Ellison Family History

Taiaroa, the son of Korako and Whare-rau-aruhe, belonged to Ngai Te Ruahikihiki and Ngati Moki hapu of Ngai Tahu, both of them centred on Taumutu, at the southern end of Waihora (Lake Ellesmere). His ancestor, Te Ruahikihiki, had taken part in the settlement of Banks Peninsula about 1700. Taiaroa was born, probably at his mother's village, Waikakahi, at the northern end of Waihora, in the late 1790s. He was described as being between 27 and 30 years old in 1826. From the 1830s to the 1860s, in association with his cousin Karetai, he held a leadership position at Otakou, on the Otago Peninsula, with which his descendants have become closely identified.The first European record of Taiaroa is his meeting with Captain John Kent of the Mermaid, at Ruapuke Island, in 1823; Taiaroa had been muttonbirding on the east coast of Rakiura (Stewart Island). Kent was told by a rival chief, Te Wera, that Taiaroa had been involved in an attack on members of the crew of the Sophia in 1817. The Sophia's crew, under their captain, James Kelly, had used their sealing knives to drive the hostile party of Maori from the boat and had then burnt the village of Otakou in retaliation. The incident probably occurred because crewmembers had stolen tattooed heads on an earlier expedition. By contrast the meeting between Taiaroa and Kent was peaceful. Taiaroa encouraged traders to call at Otakou; he and Karetai began manufacturing dressed flax for Kent to ship to New South Wales, and trade increased rapidly, as did the Otakou population.In the mid 1820s Taiaroa became involved in the internecine warfare of Ngai Tahu of the Canterbury Plains. His sister, Te Parure, was of Taumutu, which was threatened by the major Ngai Tahu leader Tama-i-hara-nui. Taiaroa led a war party from Otakou, won a victory at Wairewa (Lake Forsyth) and sacked a pa on Ripapa Island, in Lyttelton Harbour. In these affrays Taiaroa warned relatives on the opposing side in time for them to escape attacks by his war party. On several occasions he ran ahead, shouting: 'Escape! Fly for your lives! …We have guns'. Ngai Tahu from the south had obtained guns from Kent and other Sydney traders earlier than their northern relations. However, the wars between Ngai Tahu did not spread south and came to an end after 1828, as Te Rauparaha of Ngati Toa began his invasions of the South Island. Beginning in 1829, after Te Rauparaha's first attack at Kaikoura, southern Ngai Tahu chiefs sold land to obtain more guns and ammunition. In the 1830s their whaling boats were armed with small cannon when carrying war parties.Taiaroa was at Kaiapoi pa when it was besieged by Ngati Toa in 1831. He was returning to Otakou, escorted by warriors from Kaiapoi, after a visit there, when the news of the attack by Ngati Toa on the pa reached him. He returned to Kaiapoi and attempted to set fire to Te Rauparaha's canoes, but was prevented by rain. He entered the pa and joined the besieged Ngai Tahu. Several months later he left Kaiapoi before it was stormed by Ngati Toa: he had not been involved in the killing of the Ngati Toa chief Te Pehi Kupe – the main cause for the attack.After the capture of Kaiapoi and of Onawe pa at Akaroa, Te Rauparaha threatened to conquer the entire South Island. Taiaroa was one of the leading Ngai Tahu warriors who prevented this. He co-operated with Tuhawaiki in expeditions against Ngati Toa and may have been with the war party that surprised Te Rauparaha snaring ducks at Kapara-te-hau (Lake Grassmere). It is said that Te Rauparaha was captured, but that Taiaroa allowed him to escape, just as Ngati Toa had allowed Taiaroa to escape from the siege of Kaiapoi. On this occasion Te Rauparaha swam to a waiting canoe and, after further fighting, escaped to Te Awaiti in Cloudy Bay.By the mid 1830s the coasts of the Canterbury and Kaikoura areas were almost depopulated by war. Ngai Tahu war parties from the Otakou area and the far south now carried war further north and fought with Ngati Toa in the Marlborough area, without either tribe's gaining a decisive victory. In 1834 Taiaroa attacked Rangitane in Queen Charlotte Sound; they had supported Ngati Toa and Te Rauparaha at the siege of Kaiapoi, and had joined the final assault. Unable to find Te Rauparaha on this occasion, Taiaroa harassed the whaling stations in Cloudy Bay.

 Family Group
Pedigree Sheet 
Previous Page
Next Page