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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 4 (July 1, 1935.)

The Missionary's Gun

The Missionary's Gun.

Mention of “Te Hamana” recalls to my memory another story told by him, one day of long ago. We were sitting on the flat top of an old hill pa called Pa-matangi, near the Whenua-kura River in South Taranaki. We had been treasure-hunting there, searching for greenstone relics—the missionary's favourite diversion, concerning which his Maori flock sometimes passed rather sarcastic comments. Mr. Hammond talked of his early mission life at Hokianga, and narrated that when he left there in 1887 to take up the work of his church among the Taranaki Maoris he sold his sporting rifle to a young Maori in the Waima Valley. That valley eleven years later was the scene of Hone Toia's armed but bloodless little rebellion against pakeha authority. When Hone and his principal men surrendered to Colonel Newall at Waima village after the Government military column had marched in from Rawene (the present writer was an eye-witness of that episode), one of the chiefs who laid down their arms was this man who owned the sporting rifle. On the previous day he was one of the seventy men and lads of the fractious Mahurehure tribe who lay in, ambush on the bush road aching to let drive at the troops as soon as the order was given. (Fortunately Hone Toia stayed his hand only just in time and fighting was averted).

When Mr. Hammond re-visited Waima in 1900, his friend told him of the happenings two years before, and laughed as he described how he lay in ambush with his finger on the trigger of his rifle.

“Why do you laugh?” asked Te Hamana. “It was no laughing matter, was it?”

“I laughed because it was a great joke,” the Maori replied, “to think that it was your rifle, the gun you sold me, that I was going to shoot pakehas with—the missionary's gun.”

“Well, well,” said Te Hamana, “I had quite forgotten selling my rifle to you. But did you surrender it to the Colonel when you all gave up your arms?”

“No,” said the Maori, with a grin, “I wasn&t so foolish as all that, Hamana. I put it away in a safe place—I have it still—and I gave the Government an old muzzle-loader with a broken lock. That was all the gun I had for the Government!”