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Hauhauism: An Episode in the Maori Wars 1863-1866

CHAPTER II. — The Development of the New Religion

page 27

The Development of the New Religion.

Te Ua felt the necessity of having coadjutors to aid him in the propagation of the new faith. He chose three: Tahutaki, Hepanaia, and Wi Parara. The divine blessing was communicated to them by inhaling the smoke of the prophet's pipe. Tahutaki and Hepanaia persuaded the tribe to undertake an expedition to Ahuahu, by predicting that some pakehas would be delivered into their hands.

A detachment of the 57th Regiment under Captain T. W. J. Lloyd, and some military settlers were destroying crops in the Kaitaki Ranges.1 The Maoris attacked them, killing and decapitating Capt. Lloyd. One of the Hauhaus, Rawiri Te Kakawaero, described the engagement in the following terms:—

“The soldiers saw them and fired upon them with artillery. Te Ua then called to his men to lift up their left hands, and the shots fell short. They assaulted the Redoubt; it was taken. When Mr. Taylor, the minister, saw those people lift up their hands, he said: ‘God is with those people.’ He fled: the Redoubt was taken. Te Ua

1 Gudgeon: op. cit., Ch. V, p. 27. Report of Lieut. Col. Logan: App. H. of R. 1864. E. No. 8. 1. April 4, 1864.

page 28 said to his soldiers: ‘Seek out the thoughtful man’ (from among the slain). He was sought for and found. Te Ua said: ‘This head will presently speak.’ The head then spoke to Te Ua, and said: ‘Do not bury me here, but take me to the town, that the Governor may see his fault. When I have been there, bring me back to Ngaruawahia as a stool for the Maori King.’ Then the head was filled with fresh water, and the water was given by Te Ua to be drunk by his soldiers. They drank, and the language of that people was changed, and became like that of the Pakeha. This was done by direction of the Angel. That is all.”1
The two prophets licked the blood from the axes which had been used to cut off the dead men's heads.2 This was significant, as showing the first tendency to revert to cannibalism. A few days later the Angel Gabriel appeared to those who had partaken of the blood. Through the medium of Capt. Lloyd's spirit they were ordered to exhume the head (which had before been buried), cure it in their own way, and take it throughout the length and breadth of New Zealand. Henceforth the head should be the medium of man's communication with Jehovah. These instructions were carefully obeyed, and immediately the head was taken up it appointed

1 Report to Dr. Nesbit, Resident Magistrate of Rotorua: App. H. of R. 1864. op. cit. E.8.

2 P.C.B.: Good Words, Oct. 1st, 1865.

page 29 Te Ua to be high priest, and communicated to them in a most solemn manner the tenets of this new religion.

The engagement had confirmed the natives in their belief that they were under the special protection of the Angel Gabriel. They had beaten the Pakeha. Te Ua Haumene was regarded as the infallible prophet of the angel. Te Ua forthwith began to formulate a system of worship for his devotees. A military success thus led directly to a rapid propagation of the new religion.1 The central object in the worship was the “Niu.” The origin of this innovation was described in the following terms:—

“The Angel Gabriel said: ‘Go back to your house and erect a niu.’ Horopapera enquired what a niu was. The Angel replied: ‘A post.’ Horopapera enquired for what purpose? The Angel replied: ‘To work for you for the acquirement of the languages of all the races upon the earth.’”2
The term “niu” was the old Maori term for the short sticks used by the tohunga priest in his mystic arts of divination, particularly before a battle.3 Te Ua's niu was a tall pole or flag-staff, round which the faithful were to march in

1 Taylor, Rev. R.: The Past and Present of New Zealand with Prospects for the Future. London: Will Macintosh. 1868. p. 148.

2 Report J. White, Resident Magistrate of Central Whanganui, to the Hon. the Col. Secr. App. H. of R. 1864. A4.

3 Philogical Significance from Williams, Herbert W.: Dictionary of the Maori Language. p. 261.

page 30 procession, chanting their hymns. The first niu was part of the mast of the “Lord Worsley,” wrecked by Cape Egmont, 1862.1 Crossed with a yard, rigged with flags of curious design,2 it was the first visible emblem of the religion.3
The term “Hauhau,” by which the disciples of the new faith came to be known, had its origin in the exclamation “Hau!” used at the end of the choruses chanted by the disciples. It

1 Supra, Ch. I, p. 17.

2 flag of the niu is described by an eye witness as “a regular war flag—pennant with a white cross and a white bow and with a dark tip.”

Flag found atop the first HauHau nui — a pennant with a white cross and a white bow and with a dark tip.

The above description and diagram is given in the Diary of the Rev. Basil Taylor, March 1, 1864. Diary of the Rev. Basil Taylor of Journey up River to Tangarakau and across Maori Track to Waitara and back to Putiki. (MSS Private Collection in possession of T. W. Downes, Wanganui.) The bow was not a Maori weapon, but its incorporation by the Hauhaus in their flag is typical of their desire to retain many European ideas, while repudiating any association with the Europeans themselves.

3 Vide App. II for a further account of the niu, and a discussion about the present nius in/existence. p. 61.

page 31 had an esoteric significance, being applied to the life principle of man, the vital spark; besides its literal meaning of wind. “Anahera hau,” or wind angels, was one of the curious phrases originating with Te Ua, which had a reference to the fancy that the angels came to the Maoris on the winds of heaven, and that they ascended and descended by the ropes which were left dangling from the yardarms of the sacred mast—the niu.1

The actual beliefs and doctrines of the Pai Marire religion are confused and involved. The Bishop of Waiapu, writing to the Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, says:—

“The form which they have prepared for worship is a most miserable attempt—a few sacred words, which are blasphemously mixed up with a large amount of nonsense. There is no attempt at system, no doctrine, no deliverance from sin, no salvation… They have trifled with things sacred, and God seems to have sent them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie.”2

Again, in another place, he says:—

“A new form of worship was prepared which seems to have been borrowed in part from the Roman missal, one portion being

1 Williams, Herbert W.: op. cit. p. 46.

2 Letter from the Rt. Rev. William Williams, D.C.L., Bishop of Waiapu, written from Turanga, March 25, 1865, to C.M.S. cited “Murder of the Rev./C. S. Volkner.” London: Church Missionary House. 1865.

page 32 headed: ‘A Song of Mary for the people who are standing destitute on the Island, which is divided in two’; but it is worded in a jargon which the natives say they do not understand.”1

Apparently the majority of the chants were unintelligible even to the natives themselves.

“A jumble of Christian and ancient concepts, of soldier and sailor terms, of English and Maori language with the barking watchword of the cult interspersed.”2

Perverted fragments of Church services were mingled with spells and incantations.3 The following is a translation of one of their chants:—4

“God the Father, Hau; God the Son, Hau, Hau;
God the Holy Ghost, Hau, Hau, Hau.
Attention, save us; Attention, instruct us;
Jehovah, avenge us, Hau. Jehovah, stand at ease, Hau.
Fall out, Hau, Hau.
Father, Good and Gracious, Hau; big rivers, long rivers, big mountains and sea.
Attention, Hau, Hau, Hau.”5

1 William Williams: op. cit., Ch. XIX, p. 368.

2 Keesing, J. M.: The Changing Maori. N.Z. 1928. Memoir of the Board of Maori Ethnological Research. Part II, Ch. II, p. 50.

3 App. H. of R. A4. 1868.

4 Further Chants. Vide App. III, p. 63.

5 Keesing: op. cit., Part II, Ch. II, p. 50.

page 33

These chants were intoned while the naked throng of men, women and children would touch with the hand the head of a white man set upon a post. These “preserved Pakehas' heads” were apparently made to utter words of prophetic import; invariably to the effect that the Pakeha would eventually be overcome.1 Mr. White says:—

“The sign of the descent of the Holy Ghost upon any of them is a cold shivering at the time they are performing the circle marching around the niu. After the cold shivering they are inspired with the gift of languages, some of which I have heard. A perfectly unintelligible jargon both to themselves and to others.”2

The worshippers worked themselves into a state bordering on frenzy during the procedure of the ritual, until catalepsy frequently prostrated them.3

Te Ua believed his countrymen stood in the same covenanted relationship to God as the Israelites of old.4 The Hauhaus were descended from the sons of Shem, and the Pakeha from the sons of Japheth. (Gen. 5:32). Thus Jesus was the God of the sons of Japheth; Jehovah of the sons of Shem. God had chosen the Maoris as

1 Blake, A. Hope: Sixty Years in New Zealand. Wellington, N.Z.: Gordon & Gotch Pty. Ltd. N.D. Ch. III, p. 24.

2 J. White, Resident Magistrate of Central Wanganui. App. H. of R. 1865. op. cit. E4.

3 Blake, A. Hope: op. cit., Ch. III, p. 24.

4 P.C.B.: Good Words, Oct. 1st, 1865.

page 34 His special people; no missionary or stranger was to be allowed to dwell amongst them. An exception was made in favour of the Jews, who resemble the Maori in having Shem as their common progenitor, and in having been persecuted and oppressed by the Gentiles and Pakehas. This sympathy was further expressed in the word “Teu,” or Jew, the professional name by which the priests of the new faith were designated.1
A cardinal principle in the religion as first practised, was a belief that the Pakeha bullets could be averted by certain magic spells. The faithful marched to battle chanting their hymns and holding their right hand up on a level with the face, palm towards the enemy, while they cried in quick, sharp tones: “Hapa! Hapa! Pai Marire, Hau!”2 Hapa means to pass over, or ward off; the act and formula were supposed to avert the bullets from the true believer.3 The

1 This partiality for the Jew was the sole reason that the life of Captain Levy, a Jew, was spared when Volkner was murdered. Infra, Ch. IV, p. 41.

2 Cowan: op. cit., Vol. II, Ch. I, p. 7.

3 Apparently it was also believed possible to make animals invulnerable to bullets as well as individuals, judging from the following account:— “When the war broke out with the pakeha Te Kere presented Titikowaru with the horse known throughout the island as Niu Tirani. Te Kere was living with Titikowaru at the time, and he recited a Karakia (spell) to make the horse invulnerable against the soldiers' bullets. Tiko was the man who rode the animal, and he galloped right through a long line of soldiers, who all fired their rifles at him without any effect at all.…” Notes concerning the Whanganui tohunga Te Kere-Nga-Tai. (MSS., Downes, T. W.)

page 35 following remark by Lieutenant Gudgeon of the Colonial Forces is illuminating:—
“I cannot say that I have tried it or seen it tried; but many veracious cannibals have assured me that it is a fact. The word Hau! is pronounced very abruptly, so as to sound like the bark of a dog.”1

Finally Te Ua related to his people a remarkable dream in which he stated that victory was near at hand. The Angel Gabriel with his legions would protect them from their enemies.2 The Virgin Mary would be constantly with them.3 Lady Martin described the vision, and said:—

“Jehovah was to fight for them; the arm of the Lord, and the sword of the Lord, were on their side to drive the English into the sea.”4

The Civil Commissioner of the Tauranga District, writing to the Colonial Secretary (Native Dept.), November 14, 1864, adds:—

“A wonderful deliverance was to be wrought for them; those natives who did not remain faithful to the Maori King, nor became believers in the Pai Marire religion, would be involved in one common ruin with

1 Gudgeon: op. cit., Ch. V, p. 28. Van Hansburg led the Boers against British rule promising similar invulnerability. Also Chembrasseri Thangal led the Moplah Rebellion in India. Cable, Jan. 11, 1922.

2 Fox, W.: op. cit., Ch. IX, p. 128.

3 App. H. of R. E. No. 8. 15. Session IV, 1864.

4 Lady Martin: op. cit., p. 170.

page 36 the Pakeha. The Angel Gabriel had appeared on earth, and had interposed on behalf of the native race.”1

The first great day of deliverance was to be in December, 1864.2

When the last Pakeha had perished in the sea, all the Maoris who had perished since the beginning of the world would leap from their graves with a shout, and stand in the presence of Zerubbabel, the Great Prophet.3 They would stand as they were when they died, with all their diseases and infirmities, and then his miraculous powers would be exhibited to the whole world. The deaf would hear, the blind see, the lame walk; every species of disease would disappear; all would become perfect in their bodies as in their spirits.4 Men would be sent from heaven to teach the Maoris all the arts and sciences now known by Europeans.5

1 Report of Henry T. Clarke: App. H. of R. 1864. E. No. 8. 6. Enclosure No. 1.

2 Rusden, G. W.: op. cit., Vol. II, p. 287.

3 These words bear a striking similarity to Scripture itself: “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout… and the dead… shall rise first … and so shall we ever the with the Lord.” 1 Thes., 4:16–17. It showed how much the Scriptures had entered the native mind.

4 P.C.B. op. cit., p. 375. Again the millenium blessings are described in words taken from the Scriptures. “The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised.…” Luke 7:22.

5 Fox, W.: op. cit., Ch. IX, p. 129.

page 37

Meanwhile all days were to be regarded as alike—sacred, and no notice was to be taken of the Christian sabbath.1 Men and women must live together promiscuously, so that their children might be as the sand of the sea shore for multitude.

1 App. H. of R. E. No. 8. 15. Also there is an interesting note in the Diary of the Rev. Basil Taylor, Feb. 24, 1864. He says: “The party from Taupo under Topia Pehi are expected tomorrow. The Waikatos not before Sunday.… They say 28th according to the Hauhaus, which Topine explains to mean 27th, as they say we have made a mistake in the calendar when we first made the sun stand still, and they have corrected it.…” Diary of Rev. Basil Taylor of Journey up River to Tangarakau.