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Hauhauism: An Episode in the Maori Wars 1863-1866

CHAPTER IV. Murder and Pillage

page 47

CHAPTER IV. Murder and Pillage.

The Hauhaus continued their journey up the Wanganui River until they reached Taupo. The Reverend T. S. Grace was stationed as a missionary at Taupo, and had to flee from his post.1 The apostles Kereopa and Patara, who were now the leaders of the party, began to pillage and murder. They broke into the now evacuated house of Mr. Grace, and promptly appropriated its contents.2 The Maoris at Taupo became converts to Pai Marire, no doubt largely in self-defence from the fanatics.

At Taupo the Hauhaus divided into their two parties as previously arranged. The result was one party reached Opotiki on March 1st, 1865, while the other reached Turanga on March 16th, 1865. These two parties must be dealt with separately.

The party for Opotiki found the tribe at that place already in a state of excitement. The Hauhaus boasted of their successes, and this further inflamed the simmering discontent of the Opotiki natives. The people of Opotiki had

1 Flight to Matata. Diary of the Rev. T. S. Grace, Oct. 8, 1863-Nov. 4, 1863. Quoted: A Pioneer Missionary Among the Maoris: being Letters and Journals of Thomas Samuel Grace. Edited jointly by S. J. Brittain, G.F., C.W., and A. V. Grace. N.Z. Bennett & Co. N.D. p. 110 seq.

2 Hamilton-Browne, Col. G.: op. cit. Ch. II, p. 25.

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Map showing routes followed by the Hauhau emissaries when they left the Taranaki in 1865.

Map showing routes followed by the Hauhau emissaries when they left the Taranaki in 1865.

page 49 sympathised in the Waikato War, and some had taken part. Various circumstances had caused their minister (the Reverend C. S. Volkner)1 to be suspected of being in secret correspondence with the Government on the subject of their disaffection.2

Mr. Volkner had several times visited Auckland. This aggravated the suspicion already current about him. Actually he was continually troubled by the thought of the miserable conditions of his people.3 It was for the purpose of ameliorating their conditions that he made his last trip to Auckland.

On March 2nd, 1865, the Reverends C. S. Volkner and T. S. Grace arrived at Opotiki on the “H.M.S. Eclipse.”4 A Taranaki native named Wiwini immediately went on board and asked Morris Levy, one of the crew, for his Hebrew prayer book. The native pretended to read it and expressed great satisfaction at be-

1 Carl Sylvius Volkner was a native of Cassell in Germany. He studied at the Hamburg Missionary College, and came to New Zealand in 1847, as an agent of the North German Missionary Society. Later he joined the Church Missionary Society and was ordained deacon and priest. Ward, R.: Life Among the Maoris of New Zealand. 1872. Ch. XXII, p. 441.

2 Sir William Martin, Late Chief Justice of New Zealand, writing to the Native Minister, Sept. 28th, 1865. Quoted by W. Colenso: Fiat Justitia. 1871.

3 Fox describes him as “a man of remarkable simplicity of character, of the most simple minded and devoted piety, and an extremely conciliatory and kind disposition.” op. cit., Ch. XV, p. 22.

4 App. H. of R. E. No. 5. 7. Enclosure 1.

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possessed of so great a treasure.1 Mr. Volkner's natives then came on shore to cry for him, because they knew what was going to happen. Shortly after everybody on board the schooner was ordered on shore. On landing Mr. Volkner went up to the people and offered his hand, but no one would shake hands with him. The two missionaries, at the command of Kereopa, were marched off to the Roman Catholic Chapel.2 Finally they were locked in a hut with the sailors. However, Captain Levy, who had piloted the boat, was allowed his freedom, because, being a Jew, he was considered a sort of Hauhau.3

In the evening there was a Runanga (meeting) of the chiefs. It was decided to hang Mr. Volkner, but Mr. Grace was to be kept a prisoner until Patara returned to Opotiki, as Mr. Grace was a stranger to the place.4 The majority of the tribe voted for the death of their pastor, with a few notable exceptions — Tiwai and Te Ranapia.

The following day a number of armed men came, and, after going through some ceremonies in front of the house, called to Mr. Volkner to

1 Ibid. Statement by Joseph Jeans (? Jeanings), Portuguese Resident at Opotiki: sent by James Mackay, Civil Commissioner to the Native Minister. 27th June, 1865.

2 Diary of the Rev. T. S. Grace, March 1st, 1865. Quoted: A Pioneer Missionary Among the Maoris, 1850–1879, being Letters and Journals of Thomas Samuel Grace. p. 136.

3 Gudgeon, T. W.: op. cit., Ch. VIII, p. 44.

4 App. H. of R. 1865. E. No. 5. 7. Enclosure 1. Ranapia, one of the natives, told Joseph Jeans.

page 51 accompany them. Mr. Grace pressed again and again to go with him, but was forced back and told his turn would come next.1 Volkner was taken away to the Church, where Kereopa dressed himself in the coat and waistcoat of his victim. Volkner was then led to a willow-tree, which was improvised as a gallows. Te Ranapia, seeing the Hauhaus pass, attempted a rescue, but was upset into a deep creek.2 Volkner was permitted to pray, and was then hoisted up. After being suspended for about two minutes he was lowered, and then Kereopa went up and shot him through the body; he was then run up again with a jerk.3 An hour later the body was lowered and the head cut off.4 Mr. Grace describes in his diary for that day the events that followed:—
“The scene where this was done was most dreadful. They were eager to taste his blood, and many rubbed it on their faces. Some of his old friends took part in all this! From my own observance, the people appeared to be half lunatic, and so worked up

1 Diary of the Rev. T. S. Grace, March 2nd: op. cit., p. 138.

2 Joseph Jeans says: “Soon after, Ranapai looked out of the window of my house and saw Mr. Volkner with his hands tied, and a rope on his neck, being led by three natives.… He called my attention to this, and I looked out and saw this. Ranapai then rushed out of the house with a tomahawk in his hand, and attempted to cross the bridge (a plank) over the stream near my house. While doing so the natives on the opposite side shook the plank and caused him to fall into the stream.” App. H. of R. 1865. E. No. 5. 7.

3 Ibid. Joseph Jeans: Portuguese Resident.

4 Taylor, Rev. R.: op. cit., Ch. VIII, p. 158.

page 52 by their religion as to be ready for any work of the devil.”1

Kereopa carried the murdered man's head to St. Stephen's Church, and placed it on the reading desk in front of him, together with the communion cup of the missionary's blood.2 Kereopa forced out Mr. Volkner's eyes and swallowed them, and declared that this was a symbol of the way he would deal with the Queen and the Parliament of England.3

1 Diary of the Rev. T. S. Grace: 2nd March: op. cit., p. 141: There is a discrepancy of a day between the dates of Grace and Jeans. As Jeans did not write his account until 2 months after the event, there is the possibility that his account is slightly inaccurate.

2 The blood stains may still be seen on the reading desk of the Church of St. Stephen the Martyr, Opotiki.

3 Mr. Morgan S. Grace, C.M.G., a Member of the Legislative Council of New Zealand, cross-examined some of the natives who were present at the time. He said to them: “But Kereopa tore out the dead man's eyes and swallowed them!” A native replied: “There is no difference between a dead man's eyes and a dead fish's eyes. As Kereopa swallowed the eye, he said, ‘This is the Queen.’ Of the left eye, he said: ‘This is the Parliament.’ It was only a symbol.” A Sketch of the New Zealand War. London: Horace Marshall & Son. 1899. Dr. A. Agassiz, M.R.C.S., of Opotiki, in “A Statement respecting Kereopa's proceedings…” gives a similar interpretation to the swallowing of eyes. He relates:“On another occasion they named a pig the Governor, and another represented the General. They proceeded to hang these; after they were dead, one of the men who was partially deranged from running round the niu (post), poked out the eyes of the pig, and ate them raw, saying that before long he would serve the Governor and the General in the same way. I witnessed the scene.” Enclosure 2. 1865. E. No. 5. 7. Kereopa apparently made it a regular practice to swallow his victims' eyes. This habit was, in effect, another relapse to ancient Maori custom. The eye of a great chief was thought to become a bright star in the Heavens; and was often swallowed by his conqueror to prevent it from having its due honour.

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On the same day that the murder was committed, Kereopa returned to an inland pa, and awaited the return of Patara (the other apostle), to whom he sent an account of his doings.1 Patara returned that evening, and calling the people together, said:—

“This is Kereopa's work, not mine. Kereopa is an Arawa, and hates you because you fought against his tribe. He has done this deed out of revenge, for he knows that it will bring the Pakehas to seek payment.”2

He then sent to Kereopa to come to Opotiki, and give an account of himself, but the latter was too afraid to appear, and started for Poverty Bay. Political and personal motives were thus apparent in the crime, although its barbarism was clothed in religious phraseology.3

Mr. Grace remained in captivity, expecting every day to be his last. In his diary he records on March 3rd:—

“This was a day of bitter suspense. The excitement was great.… At an early hour I heard the noise of their horrid worship. I saw their ovens lighted, but all passed over without any interference with me.…”4

1 App. H. of R. 1865. E. No. 5. 7. Enclosure 1.

2 Gudgeon: op. cit., Ch. VIII, p. 45.

3 Bishop Selwyn, writing on Dec. 26th, 1865, to the Rev. Edward Coleridge, says: “The murder of Mr. Volkner was an exceptional case; the act of one miscreant (Kereopa) not one of his own people, working upon Mr. Volkner's own flock.…” Quoted Tucker.

4 Diary of the Rev. T. S. Grace: op. cit., p. 141.

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On the 5th, Mr. Grace was taken into the Church to be tried by the natives. The trial is best given in his own words:—

“Three charges were brought against Mr. Volkner by different Maoris to justify his death.

—His going to Auckland as a spy for the Government.


—A cross had been found in his house, and therefore he was a Romanist and a deceiver.


—He returned to Opotiki after having been told to remain away.

The second charge, respecting the cross, broke down. Patara said that we had taught them to repent, to be baptised, to receive the Lord's Supper, and not to commit adultery; now they had found out that this was all deceit. Then followed a long discussion on the land question, all the arguments in common use amongst the Maoris being brought forth. These I answered by pointing out that neither Mr. Volkner nor myself had land.… I proposed again to them either to take a ransom for me in money, or to make an exchange in prisoners. After some discussion they agreed to take Hori Tupaea. Patara promised to write a letter to Tauranga for Hori to be liberated; this letter the Captain (Captain Levy) agreed to take, and bring back Hori; also a letter from Mr. Clark, the Magistrate, on the part of the page 55 Government to say he was at liberty. This done and I should be free. Here the meeting ended.…”1

The meeting took place on March 5th; the following day a letter was despatched by the Hauhau chiefs at Opotiki to “the office of the Government, Auckland.” This letter is quoted in full as it throws illuminating light on the motives and outlook of the Hauhaus.

“Place of Canaan, “March 6, 1865.
“Friends, this is a word to you. Mr. Volkner, Minister, is dead. He has been crucified according to the laws of the New Canaan, in the same manner as it has been ordained by the Parliament of England, that the guilty man be crucified. Mr. Grace, Minister, is captured, and is in the prison house of the Law of the New Canaan, which was arranged by us in the same manner as that which the Parliament of England instituted, that the guilty man be imprisoned. Friends, do not you say, ‘What is the origin of that sin?’ This alone was the origin — the deception practised upon our Island by the Church. That Church said that they were sent hither by God; but now we are aware that they were sent hither by the knowing society of the Church of England. In the second place, the sins of the Governor at

1 Diary of the Rev. T. S. Grace: op. cit., p. 143 and seq.

page 56 Rangiriri—his cruelty—the women are dead. Thirdly, Rangiaohia the women were shot— that is a sacred law of the Governor's. We are now aware, with regard to those laws that were made by the authority-suppressing Parliament of England. Why is the Governor not ashamed at the great number of his authorities suppressing laws, practising deception upon our bodies? You say again to me that I must give up my guns and powder to you. You perhaps thought to treat us like pigs—you perhaps wished us to give up our guns lest we shoot you. You perhaps think it not possible to kill men with wooden weapons. Friends, our Island now is aware of your doings. Listen. You catch the Maoris; I also kill the Pakehas. You crucify the Maoris and I also crucify the Pakehas. But now release (unto us) Hori Tupaea1 and his companions, and we will then let go Mr. Grace; but if you withhold Hori Tupaea and his companions, we will also withhold Mr. Grace.…
“The Committee of



1 Hori Tupaea was a great chief of Tauranga, who had been arrested a short time before while attempting to propagate the Pai Marire among the Arawa. Gudgeon, T. W.: op. cit., Ch. VIII, p. 46.

2 App. H. of R. E. No. 5. 5. Enclosure 2. 1865.

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The political significance of Hauhauism could scarcely be more clearly stated. The non-Hauhau tribes dissociated themselves from the outrage.1

Mr. Grace was therefore to remain a prisoner until Hori Tupaea should be brought to Opotiki, or known to be at liberty. But in the meantime news had reached Auckland. Bishop Selwyn was galvanised into action, and “H.M.S. Eclipse” arrived up the river at Opotiki on March 16th.2 Captain Levy, at imminent risk to his own life and property, got Mr. Grace into his boat and

1 The Awa Tribe wrote:

“Go our letter to the Governor and to his Runanga also. Listen. Mr. Volkner has been killed by the Wakatohea, his head has been cut off for a god for themselves, his brains have been eaten by the Wakatohea, by the men, women, and children.
“This from the chiefs of Awa to give you information. When you have received this letter, answer it, answer it by letter, that Awa may know (your thoughts) for Awa is pained on account of this murder.”

The assessors Hohaia Mate te Hokia and Hori Tunui of the Whakatane wrote:

“…Listen. This is the word of all the Whakatane. They turn away from this crime committed by the Whakatohea and Taranaki…”

App. H. of R. E. No. 5. 5. 1865.

2 Missionary Life and Work in New Zealand 1833–1862: being the private journal of the late Rev. John Alexander Wilson, edited by C. J. Wilson.

Bishop Selwyn and some of the clergy met at Parnell to determine what steps should be taken for Mr. Grace's rescue. They could determine nothing, and were, as one of themselves said, nonplussed. In their difficulty Mr. Wilson suggested that the Bishop might ask for “H.M.S. Eclipse” to visit Opotiki. To this it was objected that the Eclipse was under repairs, and could not be had in time. Mr. Wilson pressed that she be asked for…” p. 113.

page 58 pulled him off to the man-of-war.1 Fortunately most of the natives had gone four miles inland for a feast; and none but an old woman saw his escape.2 Nevertheless the action of the Bishop in using a man-of-war was not the sort of thing to inspire confidence in the integrity of the Church, nor in Europeans generally. With some justification the Hauhaus could write of the “deception practised upon our Island by the Church,” since the ministers of the Gospel allied themselves with the ministers of war.

From Opotiki the main party of the Hauhaus, under the leadership of Kereopa and Patara, had proceeded to Turanga,3 Poverty Bay, which was the station of the Bishop of Waiapu.4 Here the party was ostensibly to await the arrival of the second party from Wairoa. At the meeting of the two parties, there was to be a grand performance of the Pai Marire Karakia (incantation) in the hope of drawing over the Poverty Bay natives, hitherto well affected to the Mission.5 The main objective was to win over Hirini te Kani, the principal chief of Turanga.6

1 Letter of Commander Freemantle of the “H.M. Eclipse,” March 18th, 1865. Copy sent by Commodore Sir W. Wiseman, C.B., to His Excellency, Sir George Grey. N.Z, Govt. Gazette. 1865.

2 Letter of Bishop Selwyn to a friend. 16th March, 1865.

3 Turanga was a small port on the Poverty Bay Coast, and is not to be confused with Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty.

4 Taylor, Rev. R.: op. cit., Ch. VIII, p. 160. 1868.

5 Carleton: The Life of Henry Williams, Archdeacon of Waimate. Auckland, N.Z.: Wilson & Horton. 1877. Vol. II, p. 348.

6 Hawthorne, J.: A Dark Chapter from New Zealand History. By a Poverty Bay Survivor. Printed and Published by James Wood, Napier, Hawkes Bay. 1869. Ch. II, p. 6.

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Many converts were made to Hauhauism, the natives being carried away by “Aroha ki te iwi” (pity for the people) and a strong sympathy with the national cause.1 The Maoris were greatly affected by the novel practices and the burden of worship. The bitter crying and wailing for both their slain countrymen and their confiscated land had a great appeal.

The Bishop of Waiapu was in a precarious position. In his Annual Report to the Secretary of the C.M.S. from Turanga on March 25th, 1865, His Lordship records:—

“Our three families all slept under my roof, and the house is guarded through the night by men under arms.… We are left to ourselves with two exceptions, and these are the only men belonging to the school left with us.”2

Again in his diary for March 16th, the Bishop says:—

“These fanatics having said much about their power to work miracles, and among other things being able to draw ships on shore, a native went to them this morning and gave them a fair challenge to drag on shore a steamer now at anchor. This led to a thorough discomfiture of the party, and they decamped in great anger to the village,

1 Colenso, W.: Fiat Justitia. 1871. Pamphlet.

2 Annual Report of Bishop of Waiapu, Dr. William Williams, to C.M.S. London: Church Missionary House, July 10, 1865.

page 60 where they slept the preceding night, where they have met with more favour.”1

Finally the Hauhaus became so threatening that the Bishop appealed to the Government for protection. On April 5th, he left with his party on the “St. Kilda” for Napier.2

Meanwhile, one of the Hauhau prophets from Taranaki, Horomona, arrived at Whakatane, and called a meeting of the Patutatahi tribe. On July 22nd, the cutter “Kate” had arrived at Whakatane, with Mr. Fulloon, a half-caste who was a Government Interpreter, and three men, including the captain as well as two half-caste boys.3 The cutter anchored off the bar to await high tide. Horomona demanded that the crew and passengers should be killed. The chief Te Hura rose up and said: “I consent.” Twenty men manned two whale boats, and boarded the cutter. Kirimangu, one of the leaders, went down into the cabin and found Mr. Fulloon. asleep. Kirimangu seized his revolver from under his pillow and shot him dead. A general massacre ensued, and one half-caste boy alone escaped to tell the tale.

1 Diary of Bishop William Williams and Letters to C.M.S. Quoted: The Murder of the Rev. C. S. Volkner in New Zealand. London: Church Missionary House, July 10, 1865.

2 Ibid. Diary April 5th. 1865. Subsequently he went to the Bay of Islands, where he resided for some time.

3 Fox: op. cit., Ch. XV, p. 226.