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The Story of a Maori Chief

Chapter 8 — Hauhau Rising on the East Coast

page 50

Chapter 8
Hauhau Rising on the East Coast

War in Waitara broke out in 1860. After much debating the country has now accepted the fact that the war was unjust and that the natives had been compelled to defend their rights. The New Zealand Government now pays the Taranaki tribes an annuity of £5,000 in compensation.

It may therefore be claimed that the fighting that followed the war in Waitara, viz., in Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, the East Coast, and the Hauhau rising everywhere were repercussions of that war. The tribes in Waikato sympathised with Wiremu Kingi te Rangitake and helped him in his struggle against the Government forces because they knew he was in the right. Furthermore, they felt also that it would be only a matter of time when they would be defending their own lands against the aggressive white man. It must therefore be admitted that the anti-Government attitude of the tribes was pardonable and justified. If the tribes were justified, then the wholesale confiscation of their lands was unjust also. There was no doubt that it was the general desire of the white settlers to obtain as much land as possible from the natives, and to-day the Maoris as a whole are landless. But for social security thousands of them would certainly starve. The greatest problem amongst the Maoris to-day is economic. Without their lands it is my opinion the Maoris as a people are without hope in the world.

Referring to events in Taranaki at the time of the Waitara trouble, Alan Mulgan, in his Short History of New Zealand, says:

“If the first Taranaki war had not broken out there might have been no Waikato war, no second Taranaki war, no Hauhau rebellion; in short, no wars at all, for undoubtedly there was a chain of events.”

I may add there would be no confiscation of native lands and therefore there would be no heartburning, no ill-feeling, and no landlessness of many tribes in New Zealand.

Referring to the trouble over the Waitara land, a Maori chief said: “The Governor has set fire to the fern at Taranaki, and the smoke will cover the whole island.”

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The campaign against the Hauhaus on the East Coast in 1865 has been told by Col. T. W. Gudgeon, Bishop W. L. Williams, Thomas Lambert and James Cowan. They all agree on the main facts, but they miss very interesting and important details which are well known to the Maoris. I, of course, have heard much from the Maoris regarding the campaign on the East Coast, but I had not troubled to arrange the facts and events in any orderly form until late in life.

I am interested in the history of the campaign chiefly for the part my grandfather, Mokena Kohere, had taken in it. I consulted the chief Paora Haenga, Hori Kohuru, Hori Te Manana and others. The first two had joined the ranks of the Hauhaus, and the latter, like his brother, Pineamine Tuhaka, was a staunch loyalist. The chief Arapeta Haenga, Paora's father, co-operated with Mokena Kohere.

I asked Paora why he had not followed his father. He readily replied, laughing, that he preferred the company of the rebels for the reason there were pretty girls amongst them. This shows that hundreds joined the rebellious movement without any serious reasons.

From Paratene Ngata, Sir Apirana Ngata's father, a very well-informed and careful narrator, I also learned much. He had called a meeting of the Ngati-Porou Tribe to discuss the question whether the Ringatu church should be permitted to hold its meetings in the Waiapu Valley. He gave an account of what followed the conclusion of the war on the East Coast. All this was not told by the historians I have referred to. Bishop Williams, in his East Coast records, says that the Government did not confiscate the Ngati-Porou lands because Sir Donald McLean felt generous for the part Ngati-Porou took in assisting the Government. He forgets that only a handful of the tribe remained loyal, while hundreds cast in their lot with the rebels. T. W. Gudgeon states, “Ngati-Porou as a tribe had always been inimical to the pakeha, and strong supporters of the Maori king.” James Cowan follows in the same strain: “Patara preached Pai Marire throughout the East Cape settlements, and many hundreds of the numerous Ngati-Porou Tribe became disciples of the new faith.”

All Ngati-Porou are unanimous in stating that the Ngati-Porou lands were saved owing to the action of the loyal chiefs, particularly to the uncompromising attitude of Mokena page 52 Kohere. So little reference is made by the pakeha historians to the central Maori figure, that of the chief Mokena Kohere, that one may wonder why the Government of the day chose the chief as one of the two Maoris to be first called to the Legislative Council in 1872, and why Her Majesty Queen Victoria presented him with a handsome sword for valour. Lambert states it was the Rev. Mohi Turei who stirred up Mokena Kohere's enthusiasm and loyalty, and that the chief took no part in the important fight at Pakairomiromi when by every reason he should have. Native eye-witnesses state that he did.

In his Thirty Years of Colonial Government, Sir George Bowen records the interesting ceremony which took place at Government House, Wellington, on June 20, 1870, when he as Governor presented the swords of honour sent by Her Majesty Queen Victoria as tokens of recognition of the valour and loyalty of Keepa te Rangihiwinui, Ropata Wahawaha and Mokena Kohere. Addressing the Ngati-Porou chiefs, His Excellency said: “Your tribe has rivalled the Wanganuis in loyalty to the Crown, in goodwill to your English neighbours, and in gallantry in war.… Here, Ropata and Mokena, are your swords, presented to you by the Queen. May you long wear them in health and honour.”

Two years later, after careful consideration, the Governor summoned to the Legislative Council and to the Executive, “Mokena Kohere, of Waiapu, a chief of high rank and commanding influence in the great clan of the Ngati-Porous, and who was recently presented by Her Majesty with a sword of honour for his long and gallant services in fighting for the Crown during the second Maori War.”

Hauhaus Enter Ngati-Porou Territory

After the shocking massacre of the Rev. C. S. Volkner, at Opotiki, on March 2, 1865, the Hauhaus, led by the Taranaki native, Patara (Butler), wended their way towards East Cape. There was good reason for the move, for Ngati-Porou had already evinced sympathy with the kingite movement, by sending delegates to the great meeting held at Rangiriri in April, 1857.

Hoera Tamatatai, leader of the delegation, had delivered a great speech at the big conference, pointing out that the pakeha and Maori could never pull together. “You might as page 53 well,” he said, “yoke a horse with a bullock, for the horse would kick and the bullock use his horns” (“Ka whana te hoiho, ka tuki te kau.”) On the return of Hoera and his party they brought with them the kingite flag Rura. This was duly hoisted at Wai-o-Matatini, when the chief Popata Te Kauru was made king.

When the war in Waikato broke out in 1863 a contingent of Ngati-Porou sympathisers set out for the scene of war. Their progress was stopped by the Arawa at Kaokaoroa, but those who got through later took part in the Gate Pa and Te Ranga fights in 1864, and several of them were killed.

It may be remembered also that a Ngati-Porou chief, Te Kani-a-Takirau, was offered the Maori crown, which he wisely declined to accept, as he did not want any foreign title. Virtually he had always been a king.

As the rebels proceeded towards East Cape, tribes on the way easily succumbed by joining the party. The small Ngaitai tribe at Torere, under the chief Wiremu Kingi, and Houkamau's people at Hicks Bay held no parley with the rebels. On hearing of the approach of the Hauhaus the Rev. Mohi Turei, wearing a bandolier over his shoulders, made his way to Popoti, where the Aowera were holding a hui. Mohi was related to the sub-tribe. On seeing his military outfit they asked him what he meant. Briefly he told them that the Philistine Hauhaus were on the border of the Ngati-Porou territory and must be driven back by all means in their power. This appeal was sufficient to stir up the warlike Aowera, and very soon a war party armed only with native weapons was on its way to meet and drive out the intruders. The party came in contact with the enemy on the bank of the Mangaone stream, about two miles north of Tikitiki. The Hauhaus, armed with firearms, had the advantage over the ill-armed Aowera, who were compelled to retreat, leaving behind them several dead, amongst whom were the chiefs Henare Nihoniho1 and Makoare.

Encouraged by their success the Hauhaus entered the Waiapu Valley, the stronghold of the Ngati-Porou Tribe, and occupied the Pukemaire pa. Mokena Kohere, with a party of his own tribe, had come on to give support to the Aowera, but on hearing that the enemy had occupied Pukemaire encamped two miles to the east. He had sent a re- page 54 connoitring patrol, whom the enemy had surprised and chased. Mokena Kohere and his men had just time enough to get away, leaving behind them Mokena's relative, Hunia Huaki, whom the Hauhaus did not spare.

Mokena Kohere was fined on as he was crossing the Poroporo River, but escaped unscathed. He took up his stand at Rua-o-Pango, or Hatepe, as the stronghold was afterwards named. The Hauhaus had built for themselves a strong pa at Pakairomiromi, on the right bank of the Maraehara River. Almost every day the rebels fired on Hatepe and relied on incantations to render the loyalists’ bullets harmless. One fanatic approached the pa and held up his right hand, muttering incantation all the time. The loyalists fired and missed, but the notorious Hemi Tapeka took a steadier aim and put the fanatic out of action. Meanwhile the chiefs Pineamine Tuhaka, Arapeta Haenga, Wikiriwhi Matauru and others had entered Hatepe to render help to the besieged pa. It might have fallen, and Mokena Kohere and his small garrison, with women and children, might have been annihilated if relief had not arrived in time. T. W. Gudgeon says: “Hotene and Mokena, with the faithful portion of the people, retired to Hatepe, near the Waiapu beach, and wrote to Sir Donald (then Mr.) McLean, asking for guns. They were immediately supplied, and in all probability this prompt action saved the country half a million of money, for had not the arms and ammunition been sent at once, Ropata and Mokena would have been destroyed or forced to join the Hauhaus.”

Hotene was never in Hatepe pa. If the place had fallen Mokena Kohere and those with him would have been destroyed and Ropata would not have been touched, for he was out in the open.

“At the beginning of the Hauhau troubles in the Ngati Porou territory,” says James Cowan, “the chief Mokena Kohere took energetic measures to restore order and loyalty. He asked Mr. Titus White, R.M., to go to Auckland to procure arms for the friendly natives. Mr. White set out in a small schooner, but it foundered with all on board off White Island. Mokena then decided to go to Napier and see Mr. Donald McLean. His mission was successful.”

A body of thirty volunteers, under Captain Biggs, from Hawke's Bay was despatched by a small craft to Waiapu to render Mokena Kohere some assistance. Captain Biggs also page 55 brought with him arms and ammunition for Mokena Kohere's small garrison. Later a body of fifty men, under Captain Fraser, was despatched to Waiapu, Lieutenant Gascoigne also accompanying the men. They left Napier by the gunboat Eclipse, in command of Captain Fremantle. The Eclipse made a fast trip, reaching Awanui in thirty-six hours. This body of men was known as “The Fighting Fifty.” With the thirty volunteers already arrived under Captain Biggs the white troops now totalled eighty. The Hauhaus, numbering between 200 and 300, kept up investing Hatepe, but Mokena Kohere held on. Fortunately he had well strengthened the stronghold.

1 Father of the well-known Ngati Porou chief, Tuta Niho-niho.

Pakairomiromi Taken

With the garrison strengthened by the addition of the white troops Captain Fraser took command, and, after consulting Mokena Kohere, decided to attack the Hauhau stronghold at Pakairomiromi on August 2, 1865. The attack was divided into three sections, commanded by Captains Fraser and Biggs and Lieutenant A. Tuke. The enemy had anticipated the attack, consequently reinforcements had come from Pukemaire during the night. It was considered necessary to take the Nuku, or “Sentry Hill,” as the soldiers named it, across the river, opposite Pakairomiromi, so that the stronghold could be fired into. This was taken, but to co-ordinate with other points of attack it was necessary to cross the river, climb up the steep bank and storm the stronghold. A bayonet charge was made and the pa was taken. For the number of men engaged it was considered the battle was one of the bloodiest in the whole of the Maori war. Eighty-seven of the enemy were killed, amongst whom was the fine chief Porourangi.1 An armed Amazon was also found amongst the page 56 killed. A large number of prisoners were taken. Before the pa was stormed the Eclipse, lying about four miles away, had shelled the rebel stronghold. One live shell was buried in the ground. The natives dug this up and threw it into the fire. Of course it exploded, killing nine natives.

After the fall of Pakairomiromi those of the enemy who escaped found shelter in Pukemaire. The loyalist force followed them up and attacked the stronghold. During a stormy night the rebels evacuated the pa and took the inland track to Kawakawa (Te Araroa). Hori Kohuru told me that in the retreat families suffered much from hunger. As one party tried to rest another would come along and leap-frogged over the family resting; then this family would in turn leapfrogged over the next or more families, for a family dreaded the idea of being the first. Leap-frogging was kept up all night long until the Awatere Valley was reached at daybreak. Here a store-house of potatoes was found. In order to roast the potatoes the whole house was set on fire.

I often wonder how the Hauhaus in their wanderings managed to secure sustenance. Even the well-organised white troops ran short of supplies. How did Te Kooti and his people, after their escape from Chatham Islands, manage to wander in the forest for months without proper arrangement to supply them with food. It speaks well for the toughness of the Maori, man and woman.

1 “This man (Paora te Wakahoehoe, a Waikari chief, not Porourangi or Paora Haenga) sent by Te Waru to Te Kooti in 1866, bearing a famous greenstone mere, called ‘Tawatahi,’ and accompanied by Te Waru's daughter, Te Maunikau; the understanding was that the acceptance of Te Kooti of the young woman as his wife and taking the greenstone heirloom would imply an obligation on his part to attack the Gisborne settlements and so avenge the death of the son of an important chief, Raharuhi Rukupo (of Manutuke), who had been killed in the assault on Pakairomiromi, Waiapu, by Fraser's force in 1865. How well Te Kooti carried out his part of the compact the massacre at Matawhero shortly testified. The greenstone weapon mentioned was found in Te Kooti's hut in the pa.”—James Cowan. The heirloom was given to Mr. J. D. Ormond.

Raharuhi Rukupo, father of the well-known chief, Pitau, of Manutuke. afterwards, as recorded in another chapter, became attached to Mokena Kohere.

Fall of Hungahunga-Toroa

After the evacuation of Pukemaire by the rebels the loyalist force was divided into two. Captains Fraser and Biggs and Ropata Wahawaha pursued the rebels by the inland track while Westrupp and Mokena Kohere took the beach route via East Cape. The other party came up to the enemy strongly entrenched at Hungahunga-toroa. The terrace was about 200 feet above the bed of the Karaka-tuwhero River. On the east and west were deep gullies, and on the north were precipitous high cliffs.

The white troops and the friendly natives made a frontal attack, but it proved ineffective for the reason that the defenders were on a higher ground. It was left to Lieutenant Tuke to conceive the idea of scaling the precipitous cliffs behind the stronghold, and from that point of vantage to enfilade the enemy within the pa. Lieutenant Tuke took with page 57 him fourteen Maoris, who after a while succeeded in posting themselves where they could directly fire into the pa. The rebels were so confused that 500 of them surrendered, but not before the arrival of Mokena Kohere and Westrupp. The chief took in the situation at a glance, and saw that the rebels were indeed in a bad way. Amongst the enemy were about 500 of his fellow tribesmen, the Ngati-Porou. He asked that firing might cease while he negotiated with the rebels.1 He sent in Heni Kahiwa and another woman to ask the Ngati-Porou defenders to come out of the pa, otherwise they would be slaughtered without mercy. There was no response to the kindly request. A stubborn man, called Hare Paraone, had placed himself in the gateway, blocking all exit, and warning others not to trust the loyalists. Mokena Kohere once more sent in the two women, and this time the Ngati-Porou tribesmen came out, throwing down what firearms they possessed. The rebels from Taranaki, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and elsewhere knew they were doomed, so they cunningly followed close on the heels of the local tribesmen, and without ado slid down into the deep gullies and got safely away.

This ended the actual fighting in which Mokena Kohere was involved. There was fighting at Tokomaru and further south. The Hauhaus made a sortie against Houkamau, entrenched in his newly-built pa, Makeronia (Macedonia). The attacking party was repulsed, leaving behind their Taranaki leader, Te Wao. The other Taranaki leader, Te Wiwini, was killed at Pukemaire, struck by a bullet fired by Hemi Tapeka, who had posted himself in the fork of a puriri tree.

1 James Cowan says: “Mokena Kohere had sent a message to Ropata requesting him to make peace with the Ngati-Porou in Hungahunga-toroa; the Hauhaus from outside districts were to be killed.” I had written this chapter before reading both Gudgeon and Cowan. Again Cowan, who had access to official papers, corroborates what I had gathered from Maori informants.

Mokena Kohere Pardons Rebels

Prisoners taken at Hungahunga-toroa were entrusted to the care of their fellow-tribesmen of Ngati-Porou and were taken to Mokena Kohere's headquarters at Hatepe.

At Te Pito, three miles south of East Cape, the chief Wikiriwhi Matauru gave the order that all prisoners were to be shot. This incident may sound improbable in the ears of those who do not understand the inner working of the page 58 Maori mind. To kill prisoners would be quite in order according to the law of ito or revenge, and Wikiriwhi Matauru would be quite capable of enforcing the law of ito. After the fall of Ngatapa, Te Kooti's stronghold in Poverty Bay, a large number of prisoners were taken. Amongst these were Renata Tupara and his relatives. Ropata Wahawaha was prepared to put these people to death. The more lenient natives appealed to Wikiriwhi to save these people, who were related to him since his ancestor Te Rangiteremauri had married Tahawai.

Wiki's reply was, “E kimoa atu!” (“Put them away quietly”).

Ropata ordered Renata Tupara and others to be shot.1

When it dawned on the guard that Matauru was determined to kill his own fellow tribesmen they at once knew that the only way to save the doomed prisoners was to send for Mokena Kohere, who was a few miles behind the main body. Pape Hamapiria was to go at top speed to acquaint Mokena Kohere of the impending tragedy. The chief arrived in the nick of time to save the doomed prisoners, the second occasion within two days. The incident is authentically true, for Ngati-Porou composed a haka, containing the words, “Me he kore ana a Te Mokena, a nge!” (“But for Mokena, what then?”)

Amongst prominent men on the side of the loyalists who were killed during the Hauhau rising on the East Coast were Henare Nihoniho, Makoare and Hunia Huaki, a relative of Mokena Kohere's.

Arrived at Hatepe, Mokena Kohere ordered the Union Jack to be hoisted, and on a table at the foot of the flagstaff was an open Bible. Then, raising his voice, the chief cried out:

“E hoki ia hapu, ia hapu, ki te tahu i tana ahi, I tana ahi” (“Let each sub-tribe return home to re-kindle its own fire”).

In these few simple words Mokena Kohere on his own responsibility pardoned the rebellious Ngati-Porou. Time has amply proved that his magnanimous policy of pardon has page 59 been magnificently successful, for no more loyal and progressive tribe than the Ngati-Porou could be found throughout Maoridom.

Before finally dismissing the sub-tribes Mokena Kohere asked them to fall in line and march under the hoisted Union Jack and salute it and at the same time kiss the open Bible, swearing allegiance to the Great White Queen—Victoria. The most recalcitrant of the sub-tribes, like Whanau-a-Hunaara of Horoera, were suspended and kept under surveillance. Several of these were deported to the Chatham Islands, from which they escaped with Te Kooti in 1868.

1 Te Matauru Wikiriwhi's action in not interceding on behalf of his Poverty Bay relatives is not as callous as it might appear. An ancestor of his named Te Rangiteremauri, who had married Tahawai, was taken prisoner by a Poverty Bay party. At first it was decided to let him go, but afterwards his captors changed their minds and followed him. He was overtaken and killed.

Mokena Kohere Opposes Confiscation

Although Mokena Kohere had unconditionally pardoned the Ngati-Porou rebels the authorities were not satisfied. They demanded that a portion of the Ngati-Porou territory be confiscated and the boundary of the land to be confiscated was actually defined. It commenced at Awatere, near the Reporua settlement, crossed the Waiapu River at the mouth of the Mangaoparo, followed the course of the river, touched the foot of the Raukumara, followed Kokomuka ridge, turned towards the sea, along the Pukeamaru range, down to Iron Head, the southern arm of Hicks Bay, along the coast line, back to Awatere. It can be seen at a glance that much of the best land of the Ngati-Porou Tribe was within the land proposed to be confiscated, and there was land, too, belonging both to the rebels as well as to the loyal natives like Mokena Kohere and his hapu, Ngati-Hokopu. Mokena Kohere and other chiefs were uncompromisingly opposed to any suggestion of confiscation. When Captain Biggs arrived to arrange for the survey of the area he firmly stood his ground and told Captain Biggs to leave the district.

The next move of the Government was to offer Mokena Kohere a large sum of money in recognition of the services of the loyal natives. The chief knew that for him to accept the money would be to consent to the confiscatory measures. He absolutely refused to accept the money, remarking: “Mauria to moni, naku tonu taku riri ehara i a koe i te pakeha” (“Take your money away, the fight was mine, not the pakeha's”).

I once asked the late Bishop Herbert Williams whether he believed the Maori story that a large sum of money was page 60 offered to Mokena Kohere and he refused to accept it. He replied that it was improbable, and yet his own father, in East Coast Historical Records, states that a sum of £12,000 was offered to the Wairoa loyal chiefs and it was accepted. Hence large blocks of the best lands of the Ngati-Kahungunu were confiscated, or bought, according to one version, the greatest sufferers being the loyal chiefs like Pitiera Kopu. It was magnanimous on Pitiera's part to consent to the confiscation of his lands to atone for the sins of his disloyal fellow tribesmen. The fact proves how correct my Maori informants were, although not one European ever mentioned the fact that a large sum of money was offered to Mokena Kohere which the chief declined to accept because he knew very well that, to use Maori phraseology, the money had “teeth”—“he niho to te moni.” If the Wairoa loyal chiefs had been offered a large sum of money by the Government it is only natural to conclude that Mokena Kohere was also. Fortunately for the Ngati-Porou it was not accepted; otherwise they would have lost the best portion of their ancestral lands.

Keeper of the Peace

At Hastings some years ago I met Major Gascoigne and Mr. Hyslop, an old soldier. The former told me that but for the stand put up by the loyal chiefs the white settlers would have been driven into the sea. The stand of the loyal chiefs gave the settlers breathing space, time to organise their meagre forces and time for Imperial soldiers to arrive in New Zealand. Several of those chiefs lie in unmarked graves—forgotten. Mr. Hyslop told me that in an address he gave to the Philosophical Institute at Napier he stressed the services of Mokena Kohere, both in resisting the Hauhau movement on the East Coast and in keeping the peace. Mokena Kohere also paid a visit to the Bay of Plenty, where he told the tribes to study their own welfare by keeping the peace. In another chapter is related his visit to Whakatane to set free chiefs who had been prisoners of war.

Pai Marire

The sect known by the euphonious name Pai Marire (Good and Peaceful) was later called Hauhau, from the repeated use of the phrase, “Rire, Rire, Hau,” by the worshippers. It means nothing. The founder of the sect was a page 61 half-witted old man of Opunake, Taranaki, named Te Ua Haumene. At Pukemaire a tall pole or niu was erected in the centre of the pa. A few feet from the ground a staging was erected on which the conductor of the ceremony, called “Tiu” or “Jew,” stood. First he calls out to the people:

Po-po rini, hoia, Tiu.
(“Fa-fall in, soldiers, Jew.”)

When the people, men, women and children, have fallen in he recites the following, the audience meanwhile marching round the niu:

“Po-po rini, hoia, Tiu.
E-whe, era, teihana,
Ta te Munu, tana niu.
Ingiki, teihana.
Rauna hanati, hau mene,
Tiurai, Tiamana, teihana.
Mene pana, riki mene,
Nama wana, nama tu, teihana.
Puritene, wai, kei,
O pi teihana,
Kiu, wana, tu, teri, po teihana.
Rewa, piki rewa, rongo rewa,
Tone, piki tone, teihana.
Mautini, piki mautini, rongo mautini.
Etc., etc.

I give what I think is the translation of this utter rubbish. It is simply transliterations of foreign words, strung together.

“Fa-fall in, soldiers, Jew,
F. L. attention!
It's Munu's, his niu.
Ink, attention!
Round shanty, how many.
Jews, Germans, attention!
Many fun, little many.
Number one, number two, attention!
Britain, Y. K.
O. P. attention!
Q. one, two, three, fa(all), attention!
River, big river, long river,
Stone, big stone, attention!
Mountain, big mountain, long mountain.
Etc., etc.

page 62

The people were so worked up after going round the niu so many times that they became giddy and frenzied.

I have taken the trouble to quote and translate a portion of the so-called incantation to show its absolute absurdity, and yet I have been told more than once that my grandfather was disloyal to his own race by fighting for the pakeha. I could hardly imagine my grandfather spinning round the niu with hundreds of frenzied fanatics. He was for his period of time remarkably free from superstition. The only superstition that I can remember, if he ever had one, was the itching of his nose, to which I refer in an earlier chapter.

And yet I have listened to incantations and pateres of which I could not make head or tail. It always seems to me that the essential thing is the mysterious jumble of words. And for that matter it is possible thousands of religious prayers and hymns are, in truth, no better than the Hauhau anthem.