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Hauhauism: An Episode in the Maori Wars 1863-1866

CHAPTER V. — The Decline of Hauhauism

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The Decline of Hauhauism.

His Excellency, Sir George Grey, felt it was imperative to take a firm stand towards this new movement. Accordingly, on Saturday, April 29th, 1865, the following Proclamation was issued:—

“Whereas a fanatical sect, commonly called Pai Marire, or Hau Hau, has been for some time, and now is, engaged in practices subversive of all order and morality; and whereas the rites and practices of such fanatical sect, consisting, as they do, in murder, in the public parade of the cooked heads of their victims, in cannibalism, and in other revolting acts, are repugnant to all humanity; and whereas Her Majesty the Queen has commanded her successive Governors in the Colony of New Zealand not to tolerate, under any pretext whatever of religious or superstitious belief, customs subversive of order and morality and repugnant to humanity: Now therefore, I, Sir George Grey, the aforesaid Governor, do hereby proclaim and notify that I will, on behalf of Her Majesty, resist and suppress by force of arms if necessary, and by every means in my power, fanatical doctrines, page 62 rites, and practices of the aforesaid character.…”1

A man-of-war was sent to capture Volkner's murderers, but without success. Major Mair, with the faithful Arawa tribe, apprehended the murderers of Fulloon. Horomona and Kirimangu were sentenced to be hanged. They were asked if they admitted the justice of their sentence, and they replied:—

“Yes, we do, but there are many others who are more guilty, and we should die happy if we had only time given us for revenge on the men who led us into this trap.”2

Mr. Donald McLean, though suffering from severe illness, was requested by Mr. Weld to undertake the pacification of the East Coast. He cooperated with Mokena, a chief of the Ngatiporou tribe, who remained unexpectedly loyal. By October 11th, the first stage of the victorious East Coast Campaign had been reached, by the capture at Hungahungatoroa of 500 Hauhaus.3 The second phase of the campaign was inaugurated by the accession of Mr. Stafford to the Premiership on October 17th. The British had one long series of successes, and the final stage was marked by the severe defeats of the remaining Hauhaus at Wairoa and Waikaremoana, by Major Fraser, in January, 1866.4

1 N.Z. Govt. Gazette, Saturday, April 29, 1865. Vide App. V for full text, p. 66.

2 Ward, Rev. R.: op. cit., Ch. XXII, p. 441. Aug. 2nd, 1865.

3 Hawthorne, J.: A Dark Chapter from New Zealand History. By a Poverty Bay survivor. Ch. II, p. 10.

4 Rusden, G. W.: op. cit., Vol. II, Ch. XIII, p. 316–7.

page 63

A most important incident in the downfall of Hauhauism was the defeat of the Hauhaus and capture of their Pa at Waerengaahika (Poverty Bay), which adjoined Bishop Williams' Mission Station.

The moral effect of these vigorous measures had an immediate effect upon the Maoris. The natives lost all faith in their imagined invulnerability.1 Many desired to obtain utu (payment) from the false prophets who had so egregiously fooled them. Even the prophets themselves were now eager to dissociate themselves from the religion.

On February 2nd, 1866, Te Ua Haumene himself was captured by Major-General T. Chute. The entry in his diary for that day describes the capture:—

“In the vicinity of Opunake was found a number of natives recently in arms against us. They were immediately surrounded and made prisoners. Amongst them was Te Ua, the notorious Hauhau prophet.… The whole of his men gave up their arms, took the oath of allegiance, and were set at liberty. Te Ua was told that his life would be spared, but he would be sent to Wellington to abide the decision of the Government. Our Native Contingent declared he ought to die on the spot, and his followers, the rankest rebels in the Colony, should have been allowed no quarter. Were it not for the firm-

1 Despatch from the Governor to the Secretary of State. App. H. of R. A. No. 5. 39. 1865.

page 64 ness
of the General and the persuasion of Dr. Featherston, the Contingent would have inflicted summary justice upon the whole of them.”1

It was obvious that no love or respect was felt for the Hauhau prophets, whose exhortations had led to the renewal of years of warfare and strife.

From Waingongoro on February 2nd, 1866, Te Ua wrote the following letter:—

“Go this my letter to the tribe, consisting of Ngati Ruanui, Waikato, Ngati Raukawa, and Ngatikahungunu. Salutations to you all. I have been brought here. I am going to Wanganui, in order that I may see the Governor. Enough about that. Here is a message from me and the chiefs of Wanganui: Hori Kingi, Meti, Kawana, and the others—also from Dr. Featherston and the General. Let evil be brought to an end, and come all of you, in order that we may at once assemble with them and be united. If your thoughts are perplexed, or if you are considering the matter, write us a letter that we may know it, and in order that the General may cease operations against you. If not there is an end of it. Ended.

“TE UA.”2

1 Chute, Major-General T.: A Campaign on the West Coast of New Zealand, comprising the western portion of the Provinces of Wellington and Taranaki by European and Colonial Forces under the Command of Major-General Chute during the months of January and February. Wanganui, N.Z.: Printed and published at the “Times” Office, Ridgeway St. 1866.

2 Quoted Chute, Major-General T.: A Campaign in the West Coast… 1866.

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During 1866 the Governor visited the parts that had been affected by the Hauhaus. On March 23rd the Governor wrote a despatch to the Rt. Hon. E. Cardwell from “H.M.S. Eclipse,” stating:—

“At Opotiki I found the Hauhau fanatics entirely subdued, and tranquillity fully established. The disturbances which have for so long a time unhappily prevailed are thus at an end, and I see every reason to hope that the existing tranquillity will not again be disturbed and that New Zealand will continue rapidly to progress.”1

At Te Awanui, near the East Cape, where the “Eclipse” anchored, the Governor saw some of the loyal chiefs. Mokena (who had given valuable aid to Mr. McLean)2 and others, were highly indignant at seeing Te Ua on board as His Excellency's companion. They were with great difficulty restrained from laying hands on Te Ua as the cause of so much misery and loss of life. Mokena assured the Governor that if Te Ua went on shore his people would kill him.

The Governor sent another despatch to the Rt. Hon. E. Cardwell, six days after his former communication. Writing from Kawhia, the Governor says:—

1 Quoted Colenso, W.: Fiat Justitia: being a few thoughts respecting the Maori prisoner Kereopa, now in Napier Gaol, awaiting his trial for murder. Respectfully addressed to the considerate and justice loving Christian settlers of Hawkes Bay, and also to our Rulers in a letter to the Editor of the “Hawkes Bay Herald,” Napier, N.Z. 1871.

2 Supra. p. 50.

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“Rewi and his followers were within 30 miles of me, celebrating the religious services of the Hauhau fanaticism, whilst Te Ua, the former prophet and founder of this faith, was taking part in the services of the Church of England on board the “H.M.S. Eclipse,” having renounced the Hauhau doctrines, and having made a full statement of the delusion under which he was suffering when he imagined he had those visions which had led him to found and promulgate the Hauhau superstition.”1

When the Governor landed at Auckland Te Ua was set a free man. The prophet Patara was also allowed to go free. The reconciliation of the leading Hauhau prophets hastened the final revulsion of the natives from the religion. The majority of the Hauhau leaders were pardoned except Kereopa, who was hanged in 1871, and several hundred from the East Coast, whom Sir George Grey determined to transport to the Chatham Islands.2 With these latter was included Te Kooti,3 who, when he landed in New Zealand on July 10, 1868, after escaping from the Chatham Islands, established a new religion called Ringatu, which was reminiscent in all its leading features of Hauhauism.4

On the arrival of the new Governor, Sir G. F. Bowen, in 1866, the Under-Secretary for Native

1 Quoted Colenso, W.: op. cit., p. 11.

2 Ward, Rev. R.: op. cit., Ch. XXII, p. 441.

3 Te Kooti fought on the Government side, and was most unjustly deported with those against whom he had fought.

4 Hawthorne, J.: op. cit., Ch. IV, p. 23.

page 67 Affairs, Mr. W. Rolleston, sent a series of inquiries to the Magistrates of the various provinces and towns about the extent of Hauhauism. The reports reiterate the rapid decline of the religion. The Resident Magistrate at Napier said:—
“The progress of Hauhauism was never rapid and strong, and there is not a vestige of it left now.… The superstition is too gross and unmeaning long to maintain its hold over the Maori mind.”1

The Resident Magistrate of Hamilton wrote in a similar strain:—

“As a religion I do not believe any of the natives believe in it. Not one of the many natives from Tokangamutu who have visited the Waikato have exercised its forms, except for the amusement of others. About eighteen months ago a religious frenzy, amounting to madness in many, seized its principal votaries round about Tokangamutu, under the cloak of which profligacy was almost openly carried on to the disgust of the leading elderly men of the King party. This was, after some time, put a stop to, and was succeeded by apathy; latterly on account of messages received from the Taranaki prophets, its observances have been revived, but its ultimate fate will be like a fire without fuel, to die out.”2

1 Report of G. S. Cooper, Resident Magistrate at Napier. App. H. of R. 1868. A4. No. 8.

2 Report from W. N. Searancke, Esq., Resident Magistrate of Hamilton. App. H. of R. 1868. A4. No. 3.

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Obviously Hauhauism as a political and religious factor was now negligible, and the whole career of the religion had been but an episode in the larger problem of the Maori Wars.