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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Mission Station Abandoned

Mission Station Abandoned

The missionaries and settlers had hoped that Hirini te Kani would at once order the Hauhau emissaries to leave the district. After the lapse of a few days, he went over to them and told them that he did not approve of their visit. He refused to accept two Hauhau flags from them, and declined to take charge of Brown (one of the Europeans attached to their party), whom they intended to leave in the district. [During H.M.S. Esk's visit in the following May, Brown, who denied that he was a deserter from the 57th Regiment, was captured by a party of marines, which also secured a white man's head that had been left behind by the Hauhaus. The other renegade was Louis Baker, who was of Canadian-Red Indian extraction.]

Patara informed the settlers on 25 March that they had no real grounds for fear. “There is,” he said, “only one person implicated in the murder of the minister, and I dare say you know his name. So you must not blame a whole flock because there is one scabby sheep in it.” Much to the satisfaction of the settlers, a party of influential southern anti-Hauhau chiefs arrived in Poverty Bay on 31 March. Their leader (Wi Tako) ordered Patara (who was a tribal connection) to leave the district. Kereopa went off on 13 April and Patara a few days afterwards.

Writing to Mr. McLean, Captain Harris (1 April) said that he had been assured by Paratene Turangi and others that the settlers had no cause for alarm. However, it was a matter of grave concern that so many natives—young and old—had embraced the new faith. He considered that Sydney [Hirini te page 218 Kani] had assisted the Hauhaus. Both Lazarus and Matete had become converts. Many of the settlers had become panicky and were leaving, as also were some of the Bishop's family. “There is,” he added, “a most decided feeling against the clerical body in Maori minds just now. I don't think they will much care over losing their pastors. How little hold the Christian faith has had on these people cannot be better shown than by the late evidence! I fear that I am not wrong in what I have ever thought: that there is really not one Christian native in New Zealand.”

On account of sinister rumours being current, Bishop W. Williams, on 2 April, decided to abandon the mission station at Waerenga-a-Hika. Carleton (Life of Henry Williams, vol. 2, p. 348) says:

“About this time came up Karaitiana, Wi Tako and others on a long-promised visit. They said: ‘These men [the Taranaki intruders] must go, or we go.’ When Kereopa and his party were apprised of this they sent messengers after the second Taranaki contingent, who were on their way home, bidding them return. An attack in two parties—by one upon the Bishop's College and by the other on Wi Tako's party—was then arranged. The Hauhaus spent the night casting bullets and making up cartridges. Some of their conversation was overheard by a Turanga native and was reported to Bishop Williams. Moreover, the chiefs upon whom he mainly relied had been seen drinking with Patara.
“After long consultation, an unwilling departure was resolved upon to take place at night. But to this the native ministers demurred. One of them, Mohi [Turei] spoke out: ‘No, we will stay and die like men!’ But it was not for the mission to fight. Endurance had been their badge from the first, and had to be still. ‘At least,’ said Mohi, ‘do not go by night. If you do, you will be overtaken and tomahawked. Go in the face of day!’ The advice was taken, and the party was not molested.”

It is stated by W. L. Williams that his father's decision soon became widely known, and that, at an early hour in the morning [3 April], a number of people who had been dallying with the Hauhaus came to reassure them, urging them to stay. They tried to defend their own conduct, but found it impossible to explain away the fact that the success which Patara and Kereopa had achieved was owing to the encouragement which they themselves had given them. In the afternoon Bishop Williams and the Rev. E. B. Clarke, with their families, embarked on s.s. St. Kilda, which sailed in the evening for Napier. Four staunch supporters—Wi Haronga, Pita te Huhu, Paora Matuakore and Matenga Toti—took charge of the mission property.

Little is known concerning Kereopa's movements after he left on 13 April. Patara returned to Opotiki, which again became a centre for his proselytizing activities. The European settlement in Poverty Bay became completely disorganised; some more families left the district. As the situation on the western side of page 219 the island was even more serious, Premier Weld handed over the management of the East Coast to Mr. McLean, informing him that, unless prompt and successful measures could be taken, that portion of the colony might have to be sacrificed temporarily.

On 10 April, Captain Harris wrote privately to Mr. McLean, suggesting that he should be given authority to incur the expense that would be entailed in getting the loyal natives to build and garrison a stockade at Turanganui and to arrange with Captain Read to detain any of his vessels if there appeared to be a likelihood that its services might be required. Mr. McLean sent H.M.S. Esk to Poverty Bay on 4 May. Her commander (Captain Luce) went to Whakato and, besides delivering a letter from Bishop W. Williams to the Rongowhakaata chiefs urging them to throw their weight on the side of the Government, made a personal appeal to them, but neither representation had any appreciable effect. When Mr. McLean paid a visit on 4 June, some of the principal chiefs took the oath of allegiance before him. Hirini te Kani declined to do so unless Mokena Kohere took down a flagstaff bearing a Union Jack which he had erected on Waikanae without consulting him. Harris told Mr. McLean that the district then had fewer Europeans than in 1840.