The early months of the year 1864 saw the first appearance of the
fanatical sect of the _Pai Marire_, or Hauhau. Various opinions exist
as to its cause of origin, but no member of it has put his own views
on record for the benefit of posterity. Some believe that the sect was
founded as a deliberate attempt to strengthen the weakening attachment
of the natives to the national cause, by giving them the powerful bond
of a common religion–so to call it. Others maintain that the inception
of the movement was in a madman’s brain, and that it was used for
political purposes only when it was perceived how readily the more
ignorant and superstitious of the Maori accepted it. Lastly, not a few
insist that such a religious development was the natural outcome of
instilling half-a-dozen views of Christianity into the receptive brain
of an intelligent race, able and accustomed to think for themselves.
These last argue that, when the Maori had listened to (in order of
sequence) the Anglican, Wesleyan, Baptist, and Catholic versions of
the “faith once delivered,” the various contentions became so jumbled
up in some minds that their owners began to study the Bible for
themselves. The result of the research of some of the less enlightened
was the formation of a “religion” which was a grotesque blend of
Judaism, Paganism, and elementary Christianity (very little of this
last) which was used as a means to an end by those who utterly scorned
it–the end being the destruction of British supremacy.

The author of the creed, one Te Ua, does indeed seem to have been a
mild-mannered lunatic. He broke out rather violently about the time
of a shipwreck on the Taranaki coast, and, while tied and bound for
the good of the community, indulged in a madman’s dream which he
subsequently proclaimed as a “revelation.”

Having managed to free himself, Te Ua declared that the archangels
Michael and Gabriel, together with many spirits, had landed from the
wreck and given him power to burst his bonds. His companions, finding
this story hard to believe, again secured Te Ua, and this time with a
chain. No use. With an effort of that strength which sometimes appears
in the insane, Te Ua snapped the chain and leaped at a bound into the
position of a seer.

Te Ua’s muddled brain recalling something of the story of Abraham and
Isaac, he went out and began to break his son’s legs in obedience
to a divine command to kill the youth. He was presently stopped by
Gabriel, who restored the boy whole and sound to his father, and gave
the latter orders to assemble all believers round a _niu_, or sacred
pole. Grouped there in a circle, they must dance, apostrophise the
Trinity, sing hymns and what not, in return for which, those found
worthy–note the saving clause–should receive the gift of tongues and
be invulnerable in battle. While praying, dancing or fighting, the
sectaries were constantly to ejaculate the syllables “Hauhau,” forming
a word supposed to mean the wind (_hau_), by which the angels were
wafted from the wreck when first they communicated with the great Te Ua.

Te Ua was not long in making converts to his strange faith; and on the
4th of April, 1864, a body of them fell upon a detachment of the 57th
and military settlers, who were destroying crops in the Kaitaka ranges.
Captain Lloyd, who was in command, fought most bravely when cut off
from his men, and died fighting. His body and the bodies of seven other
white men were discovered a few days later, all minus the heads, which
had been carried away. No one knew what to make of this innovation;
but it was afterwards ascertained that Captain Lloyd’s head had been
preserved after the Maori fashion, and was being carried throughout the
North Island, and exhibited to tribe after tribe as the medium through
which God would occasionally speak to his people.

[Illustration: The frenzy of the Hauhau The Incantation]

The tribes were also informed that legions of angels would some day
appear and assist the Hauhau to annihilate the Pakeha. Once that
degenerate lot had been got rid of, the angels would escort from heaven
an entirely new brand of men, who should teach the Maori all the
Europeans knew, and more. Unconsciously prophetic, the final promise
in this farrago of nonsense was that all Maori who fulfilled certain
conditions should be instantly endowed with power to understand and
speak the English language. The new men were evidently to resemble the

Notwithstanding its blasphemous absurdities, the _Pai Marire_ sect
gained so many converts, and spread so far and fast, that it seemed
at one time as if all the Maori in the North Island would rebel. It
is well, however, to keep in mind that many of those who followed the
prophet’s drum did so for their own purposes, and privately mocked at
his uninspired ravings.

The wonder is that the new faith did not immediately wither away; for
the Hauhau lost at the very outset so many killed and wounded at Sentry
Hill, near Taranaki, that all conceit as to their invulnerability
should have been driven out of them. Among the dead was a prominent
sub-prophet, Hepanaia, and the story was circulated and believed that
the reverse was wholly due to this man’s faulty behaviour–a very
convenient way of accounting for the non-fulfilment of the archangel’s

Wishful to counterbalance the effect of this defeat, the Hauhau
determined to attack Whanganui. The prophet Matene (Martin) sent a
conciliatory message to the Whanganui tribe of Ngati-Hau, and with
a number of disaffected Waikato swept down the river in war-canoes,
intent to wipe out the settlement and the town.

But the Ngati-Hau, being friendly to the Pakeha, made alliance with
the Ngati-Apa, and paddled up-stream to meet the advancing Hauhau.
They were three hundred, and the prophet checked his advance at sight
of them. A parley ensued, one side demanding, the other refusing,
permission to pass down the river. Matene threatening violence, the
Ngati-Hau challenged him to make good his bold words, and it was
presently arranged that the two companies should meet next morning on
the island of Moutoa–scene of many a fight–and decide the question
by ordeal of battle. It was agreed that neither party should ambush or
surprise the other, and the Hauhau landed at dawn on Moutoa to find the
Ngati-Hau awaiting them.

The Whanganui, with mistaken generosity, opposed only a hundred of
their number to one hundred and thirty Hauhau. They were divided into
an advanced guard of fifty men, and an equal number in support, while
the remainder stood upon the river bank as spectators. The vanguard,
under Tamihana Te Aewa, was subdivided into three parties, each headed
by a fighting chief, Riwai Tawhitorangi, Hemi Nape, and Kereti, while
the chief, Haimona, led the supports.

Matene and his Hauhau, uttering their harsh, barking howl, were
allowed to land and form up unopposed, when they immediately began
their incantations, howling fragments of Scripture and making passes
after the manner of a hypnotist. The Whanganui, convinced of the
invulnerability of their foe, waited until the latter, still incanting,
had advanced within thirty paces, and then fired. Not one Hauhau fell.

At this moment a Christian Maori rushed in between the two parties and
beseeched them not to fight. As he stood there, the Hauhau returned a
volley; the mediator fell dead and, worse still, so did Riwai, Kereti,
and several others. The vanguard began to retreat, shouting, “It is
absurd to fire at those who cannot be wounded,” and only Hemi Nape
stood firm, giving back shot for shot, and bringing down more than one
of the “invulnerables.” To him rushed Tamihana Te Aewa, forcing forward
a few whom he had been able to rally; but, even as they reached his
side, Hemi Nape fell dead.

Then Tamihana roared his battle-cry, and with his _tupara_ shot two
grinning Hauhau, whose spirits plunged so suddenly into the waters of
Reinga that their bodies knew not of their departure, but ran on for
several paces ere they realised their condition and fell. A third half
halted, amazed at the extraordinary sight, and him Tamihana brained
with the stock of his empty gun, sending him with a splash into the
dark waters after his comrades. A fourth came at him, howling like a
wild dog; but Tamihana seized a spear and drove it so deep into the
man’s heart, that even his great strength could not withdraw it. And
while he tugged and wrenched, lo! a bullet shattered his arm, and
a fifth Hauhau rushed upon him to slay him. But Tamihana, stooping
swiftly, caught up Hemi Nape’s gun and, swinging it round his head with
one hand, smote his enemy such a blow that the man’s skull cracked like
an egg-shell, and his brains gushed out. Truly, the guardian of the
portals of Reinga had no time that day to close them while Tamihana
was at work.

Yet more might Tamihana have slain; but, even as he slew,
single-handed, his fifth man, he fell to the ground with a broken knee.

By this time, those who ran had come to the tail of the island, whence,
looking back, they saw their chief upon the ground, and the Hauhau
rushing up to finish him. Then was Haimona Hiroti shame-smitten and,
driving his spear into the earth, he cried aloud, “I go no farther!
Back with me, all who would not live with shame upon their faces!”
And twenty brave men followed Haimona, and all together they charged
home, some calling upon Atua for aid, and some invoking the Christians’
God. But the Hauhau, having only one god to cry to, became struck with
fear, and in their turn broke and fled to their canoes. Few there were
who reached them, so mightily did Haimona Hiroti and his score smite,
and so many did they slay; but some ran very fast, and these escaped,
taking no thought of those behind.

Then Matene, their prophet, finding himself abandoned, cast himself
into the river and swam for the bank opposite to that whereon the men
of Ngati-Hau and others were gathered, watching the fight and shouting

Up to the very head of the island charged Haimona Hiroti, seeking still
to slay. But not one was left. Then, when he saw the swimmer and knew
him for Matene, Haimona cried aloud to Te Moro, “See! there swims your
fish!” and thrust his bone _mere_ into his hand. And Te Moro plunged
into the stream and, swimming very fast, overtook the “fish” before he
reached the bank and seized him by the hair, which he wore long, after
the manner of the Hauhau. Then Matene turned in the water and, making
passes in the air with his hands, barked at Te Moro, “Hauhau! Hauhau!
Hau! Hau! Hau!” as is the way with these people. But Te Moro, swimming
round him, drew back his head and smote him with the bone _mere_ only
one blow; but it was enough.

Then Te Moro swam back and, having laid Matene at Haimona’s feet,
offered him his bone _mere_. But Haimona said, “Keep it”; and Te Moro
very gladly kept it, for there were two notches in it where it had
suffered owing to the thickness of Matene’s skull. And, when Te Moro’s
children’s children shall show the _mere_ to their children and tell
the tale of it, should any doubt, there will the notches be to prove
that their ancestor slew Matene, and with that very weapon.

NOTE.–It is pleasant to record that this signal service on the
part of the Whanganui did not go unrecognised at the time, nor has
posterity been allowed to forget it. The bodies of the dead chiefs
were brought into Whanganui on the day following the battle, and
accorded a military funeral, which was attended by Colonel Logan and
the officers and men of the garrison, the Government officials, and
many residents, while all the shops were closed. A monument has since
been raised at Whanganui in memory of the friendly Maori who fell at