to bring Te Kooti the news that the Wairoa expedition had reached Te Reinga. They were intent on ambush, and that afternoon they trapped the Wairoa contingent. Te Kooti appeared on the top of the hill above them, wrote one of the troopers, ‘attired in a loose flowing robe, and with the sun shining on him he seemed to me much like Moses of old appeared on Sinai, or as Joshua commanding the sun to stand still.’ The small party of Government volunteers, led by Captain William Richardson, was caught down in the valley. Richardson claimed to have only 20 men with him, four of whom were Maori, as he staged his retreat from Te Koneke."

By Matewai

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