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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)


page 117


HAVING SUCCESSFULLY PROSELYTIZED the tribes of the Bay of Plenty, from the Rangitaiki to Opotiki, Kereopa and Patara in 1865 continued their Pai-marire mission eastward to the tribes of the Tai-Rawhiti (The Coast of the Rising Sun). Kereopa went to Turanganui (now the Gisborne district), where he made hundreds of converts among the Aitanga-a-Mahaki and Rongowhakaata Tribes. The Turanganui Plain around Bishop Williams's mission station at Waerenga-a-Hika was at the time a well-settled, peaceful Maori countryside, covered with cultivations, particularly maize, and rich in fruit-groves. A considerable trade was carried on with Auckland, and numerous schooners and cutters were loaded with produce of the native farms. Into this land of quiet and plenty the cannibal prophet carried his frenzy-exciting religion, and fanaticism, discord, and at last war ruined the long toil of missionaries. The Bishop, in the end, was compelled to abandon the Waerenga establishment to save his life, and the Pai-marire converts reverted to the practices of war and fortified themselves in trenched and palisaded strongholds.

Pata Raukatauri was to some degree a restraining factor; he opposed violence and murder, but he preached Pai-marire throughout the East Cape settlements, and many hundreds of the numerous Ngati-Porou Tribe from Hicks Bay to Waiapu became disciples of the new faith. Hone Pohe was one of the principal advocates of Pai-marire in the Waiapu district, as Pita Tamaturi, of the Aitanga-a-Mahaki, was in Poverty Bay.

One day in the beginning of June, 1865, a large gathering of Ngati-Porou untouched by the Taranaki fanaticism was engaged in the ceremonial opening of a new church at Popoti, near the base of Hikurangi Mountain, when the native minister, Mohi Turei, announced that he had just received a message informing him that a body of Hauhaus had arrived at Pukemaire, in the lower part of the Waiapu Valley. It was at once resolved to make war upon the disturbers of the tribal peace, and an armed party of forty men, chiefly of the Aowera sub-tribe, was selected to page 118 march against them. The leaders of the war-party were Makoare Tuatai, Henare Nihoniho, Hika-rukutai, Wiremu Kingi Kuhukuhu, and a very downright and determined man named Ropata Wahawaha, who presently made a great name for himself as a skilful, resolute, and withal ruthless soldier. The small force had only seven muskets and one rifle; for the rest the warriors bore native weapons such as taiaha and patu.

Setting out next day, the taua or war-party reached Mohi Turei's place at Te Hatepe, and in the morning (Sunday, 10th June) continued the march upon the Hauhaus of their tribe. They encountered the fanatics at Mangaone, near Pukemaire, and lost six men killed, including the chief Henare Nihoniho (father of Tuta Nihoniho, who served with distinction on the Queen's side in all the fighting that followed). The Hauhaus' loss was less; nevertheless, although better armed than the Queenite force, they fell back into the cover of the bush. It was in this opening skirmish that Ropata Wahawaha's courage and military genius first attracted the attention and admiration of his tribe.

Several small engagements followed in the Waiapu Valley. The loyal chiefs, headed by Mokena Kohere, Hotene Perourangi, and Henare Potae, appealed to the Government for arms and reinforcements to assist in subduing the Pai-marire revolt, and Mr. McLean (afterwards Sir Donald McLean) quickly sent from Napier a supply of rifles and ammunition, which enabled the Queenite section of Ngati-Perou to take the field satisfactorily equipped for their campaigns. The Government also despatched European forces to the aid of mokena and his people; these included a company of Military Settlers and some Hawke's Bay volunteers. Brevet-Major James Fraser (late of the 73rd Highlanders) and Lieutenant R. Biggs were in command of the troops, numbering about a hundred men. One of the junior officers was Lieutenant (afterwards Major) Frederick Gascoyne, of the Colonial Defence Force Cavalry, Hawke's Bay squadron. H.M.S. “Eclipse” landed Fraser's force at Te Awanui, near the mouth of the Waiapu River, on the night of the 5th July, 1865, and the men were all in Hatepe pa, the stronghold of Mokena Kohere and his friendly natives early next morning. Skirmishing began that day. The “Eclipse” fired a number of shells (some of them 110 ln.) over Te Hatepe into the Hauhau positions.

Some time passed with intermittent skirmishing between the Queenite and Pai-marire factions. Ropata distinguished himself in an affair at Te Horo, where, by making a feigned retreat and laying an ambuscade, he killed several Hauhaus and drove the rest back in disorder. On the 18th July some of Fraser's force had a skirmish in the open, Lieutenant Gascoyne and Ensign Tuke in charge, and inflicted several casualties on the enemy.

page 119

On the 2nd August Fraser moved out and made a successful advance on the Hauhau stockade Pa-kairomiromi, several miles up the Waiapu basin. The force was divided into two, taking different routes, and the joint assault on the pa was timed for daylight. Ngati-Porou friendlies guided the parties. Fraser and Gascoyne were in charge of the right attacking column (seventy men); Biggs and Tuke took the left (sixty men). At break of day the right wing reached the end of a low ridge in rear of Pa-kairomiromi, which was a large square stockade, with two flanking bastions at diagonally opposite angles. The palisading was about 10 feet high, with loopholes near the ground and a firing-trench inside.

Crossing a small stream unseen by the Hauhaus, the right column fixed bayonets, and Fraser gave the order to charge. Before the flat intervening between the stream and the pa had been crossed the force received a heavy volley through the palisading. A number of the enemy had been sleeping in the rifle-trench. Fraser made straight for a gateway with many of him men; Gascoyne and others swarmed over the palisade. There was some sharp fighting at the gateway, where Fraser was using his revolver, and bayonet met long-handled tomahawk. Then Biggs's column dashed up on the right, attacking one of the flanking angles, and the Hauhaus broke and ran. Twenty-five of the enemy were killed in this well-executed affair, besides many wounded, and about thirty prisoners were taken. Eight of the European force were wounded, some dangerously. After pursuing the retreating Hauhaus some distance the force burned the captured stockade and marched back to the Hatepe camp.

In the meantime Henare Potae and his Queenite section of Ngati-Porou, numbering about two hundred men, women, and children, had fortified themselves against the Hauhaus at tokomaru Bay. Their position was an old pa on Te Mawhai, the headland which forms the south head of the bay, above the whaling station known as St. Patrick's Cove. Three old whalers, Waddy, John Henderson, and Cassidy, also took up quarters in the pa. The headland was almost an island—it was joined to the mainland by a very narrow neck—and was practically unapproachable except at low water. A short distance inland, facing the centre of the bay, the Hauhaus had strongly entrenched themselves in a pa called Pukepapa; they largely outnumbered Potae's loyalists. Another fortified position of the Pai-marire people in the vicinity was Tautini pa. During August, Potae and nearly the whole of his fighting-men, who had received arms from the Government, went out along the coast to Anaura and other places to gather in the loyal people, leaving the pa temporarily defended by five men and the women; their only arms were muzzle-loading shot-guns. page 120 Discovering the garrison's absence, a large war-party from Pukepapa attacked Te Mawhai at sunrise one morning, when it was low water, clambering up over the precipitous face of the rocks on the seaward side. The few men and women who had guns fought desperately to repel the stormers. Hati te Houkamau, the young chief of Hicks Bay, led the defence, and was most heroically supported by three young women; the three old men in the pa kept loading the guns for the brave wahines. These young women, Te Rangi-i-paea, Mere Arihi te Puna, and Heni te Pahuahua, shot several of the attackers, whose bodies tumbled to the rocks. The defence was waged with desperate resolution; the gallant handful knew that upon them depended the lives of all the women and children in the pa. Some of the older women who had no guns did their part by hurling stones down upon the Hauhaus swarming up the cliff. When the attack was beaten off, thirteen dead Hauhaus lay among the rocks. One of the defenders wounded was Henderson, the old whaler; he was afterwards taken to Auckland, where he died in the hospital.

Henare Potae returned to find all safe. He sent a whaleboat along the coast to Ropata, at Waiapu, requesting assistance. Ropata quickly advanced south with ninety men and joined forces with Potae, and a combined attack was made upon the Hauhau positions, which were garrisoned by four hundred to five hundred men against the loyalists' two hundred. As they advanced upon Tautini the occupants of the pa fled to the bush. The hill pa Pukepapa was then attacked and captured; most of the garrison evacuated it by night. Ropata dealt out stern punishment by shooting with his revolver several of his tribe, the Aowera, who had joined the Hauhaus and been captured in the skirmishing.

The next encounter (18th August) was near Tahutahu-po, where the Hauhaus had taken up a position, between Tokomaru and Tolago Bay. Henare Potae's force of thirty-six men, on the way back to Te Mawhai from a search for the rebels, met a large body of Hauhaus at Pakura, and fought a sharp action on the edge of a narrow but deep swamp. The two war-parties extended in skirmishing order along two parallel ridges with the swamp between. Potae was outnumbered, and was retreating when Ropata and his ninety Aowera, hearing the firing, dashed up, outflanked the Hauhaus, and decisively defeated them. There were many hand-to-hand encounters, as was the way in those Maori combats. Ropata himself killed two of the twelve rebels who fell. One of these, a wounded man, whom he shot in hiding in the raupo swamp, was the chief Hamiora Rangiuia, of the Hauti Tribe from Tolago Bay.

The defeated Hauhaus abandoned Tahutahu-po and fled southward to the Turanganui country, where they joined the page 121 Aitanga-a-Mahaki and Rongowhakaata Tribes in the Waerenga-a-Hika pa. Ropata and his Aowera warriors then returned to the Waiapu Valley to devote their attention to the Hauhaus in Pukemaire pa.

Pukemaire was a rather formidable position: a trenched hill with two pas connected by a covered way; it stood three miles inland, and was garrisoned by about four hundred Hauhaus. Reinforced by a party of Forest Rangers (about fifty men, under Captain Westrup and Lieutenant Ross), landed from H.M.S. “Brisk” on the 1st October, Major Fraser marched against Pukemaire on the 3rd. It was bitterly cold weather, and the attack was delivered in heavy rain. The forces under Fraser and Ropata numbered 380, which was found sufficient to surround the pa. The attackers skirmished up the ridge towards the entrenchments and opened a flying sap. Ropata and twelve of his men got close up under the stockade, and, making fast a rope to a branch cut from a kauere tree (puriri), one of them threw the bar over the stockade. It caught on the upper cross-rail (roau) of the fence, and a quick strong pull by the warriors brought down some yards of the stockade, making a breach. Ropata leaped up into the breach and entered the works. An exceedingly heavy downpour of rain at this moment frustrated the efforts to push the attack home. Ropata himself was half-frozen with cold, but, seeing a dead Hauhau lying inside the parapet, he fastened the rope with which the breach had been made to his feet, and gave the order to haul away, and a great shout arose from his men when they beheld their chief's trophy. The rain continued to fall heavily, and Fraser at last gave the order to withdraw. The European force returned to Te Hapete, bearing the bodies of two dead—one shot, the other the victim of the cruel weather. Nine Hauhaus had been killed. The principal part of the main force went to Wai-o-Matatini settlement for shelter, and awaited favourable weather for a renewal of the attack.

A second attempt was arranged by Major Fraser when the weather cleared. On the night of the 8th October Captain Westrup marched out from Te Hapete to take up a position in rear of Pukemaire, and the rest of the force marched at daylight next morning to attack the front. The place was found deserted. The Hauhaus, well served by their scouts, had escaped just in time. They retreated northward through the rugged bush country, and fortified themselves once more in a hill pa called Hungahunga-toroa (“Down of the Albatross”), about twenty miles from Waiapu in the direction of Kawakawa.

This palisaded stronghold, deep in the bush, was surrounded by cliffs very difficult to scale, but Biggs and Ropata, with page 122 eight Maoris and a dozen Europeans, occupied a height that commanded the interior of the fort, and, after killing twenty and wounding many others, compelled the Hauhaus to surrender.

During the attack Ropata had captured in the bush a man who was recognized at Pita Tamaturi, one of the chiefs of the Aitanga-a-Mahaki, of Turanganui: he was a leading spirit in the Pai-marire crusade. Lieutenant Biggs, seeing this man in Ropata's grip, asked who he was, and, on being told, shot him dead with his revolver. Mokena Kohere had sent a message to Ropata requesting him to make peace with the Ngati-Porou in Hunga-hunga-toroa; the Hauhaus from outside districts were to be killed. To this Ropata assented, and he called to the hapus of Ngati-Porou within the fort to cease fire, and come out and so save their lives. The resistance stopped, and the Ngati-Porou rebels, hapu by hapu, were called out. But there was no call for the iwi ke, the strangers, members of Whakatohea, Ngati-Awa, Whanau-a-Apanui, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, and Taranaki, numbering some sixty in all. When the wayward Ngati-Porou had all been summoned out of the pa, laying down their arms as they came, the remainder, realizing that they were to be given no mercy, made a rush for the safety of the forest, jumping and sliding down the cliff in the rear of the pa. They were out of sight before the Government force discovered their escape.

About five hundred of the rebellious Ngati-Porou were taken here, with three hundred stand of arms. The prisoners were all fighting-men; none of the women or children had been taken to this mountain retreat.

Most of the Ngati-Porou were now in custody, and on being marched out to Waiapu were required to take an oath of allegiance to the Queen and to salute the Union Jack. They were permitted their liberty on parole under the chief Mokena and Captain Deighton, R.M., with a guard of thirty of the Hawke's Bay Military Settlers. The peace thus secured at the East Cape was never again broken, and many of the Ngati-Porou so summarily weaned from the Hauhau craze became in after-years loyal supporters and soldiers of the Government in the campaign against Te Kooti.*

[From MS. letters in Grey Collection, Municipal Library, Auckland.]

Bishop William Williams, of Waiapu, writing from Turanganui to the Governor, Sir George Grey, regarding the arrival of Pai-marire emissaries on the East Coast in March, 1865, said it had been agreed among the page 123 people that inasmuch as this party was accredited to Hirini te Kani, whom they professed to wish to appoint Maori King, it would be wise to make the most of the influence which was conceded to him. Hirini ordered them away when he came to Taureka. Later he accepted the preserved head of a white man who had been killed, also white prisoners; Hauhau flags and other tapu things had been offered him but rejected. However, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki received and hospitized the Hauhau emissaries.

On the 18th March a second Pai-marire party from Taranaki came to Turanga, accompanied by a number of Kairoa and Ruatahuna natives, who had all joined the Pai-marire. The faith spread quickly among the people. Even the better-disposed natives who had been disgusted at Mr. Volkner's murder seemed “thoroughly spellbound” “their decision has well-nigh forsaken them,” said the Bishop. In the Hauhau party, the Bishop said, there were two principal men. One was Patara, a man who had had much intercourse with the English: he was at Tunapahore at the time of Mr. Volkner's murder, and professed to be much disgusted at Kereopa's deed. “At the same time,” the Bishop wrote, “I cannot divest myself of the feeling that he was aware of the intention to commit the murder. The other chief man is Kereopa, a man of the vilest character. At a meeting on the 14th I came in near contact with this Kereopa, who was often endeavouring to excuse himself, saying that it was the Whakatohea who committed the murder. I told him I could not shake hands with a murderer—that I could see the blood still wet upon his hands. Since that time he has made use of threatening language: lsquo;Let the Bishop keep out of my way. He has refused to make peace with me; let him remember that I am a murderer.rsquo;

“On the 20th March,” the Bishop continued. “on which day the Wairoa party was close at hand, being reported to be four hundred men—though their number turned out to be only half this amount—there seemed to be so many suspicious circumstances about these Pai-marire that I felt it necessary to speak to Mr. Wylie who had the control of the schooner lsquo;Sea Shell,rsquo; and suggest that this vessel should lie at anchor in the bay, in case there should be any unforeseen event which might make it desirable to make use of her. I told him that Mr. Leonard Williams and myself would in the meantime go to the Wairoa natives and ascertain the state of feeling. Alarm was taken at remarks made by certain chiefs to a settler's wife, to the effect that they would not be able to protect the settlers, and several families left their houses the same afternoon and made their way to the vessel. It turned out, however, that the second party of Pai-marire who came to Wairoa were of a very different character from those who had been at Opotiki. The principal leader found great fault with Kereopa, and said that they had no instructions from Horopapera [Te Ua] to commit murder.

“There are two prisoners here, one with each party,” the Bishop wrote further. “One of these is, I believe, a runaway soldier. He has had the opportunity to escape, but declares he does not wish to leave the natives. The second is a young man, said to be of the 70th Regiment. He is not delivered up to Hirini because those who have charge of him imposed a condition that Hirini should retain him until their return from Taranaki.” The Bishop asked for this renegade. The natives, he said, kept a very strict watch over him.

The Hauhau prophet Patara wrote a letter in English to the Patutahi settlers, Poverty Bay, reassuring them. Patara, who signed himself “William Buttler,” told the whites to have no fear, that he only wished to make war on the Governor and the soldiers, but added that if the pakehas at Makaraka and other places had arms sent to them he would consider them enemies.

page 124
Plan of Waerenga-a-hika Pa and Battlefield

Plan of Waerenga-a-hika Pa and Battlefield

* See Appendices for notes by Captain Preece on the operations on the East Coast.