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

Kereopa Surprised

Kereopa Surprised

Kereopa was captured by Ropata's section of an expedition which he and Porter took into the Urewera Country, via Wairoa, in August, 1871. At Maungapohatu, Pukenui te Kereru (a Urewera chief) told Ropata that he was hiding at Manawaru (near the headwaters of the Whakatane River). Ropata divided his section into three groups, Wi Pere being made the leader of one page 291 of them. After a forced march, a party under Ruku Aratapu, which had a prisoner named Te Whiu (“The Whip”) for its guide, surprised Kereopa outside a whare. He fled towards the riverbank, but was overtaken by Te Whiu. An escort under Porter took him to Napier, where, on 21 December, 1871, he was found guilty of the murder of the Rev. C. S. Volkner at Opotiki in 1865. He was executed on 5 January, 1872. The reward of £1,000 for his capture was paid over by the Government on 24 November, 1871, and was divided among the members of both contingents—171 Ngati-Porou, 34 T'Aitanga-a-Mahaki and 15 Urewera. Ropata and Porter received £24 each, Te Whiu £10, Wi Pere and some others £5 each and the rest slightly under £5 apiece. In 1948 a descendant of Te Whiu petitioned Parliament for the full amount of the reward.

Loyalist forces were also employed in other directions in pursuit of Te Kooti, but this narrative is concerned only with the southern operations. A contingent under Major Pitt and Captain Ferris operated for some months between Whakapunake and Lake Waikaremoana. Ferris's section captured the notorious rebel Maaka Waikato. He was sentenced to death at Napier, but released after he had spent 10 years in prison. Anaru Matete, who had been in rebellion since 1865, gave himself up to Ferris, and, later, he was pardoned. Te Kooti's followers had now dwindled to a handful. Among many rumours that became current was one to the effect that Rewi Maniapoto intended to go to his aid. On 15 May, 1872, Te Kooti slipped out of the Urewera Country to Arowhenua (above Cambridge) and, next day, he was permitted by King Tawhiao to take up his residence at Te Kuiti.

Whilst Te Kooti was an outlaw between 1872 and 1883 he was visited, from time to time, by leading sympathisers from various districts. Areta Apatu implored him, in 1876, to remove a spell of witchcraft which, it was believed, hung over the Wairoa district. Shortly afterwards, he warned the natives at Onepoto that they would be destroyed by a pestilence if they did not leave their settlement for a month. He also warned his sympathisers in the Bay of Plenty that murders would occur if they sold any of their land.

As a number of Poverty Bay natives, including Wi Pere, had made visits to Te Kooti, a conference was held at Waerenga-a-Hika in August, 1878, to consider the matter. It was attended by sympathisers with the outlaw as well as by opponents. Tamati Rangituawaru expressed the belief that Te Kooti could prevent the young from becoming old, rejuvenate the aged, and even raise the dead. Hirini te Kani, Henare Potae, Wi Haronga, page 292 Rutene Te Eke and the Revs. Piwaka and Pahewa strongly condemned Te Kooti and, together with Archdeacon W. L. Williams and Captain Porter, urged those present that all intercourse with him should cease.