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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 9 (December 1, 1934)

Heke's War

Heke's War.

Letters on record from Bishop Pompallier to Hone Heke and others, show that he made efforts to prevent the conflict which he saw looming in the North of New Zealand. He wrote to “Jean Heke,” as he called him, in the early part of 1845, strongly counselling peace, and warning the discontented chief that he would not be powerful enough to resist the English, with their millions. He suggested that Heke should write to the Colonial Government and to the Queen of England with regard to his claims concerning lands and authority. “Claim your rights before declaring war. The words and writing of a man of honour are better than the bloody sword.” (This is one of the letters quoted by Mr. J. J. Wilson in his history of the Catholic Church in New Zealand.) But war came, and Kororareka went up in flames—all except the English and Catholic Church establishments. The Bishop's house was one of the few buildings spared by the triumphant Ngapuhi when the Pakeha people evacuated the town. The Bishop remained, with two members of the mission and some faithful Maoris. He wrote in May, 1845, in a letter to Europe: “Now I reside in the midst of cinders, and have only ruins under my eyes, but notwithstanding the sadness with which the spectacle fills my soul I continue to work for the salvation of my flock in sending them the missionaries, who are well received everywhere.”