on the route back to New Zealand Hongi stopped off in Sydney (around
mid 1821), and promptly exchanged King George's gifts for muskets
On arrival back in New Zealand with his "converted"
gifts, Hongi was able to lead a number of successful raids against
rival tribes, and in particular avenge previous grievances against
the Ngati Whatua. Hongi continued his war party along the east coast
and then into central North Island.
In 1821 he attacked the Ngati Maru tribe from the
Thames area. He continued by attacking the Ngati Paoa tribe from
Auckland. A particularly violent battle was fought in 1822, when
Hongi attacked the Waikato tribe, headed by Te Wherowhero, who was
to be the future Māori King. The following year, Hongi attacked
the Arawa tribe in Rotorua, and in the battle of Te Ika-a-ranga-nui
in 1825 he achieved "utu" (revenge) over his defeat in 1807 at the
hands of the Ngati Whatua from the Kaipara and Tamaki areas.
The many desperate tribes without the much-needed
muskets to defend themselves soon found a way of obtaining these
weapons. The European traders were more than willing to trade muskets
for embalmed tattooed heads.
In war, the Māori custom was to take the heads
of their victims, embalm and preserve them, and then present the
heads to the family of the killed warrior. Because of the lucrative
trade in dried heads, with muskets as the end goal, Māori warriors
began leading skirmishes against other tribes uniquely to gain heads
for ammunition. Muskets were always available, but heads began to
run short, and soon the Māori found himself unable to continue
supplying dried heads as previously.
News of the head for musket trade reached Britain,
and caused an outcry. As New Zealand was not yet a colony the British
were unable to do much to stop this trade. They were, however, able
to pass a law against the trading of heads to Australia in 1831,
and after this date head trading dwindled rapidly.
Hongi Hika died in 1828, following a bullet wound
incurred during a battle in the Hokianga area.
 The source used concerning the origin of the name Hongi Hika may not be totally exact.