Battle of Hingakaka

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Battle of Hingakaka
Date 1791
Location Near Ohaupo
Result Tainui victory
Allied southern North Island army Tainui
Commanders and leaders
Te Rauananganga, Huahua, Tiripa, Pikauterangi

The Battle of Hingakaka (sometimes Hiringakaka) was fought between two Maori armies, an allied southern North Island army and a Tainui alliance army, near Ohaupo in the Waikato in the late 18th or early 19th centuries, and was reputedly "the largest battle ever fought on New Zealand soil".[1]

Early New Zealand historian Percy Smith placed the battle at about 1780, basing the date purely on tribal genealogies, but evidence from Maori oral histories from warriors who fought in the battle and were still alive well into European times suggests that 1780 is far too early. The Ngati Whatua chief Te Murupaenga, who led his warriors into action in the battle, was judged by Samuel Marsden to be about 50 when he saw him in 1820. A date of 1780 would make him about 10 - far too young. Other Ngati Whatua sources correlated the date as two years before the attack on the Boyd, making the date 1807.[2] However, according to Mana whenua traditions based on accounts from Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Te Kanawa and Ngati Paretekawa traditional sources, they place the battle in or around the 1790-91 period.

The battle was fought between groups comprising many smaller allied hapu and iwi. The attackers, a force of 7,000 to 10,000 warriors,[3] led by a Ngāti Toa chief Pikauterangi, from the Marokopa district of the lower North Island, invaded the Waipa District, to restore honour. He was aggrieved over the poor distribution of the kahawai fish harvest, according to Pei Te Hurinui Jones. This led to the killing of all members of the Ngati Apakura, who were one of the hapu hosting the fish feast. Other accounts say that Pikauterangi took the biggest fish for himself and he was seized and ducked to the point where he nearly drowned. In vengeance he killed Ngati Apakura, cooked their bodies and distributed them for eating amongst Ngati Kauwhata and Ngati Raukawa.[4]

This take, or cause, happened about three years before the battle. During this time Pikauterangi travelled around the lower North Island collecting a large force. He raised about 4,000 men from the Wellington region and a further 3,000 from the East Coast tribes of Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu. This was combined with a separate force of Te Ati Awa, Ngati Ruanui and tribes from the Whanganui who had already been in battle with Ngati Maniapoto.

In response, the Waikato-Maniapoto alliance made preparations to establish a series of warning systems stretching from Kakepuku Maunga (Mountain) to Taipiri Maunga (Mountain) to alert the Waikato-Maniapoto forces of impending invasion, and a battle strategy to repel and defeat the invading forces of Pikauterangi, and constructed a series of "Pa Pahu" (Pa equipped with Warning devices) commencing with

  • Mangatoatoa Pa, on the Puniu River just below the Kakepuku Maunga, the assembly point for Waikato-Maniapoto to confer the "Te Kawau Maro" strategy (a battle strategy, (a Maniapoto fighting strategy based on the "swoop of the Cormorant"), and
  • Waiari Pa, on the Mangapiko Stream, and
  • Nukuhau Pa, on the banks of the Waikato River near the Narrows, and
  • Maniapoto Pa, in the Gordonton district, and finally
  • Taupiri Pa at Taupiri, on the Banks of the Waikato River,

When alerted by Ngati Maniapoto of impending attack or invasion by external forces the Mangatoatoa Pa alarm was sounded, which carried to Waiari Pa, whose alarm was then sounded which was heard by Nukuhau (Pa), who sounded its alarm that was heard by Maniapoto (Pa), which sounded its alarm, to be heard by Taupiri and all of Waikato. In consequence, Waikato-Maniapoto would meet at Mangatoatoa as previously planned.

Pikauterangi's forces combined at Otorohanga [5] in preparation for the attack on the Ngāti Maniapoto and the Waikato tribes who had allied with Ngati Whatua and Hauraki hapu.

The invaders were first spotted by Wahanui, a Maniapoto chief, just south of Otorohanga. He sent runners to the "Pa Pahu" at Mangatoato to raise the alarm, and warn the Waikato-Maniapoto defense forces of the impending attack.

The day before the battle the two armies drew up before each other. The combined Whatua-Haurakia and Waikato-Maniapoto forces, realising their numbers were far fewer at about 1,600 (some sources say 3,000), arranged bunches of feathers on top of fern to simulate the head feathers of warriors held in reserve, while other chiefs made war-like speeches in the fern to imaginary warriors.[6] Choosing to draw the invading force into ambush, the Waikato defenders chose Te Mangeo ridge line just south of Lake Ngaroto (and west of where the old Ngaroto railway station was later)[2] to launch their battle strategy "Te Kawau Maro".

Te Rauangaanga, Te Wherowhero's father, placed his army on the high ground at the end of a narrow ridge in three groups. The invading force assembled at the foot of the spur (possibly near where the railway line is now). Huahua's Maniapoto forces initiated the "Whewhera" strategy of Te Kawau Maro in a spearhead attack, by charging down the hill into the centre of the invading force. The defenders reeled back, allowing the attackers to envelop them. The second group of the defending forces then rushed down the hill to hit the confused army of Pikauterangi in the flank. The turning point came when Pikauterangi was felled by a blow from Te Rauangaanga. In a panic the invaders tried to retreat along a narrow gap between the ridge and the lake but were ambushed by Tiriwa's men who had been waiting in the bush along the ridge. The Ngāti Toa were forced into the swamplands along the lake margin; some tried to swim the lake but were killed by patrols waiting on the far side.

Many thousands died in the attack. Pei Jones of Tainui says that 16,000 warriors are said to have taken part. Combatants included Waikato-Maniapoto, Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Raukawa. Ngati Raukawa alone are said to have lost 1,600 warriors in battle, including two chiefs.[7] Others came from Taranaki, from Kaipara in Northland, and as far east as Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay. So many chiefs died in the battle that it is known as Hingakaka (the fall of parrots), an echo of the traditional mass parrot hunt.

The sacred carving Te Uenuku was lost in the carnage.

Sources differ on the date of the battle, ranging from 1790,[8] to "about 1803"[9] and "about 1807"[10] - with the latter now seeming the most likely.


The victorious Tainui warriors considered following up their decisive victory with a campaign against the tribes that had made war on them. However the tohunga of the Ngati Whatua had a bad dream in which he saw Ngapuhi launching an attack on the Kaipara in their absence. Ngati Whatua returned to their home land and defeated an attempted invasion by Ngapuhi. Other Tainui wanted to continue the war especially against Ngati Raukawa who were seriously weakened and retreated to Maungatautari. Waikato had had enough of fighting for the meantime but in 1810 set out down the west coast on a raid. At Rangikaiwaka on the coast they met a force of Ngati Tama and a Ngati Haua chief, Taiporutu, was killed. As a result of this another Waikato-Maniapoto war party set out to gain utu to punish Ngati Tama. The avenging warriors were ambushed and defeated by Ngati Tama and their chief Raparapa.[11]

Around 1819-20, during the Ngati Toa migration southwards after being evicted from Kawhia by Waikato-Maniapoto after the Te Arawi battle, Te Apihae Te Kawau, of Ngati Whatua, Kukutai, of Ngati Tipa (Waikato), and Peehi Tukorehu, of Ngati Paretekawa (Maniapoto), embarked with some 4-500 distinguished warriors on the "Amio Whenua" expedition to seek retribution or utu from the tribes who had sought to invade their ancestral Tribal homelands in the Waipa and Waikato territories during the Hingakaka battle of 1791. After encircling the land from Waikato and Maungatautari to Te Arawa and Tuhoe, and through the Tai Rawhiti district to Te Mahia, then on to Wairarpapa and across to Manawatu and Whanganui, the "ope taua" (war party) was eventually besieged at Pukerangiora Pa, on the banks of the Waitara River, Taranaki. A large Waikato-Maniapoto force under Te Wherowhero, Te Hiakai, Mama, and others was raised to break the siege and free the "Amio Whenua Ope Taua" (Amio Whenua War Party), and after being defeated in the battle of Motunui on their way to Pukerangiora with Te Rauparaha and Ngati Toa who were sheltering at Okoki with Te Atiawa and others at the time, they all returned to there homelands at Waikato and Waipa.

This led to further conflict and was the immediate background to the Ngati Toa forming alliances with Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutanga in the great Ngati Toa upheaval of 1821-22. This attack in turn led to further attacks and counterattacks, building to a climax in 1831 when a large Waikato contingent alleged to be about 4,000 warriors carried out a brutal and sustained campaign over several years led by the great Waikato warrior Te Wherowhero. When women and children attempted to flee the Pukerangiora pa they were mercilessly slaughtered and eaten. When the men emerged in a weakened state many of them jumped the cliff to avoid the Waikato warrior. The victims were tracked down and killed anyway. Te Wherowhero killed 150 prisoners with his favourite greenstone mere, only stopping when his arm swelled up from overuse, The Ngati Maniapoto Chief Tukorehu showed no mercy to the Pukerangiora people, the same people who saved his life and his war party 10 years earlier, placing the heads of the Pa's Chiefs, Whatitiri and Pekapeka on poles in front of the wharenui that housed him a decade before, this evil act was well known to all the other tribes.


  1. ^ The Oxford companion to New Zealand military history, p. 653.
  2. ^ a b Kelly 2002, p. 287.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  4. ^ Kelly 2002, p. 288.
  5. ^ Kelly 2002, p. 290.
  6. ^ Kelly 2002, p. 291.
  7. ^ Kelly 2002, p. 293.
  8. ^ "Te Wherowhero", 1966 An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
  9. ^ Waipa Heritage Trail
  10. ^ "From Tāmaki-makau-rau to Auckland", R.C.J. Stone, p. 75.
  11. ^ Kelly 2002, p. 295-286.


  • Ballara, Angela (2003). Taua: 'musket wars', 'land wars' or tikanga? : warfare in Māori society in the early nineteenth century
  • Burns, Patricia (1980). Te Rauparaha: a new perspective
  • Jones, Pei Te Hurinui; Biggs, Bruce (1995). Nga iwi o Tainui: the traditional history of the Tainui people
  • Jones, Pei Te Hurinui (2010). King Potatau. 2nd edition, Huia Press, 2010
  • Kelly, Leslie G. (2002) [1949]. Tainui: the story of Hoturoa and his descendants. Christchurch: Cadsonbury Publications. Originally published Wellington: Polynesian Society, 1949.
  • McGibbon, Ian C.; Goldstone, Paul (2000). The Oxford companion to New Zealand military history
  • Phillips, Finlay L. (1995). Landmarks of Tainui