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Through Ninety Years

Chapter XXVI

page 242

Chapter XXVI.

1868. Bishop and Archdeacon Williams Attend General Synod, Auckland. Bishop Selwyn Leaves New Zealand for Lichfield. Poverty Bay Massacre. Pursuit of Te Kooti. Fall of Ngatapa. Ringatu Cult.

From “East Coast Records” (W.L.W.): “Bishop Selwyn, who had gone to England to attend the first Lambeth Conference, and while there had been appointed to the See of Lichfield, had just returned to pay a farewell visit to his old diocese and to preside over the triennial session of the general Synod, which was to open on October 5th. As it was my duty to attend this Synod I arranged for my family to stay at Napier during my absence.”

Archdeacon Williams took his wife and four young children to Napier by the small sailer Muriwai on September 18th, 1868. He then proceeded to Auckland in S.S. Phoebe with Bishop Williams to attend the General Synod.

The proceedings of this Synod opened on October 5th and closed on the 17th, the twenty-seventh anniversary of the consecration of Rt. Rev. Bishop Selwyn.

At this session Bishop Selwyn resigned the primacy, and Rt. Rev. Bishop Harper of Christchurch was elected to succeed him in this office.

Many important matters were considered and dealt with by this Synod including the report of a special committee on the question of the Bishopric of Dunedin, the alteration of the boundaries of the dioceses of Waiapu and Wellington and between the dioceses of Nelson and Christchurch.

Provision was also made for the setting up of Native Church Boards consisting of the clergy whether English or Maori ministering to the native population, and lay- page 243 men representing the various Maori parochial districts, under the presidency of the Bishop or his commissary.

Bishop Selwyn and his family took their departure from New Zealand by the S.S. Hero on October 25th, 1868, after an impressive farewell service in St. Paul's Church.

Archdeacon W. L. Williams returned to Turanga by the schooner Tawera on November 6th.

Archdeacon W. L. Williams wrote in his “East Coast Records”: “Sunday, the 8th, I rode over to Manutuke to hold service with the Maori congregation there. Just after the conclusion of the service the Maori postman from Wairoa appeared, carrying the mail which was due at Turanganui on the following morning. Everyone was anxious to hear what the postman might be able to tell us of the happenings at Wairoa. The force at Wairoa consisting mainly of Maoris, had been placed under the command of Colonel Lambert from Napier. The postman's story was that the force had gone on the previous Tuesday to Whataroa, which was found practically deserted, there being only one man and one woman in the place. The man, he said, had been shot. The woman, when asked ‘Where was Te Waru?’ said that she did not know. When asked again ‘Where was Te Kooti ?’ she answered, ‘He has gone to Poverty Bay.’ The grave was found in which the four men had been buried who had been murdered there about three weeks before, and after burning all the whares, the force returned to Wairoa, which was reached on Thursday morning some time before the postman left.

“On my way back to Turanganui I stopped for an English service at Matawhero where Biggs was then living. I told him of the report which the postman had brought, whereupon he exclaimed saying that he had dreamt the night before that the force had gone to Whataroa and had found no enemy. When I mentioned the report that Te Kooti was on his way to Poverty Bay he said that he had received letters a few days previously from Majors St. John and Mair, who wrote from Opotiki to warn him that Te Kooti had been urging the Opotiki page 244 people to join him in a raid upon the East Coast, and that he was reported also to have been joined by a number of the Waikato and Tuhoe people. He said also that he had got a few scouts under Captain Gascoigne, who were keeping a constant watch on the various tracks leading from the Ruakituri or from Wairoa, and that a very short notice from them of impending danger would enable him and others to get away to Turanganui. These scouts were maintained at the expense of some of the local settlers, the Government having refused to make provision for any service of the kind. Those who were in authority seemed to be under the impression that the position on the East Coast was not nearly so critical as those who were on the spot deemed it to be.

“The mail duly arrived at Turanganui on Monday morning, and among my letters was one from the Rev. S. Williams, in which he said that he had received information on authority which he could not doubt, that Te Kooti had started for Poverty Bay, and he urged that all settlers should without delay get into as secure a position as possible. Moreover, he had informed Mr. McLean and the Hon. J. C. Richmond, who was then in Napier, of what he had heard, that such action might be taken in the matter as might seem to those who were in authority to be necessary. As Biggs was holding the R.M. Court in the redoubt that morning I went to give him the news which I had received, expecting, at the same time to find that he had got full information from Colonel Lambert of what had been done at Wairoa, and that he might possibly have had some directions from Napier. It was much to my suprise therefore, that he told me that the mail had brought him no communication whatever, either from Wairoa or from Napier. He was expecting nevertheless to hear from his scouts at any time that Te Kooti might be somewhere in the neighbourhood, and he would be ready at a moment's notice to come away to Turanganui. It is due to Mr. McLean to say that, though not out of the office, he had reason to know that he did not enjoy the full confidence of the Ministry, and that under the circumstances, it was for the Minister, page 245 and not for the subordinate officer, to take what action might be necessary. It was, to say the least, extraordinary that there was no communication from Wairoa. Had it occurred to Colonel Lambert to send a small force over for Major Biggs' assistance some lives at least might possibly have been saved. In little more than twelve hours after my conversation with Major Biggs, he and his wife and infant child were numbered among the dead.

Te Kooti, as we learned afterwards, made his appearance with his armed force some time after dark on the evening of the 9th at Patutahi where there was a small party of natives, none of whom was allowed to go away. From them he ascertained where various people were to be found, and having laid his plans, sent out armed parties to cut off as many as possible of the European population. The first vicitims were probably Messrs. Dodd and Peppard, who had taken up a sheep run in the immediate neighbourhood, and had arranged to commence shearing on the following morning. Major Biggs and Captain Wilson were attacked soon after midnight, and in the course of the next few hours thirty of the European population, of ages ranging from a few weeks to near 70 years, were struck down, one of whom. though left for dead, succumbed to her wounds a few weeks afterwards. Of the survivors, those who were living on the southwest side of the bay made their escape to Te Mahia, and the rest to Turanganui. Several Maoris also were murdered in cold blood during the early hours of that morning and others in the course of the next few days, the whole number being about thirty.

“This day, November 10th had its full burden of anxiety. I was aroused at 4.30 a.m. by one of my Maori neighbours, who startled me with the announcement that hostile Hauhaus were at work in the neighbourhood dealing destruction to life and property, the news having just been brought by Maori refugees from Matawhero, where one at least had been killed and another wounded. Soon afterwards a party was seen coming across the Waikanae creek, which proved to be Mrs. Bloomfield and page 246 her family with Charles James, who had roused them after he had escaped from Major Biggs' house. Refugees came in from time to time during the day, some of whom were able to inform us of the fate of some of their neighbours. One of these, Dan Munn, had ridden out in the early morning to ascertain the truth of the reports he had heard, and was fired at by one of Te Kooti's men, the first shot taking effect in his left shoulder and the next fortunately missing him. Of some the fate could only be guessed from their non–appearance. The escape of some from the midst of the murder region seemed to be due to the murderers having retired to refresh themselves after the slaughter of the morning. Two schooners, the Tawera and the Success had got under way in the early hours of the morning, bound for Auckland and Tauranga. The wind fortunately did not favour them so that they were still within reach by boat. Captain Read, after some trouble in getting a crew, followed them in a whale–boat and induced them to return. The women and children, with two or three exceptions, were placed on board the schooners, some being taken to Napier and the others to Auckland. The wounded man, Munn, was also sent to Napier that he might be attended to in the hospital.

“In the evening Captain Gascoigne came over in a boat from Te Muriwai, and, being the only commissioned officer present, took command of the small number of Volunteers and Militiamen. At night we all retired to the redoubt to get as much sleep as the excitement of the time and the extreme roughness of the accommodation the redoubt afforded would admit of. The time, too, was shortened as all were kept on the alert from 2 a.m. till daylight as a precaution against surprise.

“About 8 a.m. on the 11th we were relieved of much anxiety by the arrival of Messrs. Kempthorne, Poynter and Scott, who, with eight others, had come from beyond Kaiteratahi, having kept to the hills to avoid coming into contact with any of Te Kooti's murderous bands. We were still further relieved by the arrival of the S.S. St. Kilda in the evening. She had left Napier before the page 247 news of our troubles had travelled so far. Captain Fox, therefore, as soon as he became aware of what had happened, weighed anchor and returned to Napier.

“Early on the 12th the lookout party on the hill announced that there was an armed party at Makaraka apparently on the way to Turanganui. This caused some little excitement, which, however soon passed off when it was found that the enemy came no nearer, but retired after discharging their rifles. We learned afterwards that it had been Te Kooti's intention to make an early attack on Turanganui, but the arrival of the St. Kilda probably caused him to change his plan. After this, numerous columns of smoke rising up in succession indicated the destruction of various homesteads.

Te Kooti's next move was to march on the friendly natives' pa at Oweta. As the occupants were not in a position to offer him any effective resistance the few men with arms left the pa before he arrived. On his arrival he told those he found there that he did not mean to fight them, but that they must join him and go with him. As they hesitated he said that if they would not join him he would have them all shot, this being his usual method of securing obedience to his orders. It was well known that such a threat from Te Kooti could not safely be disregarded, and the consent of all promptly followed. After food had been served he placed five of them under guard of Te Waru's men and took off all the rest across the Arai, presumably on their way to Puketapu, on the Ruakituri. When all were out of sight and hearing, the five men, in accordance with Te Kooti's orders, were all shot. Their names were Paratene Turangi, Iraia Riki, Renata Whakaari, Ihimaera Hokopu, and Hira Te Kai. Their offence apparently was that they were known to be friendly to the Government. The corpses of four were buried at Oweta on the 16th by people from Muriwai, but Hira Te Kai was found to be still alive, though he had received four bullet wounds and three bayonet thrusts. He was taken first to Te Muriwai, and three days later he was brought to Turanganui, where he page 248 was placed under the doctor's care, but he died on December 6th.

Te Kooti went off with his captives up the Okahuatiu Valley, and on the 16th a small party rode out from Turanganui to reconnoitre. They had not proceeded far before they fell in with Captain Wilson's eldest son, a boy of eight years, coming with a message written on a card, from his mother, who was still alive. He was brought in at once by one of the horsemen and Dr. Gibbs promptly started off with a party to bring Mrs. Wilson down.

“The story of Mrs. Wilson's sufferings and of her son's escape may here be briefly told. When the armed band came to the house in the small hours of the morning of the 10th Captain Wilson had not gone to bed, having been busy with correspondence for the outgoing mail. The door, after ineffectual attempts to induce him to open it, was broken down with a heavy piece of timber, but even so the assailants did not dare to go in.

“After some time shots were fired into the house, but without effect; at last the house was set on fire at both ends and the family was thus driven out. The party consisted of Captain and Mrs. Wilson, four children, one being an infant in arms, and Edward Moran. They had not gone far in the direction of their nearest neighbour, Goldsmith, before they were stabbed with bayonets, all but the eldest boy, James, who was with his father. When his father fell he scrambled away and was not pursued. He made his way to the house of Captain Bloomfield. which was about half a mile off, and lay down on the verandah. This would seem to have been about the time that the Bloomfield family were roused by Charles James and hurriedly left the house, but he did not see anything of them. For two days he wandered about finding a little food in one or other of the empty houses and hiding at times under a briar bush, but he saw no one. The first night he occupied an empty bed in the Bloomfield's house, but as he heard people about the house after he had gone to bed he betook himself on the second night to his hiding place under the briar bush, page 249 having a little dog ‘Flo’ as his companion. As he lay quietly there in the early morning he saw a large number of people come to the house, who, after they had carried off many things out of the house, set it on fire as well as other buildings in the neighbourhood, and went away. When the place was quiet again, and there seemed to be no one about, he ventured out from his hiding place, and wandered towards the site of his old home. He went first to the house of a Maori who gave him a little food, and then strolled round to the old premises. There he found his mother in a small building which had not been burnt.

“Mrs. Wilson, when she was struck down with a bayonet thrust through her body, received several wounds in her arms while trying to screen her infant daughter. She lay there in a helpless condition until the following day, her clothing consisting of a shawl over her nightdress. The shawl, however, was taken away from her by a Maori man who lived nearby, and who supposed her to be dead. On Wednesday she managed to raise herself sufficiently to see the several corpses and missed her eldest boy. She then with much labour crawled to the site of the burnt house and quenched her thirst with water from the tank. She found a small kettle which she filled with water and by persevering efforts, conveyed it, together with a broken bottle from which she might drink, to the building in which her son found her on the next day. She had no food for three days and the boy's first business was to find her something to eat. He found some eggs which he managed to cook under her direction, and he also got potatoes from the Maori man who had given him food. The boy had on a coat of his father's over his nightshirt, and in the pocket of the coat was a card case in which were a few cards and a small lead pencil. After several unsuccessful attempts Mrs. Wilson succeeded in writing a legible message on one of the cards which James might bring to Turanganui, the distance being nearly five miles. On two occasions the boy started, but missed the track near Makaraka and went back again. His third attempt was successful, and page 250 he was met by the reconnoitering party and brought in by one of the horsemen to Turanganui as stated above. The journey to Turanganui must have been rather a severe trial to Mrs. Wilson in her weak state, but as soon as she arrived she was carried across the river under the doctor's direction and placed in a room in my little cottage, where she was carefully tended by Mrs. Jennings, the wife of one of the military settlers. Her relatives were communicated with as soon as possible, and on the 27th her sister Mrs. Lowry arrived from Napier to do what she could for her. The doctor having strongly urged the move, she was taken to Napier on December 14th, but serious symptoms set in soon after she arrived, and she passed away on the 17th. Dr. Spencer, who attended her during the last three days, expressed great surprise that she had lived so long after sustaining such severe internal injuries.”

A force of 160 natives from Hawke's Bay arrived on November 13th, followed soon after by a few English volunteers, and another body of 180 natives with 30 Ngatiporou from Hicks Bay came to their assistance. On the 29th Rapata and Hotene with about 370 Ngatiporou who had been under Colonel Lambert at Wairoa arrived on the scene, having travelled overland, and three days later Te Kooti was driven from Te Karetu, and fell back upon Ngatapa, his losses in this fighting being over 65.

Further from “East Coast Records”: “Considerable excitement was caused late in the afternoon by a report that Te Kooti was at Patutahi with a considerable force, and also that about 20 refugees who had made their escape from Te Kooti were at a place about 5 miles up the Taruheru River. On making enquiries I was told by Hotene that a party of Ngatiporou was under orders to go and shoot all the party of refugees. I immediately reported the matter to Mr. Richmond, who spoke at once to Rapata and Hotene, telling them that a party which was told off for this service might escort the refugees to Turanganui without using any unnecessary violence. The men who were preparing to go were evidently much relieved by Mr. Richmond's version of the order. Scouts page 251 were sent out to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the report that Te Kooti was at Patutahi. These brought word that they had advanced far enough to satisfy themselves that the report was correct, and Colonel Whitmore started off early in the morning to Patutahi to find that the enemy was in the neighbourhood of Opou, on the Arai, where Finlay Ferguson, William Wyllie and a Maori had already been killed. A number of men were sent over with Major Roberts in the Sturt to the Waipaoa with a supply of ammunition, to the support of Ihaka Whanga, who had his men at Oweta. Te Kooti was then followed up, and was brought to bay on January 1st at Ngatapa, from which, when thoroughly investigated, there seemed to be no possible way of escape, but during the night of the 4th the greater part of the garrison made their way down the face of a cliff which had been left unguarded. As soon as day dawned their escape was discovered and they were immediately pursued and many of them were killed. Fourteen men were taken alive in the pa and about 66 women and children. Fifty–eight dead bodies testified to the terrible havoc made by the shells from the cohorn mortar. Their total loss during those few days was said to have been at least 125 killed, while the casualties on the other side were eleven killed and five seriously wounded. Te Kooti himself escaped, though not without a wound in the shoulder, which cannot have been of a serious character. He was now a fugitive, but as he was known to have so many sympathisers in various parts of the country it was impossible to feel confident that he would give no further trouble in this district.”

In April, 1910, Archdeacon W. L. Williams wrote the following: “The Hauhau and Ringatu. The section of the Maori people now commonly spoken of as ‘Ringatu’ we hear sometimes designated as Hauhau. This is misleading, inasmuch as Hauhauism lasted for a very short time. The system which is now known as Ringatu was not brought in till Hauhauism was pretty well forgotten. That this may be clearly understood it is page 252 worth while to call to mind something of the history and characteristics of Hauhauism.”

This is fully set out under the heading of The Hauhaus in Chapter XXII.

“Anyone who is even moderately acquainted with those who are known as Ringatu will see at a glance that there is very little of what has been said of the Hauhau applies to them. In fact the only point on which they agree is the rejection of Christianity and the hatred of the Pakeha. The Ringatu system was devised by Te Kooti on his escape from Chatham Island, if not during his residence there.

“His attitude at Whareongaonga where he landed was regarded by the friendly natives in that neighbourhood as one of decided hostility and defiance. He personally had undergone very serious provocation. Whatever other offences he may have committed he had never taken up arms against the Government, and yet he was deported to Chatham Island along with the prisoners who were taken at Waerenga–a–hika and elsewhere, as though he was one of them. His mind was thus embittered against those whom he considered to have been in any way connected with his deportation, and it is no matter for surprise that when the opportunity occurred of making his escape and of taking vengeance on those who had, as he considered, done him so great an injury, he availed himself of it.

“In a small manuscript which was found at Ngatapa some time after was a memorandum by him dated February 21st, 1867, at that time his illness being very severe he heard a voice telling him that he would be raised up again. This, as he was not aware of anyone being near him at the time, he spoke of to his fellow prisoners as the voice of God. In the same manuscript mention is made of the voice as having spoken to him on several subsequent occasions, on one of which he was bidden to stretch out his hand, on doing which the hand appeared to be in a blaze, though he felt no sensation of burning.

page 253

“In another manuscript which was found in another of the places which had been occupied by him are a number of prayers which were used by him and his followers, presumably compiled by Te Kooti. Some of these contain expressions from the Psalms in which the Psalmist prayed for deliverance from his enemies. One of them was to be used by his followers when loading their guns, and is under the heading of ‘He inoi Puru Pu.’ In none of them is there any reference to our Lord Jesus Christ, but all are addressed to Jehovah, and each is concluded with the words ‘Kororia ki to ingoa Tapu. Amine’ (Glory to thy Holy Name, Amen). When I visited the Bay of Plenty with Bishop Stuart in 1878 we found that the religious exercises of Te Kooti's followers in that district consisted in the recitation in common of a cento of passages from the Psalms and some other portions of the old Testament chiefly of a warlike tone, followed by some prayers of the same character as those contained in the above mentioned manuscript. We were asked whether any objection could be taken to these exercises, seeing that they were couched in the very words of Holy Scripture. The obvious answer was that they made no reference whatever to what our Lord Jesus Christ had done and suffered on our behalf; they implied a deliberate rejection of the salvation which was wrought for us by him. At Te Teko we were told in so many words by one of their leaders that they had abandoned the way of the Son and had taken the way of the Father. In after years the force of our objection came to be recognised, to obviate it Our Saviour's name has been introduced into their prayers, but they pay no deference to his teaching, they seem to have no sense of sin, nor do they recognise any necessity for deliverance from it. Their children moreover, as far as any teaching of theirs is concerned, are growing up in heathen ignorance.

“To emphasise their abandonment of the religion which they had been taught by the Missionaries, the observance of the first day of the week by abstaining from ordinary work was discontinued, and the observance of the seventh day substituted for it. Their religious page 254 exercises are generally performed early in the morning, and on Saturday the rest of the day is spent in amusement or in idleness till the time of their evening devotions.”

“The twelfth day of each month is observed, in accordance with Te Kooti's directions, by their gathering together in some convenient centre in each district, and going through their religious exercises on Saturday. The reason of this observance is not very obvious.

“The name Ringatu was given to them by others because it was originally their practice to hold up the hand when ascribing glory to God at the conclusion of their prayers. Another self-styled prophet of later date than Te Kooti was Himiona of Motiti in the Bay of Plenty, whose teaching was followed by a number of the Arawa of Maketu and the neighbourhood. His system though not savouring of war, like that of Te Kooti, resembled in other respects the later developments of it, the observance of the seventh day being a prominent feature. Owing to this the followers of Himiona have all been reckoned as Ringatu. Many of these, however, have already acknowledged that they had been led astray, and have returned to seek the satisfaction of their soul's need in the simple acceptance of the gift of God. In their secession, for which they had no particular reason, they perhaps regarded themselves as merely forming one more separatist Christian body.

“After the eruption of Tarawera in June, 1886, Himiona rashly ventured to predict that a similar eruption would occur in the same place in the following April. As this prediction was not fulfilled, his reputation as a prophet suffered considerably, notwithstanding that the failure was attributed by some of his followers to the earnestness of their prayers that the eruption might not occur.

“In the early period of the war the disaffected Maoris used to talk about Ruru–atamai (knowing owl) and Ruru–wareware (simple owl) meaning by the former the Pakeha, and by the latter the Maori. They also got the notion into their heads that the Ruru–atamai had shown page 255 his sagacity by sending missionaries to put the Ruruwareware off his guard, and inducing him to accept Christianity, and then, when the time was ripe, bringing in an armed force to oust the simpleton from his land. This notion accounts in some degree for the obstinacy with which the Kooti-ite section of the Ringatu maintain their attitude of aloofness from any Christian teaching.?”