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Reminiscences of The War in New Zealand

Chapter VIII. — Progress of the Hauhau Religion—continued. — Murder of the Rev. Mr. Volckner and of Mr. Fulloon

page 40

Chapter VIII.
Progress of the Hauhau Religioncontinued.
Murder of the Rev. Mr. Volckner and of Mr. Fulloon.

Thus far Te Ua had been extremely unfortunate in his choice of prophets. Both Hepanaia and Matene had disobeyed his instructions in trying to propagate the creed by force, and both had lost not only their own lives, but a large number of men also. Of course their failure was attributed to disobedience, and the Maories, far from being disheartened, felt that it showed how correct were Te Ua's instructions, and therefore joined the ranks of the Pai Marire with renewed vigour.

To supply the places of the two prophets above mentioned, two others were appointed—Patara of Taranaki, and Kereopa of the Arawa tribes. Both were initiated into the mysteries by Te Ua, and were sent to teach the doctrines of Pai Marire to the tribes of the Rawhiti. They took with them two European prisoners or deserters, and Captain Lloyd's head. Te Ua's instructions were written, so that there might be no mistake as to their behaviour while engaged in the work of Pai Marire. They were as follows: "While on your journey, be careful not to interfere with those whom you may meet; do not quarrel with the Pakeha. When you reach Taupo, go on to Whakatane, thence to Opotiki, from there to Waiapu, and finally to Turanganui, where your journey will end. If this piece of paper should get torn or dirty, ask another piece from your Pakeha friends, and re-write it, that it may arrive clean, and in good condition, to Hirini Te Kani, at Turanganui. Give him also the flag and the man's head." There is nothing in this letter to justify the after behaviour of Kereopa, or even that of Patara. These men, far from obeying the peaceful commands of their master, proceeded page break
Vincent Brooks, Day & Son Lith.KereopaSampson Low & Co. London.

Vincent Brooks, Day & Son Lith.
Sampson Low & Co. London.

page 41at once to murder and rapine; and from the time Mr. Volckner was murdered at Opotiki, every tribe visited broke out in rebellion against law and order.

Patara's first action on reaching Taupo, was to visit the house of the Rev. Mr. Grace, which had been left, together with all his property, in charge of the Tokanui chiefs. Patara took a double-barrelled gun for his own use, and had the remaining articles sold by auction. So far from offering any objection to this sale, the Taupo tribe gladly participated, for they were ready converts to Pai Marire. Patara did not remain long in Taupo, but deviated from the route laid down for him, and visited the Uriwera tribe at Te Whaiti. Two hundred of the tribe met him at Tauaroa. They were drawn up in two lines to receive the spirit of the deity. The head was used to frighten each man, until from terror or over-excitement he went half mad, and sprang out of the line; he was then supposed to have accepted the religion. After this ceremony was over, Kereopa said—"Now let the widows of those who fell at Orakau vent their grief and rage on the head, and the living Pakehas." The two Europeans were then placed on either side of the head, and the infuriated women flourished spears and tomahawks, over the two men, and made pretended bites at the head. Kereopa meanwhile addressed the tribe, stating that he had been sent by the great prophet Te Ua to convert all the tribes, and that when he had finished, prophets would be appointed, and a general rising against the Pakeha ensue. He denounced all other prophets as false and unauthorised, and said the true Pai Marire would not lose caste if the Pakehas captured them. From Tauaro the Hauhaus proceeded to Whakatane, where they were joined by nearly all the people. From thence they went on to Opotiki, escorted by the chiefs Te Hura, Wepiha, Apanui, and Mokomoko. After a short stay, during which the Whakatohea tribe were converted, Patara and some of his men left for Tunapahore, Kereopa and others remaining at Opotiki. Before leaving, Patara page 42wrote a letter to Mr. Volckner, the Church of England minister, warning him not to return, as the Maories would not have ministers of any religion among them for the future. Mr. Volckner had lived some years at Opotiki as a missionary to the Protestant tribes. On his first arrival, he found no church for his people to worship in. He at once set to work, and by means of Maori subscriptions, and liberal donations on his own part, built a substantial edifice. His own house was some little distance from the church, facing the entrance to the river; and a light placed in the gable window served as a beacon to the small craft trading between the port and Auckland. This circumstance is worthy of note, from the fact that it served as one of the articles of impeachment against him.

Before the war broke out in Waikato, Mr. Volckner had been a great favourite with the Opotiki Maories, and deservedly so, for few missionaries had done more to deserve respect; but after the war commenced, this feeling changed to one of distrust, brought about by his evident anxiety to prevent his people joining in the revolt. Maori-like, ever suspicious, they expressed a belief that his house had been built opposite the mouth of the river for no other purpose than to guide man-of-war boats to surprise them at night. About this period two individuals arrived from Auckland, viâ Waikato, and brought letters from the Kingites inviting the Whakatohea to participate in the plunder of Auckland, which city they had taken. This tale, improbable as it may appear, obtained implicit belief from the tribe; and to make things worse, a report was spread that Volckner had caused a Catholic priest to be transported, because he was friendly to the king party. This made them furious, and when a trader who had just arrived from Auckland stoutly denied the report, a chief took a letter from his pocket, and said, "It is useless to deny it, for it is written here by the priest himself. I am told not to show this letter to any Pakeha, but we know page break
Vincent Brooks, Day & Son Lith.The Revp C.S. VölknerSampson Low & Co. London.

Vincent Brooks, Day & Son Lith.
The Revp C.S. Völkner
Sampson Low & Co. London.

page 43that Volckner is a bitter enemy of ours." Such, being the state of feeling, Mr. Volckner was warned not to return from Auckland, where he then was. But there is nothing so obstinate as a good man, who judges others by his own standard; and he replied—"I have done no harm, therefore they cannot possibly have enmity towards me." It was at this critical time that Patara and Kereopa arrived, and found the tribe ripe and ready for any atrocity. They were welcomed with war-dances and speechifying. Kereopa was the first of the fanatics to speak. He informed his hearers that he came to make the place sacred to the new religion, and that they must forsake the old forms and ceremonies. He also ordered them to drive away the Pakehas living amongst them. The Whakatohea consented to receive the Hauhau faith, but refused to drive away men who had lived with them for years. The Niu was then erected, the head placed beside it, and the tribe initiated. On the following day, Patara and Kereopa, with their Taranaki followers, collected Mr. Volckner's horses, broke into his house, and sold the things by auction, as they had" previously done with Mr. Grace's things. It was then that Patara wrote the letter to Mr. Volckner, telling him what had been done, and warning him not to return. He then left for Tunapahore. On the following day, the 1st of March, 1865, the schooner Eclipse arrived in the Opotiki river, having on board as passengers Messrs. Grace and Volckner. Kereopa was absent at the time, having gone a short distance inland, but the chief Moko Moko sent a messenger to tell him that the missionaries were in their power. Meanwhile, Te Whiwhini, one of the Taranakis, boarded the vessel, and ordered Captain Levy not to land any cargo until Kereopa arrived. He then demanded the captain's Hebrew Bible, and pretended to read it, expressing great satisfaction in the possession of so valuable a work.

On Kereopa's arrival he called a meeting, and addressing the assembly, said—"I have to remind you that if you do page 44not agree to my proposals you will be destroyed by my god. This is my word, fetch the Pakeha ministers, that I may destroy them." This speech had such an effect on the superstitious Maories that they did not dare even to shake hands with the captives. They foresaw their fate, and feared to rouse the anger of the Hauhau god by a show of sympathy. The passengers and crew, with the exception of Captain Levy (who as a Jew was supposed to be a sort of Hauhau), were marched off to the Roman Catholic chapel, outside which they were kept standing for nearly two hours, while the debate on their fate went on inside. Finally, they were all placed in a wretched hut to await sentence. Another meeting was held that night, at which it was resolved to hang Mr. Volckner, and keep Mr. Grace a prisoner. The majority of the tribe voted against their pastor, but there were a few good men who stood out manfully against this murder—notably Tiwai and Te Ranapia. The latter demanded that Volckner should be given over to him. Kereopa replied, "To-morrow you shall know my decision." Later in the day he renewed his request, and was told that one of them would be given to him on the following day. About 2 p.m., on the 2nd of March, twenty armed men under Heremita came to the prisoner's whare, and took Mr. Volckner; eight of them remained as a guard to prevent the others following. He was first taken to the church, where his coat and waistcoat were taken off, his hands tied, and a rope placed round his neck; he was then led out to a willow-tree which had been selected as a gallows. Ranapia, seeing the Hauhaus pass, attempted a rescue, but was upset into a deep creek, and at the same moment Mr. Volckner was run up to the branch of the willow. After hanging a few moments, he was lowered, and Kereopa shot him through the body. When Ranapia heard the gun he knew he was too late, and returned to his whare. After being hauled up to the block and let down with a jerk several times until life was extinct, the body was cut down and carried into the church, where Kereopa page 45ordered the chief Hike to cut the head off. He then called on all the tribe to taste Volckner's Hood, and to give them encouragement gouged out and swallowed the eyes.

The chief Werapoaka refused to allow the Ngatirua section of the tribe to taste the blood, but all the other Maories did so, and besmeared themselves with it. A woman named Tepara is said to have been the first to behave in this barbarous manner. She had been servant to Volckner, and was brought up and educated by the missionaries in the Bay of Islands. There is some doubt as to who put the rope round Mr. Volckner's neck; some accounts say that Pokeno did so, but the balance of evidence is in favour of Heremita Kahupaea having done so; certain it is that he took a most active part throughout the affair. Almost every man in the tribe would seem to have been equally guilty of this most barbarous murder. The Ngatirua (Roman Catholic) section of the Whakatohea certainly did not take part in the murder, but only because the chief Werapoaka ordered them to remain in their pah and leave the murder to Volckner's own people. In the scenes that ensued they took a very active part. Te Ranapia comes well out of the affair, for not only had he the courage to refuse his consent, both at the meeting, and afterwards when Hakaraia tried to persuade him, but he even attempted to rescue Mr. Volckner, and might have succeeded had he not been upset off the plank into deep water. He and old Tiwai were the bright exceptions to a dark deed. On the same day that the murder was committed, Kereopa returned to the inland pah and awaited the return of Patara, to whom he sent an account of his doings That evening the latter returned, and calling the people together said—"This is Kereopa's work, not mine. Kereopa is an Arawa, and hates you because you fought against his tribe. He has done this deed out of revenge, for he knows that it will bring the Pakehas among you to seek payment" He then sent for Kereopa to come to Opotiki and give an account of himself; but the latter was afraid to appear and page 46started for Poverty Bay, whither he was followed by Patara to prevent further mischief.

After Mr. Volckner's murder Mr. Grace was formally tried before the whole tribe. He was accused of teaching the natives a false doctrine for the purpose of deceiving them; but the charge broke down. Finally, Patara told him that he would have to go with him to Poverty Bay. Mr. Grace excused himself on the score of age and weakness, and proposed that he should be ransomed, either for money or that some prisoner in the hands of the Government should be given in exchange. To this latter proposition they assented, saying they would take old Hori Tupaea, a great chief of Tauranga, who had been arrested a short time before while attempting to propagate the Pai Marire among the Arawa. Patara upon the whole behaved very well to Mr. Grace, allowed him to write to his wife, and told him that he was at liberty to go to any part of the Opotiki flat, remarking that they were not like the Pakeha, who kept their prisoners shut up. For nearly a fortnight Mr. Grace waited anxiously for Captain Levy to sail for Tauranga with Patara's letter offering to exchange him for Hori Tupaea. On the 15th the schooner dropped down to the Heads, but could not get over the bar that night. On the following morning a large three-masted steamer was seen in the offing. Captain Levy and his brother. taking advantage of the absence of nearly all the natives (who were at a feast inland), got into a canoe and paddled down to the schooner. They sent up the boat to take all their stores away from the village in the hope of escaping; and while Captain Levy was loading, one of the crew said to Mr. Grace—"Go down to the point and we will take you on board as we pass." Mr. Grace followed the instructions, sauntered carelessly through two or three villages lest he should be suspected, and was picked up by the boat. The goods were taken on board the schooner, and the boat then crossed the bar and went out to the steamer, which proved to be H.M.S. Eclipse, Captain Fremantle, who had been sent down to examine into the reports which had reached page 47Auckland of the death of Mr. Volckner. Two wellmanned boats were sent to tow out the schooner, and in a very short time all were safe.

This was not the only outrage committed on the coast by the Pai Marire fanatics. A short time after Mr. Volckner's death, the cutter Kate arrived off Whakatane. She had on board the Government agent, Mr. Fulloon, two half-caste boys, and three men including the captain. The cutter anchored off the bar to await high tide, and not anticipating danger took no precautions against it. Unfortunately for the doomed men, one of the Taranaki prophets, Horomona, was then at Whakatane. On the arrival of the vessel he called a meeting of the Patutatahi tribe, and demanded that the crew and passengers should be killed. It was the Opotiki tragedy acted over again. The chief Te Hura rose up, and said, "I consent." This was sufficient; twenty men manned two whale-boats and boarded the cutter. Kirimangu, one of the leaders, went down into the cabin and found Mr. Fulloon asleep. His revolver was under his pillow; Kirimangu seized it and shot him dead. This was the signal for a general massacre. The two boys were saved, but the crew were all killed, and the vessel plundered. Some months after, the murderers were captured by the Arawa under Major Mair. They were tried, and nearly all of them convicted, but only two of them, Horomona and Kirimangu, were hanged. Moko Moko and Hakaraia, who had been concerned in Mr. Volckner's murder, were hanged at the same time. While in gaol they were visited by a man they had known for years. He asked them if they admitted the justice of their sentence. They said—"Yes we do, but there are many others now at large who are more guilty, and we should die happy if we had only time given us for revenge on the men who led us into this trap." Thus the murderers did not escape altogether scot free; but two of the greatest scoundrels, Wepiha and Te Awanui, were never tried for the crime in which they took so prominent a part.