1878 - Buller, James. Forty years in New Zealand - PART I. PERSONAL NARRATIVE - CHAPTER V. NATIVE MARTYRS.

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  1878 - Buller, James. Forty years in New Zealand - PART I. PERSONAL NARRATIVE - CHAPTER V. NATIVE MARTYRS.
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ONE Sunday in 1837, the usual number of natives had not come to Mangungu, by reason of bad weather. Morning service was just ended, when a party came from the village of Roto-pipiwai, at the head of the Mangamuka, greatly agitated. They told us that four teachers had been fired at, and two of them killed. It was some time before we could learn the painful details. After they had composed themselves, they informed us that in the morning four young chiefs went to a small settlement, in a clearing a few miles away, to preach to some people who lived there. The names of the young men were Wiremu Patene, Matiu, Rihimona, and Hohepa Otane. The party, whom they were going to visit, was a desperate gang, headed by a chief called "Kaitoke" (worm-eater). This man was connected with a noted priest, Te atua wero (red god), who, like many of his order, was a skilful ventriloquist. He was believed to be inspired. From him Kaitoke had received a present of some muskets and ball cartridges, with the assurance that, in using these, he would be invulnerable, and would always do execution,

This Kaitoke and his party had been often visited by the teachers, but had told them if they came again they would kill them. The older people very properly tried

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to persuade them to discontinue their attempts; but, with more zeal than judgment, the young men persisted, saying that the Saviour had commanded His Gospel to be preached to all men. They went, and were shot. Matiu lived long enough to say that he hoped no one would revenge his death. Rihimona received two balls, --one went through his body, the other lodged within. He endured great agony, and, after some days, died in peace, praying for his murderers. Wiremu Patene escaped with a perforated blanket. Hohepa Otane was not yet within range. He went back to the village with the sad tidings, and Wiremu Patene, a handsome young chieftain, stayed by the dead and the dying. He was told, with threats, to go, but he would not leave his friends. Hone Wetere, a noble man and a most useful teacher, had been a renowned warrior in his day; and he and others came to the place, and conveyed the bodies home. Some of the murderers declared they would cook them, but in this they were overruled by Kaitoke.

This was the mournful message brought to us on that Sunday. As soon as the boat could be prepared, Messrs. Turner, Whiteley, and Buller started for the place of mourning, and several canoes accompanied us. It was dark when we arrived at Mangataipai. Here we had to leave our boat, the stream being shallow, and proceed in a small canoe. There was much excitement in the settlement. We shook hands, in silence, with the friends of the martyred. They led us, across a potato-field, to a little hut. There we saw the dead body of Matiu, decently laid out, and many making lamentation over him. Rihimona was lying in the arms of his sister, and was suffering greatly. The first rush of feeling had

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subsided; and we listened, with painful interest, to the incidents of the tragic tale.

We were eating a supper of boiled potatoes at eleven p.m., when an alarm was given of the approach of an armed party. It proved to be the Ihutai, a heathen tribe, but related to the deceased. According to New Zealand custom, all the kin of the slain, or the outraged, were bound to espouse their cause, and to have revenge. There was no small danger that this sad affair might lead to a serious war. The Christian natives would take advice, but the heathens could not be easily restrained. Our counsel was that no steps be taken, at present, for the punishment of the evil doers, but to send to the Bay of Islands, for Mr. Busby, the British Resident, and with him to hold a conference with the chiefs to consider the matter. This was agreed to, after long discussion. Then, wrapping ourselves in our cloaks, we lay down on the floor of the chapel to court "Nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep."

At five a.m. next morning we were awakened by the singing of the morning hymn. After prayer and breakfast, we walked some way up this beautiful valley, rich in crops of maize, potatoes, kumaras, etc., and the little huts nestled snugly under the spreading branches of the peach trees, or the karaka groves. Soon we heard the report of musketry, repeated at times. At ten a.m. there was the sound of paddles. Then a formidable party arrived on the ground, armed with guns, hatchets, spears, etc. A war dance and a sham-fight followed, and the quiet of the place was exchanged for confusion and noise. Mohi, Nene, Taonui, and other chiefs, harangued the people. Some advocated summary vengeance, but peaceable measures

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at last prevailed. Hohepa Otane said: "Jesus Christ did not want revenge when He was crucified, and is it right that His followers should?"

While the talk lasted, pigs were slaughtered and put into the ovens, with abundant supplies of potatoes, etc The meal had ended. Mr. Turner was kneeling by the side of Rihimona, commending him to God, when a movement was descried in the direction of Kaitoke's village. Some of the young men had stolen away, and others were following them. Very soon there was a general stampede through the forest track. We went with them. Expecting an attack, the aggressors had thrown up an entrenchment. Not less than five hundred armed natives appeared in front of them. Confident in their security, the entrenched party opened fire. Presently Himeona, a Christian chief, was killed, and another was wounded. The firing then became general. Musket balls were hissing about our heads as we took refuge under some trees. Our situation becoming unsafe, and our presence of no avail, we left, after being there full two hours.

A rush was made--ten men were killed, and the rest captured. Kaitoke was wounded and taken prisoner, with the others, to Otararau, where he was attended by the missionaries.

For many days there was great uncertainty as to the issue of this event. Noise, bustle, anxiety prevailed; war canoes passed and repassed; dances shook the very ground; war songs rent the air; the traders were alarmed; native tribes were moved. No one could tell what next might happen. Pahs were built, and other preparations for defence made. In our meetings for prayer we asked the Lord to overrule these things

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for good. One thing was clear, Papahurihia's 1 influence was broken. Nothing was more damaging to the reputation of a priest than failure. Kaitoke had been deceived by him, and threatened vengeance.

A party of marauders from an inland valley, Oruru, came on some of the settlers for pillage. They robbed Mrs. Mitchell's house. Messrs. Turner and Whiteley, and a number of natives, opportunely arrived at the place, and they decamped, taking with them what they could. The family removed to Mangungu with their moveable property. A carpenter called Reeves was plundered of all he had. Mr. Hunt lived a little further on: from him they stole what they could carry away, including eighteen sovereigns, and destroyed the rest, among which was a pianoforte. Armed parties, for attack or defence, went up and down.

One morning a flotilla of canoes, in war style, was making for the station. Our natives collected on the beach ready to repel any assault. A conflict now seemed inevitable; but, to our great relief, the visitors were found to be under the guidance of Pi, who had come for the purpose of ending the disquietude. A feast followed, with many speeches. We rejoiced over the peaceable termination of the mournful affair, and recognized therein the triumph of Christian principle over heathen practices.

Throughout the whole, our Christian chiefs had used all their efforts on the side of peace. Among them, old Haimona Pita was unremitting in his endeavours. He was once the terror of his enemies, but had become as gentle as a lamb. He died in 1839. Not long before his death, he said to one of the missionaries who was

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visiting him, "Don't ask the Lord to keep me here any longer. I have taken leave of my people and children. My heart is in heaven, and I long to depart." Such was the closing scene of one who had been a notorious cannibal! Kaitoke himself became a professed Christian. The first time that he attended the service in the Mangungu Church, Wiremu Patene engaged in prayer, and made special mention of his would-be murderer, that God would give him a new heart. And old Papahurihia himself received Christian baptism before he died. So "the Lord maketh the wrath of man to praise Him, and the remainder of wrath doth He restrain."

1   Atua-wero.

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