As befits a story of two young lovers this is the tale of the handsome warrior Tupurupuru and the beautiful maiden Konini. The tale unfolds in 1821 at a time when the use of the pu or musket was causing devastation throughout Aotearoa.
Konini came from Hikawera near modern Martinborough but at the time of this story was living with relatives at Ngaumutawa on the outskirts of modern Masterton.
Tupurupuru lived in a cave which came to be known as Te Ana o Tupurupuru, at Te Whiti o Tutawake. He had not seen his beloved for a few days and so decided to visit her. Tupurupuru started to walk along the Weraiti hills and soon ran into a group of men who knew Konini.
She had left Ngaumutawa several days earlier. The party that Konini was a part of had gone to Hakakino pa to fish on the Wainuioru River. Tupurupuru determined to follow Konini to Hakakino but first listened to further news that was much more disturbing.
A massive war party was laying siege upon the pa. This was the Amio Whenua who had come from Kaipara and Thames. With muskets and more than a thousand men the taua had moved down the centre of the north island killing all before them.
To add insult to injury, or more likely death the marauding aggressors kept their bellies full by feasting on their unfortunate victims.
Extreme bad timing had seen Konini and her companions arrive at the pa just before the Amio Whenua. They joined the chief of the pa whose name was Te Hopu and his people who were of the Ngati Hikarahui hapu.
When the Amio Whenua came upon the pa they decided to take it. But as it appeared to be heavily defended and built on a strong position they resolved to use trickery.
As Te Hopu did not know whom the messengers that approached him represented he accepted the words of friendship that they brought. They invited the people of the pa to come to the visitor’s camp to exchange gifts and pleasantries.
Another chief who was at Hakakino to hear the speeches of friendship listened with much interest but equally with a large degree of suspicion. He was Te Potangaroa of Mataikona and the newcomers did not impress him.
After the messengers left Te Potangaroa voiced his concerns and warned Te Hopu not to go. However Te Hopu and many of his people decided that they would be safe and so went to attend the feast promised to them.
As soon as Te Hopu and his followers were within the confines of the camp the trap was sprung and the locals were massacred. From his vantage point inside the pa Te Potangaroa saw the events unfold and immediately left so as not to become another victim.
Those that remained inside Hakakino were now the targets of the invaders. It is at this point that we return to Konini and Tupurupuru.
Tupurupuru came within view of the pa and knew that all was not well. He had successfully avoided trouble but now had to discover the fate of his sweetheart. Although the scene before him was one of utter annihilation something told him that Konini was still alive.
The taua had by now moved on so that other tangata whenua had come to mourn the deaths of their relations. Somehow news came through that a young woman had escaped from the pa by diving into a stream and swimming far away from what became carnage inside.
With hope in his heart Tupurupuru went to the Wainuioru River where he followed the current south. By some divine guidance Tupurupuru tracked Konini until he found her in a very bad way lying beneath a totara tree. She was almost dead but such was the young mans love for her that he was not prepared to let her slip away. He carried her to a safe place where she could be nursed while her strength slowly grew.
It took months but eventually Tupurupuru guided Konini back to her parent’s home at Hikawera. After hearing their story and realising the devotion Tupurupuru had shown for Konini the couple received the blessing of her family to be together for ever more.
As an end to the story the Amio whenua moved onto Wellington and then turned north to go home. When attempting to take another position near Waitara they were finally defeated. The party disbanded so that those original members to survive got home after a nine-month rampage of death, destruction and cannibalism.