Maori and Missionary: Early Christian Missions in the South Island of New Zealand
Chapter Sixteen — Rangatiras and Native Pastors
Rangatiras and Native Pastors
Horomona Pohio, one of Watkin's most efficient teachers, was a chief of the Kai-tahu tribe and descended from the noted Kai-tahu chief, Ruahikihiki, the father of Taoka, Moki and Te Matauira. Horomona was born at Waihao, South Canterbury, about 1815. His early years were spent at Ruapuke, where his grandfather, Te Kahupatiti, had a large whare runanga, and the area on which it stood is still known as Te Turako-o-Kahupatiti.
When Watkin arrived at Waikouaiti in 1840, Horomona journeyed by boat to see him, anxious to learn the Scriptures and to know the truths of Christianity. He was an apt pupil, was intelligent above the average, and became the first authorised native Christian apostle to Ruapuke and the far south. He was a forceful preacher and was highly respected by the people. In March, 1844, Watkin, during his southward visitation, attempted to visit Ruapuke Island, but due to a high sea was unable to land. He wrote on March 5th, 1844: “I was obliged to return without achieving my principal object. I wrote to and sent a package to Solomon (Horomona Pohio), my principal teacher there, which would lessen the disappointment. I will try again shortly.”
Bishop Selwyn wrote regarding his visit to the island in 1844: “I found some natives able to read, and one especially intelligent party, under the care of a well informed teacher.” The Bishop does not name the “well informed teacher”. So far as the records go, there was only one capable, authorised teacher, namely, Horomona Pohio. Horomona performed his duties not only at Ruapuke and Stewart Island, but on the mainland, as recorded in the Church Register.
Mr. Ferens, Creed's assistant, during a visit to Otakou (July 26th, 1848), refers to the Ruapuke men who were on a visit as follows, “Saw some of the finest and best men who had come from the south,” and mentions Horomona as preaching at Waikouaiti and calls him Mr. Solomon, his baptismal name. In 1849 his name appears in the Mission records of that place. In March, 1854, his name appears in the records of Moeraki as assisting the Rev. W. page 156 Kirk. In 1871 he is reported as performing Christian duties at the Bluff and Aparima. He possessed tribal lands at Waimate. The Wesleyan Church today at Waimate is built on ground he set aside from his Waimate reserve.
Mr. G. H. Graham, in his The Book of Waimate (1929), writes of the Maoris there in the old days as a “gentle and lovable people”, but he continues, “I sometimes fear that their contact with us has not inspired them, rather to the contrary”; and again, “I hope our people will more and more cherish a feeling of kindness, love and gratitude towards these gentle people, whose ancestors roamed along these coasts long before our people knew of such a place as New Zealand.” He also speaks of their chief, Horomona Pohio, who lived near Point Bush. He remarks about the little Maori Church which stood on rising ground in front of the native village.
Horomona was very dissatisfied with the smallness of the native reservation in Otago made by Mr. Tuckett, who, ignoring the just claims of the chiefs, ran his survey pegs through their sacred places and burial grounds. His interest at Otakou came from his Kai-tahu blood. He was one of the signatories to the Deed of Purchase in the original Waikouaiti and the further Waikouaiti reserves of 1868, also of Hawea, 1868. He petitioned Parliament for compensation for land between Kaiapohio and Kaikoura which was purchased in 1848 from Ngati-toa. Ngati-toa had no recognisable title of occupation to this land and therefore the purchase money should have been paid to Kai-tahu. The petition was dismissed as it was considered that too great a period had elapsed between the sale of Ngati-toa and the petition of Horomona. Horomona having received a good education from the missionaries, was perhaps the only chief of his time fully to appreciate the value of lands which were being surrendered to the Government. He was appointed a native assessor, or magistrate, and in that capacity he went to Hawke's Bay and assisted in the adjudication of the Ahuriri land case. On February 6th, 1867, he was the official spokesman welcoming Governor Grey to Arowhenua.
The Register shows that he was married more than once, first to Mata Mauhe, at Otakou, who died, and then on February 9th, 1846, to Wikitoria Korako at Waikouaiti by Rev. Charles Creed. In later years he married Hiro Pororere Tau, daughter of the Kaiapohia chief, Paora Tau, who was the first cousin of Tawaka, principal chief of that pa at the time of the attack by Te Rauparaha. It is worthy of note that Tawaka was the uncle of Tamiaharanui, the late upoko ariki of the Kai-tahu tribe. One son, Hoani Horomona, by his wife Mata Mauke, was baptised at Otakou by the Rev. Charles Creed on November 9th, 1845. Horomona Pohio died at his residence at Waimate on March 12th, 1880, and was interred in the Wesleyan portion of the cemetery. The Rev. T. Fee officiated. He left a page 157 widow, five sons and three daughters.1
Rawiri Te Maire was a rangatira of considerable standing in the Mission days. He was born at the Punaterakao pa and belonged to the Ngati Kuriapa hapu of the tribe. As a boy he lived at Lake Hawea, but had to flee with his people from the invader Te Puoho, who, bent on exterminating the southern natives, had travelled overland from the West Coast with a taua party, leaving a trail of blood and desolation as he passed on to Tuturau in 2
He became the constant companion of Watkin on his visitation tours by sea and land, and became, after training, an acceptable preacher and pastor. He was married by Mr. Watkin to Heikura on June 19th, 1841. As a teacher and preacher he faithfully discharged his duties and watched his charge with a solicitude and anxiety rarely equalled. It was due to Te Maire that the name of the hill Hikororoa, near Waikouaiti, was changed to Mt. Watkin. Upon the removal of the Rev. George Stannard, the mission station being vacant, he assisted the Anglican Church. Te Maire died on August 16th, 1899, said to be 91 years of age, and was buried in the Karitane Cemetery, a few feet away from the old Wesleyan Mission Station.
Merekiheka Hape was a respected chief and friend of the missionaries. He was baptised upon confession of faith on September 10th, 1843. Mr. Watkin, in his report, pens a brief and simple sentence: “Yesterday baptised a youth Melchisedic” (Merekihireka Hape). This young man now applied himself to study and proved himself to be an apt pupil. To study the Scriptures was his delight, and he sought to be “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed”. He was a good preacher and powerful in refuting erroneous doctrine. His task was by no means easy, for although many of the people had embraced the Gospel, some of them were still in the grip of their old beliefs. He laboured patiently and persistently, trusting in the power of God, knowing that the final result was sure. He not only ministered in the various hapus of Otakou and Puketeraki, where he spent his early years, but he travelled to the distant kaikas.
He was married by the Rev. Charles Creed to Hira Keramate on August 15th, 1844. He died at Puketeraki on September 21st, 1890, and was buried in the cemetery near the church. Hape led an exemplary Christian life, and had strong and healthful influence on the Maori and pakeha people of Otago.
2 Pioneering Days in Southern Maoriland, by M. A. Rugby Pratt.
Mr. Watkin took great interest in him and after due instruction he was set apart as a teacher and preacher. He possessed a keen intellect and was a born mathematician. One showing was quite enough for him. In one year he was able to use his pen with credit, as the Church Register shows. He had a building erected at his own hapu at Otakou, which he used as a school and chapel. This neat building was erected on the slope of Tahakopa and did duty for many years. Hoani was the first native schoolmaster in the district. Even pakeha children were glad to avail themselves of his services. As a preacher he could charm and fascinate an audience, playing upon their feelings like a master musician on an organ. He not only preached by word of lip, but his whole life was eloquent with the rhetoric of a good example. He was one of Nature's gentlemen and possessed a pleasant and commanding personality and with his easy bearing, impressive calm, and voice majestically sweet, he won many of his tribe for Christ and His Church. Mr. Watkin wrote in his diary regarding him: “December 26th, 1843. In the evening heard Hoani Weteri (John Wesley) Korako address the congregation, and was pleased. Afterwards I held a sacrament service and had a large number to partake.” He also remarked, “May they all be partakers of spiritual life through the death of Christ, which we then commemorated.”
Hoani was ably assisted in his work by his wife. Moheko was an elect lady of striking presence and Christian graces, to whom he was married by Watkin on March 14th, 1844, the witnesses being Merekihireka Hape and Mate Pi Mutu. Hoani died at an advanced age in 1873, and was buried in the cemetery behind the church at Ornate, Otakou. A memorial brass plate has been placed on the wall of the Otakou Centennial Church bearing his name, and also that of Tare Weteri Te Kahu.
Tare Weteri (Charles Wesley) Te Kahu deserves an honoured place in Maori history, and also in the history of the Wesleyan Mission. He was one of the diligent students under the care of James Watkin, and after training became an efficient teacher and preacher. He is referred to by Mr. Percy Smith in his book Hawaiki as a very learned member of the Kai-tahu tribe, and is quoted as an authority upon the early history of the South Island Maoris. In the Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. X, page 8, there is an article, dictated by him, giving an account of the wars with Te Rauparaha, and also of the battle of Tuturau. He is stated to be “One of the survivors of those fateful days”.
He is also mentioned in the Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. XXVI, No. 2, page 65, in which he gave information regarding the origin of the Kati-mamoe. This chieftain claimed that his father page 159 took part in the Murdering Beach affair in 1817 when Captain Kelly, of the ship Sophia, was attacked by the Maoris. The mere with which his father fought and killed one of Kelly's men is now in the possession of his grandson.
In the Journal of the Polynesian Society, No. 163, September, 1932, an article by Mr. D. Teviotdale refers to Te Kahu as an authority in Maori matters as follows: “Weteri Te Kahu told me that Arowhenua (Horo-whenua) was the southern limit of the cultivation of the kumara.”
Te Kahu was baptised on June 18th, 1843, when he chose for his name Charles Wesley. After his baptism Watkin appointed him as preacher to his own people. To mention his name today to the elder Maori people brings forth expressions of respect. On the day of his baptism he was married with the ritual of the church to Riria Wharekauri; she also that day accepted Christian baptism. Their home was at Te Taupo, Otakou, overlooking the sea. Tare Weteri was a man of perseverance and gentle insistence whose life told powerfully upon the people. He was an eloquent preacher and delivered his message in a solemn, level voice, sometimes saying an important sentence over and over again. Neither the sarcasm of the pakeha nor the opposition of certain of his own race could turn him aside from his sacred calling. Sometimes he was accosted by people who were perplexed with the various sects of the Christian Church. He would pause, draw a circle on the ground with his stick, and then, pointing to the centre of the circle, call it “Heaven”. He would draw a number of crooked lines and trace them as they ultimately made for the centre of the circle. “This one,” he would say, “is the Church of England, winding its devious course to the centre, Heaven.” Another winding track he would name as the Presbyterian Church; but the straight and direct line represented the Wesleyan Church, which made at once for the centre, but all, at last, reached the desired goal.
Tare Weteri was dignified in manner, fluent and forceful in speech, and could hold an audience with ease. When native magistrates or assessors were appointed in 1843, his name appeared on the list. For a short time he lived at Waitaki, but most of his life was spent at Otakou. His body reposes in the little “God's Acre” behind the church at Ornate, Otakou.
Matiu (Matthew) Kehepani was another eminent character, who was not only a chief but also a tohunga. It was the duty of the tohunga to preserve in his memory the Maori theology, heroic sayings and genealogy, and to pass them on to his successor. The Maori “oracle” was much in repute, and the tohunga was the medium through which it was accomplished. He had charge of the ceremonies connected with the burial of the dead and all other important functions. Upon his conversion Matiu became a Christian tohunga, and page 160 sought to carry out his duties on the high level of gospel teaching. He denounced sorcery, and kindred superstitions, and led his people to renounce their oldpractices.
He was baptised by Watkin on June 18th, 1843. He proved himself not only capable of understanding and receiving the truth of Christianity, but of communicating it to his fellow-countrymen. In addressing audiences, his pathos and humour were simply irresistible. He was thoroughly original and he could also be sarcastic and pungent. He erected a native church at Pukeleraki which for some years was a centre of Christian activity. Unfortunately, his last years were clouded by mental infirmity, but to the last he was loyal to the Mission.
It is claimed that the noted chief, Tuhawaiki, was born at Tauhinu, Inchclutha; but the senior Maoris regard Port Molyneux as his birthplace. His parents lived in the old village Murikauhaka, Port Molyneux, at the mouth of the Mataau 1 Tuhawaiki was born about 2 His parents were Te Kaihaere and Kura. It appears that Kura, the daughter of the Kai-tahu chief, Hone Kai, and of the Kati-mamoe chieftainess, Hokiwai, fled from Ruapuke to Molyneux and married Te Kaihaere. Her brother was Te Whakataupuka, described as “a horrid cannibal, celebrated as much for his cunning as his courage”. He had one distinguishing feature, namely, six toes on each foot. He was almost supreme in Murihiku (the tail of the fish), and upon his death from measles in 1835 his man a passed to his nephew, Tuhawaiki. Whakataupuka sold to Peter Williams in 1832, for 60 muskets, the land from Dusky Bay to Preservation Inlet.
Tuhawaiki was of Kai-tahu and Kati-mamoe blood. He was an influential chief who, without owing anything to the superiority of his birth, had sufficient address to gain the ascendency over the chiefs of the southern tribes. This, with the backing of the numerous predominating Kati-mamoe population of the south, who had been reunited under his vigorous uncle, Te Whakataupuka, gave him 3 Tuhawaiki had two sons, Poko and John Frederick Kihau. Poko died, and the other, who was baptised by Rev. J. F. H. Wohlers, married Medeline Kurukuru and had three children. S. F. Kihau was drowned and his widow married Topi Patuke and became the ancestress of Topo's as well as Tuhawaiki's 4
4 Waite and Hall-Jones.
Another quotation: “The chief, ‘Bloody Jack’, is here, but he is brutalised by the intercourse he has had with our ‘respectable’ countrymen. He, however, told me that if a European missionary were stationed at his place the people would attend his instructions.”
Major Bunbury, who visited Ruapuke Island in 1840 to obtain Tuhawaiki's signature to the Treaty of Waitangi, has written: “The chief was named ‘Bloody Jack’, an epithet of which he is now ashamed and disowns; he has resumed his nativename of ‘Toviaki’. He came on board the Herald in the full-dress staff uniform of a British aide-de-camp, with gold laced trousers and cocked hat and plume, in which he looked extremely well. His behaviour at Captain Nias' table, where he took tea, showed that the examples he had seen had not been lost upon him.” Dr. Shortland, when visiting Otago in 1843, was favourably impressed: “A chief of very intelligent and pleasing address. He spoke a little English, of which and his English dress he was evidently proud. His influence over all the natives present was decided and appeared to be very beneficially exerted for allparties.”
Dr. D. Monro1 also gives his opinion of this chief: “Tuawaike is probably one of the most Europeanised natives in New Zealand. He was most correctly and completely dressed in white man's clothes, even to the refinement of a cotton pocket handkerchief. His outward and investing garment was an excellent drab greatcoat; and no stage-coachman in England could have thrust his hands into his pockets with a more knowing air…. In the evening we had him in the cabin, where we both profited and were much amused by his conversation…. After shaking hands he pulls out his watch, and asks you what time you make it, and having satisfied himself on this point, he pulls out a dollar, and orders the steward to fetch him a bottle of wine.”
1 Contributions to the Early History of New Zealand, by Dr. Hocken.
Mr. J. W. Barnicoat, assistant surveyor to Mr. Tuckett, has written: “He is a man of intelligence and property, and professes Christianity as a Protestant. He has a knowledge of our mode of measuring time by hours and distances by miles.”
Bishop Selwyn, in January, 1844, sailed from Otakou to Ruapuke and Stewart Island on Tuhawaiki's schooner Perseverance. The chief was his own navigator, and the Bishop was of the opinion that the vessel could not have been in better hands. The Bishop had assigned to him a little cabin 9 feet by 5 feet. The chief reserved only the right of way for himself and his wife when passing to their berth amidships. Arriving at Ruapuke, the Bishop writes:
“My lodging was in Tuhawaiki's house, which he had vacated for my use. It contained two rooms, in one of which was a large fireplace and chimney; in the other, a boarded bed-place, which the Countess of Ruapuke had carefully spread with two beautiful new red blankets, furnishing also the room with a carpet and a looking glass. I regret to add that another part of the furniture of the room was a large barrel of rum, which the chief kept for the use of his English sailors, and for sale to the whalers—a vile practice into which he had been led by his English companions, and against which I duly remonstrated.”
An article appeared in the Otago Witness, February 13th, 1864, which depicts another side of the chief's character. The occurrence took place on Ruapuke Island in 1839. At that time, Tuhawaiki stood in the height of his ill-gained reputation as ‘Bloody Jack’ and when he was a terror to his enemies. He had returned from one of his war excursions in the north and had brought to Ruapuke several prisoners he had taken in battle. With the exception of four, all of them were women, and highly valued by the captor.
During his temporary absence from the island, a white man who had lived there and owned a boat determined to set these women at liberty. After getting these creatures into his craft, he succeeded under cover of darkness in sailing from the island. When Tuhawaiki returned to Ruapuke in company with Mr. George Green, who went to the island on business, learning that the women had escaped, was furious and vowed that he would have his revenge on his male prisoners. Green tried all in his power to prevent its execution, but all in vain. A strong man was ordered to put these doomed men to death. Green, with difficulty, got permission to bury the bodies, and thus prevented the customary banquet of human flesh. He also succeeded in saving the life of a fourth prisoner, who was page 163 away at the time, and who on his return was to share the fate of his countrymen. By signing a bond, Green engaged the man as his cook and ultimately set him free.
Tuhawaiki signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. He also signed the Deed of Purchase for the Otago Block with the other chiefs at Koputai (Port Chalmers) in 1844. Prior to the signing of the Deed he made his impassioned speech on the hill Ohinetu, Otakou. He had a remarkable memory and possessed a wide knowledge of the geography of the South Island. He had a reputation for integrity and straightforwardness. He was above middle height, well proportioned and intelligent. Bold and skilful sailor as he was, he lost his life in November, 1844, whilst steering his boat through a stormy sea when approaching Timaru. He was thrown overboard by a huge wave and was drowned.
Tione Topi Patuke was the son of Wairua and Marama and was born at Waipate, and for many years lived at Kaiapohia, though his real home was Ruapuke. It is claimed that he was the nephew of the famous chief Tamaiharanui, who was persuaded by the wretch Stewart to go on board the Elizabeth at Akaroa, and was handed over to Te Rauparaha, an act of base treachery.
Topi succeeded to the local mana (Ruapuke) on the death of John Frederick Kihau in 1853. He, with Tuhawaiki, Taiaroa and Haereroa, attacked the Ngati-toa, Te Puohu and his warriors, at Tuturau, on the banks of the Mataura River, in 1836. As Te Puohu urged on his men he was shot by Topi Patuke. Topi signed the Deed of Purchase of the Otago Block in 1844. He was appointed as native assessor for Ruapuke in 1844. He was trained as a Wesleyan teacher and preacher by the Rev. Charles Creed and was baptised at Otakou on September 15th, 1844. For a short time only he served in the capacity of a lay preacher. The Rev. J. F. H. Wohlers mentions this chief: “Soon after my arrival I made the acquaintance of the still young high chief, Topi, who stood next in rank to Tuhawaiki—a friendly man, but a little unstable, so that one could not always rely upon him. He was kind enough to offer me a house, but I could not enter it where it stood. It was tapu—holy—because his first wife had died there, and beside me, he dare not speak to anyone who was not of high birth.”
In 1850 Topi served as a pilot and interpreter on the survey ship H.M.S. Acheron in Foveaux Strait. He died on September 28th, 1900, said to be 90 years of age. His son, John Topi, became a member of the Upper House, 1918–1
The present writer remembers seeing Topi the elder at a military and civic function held at Invercargill shortly before the chiefs death. He wore his Maori cloak and held his taiaha in his hand.
Karetai is mentioned by Dr. Shortland as being the paramount chief of Otakou. He belonged to the Kai-tahu and Kati-mamoe tribes. As a Kai-tahu he belonged to the Ruahikihiki hapu, whose son, Moke (a half-brother of the famous Taoka), became the chief of Pukekura in the early part of the 18th century.
Karetai was a son of Kakatuaheka and Te Thutakara. One of his ancestors, Pokeni, mentioned by Shortland, had a remarkable wife. One half of her face was tattooed in every respect like that of a man, while the other had no more marks than those to which her sex entitled her. Shortland states that he afterwards met several aged women of this tribe who had similarly engraved their laces, a type of ornamentation not seen among the North Island women.
Karetai was brave in battle and took part in several campaigns against Te Rauparaha. He was wounded in one of his legs at Oraumona and became permanently lame. He also had the misfortune to lose an eye. He accompanied Taiaroa and Tuhawaski to Sydney in 1839–40, and waited upon the Governor relative to their land sales. Karetai returned to New Zealand in the Magnet in March, 1840, with the first company of settlers for Mr. Jones's settlement at Waikouaiti. On June 13th, 1840, when the H.M.S. Herald (Major Bunbury) entered the Otago Harbour, he signed the Treaty of Waitangi. He also, with Tuhawaiki, Taiaroa and others, signed the Deed of Purchase for the Otago Block on July 31st, 1844.
Due to the influence of the Wesleyan Mission, Karetai became interested in the Christian way of life. He abandoned the harmful practices of his ancestors, gave up his slaves, and had his family trained in the principles of Christianity. The following entry appears in the Register regarding the baptism of his youngest son: “No. 714, Papei, six years, son of Karetai and Hini Pahia (William Kirk, Minister).”
Canon J. W. Stack gives an account of a visit to Otakou in 1852: “He (Karetai) lived on the brow of a hill overlooking the sea, about two miles away, in a small weatherboard house consisting of one room, only partly floored. His family consisted of a stout young half-caste woman” (the Canon was not correct; Hine Pakia was a full Maori), “who was his second wife, and her sturdy child, just two years old. We all slept and took our meals together in the one room, the cooking being done in the large fireplace, which took up half one side of the building. I found old Karetai a particularly interesting man to talk to…. He had taken a leading part in the fights with Rauparaha when he invaded the SouthIsland, etc. I thought it spoke well for the sincerity of his Christian faith that he page 165 was so desirous to show his old enemy's son (Tamihana, Te Rauparaha's son, accompanied Stack) some proof of his kindly feeling towards him by doing his best to entertain him. He had procured some special delicacies and charged his wife in our hearing to bestir herself and cook a good meal for our refreshment. She commenced by baking a loaf of excellent bread in a camp oven. That, and boiled potatoes and fried meat, and tea made in a great kettle and sweetened with brown sugar, tasting rather like weak rum and water, formed our repast, which I really enjoyed, in spite of the strange way in which the food was served and the soiled and untidy look of everything about it. It was impossible to feel critical when one's host and hostess were evidently actuated by feelings of hospitality and doing their best. During the night a violent storm sprang up, with pouring rain, which continued for three days. During all that time we were confined to the house and soon found that we had exhausted the food supplies…. Fortunately, just before sunset on the third day, it cleared up and we had a visit from Timothy, Karetai's son, who lived half a mile off, and who, on finding the plight we were in, went in search of a pig. The sound of a gunshot soon afterwards told us that he had found one. Before nightfall Timothy appeared with a large joint of pork, and our hostess soon had some tempting cutlets frizzling on the glowing embers and emitting a most appetising smell … a most enjoyable meal.”
Karetai died in 1860 and was buried in the Otakou cemetery. His headstone bears the following inscription:
“In memory of Karetai of the Kai-tahu and Kati-mamoe tribes in the South Island who died 30th May, 1860, aged 76 years. Under the shelter of the authority of Queen Victoria, his conduct to the people of the Maori and European races was kind and liberal.”
He was of medium height and of manly bearing, and yet of a retiring nature. His face was strongly tattooed. He was a father to his tribe and won not only their esteem but also their affection.
In the list of the principal men of Otago and Southland, in 1864, the name of Timoti Karetai appears.
Timoti Karetai had three brothers, Korako, Te Ao and Papei Rapatu. The latter was born in 1848 and was baptised by the Rev. W. Kirk. He died in early manhood.
Taiaroa was a born warrior, having come from the old fighting stock, and took part in many a hard fought campaign.
He was the son of Korako and Wharerauaruhe and belonged to the Ruahikihiki hapu of the Kai-tahu and to the Kati-moki hapu of the Kati-mamoe tribe. Although his name is usually linked with Otakou, he hailed from Tamutu and Akaroa, and Shortland speaks of him as a great man of the place—Hakaroa and Pigeon Bay. When the discussion took place regarding the proposed settlement at Akaroa, Captain Lethart claimed that he had, in 1839, purchased from Taiaroa the Port of Akaroa, and a further block covering fifteen miles of coast from the south-east point of the Peninsula going northward, but Captain Lavaud, of the French ship L'Aube, claimed that the Akaroa Maoris did not recognise the sale, saying “they got nothing out of it.”
When the Canterbury land claims were discussed in 1848, known as the Kai-tahu purchase and “Kemp's Deed”, Lieutenant-Governor Eyre called together the leading chiefs from north and south at Akaroa arid successfully negotiated the purchase, being cordially assisted by Taiaroa, who was then universally acknowledged as “the leader of a somewhat decimated Kai-tahu people1
Although Taiaroa's land claims were excessive, the above shows that he had important rights.
Taiaroa took a prominent part in the war against Te Rauparaha. Some historians claim that he was the ablest of the southern chiefs and ‘showed a real capacity for leadership; that when he returned to Otakou from Maryborough, the Maoris lost their most capable leader. Another writes “that Taiaroa stood above any of the leaders of his time in energy and military ability”.
1 The French at Akaroa, by T. Lindsay Buick.
Taiaroa again figures in the conflict, not this time with Te Rauparaha, but with Te Puoho at Tuturau, in 1836, the latter being defeated. Taiaroa proved himself an able supporter of Tuhawaiki and performed no inconspicuous part in the undertaking. Taiaroa seems to have made a poor impression upon the minds of the early visitors to Otago. D'Urville was visited by Taiaroa on board the Astrolabe in 1840 and spoke disparagingly of him. From his contact with the whalers he had acquired the habit of drinking. Mr. Tuckett, the surveyor, described him as an uncivilised Maori of Jewish physiognomy. Dr. D. Monro remarked upon his Jewish cast of features, and gave no flattering account of him.
Watkin was not favourably impressed at first, and may have modified his opinion upon further acquaintance.
Taiaroa on his part, upon his first contact, had but little love for Europeans, and would have exterminated them if he could. During Watkin's term at Waikouaiti he made threatening raids upon the pakeha. On one occasion, when an American brig was at Otakou, he mustered his canoes for the purpose of capturing her. Finding the ship prepared for attack, he gave up the attempt. Taiaroa was under no illusion regarding the designs of the pakeha. He was a far-seeing man and took in the situation of affairs. He knew what was happening and could see that his people, with the passing of time, would be outnumbered by the influx of settlers. It was also evident that the presence of the missionaries, Watkin and Creed, put restraint upon his threatening attitude. Later, seeing what was inevitable, and desiring to make the best of the situation, he signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 and was one of the signatories to the Deed of Purchase signed at Port Chalmers in 1844 whereby the Otago Block, with the exception of certain reserves, passed into the possession of the pakeha.
Much has been said and written about him as “a skilful rogue”, and also about his acts of cannibalism and avarice. It must be remembered, however, that Taiaroa was a man of his times and that he followed the customs of the age in which he lived. It may be added that the first Europeans he met were no help to him for they were expert in “the tricks of the trade”. It was said, a Maori accused of a dishonest action, in excuse for his breach of integrity, replied, “Pakeha say A.B.C., why not Maori say A.B.C.? If pakeha can steal, why not Maori do the same?”
Late in life Taiaroa made a profession of Christianity. At that page 168 particular time the Rev. George Stannard was living at Otakou. Coming into direct contact with the missionary, Taiaroa abandoned his evil habits. Disappointed and disillusioned, he made the best of his declining days and became deeply interested in the Christian way of life. On April 3rd, 1859, he made a public confession of faith in the Ruatitiko Church and was baptised by the Rev. G. Stannard. On the same day, and in the same church, he was married according to the rites of the Christian Church to the chieftainess, Karoraina, daughter of the Wellington chief, Ngatata, and sister of the chief Wi Tako. The entry in the register is as follows: “No. 171, Te Matenga and Karoraina were married at Otakou on the 3rd day of April, 1859.” Prior to the marriage ceremony Karoraina was received into church fellowship by the rite of Christian 1
Taiaroa died on February 2nd, 1863. In his last moments he urged his people to live at peace with the pakeha and to observe their undertakings. Missionary Riemenschneider conducted the funeral service on February 17th. His tombstone in the Otakou cemetery bears the following inscription: “In memory of Taiaroa of the Ngai-tahu and Ngati-mamoe tribes in the South Island, who died on February 2nd, 1863, aged about 80 years His direction of his people was eminently good and his attachment to the Queen's rule was great.”
Taiaroa was of medium height and of great strength. He was the cousin of Karetai and Hoani Weteri Koraki. Karoraina, his wife, died at Wellington in the Te Aro Pa in 1879.
The Hon. Hori Kerei (George Grey) T. Taiaroa was the youngest son of Te Matenga Taiaroa. In early life he attended the Mission school at Otakou, applied himself to study and took advantage of his opportunities for education. In 1871 he became a Member of Parliament as a Maori representative. From 1871 to 1878 and from 1881–85 he represented the Southern Maori District. In 1879–80, and again from 1885 till his death, he was a member of the Upper House. In 1888, when a joint committee was appointed to enquire into the South Island land claims, he took a leading part. He believed that his father and other chiefs made a mistake in signing Kemp's Deed (1848) and the Murihiku Deed. He died on August 4th, 1905, and is buried in the Otakou cemetery. The funeral was attended by a large concourse of people from all parts of the Island.
1 Authorities: Journals of Watkin and Creed; The Times of Taiaroa, by Dr. H. D. Skinner (in Centenary of the Otago Settlement, Otakou, 1831–1931); Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, edited by G. H. Scholefield.
In later years Mr. Ellison engaged in farming at Otakou, where he died on May 16th, 1920.
Hoani Matapura Ellison (Erihana) was the eldest son of Raniera Ellison and was born at Otakou in 1864. He was educated at the Otakou and Karitane native schools and at the Otago Boys' High School. A first-class licensed interpreter, he conducted major cases before the Native Land Court. Mr. Ellison in early manhood was a member of the Otago Hussars, and won several championships. He spent most of his life at Puketeraki, near Karitane, where he engaged in farming. Mr. Ellison died in Dunedin in March, 1949.
Thomas Rangiwahia Ellison was born at Otakou in 1866 and was the son of Raniera Ellison, and accordingly descended from the leaders of the Ngati-awa tribe of Taranaki and from Taiaroa and Hinewhareua, the sister of Karetai. He was educated at the Otakou native school and at Te Aute College, where he matriculated. He studied law in the office of Brandon and Hislop, Wellington, and was admitted as the first Maori solicitor in New Zealand. In his early years he gained distinction as a footballer. He petitioned Parliament in 1901 for consideration of the claims of the Kai-tahu tribe, but the petition was not granted. He died in 1904.
Edward Pohau Ellison, O.B.E., M.B.Ch.B., was a brother of the above-mentioned. He graduated in 1919; studied at the Otago Medical School 1913–1919, and achieved distinction. Studied leprosy at Makogai Leper Station, Fiji. Later was associated with Dr. Peter Buck in the question of Maori hygiene in the Department of Health. Became the chief medical officer of the Cook Islands and Director of Division of Maori Hygiene. At the time of writing, he is following his profession as a medical doctor in the Taranaki district.
Te Iwi Ellison, J.P. (David), another brother, was born at Otakou in 1881. He was educated at Te Aute College. As an oarsman he took part in several important contests, and was one of a crew which won the Edmond Shield. For some time he served in the Government Survey Department. Mr. Ellison was a Justice of the Peace and also took a prominent part in public life. Being a fluent speaker in the Maori language, he was in great demand on civic occasions. For some years he was a member of the Otakou page 170 Heads Road Board. Mr. Ellison, being keenly loyal to the Maori race and concerned in all their land arid tribal interests, was much perturbed with the result of the early land transactions. He was deeply interested in the erection of the Otakou Maori Centennial Church, being of great assistance to the present writer in an advisory manner in formulating the scheme, also serving as a trustee and church official. Mr. Ellison was regular in attending the Sabbath services and at all church functions. He died on February 6th, 1943, aged 62 years. His death was the result of an unfortunate accident. At the time of his decease he was engaged in farming at Otakou.
Mr. Ellison was predeceased by his wife Olivia, who died on January 29th, 1938. Mrs. Ellison was the daughter of the chief, Timoti Karetai, and granddaughter of the paramount chief of Otakou, Hoani Karetai. She was a much esteemed lady and took an active part in all good concerns, particularly in connection with the Women's Division of the Farmers' Union. She was a devoted member and active worker in connection with the Maori Church.
Mrs. Maaki Karetai was a well known and respected resident of the Otakou kaika who died suddenly on October 7th, 1945, aged 77 years. She was the third daughter of the late Tame Parata, M.L.C., and a chieftainess in her own right. Mrs. Karetai was born at Puketeraki and belonged to the Te Ruahiki-huirapa and Kai-tahu tribes. She took a prominent part not only in the affairs of the Maori people, but also in the general social activities of the community at the Otakou Heads. Mrs. Karetai was a past president of the Otakou Women's Division of the Farmers' Union and a member of the Patriotic Committee. She was twice married, her first husband being the late Mr. George Taiaroa, and her second Mr. George Karetai. Mrs. Karetai was attached to the Otakou Maori Church and took an active part in its welfare.
In September, 1864, five native assessors or magistrates were appointed for Otago and Southland. They were all members of the Wesleyan Methodist Mission. Here are their names, salaries and dates of baptism:
1. Matiaha Tiramorehu: Waikouaiti, £50; July 30th, 1843.
2. Horomona Pohio: Waitaki, £30; June 18th, 1843.
3. Tare Weteri Te Rahu: Otakou, £30; June 18th, 1843.
4. Horomona Pukuhete: Jacobs River, £30; June 29th, 1845.
5. Tione Tope Patuki: Ruapuke, £50; September 15th, 1844.
All these except No. 4 appear as claimants to land from Stewart Island to beyond Kaiapoi. No. 1 received a special reserve as an important man. He was known to the Mission as Matthias (Matin). He was said by Commissioner Mantell to be “well up in their traditional history.”
Some historians, unfortunately, have written thoughtlessly and page 171 disparagingly of the early missionaries and their work.
Regarding the North Island, Marsden's lay missionaries have been criticised, and perhaps, in some respects, not without reason. But it must be remembered that they were mechanics, and some of them not capable of being spiritual advisors.
These men caused Samuel Marsden much pain of heart. There have been failures in all walks of life, and Marsden was unfortunate in his selection. The great missionary's plan was to teach the Maoris the arts of civilisation, to be followed by intensive Christian teaching. The venture was not altogether a success, but no one can deny or ignore the good that resulted from their endeavours. The natives of New Zealand were unfortunate in their first contact with the white man. Mr. Eric Ramsden has written in his book, Marsden and the Missions, regarding these first contacts:
“Hardened, vicious, loose-living, resentful of law and order in any form, the scum of Port Jackson and the Pacific generally had, before 1837, congregated in the Bay of Islands. Grog-shops, that vied in evil reputation with any in the notorious Rocks area in Sydney, dotted the waterfront at Kororareka. For years prostitution had been a highly organised business from which, unhappily, many prominent chiefs drew lucrative incomes. Firearms, liquor, infanticide, venereal disease, were obvious causes of depopulation among the Maoris. The appalling rate at which the Maoris were disappearing had caused Busby, the British Resident, to ask himself if he could in any way prevent the total extinction of that race.”
A very strong indictment is also found in the Letters and Journals of the Rev. T. S. Grace, Anglican missionary at Tauranga and Taupo (1850). He writes:
“Again and again have I heard thoughtful Maoris lament the evils we carry amongst them. It is a sad fact, sad for us as a people, sad for those who are sufferers, that we, a highly civilised and professed Christian people, stand reproved by those we esteem barbarians and savages! These people have petitioned and protested that public houses and spirits should not be allowed them! I have heard them say, ‘Why do you tempt us? Why do you bring these evils among us? We cannot restrain our young people.”’
In writing to the Secretary of the C.M.S., London, he writes: “Drunkenness, gambling, desecration of the Sabbath, and adultery are now rampant wherever the Maoris have come in contact with European communities.” These quotations tell their own story.
No doubt the missionaries were a snag in the way of the white adventurers and a thorn in the side of those whose one object was to exploit their victims. In such cases the missionaries naturally took the part of the unfortunate and the oppressed, in consequence of which they suffered abuse and misrepresentation.
Even Robert Louis Stevenson, who in his last year made his page 172 home in Samoa and “had conceived a great prejudice against Missions”, wrote: “I had no sooner come to Samoa than the prejudice was at first reduced and at last annihilated. Those who speak strongly against Missions have only one thing to do—to come and see on the spot.”
Charles Darwin, the author of The Voyage of the Beagle (1831), wrote about what he saw in the Pacific Islands: “It is admirable to behold what the missionaries in New Zealand have accomplished. I firmly believe they are good men working in a good cause. I much suspect that those who have abused or sneered at the missionaries have generally been such as were not very anxious to find the natives moral or intelligent beings.1
Both Watkin and Creed, the pioneer missionaries in the South Island, were subjected to the opposition and derision of men who found the missionaries a thorn in their side and a rebuke to their avaricious designs and their evil conduct. Those Europeans whose purpose was to exploit the Maori for the sake of gain and to make him a victim of their debased habits found the missionary an unsuperable impediment in their way.
There were great men in the company of the pioneer missionaries, both of the North and South Islands of New Zealand, and it is doubtful if even yet full justice has been done to them—Marsden, Henry Williams, William Williams, Bishop Selwyn, Volkner the Martyr, Samuel Leigh, John Hobbs, John Whiteley, Walter Lawry, J. F. Wohlers, James Watkin and Charles Creed—a galaxy of devoted men. These missionary heroes and their successors have left a tradition of courage, self-denial and devotion almost comparable with the Apostles. They were men of vision, cast in the heroic mould, undaunted by difficulty, unawed by danger, their names and records are clearly bound up with the early annals of New Zealand colonisation and evangelism.