A Brief Sketch of Expeditions in search of Te Kooti during 1870-71.
Whenuanui and Peirau, the Uriwera Chiefs, on their surrender, expressed a wish that the whole of the rest of their tribe should be assembled at one spot. As it was deemed such a proceeding would assist towards the breaking-up of Te Kooti's power, Major Ropata received on the 20th December, 1870, instructions to march with Ngatiparu, on to the Uriwera Country. Some delay, however, arose; and the expedition (January 1871) did not start until 16th. January, 1871.
The route taken was from Poverty Bay up the bed of the Waikohu stream, and thence on to the water-shed which separates the sources of the Bay of Plenty rivers from those which run to the East Coast.
Twelve days' march brought the force to the Motu river, and two days later it struck the head waters of the Waioeka river.
A Pa of Te Kooti, situated between the Motu and Waioeka rivers, was found, but deserted. They descended the Waioeka in its whole length, arriving at Opotiki on the 3rd. February. After a few days' rest, they started for the Uriwera country, near the Waimana.
Here they met the wildest tribes of the Island,
the Puhoe, and the Ngatihuri; and receiving some intelligence of Te Kooti's movements, they followed on his track, which led on to the Hangaroa river, at a spot far inland of Papuni; and after losing the trail, and suffering extremely from hunger, they reached Wairoa on the 6th. March. Again on the 19th. a start was effected! which resulted in accurate information being ascertained of Te Kooti's whereabouts at a place called Haupapa! which was however found evacuated! but further on at Wharekopai, 27 prisoners were taken; and at another place, Aneru Matete's party was broken up.
The Expedition returned to Poverty Bay on the 3rd. April, having been out 64 days actually on the march. The distance traversed over cannot be ascertained with any accuracy; as the country is totally unknown; but the result was that the whole country lying inland between Poverty Bay and the Bay of Plenty was thoroughly scoured, and that for the first time an armed force went up the Waimana to the stronghold of the Uriwera, dislodging Te Kooti from the quarters he had taken up there, and reducing to submission the wildest tribes of the Island.
At the same time, as Major Ropata started, Capt. Mair, with a flying column of Arawa, made for
Ahikereru, with a view of intercepting Te Kooti, should he move on to Taupo or Waikato.
In May, William King of Porere, Chief of the Ngaital, requested permission to once more scour the country between his place and Poverty Bay, having received some hints as to a chance of Te Kooti's being in that neighbourhood. After an arduous march, in which food and plantations were destroyed in the Motu, he found his way into Poverty Bay.
Also in May, Capt. Preece and Mair, at the invitation of the Urawera, marched with their flying column, into the Ruatahuna. From this they then, the first of Government troops, pushed through on to Waikare Moana, which they reached on the 6th. of June. After obtaining provisions from the Wairoa, they started for Mangapoata, and descended the Waimana to Opotiki; which they reached on the 25th., having been out 46 days, and marched 300 miles.
On the 5th. of June, Ngatiporou once more took the field; and this time it was decided to search the country around whakapunake, a mountain near the Reinga Waterfall. From this a move was made on Haupapa, and thence to the Te Wera, which was reached on the 15th. July.
Meanwhile news had reached Napier of Te Kooti's presence at Waikaremoana; and Ropata was communicated with, and directed to turn to that quarter; which he did by speedily returning to Poverty Bay and taking the steamer to Wairoa. Inspector Cumming was ordered to move a small force to the banks of the Lake; and Preece and Mair were once more started in that direction.
The shores of the Lake have been thoroughly searched by their parties, with the result that Te Kooti's camp was surprised by Capt. Preece, when four men were shot, and 18 stand of arms taken.
(Later news has been received of a still more successful fight.)