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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 9 (December 1, 1938)


[All Rights Reserved.]

A Meeting-house of the Urewera (Tuhoe) adherents of Te Kooti at Ruatoki, Whakatane Valley.

A Meeting-house of the Urewera (Tuhoe) adherents of Te Kooti at Ruatoki, Whakatane Valley.

We saw a good deal of Te Kooti Rikirangi and his people in the ‘Eighties on the King Country frontier. The peace-making with this celebrated of Maori War leaders was a great relief to all the outlying settlements, when it was announced in 1883. The General Amnesty covering all political offences such as Te Kooti's long war against the pakeha forces was creditable to the Government's sense of justice.

But the strongest motive actuating the policy of Mr. John Bryce, the then Native Minister, and his colleagues was the desire to bring the King Country under the administration of law, to open it with the consent of its people to the making of roads and railways, and eventually to settle pakeha farmers on some portions of it.

For this purpose it was necessary to conciliate King Tawhiao and his principal chiefs, and also those Maoris who for acts of war had come under the special ban of the Government. Te Kooti, on whose head lay a reward of £5,000, from the days of Sir Donald Maclean, and who was technically an outlaw, living in constant danger of capture, was the principal man for whom the General Amnesty was arranged. He had long abandoned his war-path life; since 1872 he had lived peacefully at Te Kuiti and other places, only desiring to be left alone. He had a large following of disciples in his Wairua-Tapu form of religion, and he had a considerable reputation as a faith-healer. By 1883 the conditions were favourable for a complete reconciliation, and no one was more pleased than war-worn prematurely aged Te Kooti Rikirangi.