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Yesterdays in Maoriland

Chapter IX Maori Versus Pakeha

page 128

Chapter IX Maori Versus Pakeha

So we come to the great King Movement.

I was given an account of this in a number of talks I had with Wahanui, the 'power behind the throne,' ariki or chief and head priest of one branch of the great Ngatimaniopoto tribe, and one of the finest men it has ever been my lot to meet.

Wahanui had been educated in European schools, and he enjoyed the greatest esteem of the Maoris and of the Colonial Government. He occupied the position of Maori Minister and justice of the peace in Ahuahu Kawhia., He had attended the Church High School at Auckland, and was later made postmaster in the Waikato by Governor Gore Brown. On account of his skill and fairness in the settlement of land disputes, his advice was frequently asked by Maori and colonial alike.

When Witiora, Tawhiao's uncle, wanted to sell land in Kawhia — that sacred part of the coast where the forefathers of the Maori, coming from their traditional home Hawaiki, are supposed to have landed — Wahanui was not able to obtain agreement between the Maoris. Owing to the ensuing dispute he sent chiefs to different tribes with the message that they should give up the sale of land entirely.

By deciding on this step he definitely renounced his former attitude of strict neutrality, and became the page 129true representative of Maori interests. He saw that many of the chiefs, without being able to prevent it, had given away their land in exchange for rifles and ammunition to carry on warfare with their own flesh and blood. He feared also, as a result of continual land expropriation, that the Maori race would quickly die out. For with every ship came new pakeha to possess the land, and the inexperienced Maori sold his precious birthright for worthless truck, spirits, jewellery, and weapons. In a short while, he saw, they would be driven to hunger and want.

Most of the tribes followed Wahanui's counsel. This decision not to sell their land prepared them for the idea of electing a king over all the tribes — one who would be sufficiently strong to defend their rights and put a stop to the sale of land and the incessant warfare between them. Wahanui summed up the Maori point of view with a question: 'The pakeha have laws for themselves; why, then, have they not also a law for the Maori to protect him against this evil?'

The first to instigate propaganda for a Maori king was Rauparaha, of the Ngatitoa tribe, and Wiremu Tamihana Tarapipi. The last named went to the east coast to the Ngatiraukawa tribe, and suggested Chief Patera Pukuatua should be king. But he found many tribes opposed to this choice. So he went off to Lake Taupo to interview the celebrated chief, Te Heuheu.

Te Heuheu, when the kingship was offered to him, would have none of it. 'No,' he said. 'In this lake (Taupo) there are only white-fish and cray-fish. Go into the Waikato, for there every turn of the river page 130reveals a sea-serpent.' By this he meant that in the Waikato the best and most valiant warriors lived.

Te Heuheu proposed Te Wherowhero as king. When the latter came to Haurua, he was elected king by Patu Kotatu, Tarangi Rahurahu, Tanirau Hauwauri, and two thousand assembled warriors of different tribes.

Te Wherowhero wished to decline the honour, and proposed that the Maoris should select twelve chiefs' sons of the first rank, who should be sent out of the country to be educated at the common expense. When these twelve returned, as educated and experienced men of the world, they should then choose the best from among them as king. In the meantime there would have to be peace between Maori and European.

This somewhat original proposal was not received with favour by the assembled tribes. They were impatient for a king, and Te Wherowhero was obliged to concede to their wishes. As King he bore the name Potatau (1857). He was the first Maori King.

The flag of the new kingdom — white, as a symbol of peace, with a red border and a red cross, and with three stars in the upper right quarter — was hoisted before King Potatau's hut. The three stars were intended to represent faith, love, and righteousness.

Potatau (he was called the 'Peace King') strove for a peaceful and fraternal union of all tribes for productive work for the common good, and for the upholding of the three virtues, of which his flag was to be the symbol.

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At the very commencement Wahanui stood in opposition to this movement, but he soon changed his mind, and with some reason, as the following story illustrates.

In the year 1859, the land troubles, which were to lead to such long and bitter disputes on both sides, and to the so-called Maori War, began again Wiremu-Kingi and Kirikumara, two chiefs, possessed a common interest in some property in the neighbourhood of Waitara. Without telling his partner anything about it, Kirikumara 'sold' the territory to the English Government. Governor Brown sent surveyors to the district. Wiremu prevented them from making their survey.

When the Governor heard this, he sent to King Potatau to request him to remain neutral should it come to blows. Now the last thing Potatau wanted was bloodshed. He therefore established a Maori court of arbitration, and asked the Governor, if needs be, to come alone, without troops, to Waitara, but only to do so as a last resource. To this message Governor Brown did not reply.

Potatau then went with his party to Ngaruwahia, to hold a council and choose a peace committee. When the Maoris were assembled, a messenger brought news to the King that in spite of his request the Governor was advancing on Waitara with regular troops and volunteers. The conclusion naturally was that it was the Governor's intention to unite with Kirikumara for an attack upon Wiremu. He had also sent surveyors again to Wiremu's land, and when the page 132latter again destroyed the measuring flags, things came to a fight, during which the English troops fired on the defenceless Maoris.

By this time Wahanui had had enough of his pakeha friends. After this affair he wrote a letter to the Governor in the following terms:

'As you would not wait, and as you came with your soldiers instead of settling the quarrel in peace, I perceive that you wish to conquer our land by force. It is well that I should know this. Now I will join the King's party and fight to my last breath for free Maoriland and for our native rights.'

Nevertheless, and in spite of the Governor's practical declaration of war, King Potatau made one more effort to pave the way to a peaceful settlement. He sent the chief, Tomehana Tarapipi, with two hundred Maoris, to Waitara to try and patch up the quarrel. Tarapipi addressed the assembled Waitara Maoris in a vigorous speech, in which he declared:

'I do not understand why the Europeans have not established any law for the settlement of disputes regarding the ownership of land without having resort to the spilling of blood. I understand this even less when I think of all the unfortunate incidents that have already occurred owing to these disputes. And I understand less still since the Governor himself — skilled as he is in the framing of laws to meet the most trifling occasion — is present on the spot. But since it is so, Waikato Maoris, Ngatimahuta, Ngati-tauwa, and Ngatimaniapoto, we who are all brothers and of one race, let it be said of us at least that we page 133are united together to settle this quarrel without bloodshed.'

The efforts of the King's representative were successful in so far that peace was formally decided on by the assembled Maoris. Afterwards Tarapipi left the place with a small following to inform the King of the news of the successful outcome of his peace efforts.

Unfortunately, when a few days later the rest of the peace committee followed him on the road back to Ngaruwahia, they came into contact with English volunteer troops. One or other of the parties opened fire — whether Maori or pakeha nobody knows, or whether it was by accident or design — and the battle blazed up in a moment.

The Europeans were driven back, chased into a swamp, and nearly all killed. The Maoris lost comparatively few men. They continued their way unmolested, and sent the King news of this attack.

Potatau, still wishing for peace, called his chiefs together, and invited the Europeans to meet him. When they were assembled together, Tomehana Tarapipi stood up and spoke. To the pakeha he said:

'This assembly has been called owing to the dispute at Waitara. Again I repeat to you the same question as before: "When people have a quarrel, is there no way out but bloodshed?" You say that you have no power to pass laws for our protection, and you say that we have not the right to elect a king from among us to protect ourselves. Does not your Bible say, "Choose a king out of your own tribe"? Who is right page 134now, your Bible or your merchants and officials? And have you not in your Motherland an English woman as Queen? Do not other nations also choose their kings from their own race?'

To this Bishop Lord Selwyn replied: 'Two flags or two sovereigns can seldom live together in the same country, therefore King Potatau should pull down his flag.'

As a result of this meeting, Sir George Grey was made Governor of New Zealand. It was a lucky choice at a dangerous moment, for Sir George Grey was a chivalrous man who so far as his office allowed it, treated the Maoris with love and understanding. Both English and Maori owe him much.

The new Governor called together a second conference, to which both Maori and European were invited, and a committee was nominated which included twenty young Maori chiefs. These were empowered to act as judges in future land disputes. Unfortunately, however, this did not prove a happy solution to the difficulties.

To get a better idea of the King's views, the Governor now turned to the chiefs, Manahiri and Tomate Ngapora, who were in Mangari. He asked Manahiri if he knew what was in the King's mind. The latter gazed round the room and took a stick from the wall, which he laid between two carpets. When Sir George Grey asked him what this strange behaviour might mean, the chief replied: 'Let this be your land and this your friend Potatau's.'

But when the Governor suggested that the Maoris page break
Black and white photograph of Tukaroto Matutaera Potatau Te Wherowhero Tawhiao

King Tawhiao

page 135 should not be so obstinate in clinging to their own point of view, the chiefs left the room in silence. A short time afterwards the Governor sent Manahiri definite intimation for the King that all Maoris who persisted with the King Movement would, after a stated length of time, have their property confiscated. Manahiri himself was told that he must adopt the English point of view or leave the country. He obeyed this order immediately, leaving his own land the same day and marching to Ngaruwahia, to deliver 'this declaration of war' to the King in person.

Potatau died in 1860. He was succeeded by his son, Matutaere, who was named King Tawhiao. Tawhiao was born in Orongo Koekoea in 1825. He was christened Matutaere (Methusalem), and had been educated at European schools.

Now, after Manahiri's arrival, Tawhiao called together a council of his chiefs, and it was decided to warn all tribes to be on their guard against the pakeha. At the same time they were to avoid as far as possible any act of bloodshed.

Meanwhile General Cameron had already crossed the Maori border.

The Maoris had thrown up entrenchments, but nevertheless Tawhiao ordered them all to withdraw to the bush. However, a number of Maoris who were attacked, confident of the justice of their cause, disobeyed the King's order. A hundred natives fell upon Cameron's troops, consisting of two thousand well-armed Europeans, infantry, cavalry, and pioneers, and held them at bay for an hour, after which they with-page 136drew, with very few losses, to Merimeri, where a force of some three thousand Maoris had already collected.

The natives were very poorly armed in comparison to the pakeha, for the most part only possessing old muskets and shot-guns. In addition, they had an old cannon, which they had taken from a stranded ship, and out of which they shot rounds of stone and chain links. Many of the warriors had only their own native weapons of stone and wood. But the justice of their cause gave them courage.

General Cameron camped before the Maori fortress for three months before he was able to take it. During this time he sent to Sydney for a warship to bring him an additional seven hundred men. The ship arrived, and went up the Waikato River for 8 miles.

After its arrival, the General attempted a fresh assault on the pa. The natives had drawn farther back, but a small band of seventy men fell upon the newly arrived Englishmen whilst they were disembarking. They then drew back without much loss to Rangariri, where a further thousand Maoris were entrenched.

With two thousand of his men, Cameron attacked this new fortress and captured it, after a hard struggle, which lasted from ten in the morning well into the following day. On both sides losses were considerable. Two hundred Maoris were taken prisoner, and the rest retreated to Ngaruwahia. Here warriors were streaming in from all sides, and their number soon swelled to five thousand. They were divided into three parties, the largest entrenching themselves at Paterangi Pa.

This Cameron also attacked, but found it im-page 137pregnable. So he devised a ruse. First he surrounded the place, cutting off all supplies, and then he sent an officer with a flag of truce into the pa, who made the following proposal: The General, he said, was going to attack the pa, but first of all he would allow all Maori women and children free passage to their own village of Rangiawhia.

The Maoris, delighted at the suggestion of the pakeha, sent their women and children away forthwith, and awaited the expected attack. They waited for two or three days, but none came. Then at last a few Maori women crept back into the pa, exhausted by flight and the terrible time they had experienced. They broke the news that the pakeha had already captured Rangiawhia — the village to which they had been promised a free passage — and related how, defenceless as they were, as they came out of their own pa they had been fallen upon and taken prisoner by the troops. A few of them had been killed, and these few stragglers were the only ones who had been able to get away.

Roused at this news, the Maoris now left their pa to take revenge, and to free their women and children. This was just what Cameron had been waiting for. He had decoyed the Maoris from their fortress, and could now meet them in the open. As the proverb says, 'The end justified the means,' only in this case both means and end were questionable. However, the fight which resulted at Hauriri turned out favourably for the English.

In this battle, Wahanui, who had long been fighting page 138with the "Maoris, received revolver wounds in arm, side, and the calf of his leg. Two English cavalry men followed him, but in spite of wounds he escaped into a field of high maize, and from there dragged himself back to his own people at Orakau. From thence he was taken to Mokau, where his wounds received careful attention, and began to heal up. The defeated Maoris drew back to Tiki, where they were not again attacked.

The war was nearing its end. Only Rewi, the celebrated chief, entrenched himself with a few hundred of his faithful followers in Orakau. Here he was fallen upon by the Europeans in great numbers and cut off from all supplies. For three days Rewi and his people held out.

The English General, Gary, greatly impressed by the courage of the Maoris, sent an officer along to speak to them and to promise them freedom should they peacefully lay down their arms. To this Rewi proudly answered, 'We will fight and die for our own freedom in our own land.' Nearly starving the Maoris next day made a sortie, and though they lost heavily, they succeeded in breaking through the English lines.

After the conclusion of peace in 1882, when I first entered the King Country, Rewi was living amicably in Kihikihi, where the New Zealand Government had built him a house in recognition of his bravery. The once dreaded enemy of the pakeha received me most hospitably in his own home.

In addition to the above main fighting episodes, a number of smaller campaigns took place. The Maoris had drawn back to Taranaki, where Tawhiao paid a page 139visit to see the Maori prophet, Ti Witi, who told him to give up the fight against the European and to proclaim the following message to all the tribes:

'Lay down your weapons. Be wise. I am going home to Kuiti to weep over my lost brothers. Though the whites exterminate the trunk they cannot pull out the roots. Avoid all sale and lease of land. Permit no European to cross the border of this, our last free Maoriland. We want no roads or schools from them. Let them do with their own land what they will.'

Peace being concluded, a hatchet was buried, as a symbol that the fighting was ended.

The boundaries of a free and independent Maori-land were fixed as follows: in the north by the Waipa River, in the west by the sea (the harbour of Kawhia), in the south by Whitecliffs, and in the east by Lake Taupo. It was further agreed upon that no European should be allowed to cross these boundaries, and if, in spite of warning, any pakeha should do so, he would be killed. This actually happened to several Europeans.

After the war, the King resided at Te Kuiti until 1875, when he went to Hikurangi, and he finally settled in Whatiwhatihoi.

Thus in the year 1864 ended the desperate fight of the Maoris for land and freedom. The real owners of the soil were forced to abandon their claims and retreat to their small province — the King Country — where they were at last left unmolested.

To complete the picture of discord, a few words must be added about the influence of Christianity on the native. In spite of cannibalism the Maoris were page 140from the first eager to accept the teaching of Christ. They' were all the more ready to do so on account of the fineness and chivalry of their natures. Later, finding the antichristian tendency of a material civilisation beginning to swamp them, they at last recognised their danger, and their fear found expression in what grew into a real religious war.

With growing fanaticism and the cruel narrowness of bigoted belief they embraced this danae gift of European civilization — a brand new creed. The sublime figure of the Prince of Peace, accepted as a gift from the white man, they saw used only too often as a blind for robbery and destruction. Once again, in the name of Christ, muskets, liquor, and syphilis were doing their bit towards establishing European dominion.

I have already referred to the noble work of Samuel Marsden, the first New Zealand missionary. With the progress of civilisation, the Church of England established mission stations in the northern half, and the Wesleyan Missionary Society established themselves in the southern half of the North Island. Peace and harmony reigned for a few years, until the arrival of a fanatic bishop of the Established Church, Lord Selwyn, who turned everything topsy-turvy.

Selwyn sent missionaries into the Wesleyan sphere, who told the Maoris that their other teachers were false prophets, and had no right to baptize. He called them 'those ravishing wolves to which the Bible refers.'

Hearing this from their new teachers, the Maoris began to think they had been grossly deceived, and page 141soon hatred and enmity began to grow in their midst. Confusion became worse confounded when, still later, other religious societies, Protestant and Catholic, sent out more missionaries. The educated Maoris by this time had learnt their Bible only too well; they soon saw that the one true Christian belief could be interpreted in many different ways.

A little story which Tawhiao himself told me, illustrates the quick understanding of the Maori. It is a tale of the one true God. Noticing here and there in the King Country remains of European plantations, I had asked the King how they came to be in this prohibited district.

'Once a friendly man,' he replied, 'came to us, a missionary, who loved my father, and we all loved him, for he turned our bad men into good. We lived at peace with him, and he taught us many useful things. Then, some time after, a second missionary came, who taught us different things about the one true God. He told us his God was better than the God of the first priest. He, too, found some adherents. We Maoris were then divided into two camps, but were still living peacefully together. Then there came a third missionary, who preached yet a different doctrine. Whereupon we chiefs and elders held council, and decided as follows:

'"That all missionaries should leave the country and only he permitted to return when they were of one mind about God; for only one of them could surely be in the right. If they returned of one accord we would listen to their preachings and judge of it ourselves. page 142But should the missionaries still disagree, then the chiefs and elders would kill them."

'As the last two refused to go, we killed them, and what you see are the remains of their homesteads.'

The resistance of the Maoris flared up into the King Movement, and out of their religious fanaticism arose a new teaching, the Pai-Marire or Hau-hau religion. These two movements (the King Movement and the Hau-hau) coincided, and are closely interwoven.

The prophet, Te Na, a harmless, weak-minded native, was the founder of the Pai-Marire. (Pai=good; Marire=peaceable.)

When the Lord Worsley, an English ship, was stranded on the Taranaki coast, Te Na had a vision that the archangels, Gabriel and Michael, came from the ship to visit him.

He went down to the beach, and begged the Maoris not to plunder the wreck and rob the passengers. When he was ridiculed, he went into his hut and entreated pardon on their behalf of his God, Pai-Marire, the all-good peaceful One.

Shortly after this incident, Te Na assaulted a woman of his own tribe, but was caught by her husband and locked up in a hut, with his hands and feet bound, so that he would have enough leisure to think upon his lapse of conduct. While lying in the hut, Archangels Gabriel and Michael suddenly stood before him and gave him strength to burst his fetters. Next morning the husband found the future prophet unfastened in the hut. This time he bound him with a chain; but page 143again Gabriel appeared, and Te Na, with supernatural force, broke the chain to pieces.

From now on Te Na was considered a man to be feared and respected among the tribe. His visions were repeated. Once the angel ordered the sleeping man to wake and kill his own son. He obeyed the command, got up, and suddenly saw himself surrounded by all the people of the earth, who demanded of him that he should make this sacrifice.

Te Na went to the child, and as he seized hold of him, the boy's leg broke into many pieces. Then, just as he was swinging his club, the Archangel stayed his arm, and washed the boy with water. At the same moment his son was made whole.

Te Na thanked the angel, and was instructed further about his mission. He was to stick into the earth one of the pointed ends of a carved rod (niu) as a symbol to all true believers that they should meet at this place, and when all the Maoris were gathered there the angels would sing to them the Waiota, the hymn of the Holy Trinity, and all those who really believed would have their tongues loosened and so be given the power of converting others.

Te Na did as he was commanded, and at every assembly the believers listened to the song of the archangels, who spoke to them in the rustling of the wind.

The origin of the word 'hau-hau,' which is what most Europeans term the Pai-Marire, is rather obscure. But according to what was related to me, it may have originated from the rustling (hau) of the wind. I myself think it is more likely that the war-cry of the page 144Maori, a wild sudden savage howl, 'hau-hau!' like the barking of a dog, caused the pakeha to name the rebellious Maoris 'Hau-haus.'

The new religion fell on fruitful soil, the nationalist Maoris adopting it with great enthusiasm. When its influence had spread far and wide, Te Na had yet another vision. This was after the first encounter between the Hau-haus and the English troops at Taranaki, during which Captain Lloyd fell.

The Archangel now appeared to Te Na, telling him to dig up the Captain's head, mummify it Maori fashion, and then send it round to all the tribes. The head would speak and prophesy. Te Na carried out the instructions to the letter, and lo!, the head spoke to the prophet, saying:

'You are the high priest of the Pai-Marire; choose as your disciples Matene and Hepanaia.'

The head continued to act as an oracle, and legions of angels awaited the time for it to be sent out to all tribes. Then all the tribes would arise against the pakeha, and with the help of the angels would destroy them. As proof of their power, the language, arts, and science of the pakeha were to be overthrown by the Pai-Marire.

The Hau-haus considered themselves bullet-proof, for did not their prophet say: 'Should the enemy take aim at you, all you need do is to draw the open hand backwards, and hold it quickly above the head, at the same time shouting out "Hau-hau!" Then the bullets will fly over your heads.'

After the victory at Taranaki, and the dispatch of page 145the apostles, Matena and Hepanaia, Keriopa and Pataia, to the different tribes, the new teaching grew considerably. But it happened, as it usually does when a doctrine gets hold of a people, that the disciples thought differently from the master. So from the mighty idea sprang forth but small deeds.

Hepanaia and the other disciples were in the van of those fighting for the destruction of the whites. They aroused the bloodthirstiness of the Maoris to its full pitch, and celebrated their triumphs over the pakeha in the most revolting manner. Hepanaia's ardour soon cooled, however, when he was beaten, with heavy losses, on besieging Century Hill Fort. On the Other hand, Keriopa and Pataia wallowed in the most gruesome of blood orgies.

The murder of the missionary Völkner, who was the pastor at Whakatane, and noted for his goodness and fair play, is among the most eventful deeds of this time. He was, in Auckland when the revolt broke out, and Pataia, who thought highly of him, sent a messenger to tell him that his goods had been confiscated by the Hau-haus, and begging him not to return. But in spite of this warning, Völkner, having confidence in his influence with the natives, went with the schooner Eclipse to Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty.

In the meantime, Keriopa had set Völkner's former followers against him, by telling them that the missionary had only gone to Auckland to betray them to the military. He would come in the night, said he, to attack the Maoris. When Keriopa had enough followers, he boastfully declared: 'If you do not believe my words, page 146then my God will destroy you; these are the words of my anger. Bring this white missionary here, so that I may kill him.'

Völkner was seized immediately on his arrival, his faithful followers not daring to speak for him. When he was on trial there were very few who opposed his murder. One of this minority, however, Te Ranapia, demanded of the assembly that he should be set at liberty, but Keriopa would not hear of it.

When the death-sentence was passed on him, the bloodthirsty crowd led the missionary to church, where he was bound and a halter put round his neck. Then he was taken to a tree. Even at the last minute Te Ranapia made an effort to save him, springing forward to his rescue, but he fell at the very moment that Völkner was hoisted up on the tree.

Völkner's body was afterwards lowered and dragged back to church. Here Keriopa struck off his head, and invited other Hau-haus as true believers to drink of the warm blood. He then took a greenstone implement, gouged out the missionary's eyes, and swallowed them. The Maoris did as commanded, and drank of the blood, also smearing their faces with it.

Pataia was away on a mission while this was taking place. As soon as he learnt of the murder he sent for Keriopa to come to justify his deed, but Keriopa would not obey. Thus a noble white man died for the sins committed by others of his race. He died a fearless but a horrible death.

A similar fate befell his murderer, for a short time after, Keriopa was taken prisoner and condemned to page 147death. Hearing his sentence he calmly said: 'When I swallowed Völkner's eyes, one of them stuck in my throat. That was a bad sign. I knew then that for this I would have to die.'

So the religious war merged itself into the Maori war. When the latter came to an end, the free tribes of the King Country, under King Tawhiao, still remained followers of the Pai-Marire religion, Tawhiao maintaining that he had been appointed King by the Archangel Gabriel.