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Hauhauism: An Episode in the Maori Wars 1863-1866

CHAPTER III. The Spread of Hauhauism

page 38

CHAPTER III. The Spread of Hauhauism.

Hauhauism was in the form of a return to barbarism and superstition, and this did not lessen its irresistible appeal to the Maori,1 for it enabled him to throw off the last restraints of the now unpopular churches.2 The old tohunga priests who had been schooled in the ancient religion, were the first to accept Pai Marire. They were astute enough to realise that by adopting it they would attain the ancient supremacy of their class over the people. Apart from this motive of self-interest, there was in some cases

1 “The fascination such wild doctrines have over the savage and half savage mind is not easily explained, but it is not the less certain, they appealed, too, to the most brutal passions, to gross immorality, to cannibalism, to the love of plunder, to the love of murder, to the excitement of wild and horrible fanatic rites.”— Weld, F. A.: Notes on New Zealand Affairs… Late Prime Minister of the Colony. London: Edward Stanford, 1869. p. 39.

2 The Rev. T. S. Grace gives the following reasons for the Maoris turning away from the church and the missionaries. The Maoris believed that


the missionaries of old had taught the Maoris to turn their eyes to heaven, while they themselves turned theirs to the land;


the missionaries had deserted them in the midst of their troubles;


the missionaries by their prayers had strengthened the troops to fight against their women and children.

Grace: op. cit. p. 257. Annual Letter to C.M.S., July 19th, 1877.

page 39 a genuine reversion to their earlier and more deeply ingrained and less stringent faith and ritual. Grace says:—
“They have lost confidence in us as a body, and look upon us with distrust and suspicion, and have determined to manage their own religious affairs… Who can blame them after 14 years' neglect by us, for framing a service more or less imperfect, with which to supply the need? They know they cannot do without religion.”1

However, from a study of the subsequent behaviour of the tohunga priests, it seems impossible to attribute their acceptance of Hauhauism to genuine heart belief; but rather to a desire to regain their fast decreasing influence.2

Hauhauism was enlisted as a powerful instrument for Maori nationalist propaganda.3 The more intelligent rebel chiefs such as Thompson and Rewi favoured this new fanaticism for political motives. While they were far too enlightened to accept it themselves, they adopted it as an instrument for rousing the flagging energies of their countrymen, who, driven from their lands and worsted in almost every engagement, were beginning to despair of success.4 Te

1 Grace: Op. cit., p. 266. Diary, Aug. 10th, 1877.

2 Anderson, M. A.: “Christianity and the Maoris.” MS. 1933.

3 Meade, H. A.: Ride Through the Disturbed Districts of New Zealand. London: John Murray. 1870. Ch. II, p. 32.

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

page 40 Ua and his doctrines were thus used by the King party as a useful auxiliary on their side.1 They made political capital from his rhapsodies, and recruited their ranks from his followers. The King party wished to separate themselves for ever from the Pakeha, and they knew they could not do so while they retained their religion.2

The Colonial Secretary and Native Minister declared:—

“The foul superstition seems to have seized with more or less violence on all the rebel party; a Kingite and a Hauhau appear to be synonymous.”3

Many insisted that the Kingmaker was a convert. Letters attributed to him were produced with the concluding word Pai Marire.4 Te Oriori assured Sir George Grey that some of them were not written by the Kingmaker; and in December, 1864, a Maori averred that the King was opposed to the Pai Marire.5 Lady Martin, however, says:—

“It had a political significance. Their King Tawhiao became a spiritual power.”6

1 Clarke, H. T.: Civil Commissioner, Tauranga. App. H. of R. A4. No. 6. 1868. Also William Williams: op. cit., Ch. XIX, p. 374.

2 Le Pai Maririsme à la Nouvelle Zélande (Etude sur la nouvelle réligion du Maorisme) Ethnographic-Super-stitions. Revue Britannique. 1866.

3 Fox: op. cit., Ch. IX, p. 140.

4 See App. IV for Hauhau prayers for King Tawhiao.

5 Rusden: op. cit., Vol. II, Ch. XII, p. 192.

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

page 41

Hauhauism was certainly having an extraordinary and diverse appeal. The Bishop of Wellington stated:—

“Doubtless thousands… have joined the fanatical movement merely as a political engine for upholding their nationality.”1

Te Ua was not ignorant of this fact, and to co-ordinate the activities of his followers he issued a proclamation to the New Zealand chiefs:—

“The Lord of Hosts has given to the natives the sword of Samson and of Gideon; the sword by which the Philistines and the Midianites were overpowered. This is Gabriel the Archangel. He has come down like a mighty flood upon his people and upon the ruler who is anointed over them. He commands you to stay the fair winds of heaven, and that all the people shall take upon them the solemn oath.… If you obey this command your God will come down upon this land. It is because He loves His people and is about to restore you to your rock, which is Jehovah.”2
The Hauhaus were elated at their success against the 57th Regiment under Captain Lloyd.3 The prophet Kapewhiti persuaded them to

1 Rt. Rev. Bishop Hadfield, Charge to Synod, Wellington. Sept. 26, 1865.

2 Letter by Horopapera to Tamihana Te Waharoa, and New Zealand chiefs generally. Cited William Williams. Ch. XIX, p. 367.

3 Supra. Ch. II, p. 21.

page 42 attack the Sentry Hill Redoubt on the top of Te Morere Hill on April 30th, 1864.1 Despite the promise of invulnerability, Hepanaia was killed. Te Ua had a satisfactory explanation—namely— that those who fell were to blame because they did not repose absolute faith in the Karakia (spells).2
The prophet Matene (Martin), who had Captain Lloyd's head in his possession, started with a large body of fanatics down the coast to Waitotara. He intended joining a large party of very warlike natives just returned from Waikato, and then proceeding to the Upper Wanganui. Matene applied to the Wanganui natives for permission to pass down the river. It was refused. The prophet was willing to wait two months, but Hemi Nape, Mete Kingi, and others, tired of negotiations, challenged him to battle on the island of Moutoa in the Wanganui River. The battle took place on May 14, 18643 The Hauhau women came down and stood on the shore with the children making their magic-working incantations. They waved imaginary bullets back over their shoulders with both hands, exclaiming as they did so “Hapa! Hapa! Hapa!” (Pass over! Pass over!) The old women were

1 Despatches, N.Z. Govt. Gazettes, 1864. E. No. 3, p. 73.

2 Hamilton Browne, Col. E.: With the Lost Legion in New Zealand. Late Commandant in Colonial Forces. London: T. Werner Laurie. Ch. II, p. 23.

3 Rusden: op. cit., Vol. II, Ch. XXII, p. 193.

page 43 crazy with excitement, and exhorted the young people: “Kia Kaha te hapa! Kia Kaha te hapa!” (Let your hapa be strong).1 The Hauhaus were very severely defeated,2 and nearly all the survivors were known to have been wounded.3

These severe reverses seemed to add fuel to fire, and emissaries were sent to every part of the island. Both Hepanaia and Matene had disobeyed Te Ua's instructions; having been too impatient to await the appointed time for the head to do the circuit of the island. Both had lost their lives, and this failure was attributed to disobedience. The Maoris, far from being disheartened, felt that it showed how correct were Te Ua's instructions, and therefore joined the ranks of Pai Marire with renewed vigour.

Taranaki became the central point from which the new faith was propagated. The Hauhau emissaries who were sent through the country in the early part of the year 1865, left Taranaki

1 Cowan: op. cit., Vol. II, Ch. III, p. 33. I feel Cowan's description of the battle has been drawn from his own fertile imagination, despite the fact that he was writing a “scientific” account of the origins of the Hauhau wars at the command of the Minister for Native Affairs. Cowan gives no authority or justification for his statements. A certain amount of information is given on the inscription on the monument erected on Pukename Hill in Wanganui, which I have seen. The inscription reads: “To the memory of those brave men who fell at Moutoa, 14th May, 1864, in defence of law and order against fanaticism and barbarism.”

2 Taylor, Rev. R.: op. cit., Ch. VII, p. 150.

3 Report of Dr. Featherston, C.P.P. 1864. E. No. 3, p. 80.

page 44 in two bodies. The one was to pass by Wanganui and Taupo, and thence to Whakatane, Opotiki, and East Cape, after which they were to proceed to Poverty Bay by way of the coast. The other party was to go through the centre of the island by Ruatahuna and Wairoa, and both were to meet at Poverty Bay. The instructions given by Te Ua were, that they should travel peaceably, carrying with them human heads, which they were to deliver to Hirini Te Kani, a Poverty Bay Chief.1 The object of this expedition was not fighting, but to obtain the adhesion of all the tribes through which they passed.2

It appears, however, that on the arrival of the first party at Pipiriki, on the Wanganui River, their purpose was changed. The friendly natives, under the command of the chief John Williams, who was head catechist to the Church Missionary House at Wanganui, defended the town against the Hauhau warriors.3 After their defeat on February 23rd, 1865, the Hauhaus proceeded thence with the intention of murdering any missionaries who might come in their way. This purpose was announced at Whakatane, but there was no means of warning those who might be exposed to danger.

1 William Williams: op. cit. Ch. XIX, p. 370. Also App. H. of R. 1865. E. No. 5. 7 Enclosure.

2 Rusden: op. cit., Vol. II, Ch. XII, p. 199. Te Ua Haumene wrote Dec. 8, 1864: “… Let your conduct be good in carrying these my instructions to the various parts of the Island, even until you come unto Hirini, who will convey the teachings peacefully to his European relations there.”

3 William Williams: op. cit., Ch. XIX, p. 372.

page 45

In 1865 various Reports were sent to the Minister for Native Affairs, which testify to the alarm felt in numerous areas at the spread of the Pai Marire religion.

The Resident Magistrate for Central Wanganui wrote:—

“I would report that the Hauhau fanaticism is spreading very rapidly in the Province, and I fear will be the cause of great mischief. It is now the mainstay of the King movement.”1

The Civil Commissioner in Napier also wrote:—

“I beg to draw your particular attention to a very unsatisfactory state of affairs in this Province. Even making every allowance for the usual exaggeration of Maori stories, there still remains the fact that a body of armed ruffians have suddenly made their appearance right in the centre of the Province before anybody knew they were coming; that they have converted a number of people to the most ridiculously degraded superstition; that Te Hapuku—hitherto supposed to be the first friend of the Pakeha—has invited them here, subscribed to their faith, and hoisted the rebel flag with many absurd ceremonies; and, above all, that they are to be followed by further armed parties of propagandists, with the

1 White, J.: App. H. of R. E. No. 4, 3. 1865.

page 46 distinct object of defying the English and the peaceably-disposed natives in the hopes of bringing on a disturbance.… In the present state of the Province, it is evident that if large bodies of armed fanatics are permitted to be constantly travelling about, a state of peace cannot long exist.”1

Friendly chiefs at Te Whaiti sent a message to Dr. Nesbit saying:—

“Friends, greeting you the heads of affairs. Natives of Taranaki, Waikato, and Raukawa, have come here to preach their God, and leading also Pakeha captives— there are two living men, and one head of a murdered man. When they came they urged us to return to their God, but we did not consent. They replied, it is well: the bearer of the sword is close behind to destroy you and all the Arawa. We sought and found a word in Scripture: ‘Be patient in tribulation;’ but if their sword touches us we shall fight. Enough.



and all the Chiefs of the three

It was apparent that a new phase in the political struggle had been inaugurated by the development of Hauhauism.

1 Cooper, S.: App. H. of R. No. 4. 20. 1865.

2 App. H. of R. No. 4. 22. 1865. Enclosure.