1932 - Williams, W. L. East Coast N.Z. Historical Records - CHAPTER IX

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  1932 - Williams, W. L. East Coast N.Z. Historical Records - CHAPTER IX
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When Te Kooti was allowed by Tawhiao to remain in the King country where his pursuers were forbidden to follow him, he settled down quietly at Te Kuiti, and, inasmuch as anywhere outside the King country he would be absolutely defenceless with a reward of £5000 offered for his capture, he was under no inducement to venture beyond the boundaries of his asylum. To the Maori King and his immediate followers he seemed to be an object of pity rather than of direct sympathy, though Rewi Maniapoto was inclined to treat him as a friend, and, as his residence among them brought them no embarrassment, they were content to leave him very much

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to himself, and to the attentions of any of his friends from other parts, who might choose to visit him. Of these there were not a few, and though he had now no armed following he still exercised an extraordinary influence on those who had supported him in the past, including the Ngaiterangi, of Tauranga, the Whakatohea of Opotiki, the Tuhoe people between Whakatane and Waikaremoana, besides some smaller sections of the people in other parts. By these he was frequently consulted on questions of all kinds, the greatest deference being paid to his opinion and his advice would be implicitly followed whatever inconvenience it might occasion to those to whom it was given. On one occasion, when visiting the section of the Tuhoe people living to the south of Waikaremoana, I found that they were all scattered about the country away from their ordinary habitations and apparently without any special object, the only reason assigned for the movement being that Te Kooti had advised it; nor did they seem to have any definite notion of anything untoward that might have been apprehended if they had ignored the advice given to them. Soon after Bishop Stuart assumed the charge of the diocese I accompanied him on a visit which he paid to those parts which had been most disastrously affected by the late war, with the view of ascertaining at first hand the religious condition of the natives. We travelled through most of the settlements in the Bay of Plenty, then visited Taupo, and afterwards I went through the Tuhoe country on the headwaters of the Whakatane and Waimana Rivers. The Whanau-a-Apanui tribe at Raukokore and Te Kaha and the Ngaitai at Torere in the eastern part of the Bay of Plenty, the Arawa at Maketu and Rotorua, as well as the Ngati Tuwharetoa on the north and east of Taupo lake, were found to be for the most part maintaining their profession of Christianity, though with much laxity of practice on the part of the majority. On the other hand, the Whakatohea at Opotiki, the Tuhoe at Ruatahuna and Maungapowhatu, the Ngaiterangi at Tauranga, who had all been opposed to the Government in the war, and on whose mind the notion seemed to have taken a firm hold that the missionaries had acted a deceitful part towards them, had all, with very few exceptions, adopted Te Kooti's form of worship. By Te Kooti's direction they ignored the Lord's Day and observed Saturday as a day of rest from ordinary works, but apparently without any special religious observances besides their usual morning and evening devotions. The usual practice for morning and evening was that after one who acted as leader had said, "Let us sing to Jehovah," a cento of verses from the Old Testament was chanted in unison by the whole assembly. This being concluded the leader recited a few short prayers addressed to "Jehovah," to which the people responded with a loud and somewhat prolonged "Amen." As the prayers and the passages of Scripture which were used, were fixed in the memory of all by constant repetition, the office of leader required no special qualifications. When travelling through the Tuhoe country we brought up one evening at a place called Tawhana, where there was one good-sized whare occupied by a family of three generations, viz., an elderly couple, a young couple, and a small infant. Though these were Ringatu they treated us hospitably, and allowed me and my companions to occupy the outer end of the building. As soon as day dawned the infant disturbed the grandmother, and while she was paying attention to it the old man was roused. He immediately sat up and began to recite the "karakia." This roused the other two and the four adults chanted the Scripture verses in unison, after which the old man

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recited the prayers, the other three responding with the "Amen." My companions were still sound asleep and my hosts did not know that I was awake. We had our prayers soon afterwards in which our hosts did not join us. The promptness with which these Ringatu began their devotions as the very first business of the day was very striking and very commendable.

Though the Sabbath was not marked by any special religious exercises Te Kooti laid great emphasis on the twelfth day of the month, and it has been the usual practice of the Ringatu in any district to meet together on that day at one or other of their settlements for special observances. Whether or not Te Kooti assigned any particular reason for this regulation, it is enough for those who observe the day that Te Kooti ordered it.

In most of the Ringatu settlements we were treated with civility, and in some with genuine old-fashioned Maori hospitality, though, so far from showing any disposition to return to the practice of Christianity as they had been taught by the. Missionaries, they were rather inclined to lay stress on the points wherein they differed from us. At Tuwharua and Te Koingo, on the Waimana, where we were delayed two days by the weather and were hospitably entertained by the chiefs Rakuraku and Tamaikowha, we were asked to sit by while the Ringatu recited their devotions, it being apparently anticipated that we should not be able to make any serious objection to them. Their manner was reverent and the petitions contained in the prayers were framed in language taken from the Old Testament, but the obvious objection to the whole system was that it was anti-Christian, being a deliberate rejection of all that the love of God has provided for sinners in Jesus Christ.

The only place where we were received with discourtesy was Kokohinau, near Te Teko. We had been unexpectedly delayed at Matata and were rather late in arriving at Te Teko, where we were accommodated at the hotel. After getting some refreshment we walked down to the pa at Kokohinau, where we found the people assembled in a large whare and possibly engaged in some special business which was interrupted by our arrival. As soon as we were seated we were addressed by their leader, Tiopira in tones which seemed to make it quite clear that our presence was not desired. He began by saying, "You have not visited us for years, and now that you have come to us again you find that we have given up the way of the Son and have adopted instead the way of the Father"; by which he would have us to understand that they had renounced Christianity though they professed to regard Jehovah as their father. As Tiopira was their chief spokesman, and was disinclined to listen to anything that we, had to say, our visit was not prolonged.

At Tokaanu on the southern shore of Lake Taupo, where there was a Roman Catholic mission, not far from the Rev. T. S. Grace's old station, most of the people seemed to be indifferent or to consider themselves to be adherents of the Maori King not only in politics, but also in matters of religion. In the course of our visit to this place one man remarked that the people connected with the Roman Catholic mission had no good reason for neglecting their religion, but that the case was very different with those who had been in connection with the Church of England mission.

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On being asked for an explanation he adduced Bishop Selwyn's presence at Rangiahoia at the time of the fighting there in 1864, when some women and children were said to have lost their lives in a whare which was burnt by the troops. When he was asked what part the Bishop took in the proceedings at Rangiahoia, he mentioned the name of a man whom he had met on the road who, he said, could testify that the Bishop was there, and that he heard him call out after the firing had ceased, "any who are wounded come to me." They could not understand his presence there as having any other meaning than that he had ranged himself distinctly on the side of their enemies, though it needed no argument to prove that one who did nothing but succour their wounded could not be their enemy. This explanation was promptly given, but did not necessarily carry conviction.

At Marumohue, on the Waiotahe, near Opotiki, we found Te Waru and his people, who belonged properly to Whataroa, on the River Wairoa, in Hawke's Bay. After the conclusion of the war it was not considered that Te Waru's life would be safe if he were to return to Whataroa or to any place in that neighbourhood, as there was very bitter feeling against him in that district on account of his complicity in the treacherous murder of Karaitiana and three others at Whataroa in 1868. The Government, therefore, had placed him and his people on this portion of the land which had been confiscated that he might be out of harm's way. He had been a very strong supporter of Te Kooti, but whatever he may have been in the past he now disclaimed connection with the Ringatu and made no profession of religion of any kind.

The information obtained on these journeys showed plainly the character of the work which lay before the church in this part of the diocese. The older missionaries were far advanced in years, and the Rev. George Maunsell, who had been placed at Tauranga in 1875, was the only really able-bodied missionary in the district.

There was urgent need of reinforcements, but these were not immediately available. Two recruits had just arrived from England, one of whom was to have been placed at Taupo, but proved to be unsuited for Maori work. The other, Mr. W. Goodyear, was not in Holy Orders and had been sent out to help in the work on the East Coast.

As far as the general public was concerned Te Kooti had for years been little more than a historical character. He was known to be at Te Kuiti, but his name was seldom mentioned until the Act of Amnesty was passed in August, 1882. After this he came to be very much in evidence, and whereas a few years before he had been hunted as an outlaw, he now came to be treated by those who were in authority with very special consideration. After the passing of the Act the Native Minister took an early opportunity of paying a special visit to Te Kuiti for the purpose of shaking hands with Te Kooti; but the reason why, among all the people to whom the Act applied, Te Kooti should have been selected as the object of this particular compliment, is not very obvious. He certainly had been grievously sinned against by the Government, and that fact might well be held to justify the condoning of the atrocities which he had committed by way of avenging himself, and to account for his not having been excluded from the operation of the Act of Amnesty, but there was at least one crime of which he was guilty which had nothing of a political character

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about it. This was the cruel murder of Warihi whom he ordered to be thrown overboard from the "Rifleman" on the voyage from Chatham Island. A further mark of Ministerial regard was the appropriation of a sum of £600 of the public funds to the purchase of land for his benefit.

Having now been assured of the hearty goodwill of the Government Te Kooti soon began to visit his Maori friends in various parts of the country, travelling generally with a band of 150 or 200 followers. In March, 1884, he announced his intention of paying a visit to Poverty Bay in the following summer. As his route would most probably lie through Mohaka and Wairoa the announcement caused no little excitement among the relatives of the victims of the massacres of 1868 and 1869, especially as it was stated that he would be accompanied by a large number of people of the Waikato, Tuhoe and other tribes. Representations were made to the Native Minister that, if he should carry out his intention there would probably be trouble and possibly bloodshed, and it was suggested that, if possible, the visit should be forbidden on the ground that it might lead to a breach of the peace. The people at Mohaka who had been staunch supporters of the Government during the disturbances on the East Coast, and fifty-seven of whom had been cut off by Te Kooti in his raid in 1869, had always said that if he should come near the place again he should forfeit his life. As soon as they heard of the proposed visit they proceeded at once to build a strong pa, so as to be ready against all emergencies. Mr. Ballance, the Native Minister, opened communication with Te Kooti and he was persuaded to relinquish the project. In the following year, it was announced that he intended to visit Wairoa on the invitation of some of his friends in that district. As in order to do this he must necessarily pass through Mohaka the people of that place were much disturbed, and a deputation of them in company with Renata Kawepo and other Heretaunga chiefs waited upon Captain Preece, then Resident Magistrate at Napier, begging him to urge the Government to prevent Te Kooti from coming and so obviate the possibility of a disturbance of the peace. The only answer that they could get from the Native Minister, was that Te Kooti had now been pardoned, and therefore was at liberty to use the usual highways like any other man, and Captain Preece was directed to reason with the deputation and to persuade them, if possible, to offer no opposition to Te Kooti. After much discussion an agreement was come to through the influence of the Rev. Hoani Te Wainohu, the Native clergyman at Mohaka, that Te Kooti should be allowed to go along the high road, but that if he should venture off the road in the neighbourhood of their pa, he would do so at his peril. The case would have been different if Te Kooti had been intending to travel with two or three companions only, but what especially hurt the feelings of the Mohaka people was that he was intending to come through the scene of his former atrocities as a hero in a kind of triumphal procession with a whole army of followers. The visit took place towards the end of December, 1885. The Government took the precaution of sending extra police to Wairoa, directed the ferryman at Mohaka to put Te Kooti's party of about 200 across the river without charge, and gave him £10 for his trouble. The pa stood about thirty yards off the main road, and as Te Kooti passed escorted by a half-caste policeman several men within the pa kept him covered with loaded rifles ready to shoot him if he should leave the road and go towards the pa. When opposite the pa Te Kooti called out to the people within, but getting no response proceeded on his way.

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As he passed on his return a week afterwards the people in the pa maintained the same attitude. These people had always borne a very high character, but that the Government should encourage and assist Te Kooti as they did, in his quasi-triumphal procession past their pa, was to submit their loyalty and sense of duty to a very severe strain. It was mainly owing to the influence of the Rev. Hoani Te Wainohu, that no disturbance took place. As the visit passed off without any breach of the peace the notion came to be entertained by many that the risk of such a thing, happening had been grossly exaggerated, but such knew nothing of the intensity of feeling on the part of the Mohaka people nor of the circumstances which were the cause of it.

In the following summer Te Kooti passed through Napier on his way to Porangahau, but his proceedings attracted little attention except from the small party who had invited him. He was still hoping to pay a visit to Poverty Bay notwithstanding that the Rongowhakaata tribe had expressed a strong objection to his doing so. His supporters there were the Aitangi-a-Mahaki tribe, living chiefly in the neighbourhood of Te Karaka, who had erected a large whare for his reception. In January, 1889, he announced definitely his intention to pay his proposed visit. Early in February he went to Auckland and while he was there he saw the Hon. E. Mitchelson, who was then Native Minister, and who tried to dissuade him from going to Poverty Bay, alleging as the reason the great opposition to him which had already been manifested there. Te Kooti, however, had made up his mind and refused to alter his plans. On February 22nd he passed through Opotiki to Omarumutu with some 200 followers and was joined there by about 100 more. In the meantime preparations were already in progress in Poverty Bay for opposing his entry into the district. A meeting of settlers had been held at Makaraka on the 18th, at which an influential committee was appointed to take such steps as might be deemed to be necessary, 100 volunteers were enrolled and a sum of £50 was subscribed at once towards any expenses that might have to be incurred. The first reports of the local opposition to Te Kooti's visit were made light of at Wellington, where it seemed to be thought that nothing extraordinary was likely to happen, inasmuch as nothing had happened under similar circumstances at Mohaka three years before. But when the people began to take the law into their own hands and to show that they were in real earnest the Premier, Sir H. Atkinson, came at once to Gisborne, and sent an urgent message to Te Kooti at Omarumutu telling him not to come on. As this message was not complied with it was decided that Te Kooti should be arrested as one whose action was likely to result in a disturbance of the peace, and on the 25th a force of Europeans and Maoris was dispatched from Gisborne to Opotiki. Four days afterwards Te Kooti was arrested at Waiotahe, and, on being brought before the Resident Magistrate at Opotiki, was bound over to keep the peace. He was taken to Auckland, and as soon as the necessary sureties were obtained he was released and returned to Waikato. The action of Sir H. Atkinson in this matter was the subject of a good deal of unfavourable criticism which was borne out soon afterwards by the decision of the Supreme Court, but that decision was subsequently set aside by the Court of Appeal. The circumstances were certainly exceptional. Had Te Kooti been allowed to come on from Omarumutu there would have been an assemblage of 800 or more of his partisans, some 200 having already come

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over to Te Karaka from Wairoa and other places. This fact alone would have served to increase the tension of feeling and a breach of the peace would have been a by no means remote contingency.

Te Kooti made no further attempt after this to visit Poverty Bay, and he died at Ohiwa on April 17th, 1893.

In 1881, a conference of missionaries was held in Auckland to consider what steps it might be possible to take for the furtherance of the work of the church among the Maoris, especially in the disaffected districts. The Church Missionary Society was already contemplating its withdrawal from New Zealand, and no additional help therefore could be looked for from that quarter. In order that a supply of the necessary agents should be provided for it was decided that a central training institution should be set on foot as soon as possible at Gisborne, which could be supported by the proceeds of properly which had been acquired by the CM. Society in past years for the purposes of the mission.

In the following year arrangements were made by the CM. Society for transferring the management of the mission to a board, to be called the New Zealand Mission Trust Board, which should consist of three Anglican Bishops in the North Island, ex officio, and of one clergyman and one layman representing each of the three North Island Dioceses, the Society engaging to continue its help, but at a steadily decreasing rate, for twenty years, after which it would be responsible for nothing more than the support of such of the old European ordained missionaries as should be still on its roll. It was anticipated at the same time that the Church in New Zealand would accept responsibility for missionary work among the Maoris. The property which had been acquired by the Society for the purposes of the mission was convoyed to the New Zealand Mission Trust Board, which took over the superintendence of the work in January, 1883.

Among the first proceedings of the board was the placing of the Rev. W. Goodyear, who had then been ordained to the Priesthood, at Maketu, in the Bay of Plenty. Since that time native clergymen have been stationed at various places in that district, with the result, under the blessing of God, that much improvement is now evident among those who had maintained their profession of Christianity, while work among the Ringatu has met with considerable encouragement, notably at Tauranga and at Ruatoki, on the Whakatane River. But those in the Waiapu, Poverty Bay and Wairoa districts still hold themselves very much aloof from Christian instruction. In accordance with Te Kooti's instructions they have avoided all intercourse with Mormon teachers, but they have no formal creed, and their religious observances consist simply in the recital of the forms taught them by Te Kooti, combined with the revival of some of their old superstitions. The fact that they address their devotions to Jehovah and that they have introduced the Saviour's Name into some of their prayers tends to make the task of winning them over to Christianity more difficult inasmuch as they claim that their prayers are addressed to the God whom the Christians worship, and that there is no necessity for doing what, from their point of view, would be merely altering the method of their worship. The schools which have been planted by the Government in all the Maori districts have had a beneficial effect in making the younger generations more accessible than their fathers and grandfathers who were

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actively opposed to the Government in the war time and there is therefore a brighter prospect opening for working among them.

After the capture of the Hauhau pa at Waerenga-a-hika the school estate remained for some time unoccupied, except that one building which was weather proof was inhabited at times by a detachment of the Armed Constabulary. The resumption of such occupations as were in progress before the Hauhau invasion were out of the question. There was no money available for the restoration of buildings and fences, and the only course open to the trustees was to let the property and allow the funds to accumulate until such time as it might be possible to erect the necessary buildings and to carry on such work as that for which the property was held in trust. Owing to the troubles of 1868 no tenant could be induced to occupy it until 1869, and additional delay in the resumption of educational work was caused by the fact that in the original occupation of the estate it had been necessary to borrow money in order to make such occupation possible, and the repayment of this money became a first charge on the income of the estate. In 1889 the necessary buildings were taken in hand and a school for Maori boys was opened in the following July so that the estate is now being used again for the purpose for which it was originally set apart.

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