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The Life History and Activities of the Late Rev. Tamihana Huata

The Life History and Activities of the Late Rev. Tamihana Huata.

When a new land has been settled, one of the most difficult tasks confronting a Missionary enterprise, or a Government, is that of preparing leaders from the original native population. One of the most remarkable features of the settlement of New Zealand is that of the number of natives who showed aptitude in learning to read and write and who became leaders among their own people. We have many instances of mixed Maori and pakeha blood producing men of high character who have lived lives of great value to both races. Here we give a short biography of one of Te Wai-roa's great men who came, not of mixed stock, but of pure Maori parentage.

Tamihana Huata was born at Pa-kowhai, near Frasertown, in 1821. This was prior to the Treaty of Wai-tangi of 1840, and pakeha schooling was then unknown to the Maori people. Thus it was not until manhood that he learnt, with the aid of Christian missionaries, to read and write in the Maori language.

In the year 1855, the Maori people of Te Wai-roa, desiring to accept the new pakeha religion which then had just been established by Mr. Hamlin at Uruhou, Te Uhi, the leading chiefs of Te Wai-roa district, Pitiera Kopu and Paora Te Apatu, selected Tamihana Huata to be their leader in the worship of the new God. He attended a Missionary school at Gisborne and in 1861 was ordained as deacon. In 1863 he attained the priesthood, which position he held up to the time of his death in 1912.

The reverend gentleman, in the performance of his duty, did not experience smooth sailing, but, like St. Paul, was subjected to abuse and peril, even of his life. His was the great task of persuading a then half-savage people to accept the Christian way of life. It was a big undertaking. In those days, Hauhau fanaticism had risen throughout the East Coast. The new religion, promulgated by the insane mind of Te Ua Haumene and page break
Sir Maui Pomare, K.B.E., C.M.C, M.D.

Sir Maui Pomare, K.B.E., C.M.C, M.D.

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Rev. Tamihana Huata1821-1912

Rev. Tamihana Huata

Rev. Hemi Huata1867-

Rev. Hemi Huata

Rev. Wi Huata1918-

Rev. Wi Huata

page 225his band of murderers under their god Rura, set out to murder all the ministers of the Christian Church in order to show the superiority of their god. This resulted in the Rev. C. S. Volkner (Opotiki) and others being murdered, while the Williams family and others narrowly escaped death. The fanatics who worshipped their gods by marching around a pole reared up on elevated ground, had rapidly increased in numbers and had reached Te Wai-roa district, where poles of worship were erected, one being at Whakaki, one at Te Uhi (opposite Te Wai-roa River from Spooner's Point, Te Wai-roa Township), and one at Putahi, near Scamperdown Bridge, Frasertown. Had it not been for the aid by the Government and the loyal natives in driving away the Hauhaus, the life of the Minister would have been very much in danger. With these several bands of the new cult camping almost on his own doorstep, one indeed in his own locality, he faced the task of not only protecting his own family, but also of counteracting the effect of some of his own people slipping away to join the enemy.

Throughout the Hauhau wars, and following Te Kooti raids and massacres, the faithful parson took an active part in stamping out the evils of those troublesome days. He not only attended to outside troubles, but had to risk his life many times in stopping sub-tribal wars among his own people, the result of quarrels over land boundaries and other matters. One of these quarrels was between the sub-tribes, Ngati-Puku and Ngati-Iwikatea, over a land now known as Te Wharepu Block. Part of it is now occupied by Mr. Joe Carroll. Both opposing sides had their guns stowed in their houses which gave the name of the Block, Te Whare-pu, or "gun-houses." Just as the parties were ready for the fray, the valiant minister, assisted by some of the influential chiefs, intervened and stopped the fight. The matter was settled by arbitration. Another of these unpleasant duties which fell to the lot of the parson, was related to the writer by his own mother. This concerned the death of a young chief named Rangi-mataeo (2) who died at his pa Hikawai, the site of which is now owned by Mr. Walker, on the left-hand side of Te Wai-roa-Frasertown Road. A person named Piha Mitipara was accused of being responsible for the death of the young chief by witchcraft. To avenge the death his people determined to kill the culprit and his associates. In the melee the dutiful parson adorned with his surplice, Bible in hand, was seen amongst the excited and savage people being pushed about in his effort to prevent such a barbarous act. Although his surplice was torn to pieces, he suc-page 226ceeded in preventing a deed which would have left a black mark on his people.

Many heroic and loyal deeds were performed by Tamihana Huata which should rightly be told in any history of old Te Wairoa. Apart from his work in establishing Christianity among his own folk, he was loyal to the Crown and a staunch friend to the pakeha minority, whose lives were also often in danger. In recognition of his loyalty, the lands of his people who had turned rebel were returned to them after having been confiscated.

He has passed to his resting place, but the good seed has born, fruit and, indeed, is still being sown. With the celebrated Williams family, the Huatas hold the record for a succession of ministers in one family. Tamihana begot Heemi, who was born in 1867. In 1898 the Rev. Heemi Huata was ordained to Holy Orders and has since resided at Frasertown, near Wairoa, ministering faithfully to his people. He is now the oldest Maori minister in New Zealand, and in recognition of his services he was awarded the special commemorative medal issued at the Coronation of King George 6th. The Rev. Heemi's son, the Rev. Wi Huata, of Hastings, born in 1918, carries the family devotion to the ministry into the third generation.