Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume II: The Hauhau Wars, (1864–72)



The story of Parihaka, the one-time famous home of Te Whiti, the Prophet of the Mountain, has an important place in the annals of military enterprise and frontier adventure in New Zealand. Te Whiti was a much-abused, much-misunderstood man. He was execrated as a fanatic and a firebrand by those ignorant of his nobility of character, who made no secret of their desire for the extermination of the Maori. With the calmer judgment that the lapse of forty years has brought, New Zealanders who have studied the tragic history of the west coast have come to admit Te Whiti's sincere patriotism, his disinterestedness in the cause of his people, and, above all, his desire for peace. But for him war would inevitably have been renewed in 1881, when Mr. John Bryce with his army of Constabulary and Volunteers invaded the native town of Parihaka. He preached curious doctrines, he prophesied strange things, but throughout all ran the gospel of peace. He suffered page 477 grievously for his people, yet he made no complaint on his own account; his thought was all for his tribesfolk and their welfare.

The history of Parihaka and the Waimate Plains is a sad record of mutual misunderstanding and of Government harshness and blundering. For ten years the Crown had virtually ceased to exercise any right of ownership over the nominally confiscated land beyond the Wai-ngongoro River, and had tacitly acquiesced in the return of the ex-rebels to the land; in fact, an area of 70,000 acres of the confiscated territory had specifically been returned to them. The natives, fortified in the belief that the confiscation had been abandoned, cultivated large areas of these lands. Then, to their dismay, Government surveyors were sent to cut up parts of the land for settlement. The Maoris stopped the surveys in protest, and endeavoured to ascertain the exact intentions of the Government of the day, but this was no easy task. Road-lines were taken through Maori cultivations in spite of protests; one was put through the crops of Titokowaru, at Omuturangi; the old warrior contented himself with a protest, for the days of gun and tomahawk had gone.

The key to the Government's brusque policy in Taranaki is to be found in a minute to Cabinet written on the 22nd May, 1878, by the Hon. Mr. Macandrew. This document made it clear that the survey of the plains was begun because the Government was anxious to market the land. Mr. Macandrew wrote regretting that the Government had been so remiss in putting the land on the market. “My belief,” he frankly said, “is that it will place in the Treasury half a million sterling.” If the land had been ready it would have placed the Crown in funds to a very large extent, as purchasers were waiting. And so, even before the Maori reserves had been marked out, the Government hurried off advertisements to Australia offering the choice lands of the Waimate Plains to selectors.

By the year 1879 Parihaka had grown into a little republic, with Te Whiti as the temporal and spiritual president. Here gathered the people who were anxious about the future of their race and their lands; here, too, came sundry fugitives, such as Hiroki—who had lately killed one McLean, a member of a survey party, at Moumahaki—and delegations from many tribes who looked to Te Whiti as their counsellor and saviour. Continually the prophet preached passive resistance, but presently he took another step. He sent out parties of natives to plough up European settlers' land at several places between Hawera and the White Cliffs, by way of protest against the white occupation. Six of these localities were on parts of the confiscated territory, but one was a block of land ceded to the Crown in 1848. One page 478


Origin of plans: J. Orchiston, Esq., M.I.E.E. Drawn, C. P., 1920] The Stockade and Blockhouses at Hawera, Taranaki

Origin of plans: J. Orchiston, Esq., M.I.E.E. Drawn, C. P., 1920]
The Stockade and Blockhouses at Hawera, Taranaki

This well-designed place of defence was erected in the middle of Hawera Town, facing High Street; the site was about where the town library building now stands. The following details of the fort are supplied by Mr. Orchiston, who was stationed at Hawera in the “seventies”:—

Bastions: Four loopholes 5 feet above ground-level and four at ground-level; rifle-pits inside bastions 6 feet below ground-level. Palisades: 8 feet high and 12 inches by 6 inches approximately, of hewn matai set close together. Trench was dug 4 feet deep, planks inserted, and earth stamped hard all around them. Walls: Galvanized corrugated iron on outside and 8 inches by 1 inch unplaned boards on inside, 6 inches by 3 inches studs; gravel packed between galvanized iron and internal lining; loopholes 4 feet 8 inches high from floor-level. Roof of galvanized corrugated iron. Floor of 8 inches by 1½ inches dressed matai. Courtyard: Loopholes all around inside of courtyard at 4 feet centres and 4 feet 8 inches from floor-level. Entrance through two ledged and braced doors, 4 feet wide.

page 479
Colonel J. M. Roberts, N.Z.C.

Colonel J. M. Roberts, N.Z.C.

Colonel John Mackintosh Roberts, who comes of an Inverness family, was born in India, and came to New Zealand with his relatives in 1855. The family settled in the Hunua district, South Auckland. In 1861 Roberts was on the Gabriel's Gully gold-diggings and other fields in Otago. In 1863 he joined the Forest Rangers under Captain W. Jackson, and later was a subaltern in No. 2 Company of the Rangers under von Tempsky. He afterwards served in the West Coast campaigns, and was in the severe actions at Te Ngutu-o-te-manu and Moturoa; his gallantry was recognized by the award of the New Zealand Cross for valour in the field. Colonel Roberts led the right wing of Whitmore's force which invaded the Urewera Country in 1869, and later was on continuous active service until the close of the campaigns. He commanded the Armed Constabulary and Volunteer forces in Taranaki during the Parihaka crisis. For many years Colonel Roberts was Resident Magistrate in the Bay of Plenty district.

after another these ploughing-parties were arrested, until about 180 men had been sent to prison. Te Whiti emphatically stated, in reply to an official's inquiries, that he had authorized the ploughing. His motive for doing so, he said, was to draw a declaration of policy from the Government. Sir George Grey, he recalled, at a meeting with Rewi Maniapoto at Waitara, had said he would “plant a tree of peace whose branches would page 480 spread over the land.” Instead of this, Sir George Grey— otherwise the Government—had begun, he said, to steal the land of the Maori, the Waimate Plains, and he had therefore ordered the ploughing to probe Grey's heart to prove whether he was a man of peace or not.

One of the farms on which the Maori ploughmen set their teams to work was that of Mr. James Livingston, at Waipapa, near Hawera. Here bloodshed was narrowly averted. The Hawera settlers had armed, and, being unable to obtain a satisfactory reply from the Government as to action against the natives, they solemnly resolved to establish a republic and to maintain the cause of the white settlers on the plains. These adherents of the “Republic of Hawera,” under the presidency of Mr. Livingston, garrisoned that stalwart pioneer's house, which was roughly fortified, and determined to put a stop to the Maori ploughmen's operations. When the Parihaka ploughing-parties came once more to continue their work on Livingston's grass fields they were surrounded by about a hundred settlers, armed with loaded rifles, extended in skirmishing order over a rise which commanded the Wai-ngongoro ford where the natives crossed. This demonstration ended the ploughing on the Hawera side of the Wai-ngongoro; the natives came no more that way. Some of the whites were foolish enough to express a wish for an opportunity of exterminating the Maoris; and it was perhaps only the cool restraint of Mr. Livingston and some of the more temperate-minded settlers that averted a conflict. A shot fired at that troubled hour would have started a war likely to set back Taranaki—and, indeed, the whole of the frontier districts of the North Island—for many a year.

Soon after this a Royal Commission, consisting of Sir William Fox and Sir F. Dillon Bell, was appointed to enquire into all questions affecting the confiscated Maori territory on the West Coast. Certain recommendations were made,* and surveyors were put on to define the native reserves, while others were instructed to make a sectional survey of the plains for sale and settlement. The opening of the trunk line of road along the coast was also page 481
The Armed Constabulary Camp at Waikino, Taranaki

The Armed Constabulary Camp at Waikino, Taranaki

This encampment was an historic one, for it was the first Armed Constabulary position taken up after moving camp from Stony River (the Hangatahua), when forming the coast road southward to Opunake, in pursuance of the Government's decision to occupy the confiscated territory between Stony River and the Wai-ngongoro. Colonel Roberts (then Major) commanded the force. A ditch and bank protected the guard-tent on the hillock on the left of the picture. A guard-tent on a mound on the right was similarly entrenched. The Waikino Stream flowed in rear of the camp.

commenced, under the supervision of Mr. C. W. Hursthouse, the parties working simultaneously from the Wai-ngongoro and from Stony River. Te Whiti prophesied that the two sections of road would never meet. As the roadwork approached the front of the Parihaka Block it was deemed necessary to take the line through a Maori cultivation. This created immediate trouble. The Armed Constabulary pulled down the fencing, and a party of natives put it up again. They were arrested and sent to gaol. Others followed their example, and were arrested. This sort of thing went on, the Armed Constabulary demolishing the fence and the Maoris re-erecting it, until 216 natives had been imprisoned. It was uncertain where the farce-tragedy would end, inasmuch as Te Whiti was reported to have said that when all the men had been exhausted he would send the women and children to put up the fence. Probably, had the Government men fenced the road on either side so as to protect the cultivations the native opposition would have subsided, but it was not considered necessary then to consult the Maoris' wishes.
The dispute now assumed a new aspect. A party of forty to fifty men, styled the morehu, or “survivors,” marched out from Parihaka almost daily, each man carrying a tree-branch, and on arriving at the road where it entered the cultivation on the south side continued to march along the line, reciting an page 482
From a sketch by Mr. James Robson] The Normanby Redoubt (Taranaki), 1879

From a sketch by Mr. James Robson] The Normanby Redoubt (Taranaki), 1879

This redoubt was built by the settlers at Normanby (Matariki), near Ketemarae, in Taranaki, during the critical times on the Waimate Plains. It was afterwards garrisoned by an Armed Constabulary detachment, and a watch-tower was built as shown below. (See notes in Appendices.)

The Normanby Redoubt in 1880

The Normanby Redoubt in 1880

This illustration shows the drawbridge as constructed in many of the frontier redoubts, also the watch-tower commanding a view over the surrounding country.

page 483
A Watchtower of the Plains

A Watchtower of the Plains

This shows the interior of the old redoubt at Manaia, on the Waimate Plains, Taranaki, with the watch-tower built for sentry duty, and one of the loopholed flanking blockhouses at the angle on the right. (See notes in Appendices.)

incantation, until within a short distance of the north boundary of the field, close to the Constabulary camp, and back again to the south boundary, where they planted the branches across the road. Occasionally another party composed of over a hundred small children, in charge of an adult, was sent out from Parihaka to traverse the road through the cultivation warbling an incantation taught them by Tohu.
The Government surveyed a portion of the Parihaka Block, seaward of the new road, for sale and settlement, as recommended by the Royal Commission. The natives were to be given reserves, but they were not informed where these reserves were or exactly what provision was being made for them. The sight of the surveyors at work created an impression among the Maoris that their lands would soon pass from them, and they resolved to make one last protest against the confiscation. They began to fence and make cultivations on parts of the areas surveyed for sale. The Armed Constabulary pulled down the fences. Mr. Hursthouse, engineer in charge of the roadworks, was instructed to make Parihaka his headquarters, and to assist page 484
From a drawing by Mr. G. Sherriff, 1881] Pungarehu Redoubt and Blockhouse, Taranaki

From a drawing by Mr. G. Sherriff, 1881]
Pungarehu Redoubt and Blockhouse, Taranaki

Rahotu Stockdale and Camp, Taranaki, 1881

Rahotu Stockdale and Camp, Taranaki, 1881

page 485
Taranaki Rifle Volunteers at Parihaka, 1881

Taranaki Rifle Volunteers at Parihaka, 1881

Major Roberts in trying to prevent the Maoris taking possession of the confiscated land. The Government now resolved to “extinguish Parihaka,” as a speaker of the day phrased it. There were some Ministerial changes, and Mr. John Bryce became Native Minister. A Proclamation was issued, called by some a declaration of war; and action against Te Whiti was left in Mr. Bryce's hands. The Armed Constabulary had been recruited up to a strength of about 1,100 men, and the services of a Volunteer Corps were also called for.

By this time (October, 1881) Taranaki was a great armed camp. Redoubts with tall watch-towers studded the face of the land; loopholed blockhouses stood on commanding hills; Armed Constabulary tents whitened the plains. The devious political history of the hour which led up to the invasion of Parihaka need not be entered into here.

Under Mr. Bryce's personal direction, early on the morning of Saturday, 5th November, 1881, the Volunteers and Armed Constabulary moved off from the Rahotu and Pungarehu camps and marched for Parihaka, under the command of Lieut-Colonel Roberts, N.Z.C. The Volunteers mustered 959 strong and the Constabulary 630. As the maori town was approached the various units were told off for their positions in surrounding the place. Most of the Volunteers were sent to occupy the small page 486
Photo, November, 1881] Armed Constabulary Field Force at Parihaka

Photo, November, 1881]
Armed Constabulary Field Force at Parihaka

page 487
Sketch by Mr. G. Sherriff, at Parihaka, 5th November, 1881]Te Whiti Surrendering to Mr. Bryce

Sketch by Mr. G. Sherriff, at Parihaka, 5th November, 1881]
Te Whiti Surrendering to Mr. Bryce

Mr. Sheriff, of Wanganui, accompanied the volunteers to Parihaka in 1881 and made many sketches of the expedition. This drawing of Te Whiti shows the Prophet of Parihaka walking over to the arresting-party of Armed Constabulary. He was attired in a korowai cloak of finely dressed and woven flax.

page 488 hills overlooking the town on the right, while the Armed Constabulary column, the Thames Scottish corps, and the Mounted Rifles marched for the centre of Parihaka, with an arresting company of about ninety men as advance-guard. The people, to the number of nearly a thousand, were seated in the marae unarmed, quietly waiting the coming of the troops. The only demonstration was made by the young children, who held a skipping-rope across the path and chanted a song to the pakeha soldiers.

Mr. Butler, the Native Minister's Secretary, advanced and read the Riot Act—which must have seemed a grim kind of joke to any Maoris who understood it—and the Government Proclamation to Te Whiti. Te Whiti, fearing even then that there might be resistance from some of his young men, counselled the people: “Even if the bayonet be put to your breasts do not resist.” But nothing could have been more calm and dignified than the attitude of the silent assemblage of natives who listened to the reading of the Riot Act. Presently, in response to Mr. Bryce, Te Whiti offered himself for arrest, and he quietly rose and walked away with the arresting-party, bidding his people in farewell: “Be of good heart and patient. Be steadfast in all things.” Tohu, his fellow-prophet, was also arrested. The military encamped around the village, and gradually dispersed all the outside tribes to their homes. They pulled down many houses in the town, including Te Whiti's sacred meeting-house, and destroyed some of the cultivations. The intention was, in short, to demolish Parihaka as a Maori assembly place, and make smooth the way for the white occupation of the plains. Te Whiti was kept in custody, at one place and another, a kind of honourable captivity, for about two years. He was never granted a trial; well the Government of the day knew that no charge could justly lie against him.

History has vindicated the grey old man of Parihaka; we know now how to balance his virtues against his eccentricities and delusions, and to give to him his rightful place in New Zealand's story as the one man who prevented Taranaki becoming a battlefield again in 1881. His patient, strife-hating character stands out in strong contrast to the harsh, overbearing attitude of John Bryce, a man who possessed many of the downright qualities needful in a pioneer, but whose narrow outlook unfitted him for a position involving the handling of delicate inter-racial problems.

An estimate of Te Whiti's policy and of the Maori cause, written by Major R. Parris, of the Native Department in Taranaki, is worth quoting here, inasmuch as it did not come from a philo-Maori: Parris, indeed, was one of those primarily page 489
Sketch by Mr. G. Sherriff, 1881] Tohu Kakahi After Arrest at Parihaka

Sketch by Mr. G. Sherriff, 1881]
Tohu Kakahi After Arrest at Parihaka

Tohu Kakahi was Te Whiti's fellow-prophet and sometime rival, and had many followers at Parihaka. This drawing shows him in the vehicle in which he and Te Whiti were taken from Parihaka to Pungarehu Camp and New Plymouth on the 5th November, 1881. Tohu's form of worship is still followed by some the Taranaki natives, with Ketemarae as the gathering-place.

page 490 responsible for the Government's unjust dealings at the Waitara in 1860. His review is a remarkable official admission in Te Whiti's favour. Parris wrote in a report to the Native Minister at the end of 1881:—

“…Those who are capable of taking an impartial view of the whole case and can admit the full right of the Maori to strive by all fair means to retain his old free mode of life and enough of his primeval wilderness of fern and forest to enjoy it in, will find in Te Whiti's conduct as the leader of his people in a trying period much that is worthy of their sympathy and respect. Te Whiti was, in fact, the representative in this part of New Zealand of the love of the Maori people for their ancient customs and ways of living, and of their dread of being hustled off the scene by swarms of strangers, and by the introduction of new conditions of life under which they instinctively feel themselves unable to compete on equal terms with the eager and vigorous newcomers in the struggle for existence. Regarding Te Whiti's position and career from this point of view, all feeling of irritation against the man for his steady opposition to the progress of colonization must disappear, and we can properly estimate the firmness, combined with total absence of any recourse to violent measures, with which he maintained the unequal contest for so many years, and can sympathize with his hopes and understand his prophecies, however quaint their form, that in some mysterious way a higher power would interfere and protect the rights of the weaker race.

“Notwithstanding this rooted preference for the old Maori ways of life and his dread of their disturbance by the intrusion of European settlers, Te Whiti has shown no feeling of dislike or bitterness towards our race. On the contrary, whether at the summit of his prosperity and when he might naturally consider himself to be master of the situation, or when his endurance was tried to the utmost by the near approach of our forces to Parihaka, every one was freely admitted to his settlement and treated there with the greatest courtesy.

“As regards the practical result of Te Whiti's leadership of the Maoris of the West Coast,” Parris continued, “it is perhaps hardly too much to say that if he had shaped his course with the special intention of enabling the Government to tide over without bloodshed a period during which there was a constant risk of collision between the races—but during which the Government (from want of funds or other causes) was not in a position to compel submission without involving the country in a ruinous war—he could not have been more successful in accomplishing this difficult task. It would, of course, be absurd to impute to Te Whiti a desire to prepare the way for page 491
Colonel Goring (Died, 1923)

Colonel Goring
(Died, 1923)

Colonel F. Y. Goring began his military career in 1863, when he joined the 1st Waikato Regiment of Militia at Auckland. He received a commission as ensign and served throughout the Waikato War. He afterwards served on the West Coast, and for seventeen years was an officer of the Armed Constabulary. He was in many severe actions in the fighting against Titokowaru and Te Kooti, and, after the war, was in charge of important frontier posts. His last command was the Auckland Defence District.

the final bloodless victory of the forces at Parihaka; but it should, I think, always be remembered in his favour that it is mainly in consequence of his strong personal dislike to bloodshed and violence that this happy result has been obtainable.”

* The West Coast Commissioners in their report to the Governor, 15th March, 1880, wrote:—

“We believe that if he [Te Whiti] were sure of being let alone at Parihaka he would let us alone upon the Plains. But if we try to occupy the Plains without his having any assurance that he is safe at Parihaka we may find that we can get neither Parihaka nor the Plains except at the price of a struggle which no one can doubt would then be desperate.”

The basis of Te Whiti's system was a denial of the reality of the confiscation, and a promise to restore to his people all their land by Divine aid.