In 1700, a great migration of the Ngai Tahu came down from the North Island, under Chief Tu Rakautohi. In celebration, his little brother Moki, built a Pa which Tu Rakautohi named Kaikai-a-waro. We now call this surrounding area Kaiapoi. It was soon regarded as the largest and safest stronghold of the Ngai Tahu in the South Island. The population reached 1000 people at the time history began to be recorded.
In 1828, Ngati Toa Chief, Te Rauparaha appeared at the Kaitangata Gate of the Pa, claiming to be a greenstone trader. With him were 8 fellow tribesmen of Ngati Toa. Seeing that the Pa’s of Kaikoura and Omihi had just been attacked, those of the Kaiapoi Pa were naturally weary of strangers. After what could have been a few awkward moments, the Ngai Tahu suddenly welcomed the party into the Pa.
I’m sure Te Rauparaha couldn’t believe it when they were attacked and all his 8 companions were killed. He survived and fled, heading back up north very angry. That night, the Ngai Tahu had a party and a cannibal feast of those from Ngati Toa.
Three years passed and with the massacre of the Onawe Peninsula Pa (Akaroa Harbour) fresh in everyone’s mind, seeing Te Rauparaha standing back outside the Kaiapoi Pa was not a great comfort and he wasn’t alone. Determined to starve the Pa into submission, the Ngati Toa kept the place surrounded. For 3 months, little attacks were attempted but the Ngai Tahu managed to keep the attackers at bay.
The Ngati Toa had been stacking dry wood along one of the sides of the village on several occasions with the plans to set it alight but this plan was foiled each time.
One day though, the Ngai Tahu set the dry wood on fire themselves, hoping the northerly wind would drive the smoke to where some of the attackers lay in wait. Here, the Canterbury weather hand delivered the Kaiapoi Pa over to Te Rauparaha on a silver plate. The wind changed and the village caught fire. As the Ngai Tahu tried to flee, they were massacred. Chiefs were captured and others were taken as prisoners. That night, the Ngati Toa celebrated into the night, enjoying a cannibal feast. As further insult, the Ngati Toa renamed the area Kaiapohia which means ‘the pilings of bodies to eat’.
Eventually Te Rauparaha and the Ngati Toa were driven from the Ngai Tahu tribal boundaries. Te Rauparaha also released all prisoners and peace between the tribes was established.
For a more in depth look at Kaiapoi Pa, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/kaikai-a-waro-kaiapoi-pa/
*This post is courtesy of Discover The Delights Of Peeling Back History* www.facebook.com/PeelingBackHistory
* Image courtesy of Annette Bulovic*