Te Rauparaha – Māori leader

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/1966/te-rauparahaAlthough not born to the highest chiefly rank, Te Rauparaha early won a reputation for cunning and audacious war leadership. He ranks with Te Whero–whero and Tuhawaiki in this because these were the two chiefs who came nearest to defeating him in battle. He was renowned for the cleverness of his stratagems and for his unfailing habit of turning his enemies’ tricks against themselves. In an age of fierce tribal wars Te Rauparaha was unmatched for his ferocity, and vanquished foes almost invariably ended their careers in the Ngati Toa cooking pots. Among his enemies Te Rauparaha enjoyed an unenviable reputation for treachery; however, it must be remembered that, as the Ngati Toa were at that time fighting for survival, the traditional rules of warfare were necessarily disregarded. Maori tradition credits Te Rauparaha’s elder sister, Waitohi, with being the mastermind behind many of his strategic moves. It was she, for instance, who set out the main tribal boundaries between Manawatu and Porirua. Whatever truth there may be in this – Te Rauparaha usually consulted her when planning his more spectacular coups – his cleverest tricks, improvised in the heat of battle, were peculiarly his own. Te Rauparaha’s fame rests principally upon the extent of his conquests and, as a result, he has often been dubbed the “Maori Napoleon”. It must also be remembered, however, that he was equally successful in the intertribal diplomacy of his day, and that in this respect his methods were worthy of a “Bismarck”.