Lake Ngaroto

The Battle of Hingakaka took place around 1803 on the shores of Lake Ngaroto, a riverine lake in central North Island. An army of around 10 000 Maori warriors of several tribes attempted to settle a long-running grievance by destroying a settlement of 3000 men, women and children, mostly from the Ngati Maniapoto tribe, who lived on the shores and on an island of Lake Ngaroto. The shoreline dwellers used great stealth as well as familiarity with their local wetland and lake environment to kill many of the invaders, some of whom were forced to swim for safety in the lake, only to drown or be dispatched of as they attempted to return to shore. Around one century later, as the wetlands around the lake were drained and the lake water level decreased to support agricultural development, not only were the bones of many who drowned in the lake uncovered but also a carving was discovered in which a stone was embedded. This stone is reputed to hold one of the traditional gods of the Maori people, Uenuku, and was brought across the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand in a canoe by some of the first Maori settlers of the Tainui tribe. Uenuku had apparently been placed in Lake Ngaroto for safe-keeping during the battle of Hinga-kaka and is today housed in a local museum.

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