Reminiscences of The War in New Zealand
Chapter VI. — Peogeess of the Hauhau Religion—continued. — Mr. Booth's Adventure
Peogeess of the Hauhau Religion—continued.
Mr. Booth's Adventure.
It was now dark, and the Hauhaus began their devotions, howling round the pole on which was hung Captain Lloyd's head, the women in a frenzy of fanaticism gnawing the hair and flesh. These scenes were repeated page 33again and again during the night, and when not engaged in these horrible devotions the Taranaki men made speeches which Mr. Booth could hear, urging the murder of himself and family. Hori Patene and one other man opposed them, and proposed that the Pakehas should be allowed to depart. On the following day the same scenes were repeated; in the afternoon, Epiha Patapu, a near relation of the great Pehi Turoa, arrived and visited Mr. Booth. He was requested to return and bring Pehi to intercede with the Hauhaus; Epiha promised to do so, but late in the evening he sent word that Pehi had gone down the river to Hiruharama, and had not called at Pipiriki. There seemed to be no hope of release now, and Mr. Booth and his family resigned themselves to their fate, expecting to be massacred during the night.
On the following morning Mr. Booth sent for Matene, and at 11 a.m. the prophet walked into the house and shook hands all round, saying "Enoho i ta koutou whare"—a Maori salutation. "Have you nothing more to say to me?" said Mr. Booth. "No, nothing," said the prophet and left them. Hori Patene came in soon after, and told them to be ready, as he intended to aid their escape that night. He then left them to learn what the meeting were saying, lest they should decide upon death in his absence. After the meeting was over, a messenger came from Matene, and said "This is our decision: We will not let you go; you shall stay with us for ever. If you attempt to escape we will kill you." About sunset Hori Patene came post-haste, and said "At last they have consented to let you go. Come at once; leave all your property to me; for they may change their minds at any moment." As may be supposed, they were only too glad to leave everything, and the whole family followed their friend and protector. The river-bank was crowded with the Hauhaus, and as they passed Mr. Booth heard the Taranaki men say "Wait until they get into the canoe, and then shoot them down." Hori heard it also, and said page 34"Take no notice of them. Go slowly until you are out of sight; I and my friends will keep in the line of fire between you and the Hauhaus." Once fairly off and past the rapids they increased their speed. For some time they were under the impression that they were followed, and used every exertion to escape; but finally the voices heard were found to be those of the children in the bow of the canoe; they were talking together in a low tone, and the rushing of the water kept the paddlers from ascertaining where the sounds came from. That night they reached Hiruharama, where they found Pehi Turoa, who had been afraid to trust himself with the Hauhaus, and so had passed on and left them to their fate. On the following day the whole party reached Wanganui, having only a few hours before despaired of ever seeing home again.