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The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume II: The Hauhau Wars, (1864–72)

(Chapter 1): THE PAI-MARIRI RELIGION

page 503

(Chapter 1): THE PAI-MARIRI RELIGION

Sir William Martin, for many years Chief Justice of New Zealand, wrote to the Native Minister, under date 23rd December, 1865, regarding the Pai-marire fanatic faith:—

“Some accepted it in faith, others in wilfulness and bitterness. Some thought it true; others that it might be useful. Some men separated themselves from their missionaries in perfect calmness and quietness. One of the chiefs of Opotiki informed Bishop Williams of his conversion to the new creed in these words: ‘Bishop, many years ago we received the faith from you; now we return it to you, for there has been found a new and precious thing by which we shall keep our land.’ (‘Kua kitea tetahi taonga hou a mau ai to matou whenua.’)

“A common feeling united fanatical believers with cool politicians who believed nothing, but who keep up the fervour of their brethren by false reports of miracles wrought at Taranaki and of great loss sustained by our troops. The new religion combined men of every sort, from the ferocity of Kereopa to perfect inoffensiveness—some of the best as well as some of the worst of the race. It was accepted as the religion of all who were no longer willing to accept religion at the hands of the pakeha. As in all times of national ferment the fiercer and more determined natures got the lead.”

After discussing the war on the East Coast, Sir William Martin continued:—

“The practical fact with which we have to deal is this: The old feeling of distrust and exasperation towards our Government has been strong enough to lead thoughtful men, incapable of being parties to such acts, to join the Hauhau cause even after the commission of the great crime at Opotiki. This is our real difficulty, the same in kind as ever, but greater in degree. I believe that this feeling is more wide and deeply spread than at any time. I believe there are now many who are convinced that we are determined, even by fraud and violence, to get possession of their land and force our dominion upon men who have never consented to it. Many, therefore, on their part determine to hold their own as best they may, and are content to sacrifice their lives in the contest. The state of the case is this: We have put too great a pressure upon these people—more than they can bear, more than we can continue to exert; we have driven many of the natives into a state of determined resistance, bordering upon desperation; we have brought upon ourselves the necessity of bearing burdens beyond our strength.”