The Rev. John Whiteley,
well known in the history of New Zealand as a devoted Wesleyan missionary, was murdered at White Cliffs by the Maoris, on the 13th of February, 1869. He was born in the year 1806, at Kneesal, Nottingham, England, where he was educated. After some experience in country life he was accepted as a probationer in the Wesleyan church before
he was twenty-one years of age. Soon after his ordination he left England for New Zealand on the 5th of November, 1832, and landed at the Bay of Islands in the following year. It had been intended that he should settle at Hokianga, but as the vessel could not land at that place he had to travel overland from the Bay of Islands. He continued at Hokianga until 1839. From that year to 1855, Mr. Whiteley was stationed at Kawhia, and while there he gained great knowledge of the natives, and as it was considered that his presence would be useful in Taranaki, for this reason he removed to that district. Many of the natives in Taranaki, at that time, who had been slaves at Kawhia, had obtained their liberty. Fighting had broken out between the Taranaki tribes; and Mr. Whiteley, who had occupied the mission station from 1856, used his influence to prevent conflicts between the Maoris, and continued to do so until the natives entered into strife with the Government. On the occasion of his death, Mr. Whiteley had gone out to the redoubt at White Cliffs, with the intention of visiting military settlers, and holding a service with them. When he had nearly reached the redoubt—which had fallen into the hands of the Maoris before his arrival—the natives in possession called out to him to go back. He did not do so, however, as he wished to see whether he could render any assistance in connection with the settlers. A volley was then fired, and Mr. Whiteley was killed. He had had five daughters, the eldest of whom had died several years before the date of his murder, and the youngest died a few years after the tragedy. Mrs S. H. Rawson, one of the three who still (1906) survive, resides at Marsland, New Plymouth.