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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 72

IN THE EARLIER campaigns the missionaries had been respected, and often had been free to come and go among the combatants, but the Hauhau no longer regarded them as tapu. March, 1865, saw the worst atrocity of the Pai-marire war, the murder of the Rev. Carl Sylvius Volkner, at Opotiki, by Kereopa and his band of fanatics.

Kereopa te Rau (also called Tu-hawhe) and Patara Raukatauri were the two prophets despatched by Te Ua early in 1865 to convert the tribes of the East Coast to the Pai-marire faith. Kereopa was a man of the Ngati-Rangiwewehi clan of the Arawa Tribe, of Awahou and Puhirua, on the north-west shore of Lake Rotorua; he had fought in the latter part of the Waikato War. He was a thoroughgoing old savage, and he quickly plunged into the worst excesses, even cannibalism. He disregarded Te Ua's instructions, which were to conduct a peaceful propaganda through the Island until he reached Hirini te Kani, the highest chief of the East Coast, to whom he was to give Captain Lloyd's head and also Pai-marire flags. Patara Raukatauri, of Oakura, was a man of milder character than the barbarous Kereopa. He was a chief of the Taranaki Tribe, and had been the principal leader in the fighting against the troops at Kaitake, where he had entrenched himself strongly at the end of 1863.

The prophets took with them two deserters from the British forces. One of these renegades was Louis Baker, a French-Canadian-Indian half-breed (the notorious Kimble Bent was also of part Indian blood). At one time in his career Baker had been a stoker in H.M.s. “Rosario. Him they forced to carry Captain Lloyd's head, which was paraded at each place visited as a symbol of the new religion. The prophets pretended that they could make the dead mouth speak.

That the founder of Pai-marire did not authorize murders—or, indeed, hostile acts of any kind—on the proselytizing mission to the East Cape there is documentary proof. The following is page 73 a copy of Horopapera Te Ua Haumene's written instructions to Kereopa and Patara before their departure from Taranaki:—

Matakaha, Wahi o Taranaki, Tihema 8th, 1864.

HE whakaaturanga tenei mo te upoko. Ka tukua atu nei kia haere i nga wahi o te motu. Ko te ara, maro atu i konei a Waitotara, ka ahu atu ki uta, te putanga kei Pipiriki, maro atu ki Taupo, maro atu ki te Urewera maro atu ki Ngati-Porou, tae atu kia Hirini te Kani-a-Takirau, te mutunga mai. Kia tika te hari, kaua e whakahengia e te tangata, a penatia me Te Rangi-tauira ritenga whakehe i tera o aku akoranga i te motu. Ko tenei kia pai te kawe i tenei o aku akoranga ki nga wahi o te motu kia tae pai ai kia a Hirini, mana e hoatu pai ki ona whanaunga pakeha i reira.
Ki tenei reta korerotia i nga kaainga katoa, ki te kino i te repo ma koutou e ahua atu ki tetahi pepa hou, kia tae pai atu ai ki etahi kaainga atu, pena tonu a tae noa kia Hirini. Heoi.


(Na Te Ua Haumene ki nga kaainga katoa o te motu puta noa i ona rohe katoa.)


Matakaha, Taranaki, December 8th, 1864.

THESE are directions regarding the head which is being sent forth to the districts of the Island. This is the route to be taken: Go direct from here to Waitotara, then pursue a course inland until Pipiriki is reached; thence go direct to Taupo, and from there to the Urewera, thence on to Ngati-Porou until you reach Hirini te Kani-a-Takirau. There ends the journey. Let your proceedings be correct, not like those of Te Rangi-tauira, whose actions were not in accordance with my teachings in the Island. Let your conduct be good in carrying these my instructions to the various parts of the Island, even until you come to Hirini, who will convey the teachings peacefully to his European relations there.
This letter you must make known to all the villages. Should it become soiled in the swamps, you must copy it on a new paper, so that it may be conveyed properly to the settlements visited, and so until you reach Hirini.

That is all.


(From Te Ua Haumene to all the settlements in the Island, extending to every boundary.)

On his arrival at Whakatane Kereopa demanded that the Ngati-Awa tribes should hand over to him the Roman Catholic priest of their district. Pending their reply he travelled on to Opotiki, accompanied by some of the principal chiefs of Whakatane, including Mokomoko and Te Hura. (Later it was stated that the priest was spared because he was a Frenchman.) The Pai-marire cult was expounded at Opotiki, and nearly the whole of the Whakatohea Tribe became converts. Patara then demanded of the chiefs their missionary, Mr. Volkner, whom he desired to sacrifice to the god of Pai-marire.

This missionary, the Rev. Carl Sylvius Volkner, was one of several German Lutheran clergymen who had come out to work among the natives in New Zealand. He was a member of the Church of England body, and he worked with zeal and devotion page 74 to improve the moral condition of the Whakatohea people. He built a fine church in the principal settlement; this church (now known as St. Stephen the Martyr's) is the Anglican place of worship in the town of Opotiki. The Whakatohea had a high regard for their missionary, but Pai-marire everywhere produced a strong revulsion of feeling against Christian ministers. As in other places, even Volkner's church deacons turned against him. (One of these men, Timoti te Kaka, became one of the most desperate warriors under Kereopa, and was afterwards with Te Kooti for two years; he fell to a bullet from Captain Mair's carbine near Rotorua in 1870.)

When Te Ua's apostles reached Opotiki in February, 1865, Mr. Volkner was absent in Auckland. Patara wrote a letter to the missionary ordering him not to return to Opotiki; no missionaries would be allowed to remain among the Maori people. Mr. Volkner's chief offence appears to have been that he had endeavoured to restrain the Whakatohea Tribe from joining in the Kingite War, 1863–64; and he was accused of being a spy for the Government in Auckland.

A niu flagstaff of worship was erected in the middle of the principal settlement, Pa-kowhai, facing the entrance to the Opotiki Harbour and the Pai-marire worship was commenced. Kereopa, with Lloyd's head, stood by the foot of the pole, and the trophy of the Te Ahuahu battlefield was flourished before the people as they passed in excited procession around the niu and rehearsed the chants of the new religion.

On the 1st March the coasting-schooner “Eclipse,” owned and commanded by a Jewish trader, Captain Levy, arrived at the Opotiki landing from Auckland, bringing as passengers Mr. Volkner and a brother missionary, the Rev. Thomas Grace, who had been forced to abandon his station at Pukawa, Lake Taupo. Volkner had been warned in Auckland that it was dangerous for him to return to his charge, in the changed temper of the people; but he could not be dissuaded from what he considered his duty. In his absence his house, some distance from the church, at a spot called Peria (the Scriptural Berea, in Macedonia), had been sacked by the Hauhaus and the contents sold at a kind of auction. The schooner was looted, but Levy and his brother, being Jews, were considered akin to the Hauhaus—whom Kereopa called “Iharaira,” or Israel—and were allowed their liberty. The two missionaries were arrested and kept in confinement. Kereopa by this time had thoroughly established his power over the greater part of the tribe, and at a meeting that night it was resolved to hand Mr. Volkner over next day and keep Mr. Grace a prisoner.

On the afternoon of the 2nd March Mr. Volkner was taken out of his prison hut by an armed guard and was marched into page 75
From a drawing, 1865] The Seizure of the Schooner “Eclipse” at Opotiki by the Hauhaus

From a drawing, 1865]
The Seizure of the Schooner “Eclipse” at Opotiki by the Hauhaus

his church, which was crowded with the fearfully excited people. Kereopa, standing by the altar, ordered the missionary to be brought before him. He announced that Volkner must die that day, stripped him of his coat and waistcoat, which he (Kereopa) put on, and ordered the minister to be led out for execution by hanging. The armed guard took him to a large willow-tree which stood about a hundred yards away, between the church and the waterside. A line and block had been taken from the “Eclipe” the block was made fast to a branch of the tree, and the rope was tied round Volkner's neck. He knelt down and prayed, and then shook hands with some of those around him. The executioners hauled on the rope, and the missionary's body hung lifeless from the gallows-tree. It is said, further, that Kereopa shot Volkner after he was run up to the branch. The body was hauled up and down several times, and after hanging for about an hour it was lowered and taken to a spot near the church. Here the head was cut off with an axe by Heremita, and the natives crowded up to catch the blood and drink it. Kereopa had taken from the church vestry the white-metal communion chalice. This he filled with the blood as it spouted forth, and he carried it with the head to the church, followed in procession by all the people.
page 76

That scene in “Hionardquo;—“Zion,rdquo; as the Opotiki church was called by Volkner's old congregation—was of a character revolting beyond measure. It was as if a devil had entered into the people. Assuredly there was a demon before them there in human form, at once terrifying and fascinating them by his sheer savagery. Kereopa, dressed in his victim's long black coat, stood in Volkner's pulpit, and placed the dripping head on the reading-desk in front of him; by its side he set the communion cup of blood.

“Hear, O Israel!rdquo; he cried. “This is the word of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! We are the Jews who were lost and have been persecuted. Behold!rdquo; Gripping the head, he gouged out both eyes. He held up an eye in each hand between fingers and thumb. “Listen, O tribe!rdquo; he said. “This eye is the Parliament of England, and this one is the law of New Zealand!rdquo; So saying, he swallowed them one after the other. The second eye stuck in his throat, and he called for a drink of water to help him to swallow it. He picked up the head from the floor where he had dropped it, and set it up in front of him again on the pulpit-desk.

Then the cannibal priest took up the communion chalice and drank of its contents. He passed it to one of his flock, who put it to his lips and took a sip, and then it was passed from hand to hand among the congregation. Some put it to their lips to taste their missionary's blood; others dipped leaves into the cup and sprinkled themselves with its contents. The empty cup was carried back to the desecrated pulpit where the head lay; the stains of the martyred missionary's blood remain in the wood of the reading-desk to this day.

This atrocious deed earned the arch-murderer the epithet “Kai-karu,rdquo; or “Kai-whatu,rdquo; the “Eye-eater.rdquo; Six years afterwards when he was captured in the Urewera Country, he said he knew he would meet with misfortune sooner or later, because one of “Te Wakana'srdquo; eyes stuck in his throat; it was an aitua, an unlucky happening and a portent of death.

From the church Volkner's head was taken to the house of the Roman Catholic priest, where it was set on the mantelpiece; then it was carried to the murdered man's house, Peria; the object was to whakanoa, or “make commonrdquo; and pollute with blood, all the places sacred to the Christian ministers.

The after-history of Volkner's head is narrated by the natives, up to a certain stage. It was preserved by being smoke-dried over a fire, and when Kereopa continued his travels to Tauaroa, on the Rangitaiki, it was carried with him; the bearer was the renegade Louis Baker, who had carried Captain Lloyd's head from Taranaki. Later it was taken to South Taupo, and it is reported to have been hidden in a cave at Roto-a-Ira or Tongariro.

page 77

Not all the Whakatohea participated in or approved of the slaying of Volkner. A member of the tribe who was an unwilling eye-witness of the execution says two sections of the Whakatohea were opposed to putting the missionary to death. Ngati-Ira, of Waioeka, and Ngati-Ngaere both disapproved of it. Ngati-Tama favoured Kereopa's work. This witness, a woman, recalls the abhorrence and fear with which she and some of her companions saw from a short distance Volkner's body hanging to the tree, and then its decapitation. She was taken into the church, “Hiona,rdquo; with the other people, and saw Kereopa place the minister's head on the torona (“thronerdquo;—i.e., the pulpit), and she witnessed the swallowing of the eyes. “The prophet,rdquo; she says, “had to take a drink of water before the second eye went down. Kereopa impressed on the people that by tasting the blood of the missionary when the cup went round the converts would acquire a knowledge of the English tongue, and would be able to work miracles. In the old Maori days the belief was that by the drinking of an enemy's blood his knowledge and mana were acquired by his slayers. Mr. Volkner's body was not mutilated except by the cutting-off of his head. Many of our people were astounded by the killing of the missionary who had been with us so long, but although one or two made an attempt to prevent the execution they were powerless before Kereopa and his armed men, and they were also filled with fear of his god and his magic incantations.rdquo;

The fate of the other missionary, Mr. Grace, hung in the balance for some time. He was publicly accused of having disseminated false doctrines amongst the people. Probably he would have been sacrificed like Volkner but for Patara, who offered to exchange him for Hori Tupaea, the highest chief of Ngai-te-Rangi, who had recently been captured by the Ngati-Pikiao clan of the Arawa at Rotoiti Lake while attempting to join the Hauhaus. Mr. Grace was kept in suspense for a fortnight after the death of his friend, but at last contrived to slip off in the boat of the schooner “Eclipse,rdquo; which was about to sail for Tauranga and Auckland. The boat, going out, met two armed cutters sent in by H.M.S. “Eclipserdquo; (Captain E. Fremantle, afterwards Admiral), which had just arrived from Auckland to investigate the reports of Volkner's murder. Mr. Grace was then received aboard the warship.

A few weeks after these events at Opotiki the newly recruited Hauhaus at Whakatane cut off a small coasting-vessel and murdered Mr. James Fulloon and two of the crew. Fulloon was a half-caste, a man of great ability, and was in the employ of the Government as interpreter and native agent; he was a surveyor by profession. His mother was an East Coast chieftainess, page 78 and he was known among the Whakatane people, to whom he was related, as Te Mautaranui, after a locally famous forefather. When H.M.S. “Eclipse” was sent down the coast to investigate the murder of Volkner Mr. Fulloon accompanied Captain Fremantle. Armed parties landed at Hicks Bay and other places in an attempt to capture Kereopa and Patara. Fulloon then boarded the trading-cutter “Kate,” and sailed for Whakatane to inquire into native conditions there. When the cutter anchored off the bar, to await high water, the Taranaki prophet Horomona, one of Te Ua's apostles of Pai-marire, was at Whakatane, and he persuaded his converts to capture the vessel and kill those on board. That night a party of Ngati-Awa, numbering about twenty, led by Mikaere Kirimangu, quietly boarded the cutter in two whaleboats. Entering the cabin, they discovered Fulloon sleeping soundly in his bunk. A young boy crept down and secured a loaded revolver under the sleeping man's pillow. He gave the weapon to Kirimangu, who shot Fulloon dead. Several others each used the revolver in turn and fired shots into their victim. The sailors were simultaneously attacked. The crew consisted of two white men and two half-caste youths. The Europeans were killed; the half-castes were taken ashore and permitted to go free. Mr. Bennett White, who was also an board, escaped the slaughter, as he was married to a Maori woman; one of the half-caste youths was his son.

The cutter was brought into the Whakatane River opposite the settlement and looted, and her mast was chopped through at the deck and taken ashore to Kopeopeo, a short distance outside the main village on the beach. There it was set up as a niu under Horomona's directions, and the Patu-tatahi and other hapus of Ngati-Awa and the Ngati-Pukeko, newly brought under the maddening influence of Pai-marire, went through their fanatic ceremonies round its foot. The old chief Te Apanui, who was averse to the faith and works of the Hauhaus, was compelled to participate in the worship. He was forced to the foot of the niu, and ordered to revolve about it with his raised hands resting on the mast, while his people went round and round in procession, chanting the new service taught them by the white-bearded prophet from Taranaki.

The sequel to these deeds of blood was the despatch, after considerable delay, of Government punitive expeditions, and the ultimate capture of many of those actively concerned in the murders of Volkner and Fulloon. Of these, Horomona, Kirimangu, and three others were tried and hanged in Auckland. The operations of the Government forces are described in the two following chapters.