MURDER MOST FOUL

The year 1865 was full of incident. Fifteen years had gone by since
Russell had bewailed the choice of Auckland as the capital, since
Wellington had stormily asserted her right of elder birth, since men
here and there with nothing better to suggest had demanded petulantly,
“Why should it be Auckland, any way?” It was now Auckland’s turn to
lament; for, in the opinion of those qualified to judge, the central
position of Wellington justified the transference thither of the seat
of Government.

There is no way yet discovered of pleasing everybody; but, in order
that the choice might be strictly impartial, the Governors of New South
Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania were requested to decide upon the best
site for the capital, while they were given to understand that the spot
selected must be somewhere on the shores of Cook Strait, that being the
geographical centre of the colony.

The Governors inspected the region without prejudice in favour of
existing towns, and unanimously decided that “Wellington, in Port
Nicholson, was the site upon the shores of Cook Strait which presented
the greatest advantages for the administration of the government of
the colony.” No method of selection could have been more just, and in
February, 1865, the seat of Government was removed from Auckland to
Wellington.

The second notable event–the third in order of sequence–was the
surrender of the celebrated Waikato chief, Wiremu Tamihana Te Waharoa
(William Thompson), whose persistent energy had put so much heart into
the insurgents. With his submission the Waikato war proper ended, and
this although many Waikato joined the Hauhau movement. The conflict was
not over; but the Waikato as a tribe withdrew from it. Some of their
land had been confiscated, they had got the worst of the fight, and,
though they still clung to their principles regarding the sale of land
and the establishment of a Maori dynasty, they now acknowledged the
might of the Government to be something beyond their power to overthrow.

The submission of Wiremu Tamihana influenced not the wild fanatics
who were being recruited from almost every tribe of note in the North
Island, and whose expressed determination it was to drive the Pakeha
Rat into the sea. They would fight and die for Maoriland, if need be;
but they would never give in. Not all of them believed the horrible
creed which Te Ua had invented; but even these were content to be
classed as Hauhau, if so they might help to free their country from the
domination of the Pakeha.

“Good wine needs no bush,” and if ever a cause was spoiled by the
character and behaviour of its adherents, it was this; if ever a body
of men in arms in the sacred name of patriotism earned, and rightly
earned, the detestation and vengeance of their foes, the Hauhau did
so at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of their war. The
very Maori loathed their name and character, and these, concerned for
the honour of their race, fought as strenuously against their degraded
countrymen as did the whites with whom they were allied.

Between February, when Wellington became the capital, and June the
17th, when Wiremu Tamihana surrendered, an innocent missionary was
murdered by his own flock under circumstances which served to show
that, even at that late day, there were Maori who required but little
persuasion to induce them to slip back into the pit of savagery out of
which they had, it was hoped, climbed for all time.

The Church of England Mission Station at Opotiki (Bay of Plenty)
had been for some years presided over by the Rev. C.S. Voelkner, an
energetic and successful missionary. His station was among some of the
wildest, least civilised tribes of the Maori; but his devotion had
gained him the respect, and even the goodwill, of the fierce, untamed
fellows in whose midst he dwelt.

When the war rolled almost to his door, Mr. Voelkner judged it wise to
take his wife to Auckland; but he himself came backwards and forwards
to the disturbed district. In February, during the missionary’s
absence, Opotiki was visited by two prophets, Patara of the Taranaki,
and Kereopa of the Ngati-Porou, with a number of Taranaki Hauhau at
their heels. The Whakatohea were ripe for any mischief as it was, and
readily embraced the new creed, their conversion being accompanied by
much revolting ritual.

Feeling already ran high against the absent missionary, the Whakatohea
having allowed themselves to be persuaded that he was hostile to the
Maori cause, and desirous of breaking up the tribes.

Patara, who cannot have been all bad, wrote warning Mr. Voelkner not to
return to Opotiki; but the missionary unfortunately arrived on the very
next day, in a schooner, accompanied by a colleague, the Rev. Mr. Grace.

Mr. Voelkner was at once informed that he was to be killed, but refused
to believe that the people among whom he had laboured would prove false
to his teaching. A few hearts were softened towards him; but Kereopa
would brook neither denial nor delay, and on the following day took out
Mr. Voelkner and hanged him upon a willow-tree, shooting him through
the body before life was extinct. The fierce Hauhau then swallowed the
eyes and drank the blood of his victim.

Mr. Grace was in great danger; for the fanatics, having literally
tasted blood, clamoured for more. For fourteen days the unfortunate man
endured agonies of suspense, and his relief must have been intense when
H.M.S. _Eclipse_ appeared outside the bar. Owing to Patara’s influence,
the missionary was free to wander within the boundaries of the Opotiki
plain, and this circumstance, along with the absence of most of the
Hauhau at a feast, helped to effect his escape.

As he was watching the crew of the schooner shifting cargo, one of the
sailors murmured, “Go down to the point, and we will get you off.” Mr.
Grace obeyed with assumed carelessness, and a moment later was in the
schooner’s boat, speeding towards the _Eclipse_. Two of the boats from
the man-of-war dashed up the river immediately afterwards and towed
the schooner over the bar, when no time was lost in leaving Opotiki of
tragic memory.

Three months later the ruffians at Opotiki again drenched themselves
with blood, murdering the crew of a cutter and Mr. Fulloon, a
Government agent, who was on board as a passenger. Mr. Fulloon was a
Maori of distinguished lineage on his mother’s side; but, nevertheless,
at the order of Horomona, the Hauhau, one Kirimangu shot the poor man
while asleep with his own revolver. Kirimangu was captured and hanged;
but Kereopa managed to evade his doom for seven years, when justice,
long disappointed, made sure of him.

Kereopa and his Hauhau were not allowed to pursue their wicked way
unchecked. As soon as they could be spared from Whanganui, five hundred
men of the Military Settlers, the Bush Rangers, the Native Contingent,
and the Whanganui Yeomen Cavalry were ordered to Opotiki, under Majors
Brassey and McDonnell, the latter of whom could effect things with the
Native Contingent which few other officers could bring about. Not only
was McDonnell familiar with the Maori, but he knew their language and
their country, so that he met them on their own ground in their own
manner. He was brave to rashness, but this was hardly a fault in Maori
eyes.

The column accomplished some good, and captured Moko Moko and Hakaraia,
who were immediately informed that they could not be treated as
prisoners of war, but would be tried for the murder of Mr. Voelkner,
in which they had been concerned. After a good deal of successful
skirmishing, the force returned to Whanganui, their chief casualty
occurring on the way.

The mate of the transport loaded a small cannon for the amusement
of some friendlies, but the gun would not “go off,” whereupon the
searchers after entertainment peeped inquiringly down the muzzle. The
humoursome cannon chose that particular moment to indulge in a belated
explosion, which fortunately did no more than wound the mate and two of
the Maori. The outcome of the accident was the refusal of the Native
Contingent to proceed after so evil an omen.

The superstitious fellows actually surrounded the capstan and prevented
the weighing of the anchor, until one of themselves, Lieutenant
Wirihana, an exceptionally strong man and one of the best officers in
the contingent, swung the ringleader up in his arms and made to heave
him overboard. A round dozen of the offender’s relatives rushed the
officer, and even then with difficulty prevented disaster to their
cousin.




Kereopa, tired of dodging about the region round Opotiki, struck
across country for Poverty Bay, preaching his perverted gospel as he
went. Behind him followed Patara, intent to prevent his fellow-prophet
from too free an indulgence in his lust for blood. Patara more than
suspected his colleague of an intention to murder Bishop Williams,
and this he was determined not to allow. Kereopa had good ground in
which to sow his evil seed, yet many of the leading chiefs among the
Ngati-Porou not only refused to join him, but requested the Government
to supply them with firearms, so that they might adequately deal with
the monster. The request was sensibly granted, and Ropata and his
chiefs kept the Hauhau busy until the arrival of Captain Fraser and his
colonials.

Ropata showed the manner of man he was in the fights which followed. A
dozen of his own sub-tribe (Aowera, of the _iwi_ of Ngati-Porou) had
been taken, fighting among the Hauhau. Ropata set them before him in a
row and said, more in sorrow than in anger, “This is my word to you, O
foolish children. You are about to die. I do not kill you because you
fought against me, but because you disobeyed my orders and joined the
Hauhau.” He then shot every man of the twelve with his own hand.

Like master, like man. On one occasion a couple of fleeing Hauhau
encountered one of Ropata’s dispatch-bearers and, delighted to make
a capture, haled him in the direction of Patara’s camp. But they had
caught a Tartar, though they were left little time to realise it.
Ropata’s man, with every sense alert, noticed that the _tupara_ carried
by one of his captors was capped and cocked. Assuming the gun to be
loaded, the prisoner suddenly snatched it, wheeled like lightning and
shot the other guard. Number one could, of course, make no resistance,
and was almost immediately shot dead with the second barrel of his own
gun. The cleverness of the prisoner in first shooting the armed guard
illustrates very well the quick-wittedness of the average Maori.

In September, Sir George Grey formally proclaimed that the war which
had begun at the time of the murders at Oakura was at an end, and that,
the rebels having been punished enough by their disasters in the field
and the confiscation of part of their lands, he pardoned all who had
taken up arms, save those responsible for certain murders. The Governor
further announced that he would confiscate no more lands on account of
the war, and that he would release all prisoners as soon as the rebels
should return in peace to their homes. The proclamation gave great
offence to numbers of colonists, who jeered at the idea of peace while
so many Maori were in arms; but Sir George Grey’s statement that “the
war was at an end” had no reference to the Hauhau, neither were they
included in his pardon–unless, indeed, they chose promptly to submit,
which they did not.

The Hauhau on the west coast made clear their decision in a most
atrocious fashion. The Governor dispatched the proclamation to Patea,
near Whanganui, by a Maori, who was shot, but lived long enough to warn
the Government interpreter, Mr. Broughton, who was coming up behind
him, to put no trust in the Hauhau.

Mr. Broughton was doubly deceived. He believed in his own influence
over the Maori, and he was quite unaware that the Hauhau were
predetermined to kill any messengers bringing overtures of peace.
Their treachery went further; for, in order to be sure of a victim,
they had begged that an interpreter might be sent to explain to them
certain passages in the Governor’s message which they professed not to
understand.

After such a beginning, the end was inevitable, should Mr. Broughton
persist in delivering himself into the power of the Hauhau. And this,
deaf to advice and persuasion, he did. Three Hauhau came out from the
_pa_ to meet him when he arrived on the 30th of September, and even
then he was offered a last chance of escape; for one of the three had
formerly been in his service, and now implored his old master not
to trust himself within the _pa_. Mr. Broughton persisted, and was
received in sullen silence. Striving to seem unconcerned, he took no
notice of the incivility, and moved towards a fire which was burning
in the _marae_. As he reached it, a Hauhau shot him in the back, and
the poor man fell dying into the blaze, where he lay until some of his
murderers pulled him out and flung him, still alive, over the cliff
into the Patea.

The hatred of the Hauhau for the Pakeha was intense, and their attitude
to the whites differed completely from that of the Maori in previous
wars. They seemed to be obsessed with evil spirits, whose mission was
to promote in their victims a lust for blood and a disposition for
cruelty of the most appalling kind. They were as men who had swallowed
a drug having power to kill goodness and purity and generosity, and
to fill the soul in their stead with malice, hatred and vices too
degrading to be named.

It was fortunate for New Zealand that the evil seed which Te Ua sowed
fell only here and there on soil whence it sprang rank and poisonous
as the deadly upas tree; for, had it taken root universally, there is
no saying at what bitter cost the colonists must have weeded it out.
But, though almost every tribe in the north sent its recruits to the
fanatics, there yet remained in most of them a remnant who refused “to
bow the knee to Baal,” and who, if they did not fight for the Pakeha,
at least gave no aid to the Hauhau.