These are notes from this book re Volkner's murder.
Published by the Anglican Provincial Bicultural Education Unit, Auckland, 1991.

Chapter Two: Bring Me Justice
The hindsight of time, new perspectives, and the awareness of new facts, all work together to mean that history is never static or dead. Particularly is this so when our approach includes listening to the history of those whose story has not been heard before. A bicultural approach to history in New Zealand means that we listen to Maori history as conveyed in oral tradition, as well as to Pakeha history.

...The debate in the Church regarding Carl Volkner centres around our understanding of history. Has the Maori history regarding the circumstances and aftermath of his death been heard? Have we carried into our late twentieth century mindset understandings of spirituality, citizenship, and theology that belong to the last century?

Carl Volkner was a fair-haired, blue-eyed German. he came to New Zealand in 1849 as a Lutheran missionary working with Johannes Reimenschneider at Warea in Taranaki. He joined the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1852, working in the lower Waikato, and was ordained by Bishop Selwyn in 1860 (as Deacon) and in 1861 (as Priest).

he was the third CMS missionary at the Opotiki station, working with some considerable success and was adopted by Whakatohea. But CMS missionaries were not the first Christian missionaries to Whakatohea. Ngakuku, who accompanied Archdeacon Brown on his journeys, and other Maori evangelists, undoubtedly did much primary evangelism in the district.

The New Zealand wars began to affect Whakatohea in April 1864 when they joined forces with some East Coast tribes in an effort to support Waikato against the British troops. At the battle of Te Kaokaoroa, near Matata, their travel north was resisted by Te Arawa. Amongst the dead in this battle was Tohi Te Ururangi, a Te Arawa chief. During his tangi, his widow Ngapi, shot Te Aporotanga, a high chief of Whakatohea. His death was considered by Whakatohea to be murder, and there was considerable resentment that Volkner did not condemn the killing. Volkner told Bishop Selwyn that Whakatohea blamed the Governor for not punishing his allies, Te Arawa. That Volkner should be killed in part because of vice-regal inaction, illustrates the strong feeling among Whakatohea that Volkner had deserted them for the Pakeha Governor.

With the onset of the wars, Volkner had found himself in an awkward situation:
At a time of war, Volkner could not servce two peoples, and in opting to support the Pakeha Government, he had been seen to abandon his adopted people (Paul Clark, HauHau - the Pai Marire Search for Maori Identity, p38.
His Motivation was confused. he wanted to work for the benefit of Whakatohea. By choosing to pass on information about Maori movement and fortifications, he hoped to prevent warfare. Yet he could not see that in working to stop Whakatohea joining other Maori against British troops at Tauranga or in Waikato, he was in fact, by his own death, to bring the conflict to Opotiki.

Evidence for this choice, and of Volkner's awareness of its implications is in Volkner's own hand:
As there is no Government agent in my district to inform you of the movements of the natives here, I think I should be wanting in my duty to you, if I did not make known to you what happens around me, relating to the present disturbed state of the natives. but as aI have reason to fear that it would interfere with my future usefulness in the service in which I am engaged, If it were publicly known that I give such information to you, I therefore, humbly but earnestly request your Excellency to receive my accompanying letters as private communications to yourself and not to publicise my name or abode with any information you make use of. (National Archives, G 13/3, 89: REV C S VOLKNER TO GOVERNOR GREY, 16 February 1864).

Volkner wrote several letters to Grey (he also visited Auckland on several occasions during 1863 and 1864). These letters contained strategic information (including a carefully drawn plan of the Pa at Rangiaowhia) reports on movements of people, and comments on the disillusionment of Whakatohea about things Pakeha. ...Volkner's reasons for acting as an informant would include his German origin. He would be working hard to prove his loyalty to his adopted country.

Other missionaries also were involved in support of the Government during the wars. Their world view made in difficult for them to separate the Church from the State [British government] in their thinking and action. At Warea, in Taranaki, Riemenschneider who had worked in the district for 14 years, left for New Plymouth, and passed on detalis of Maori defences to the military. The Methodist, John Whiteley, and others urged Wiremu Kingi (at Waitara) to allow the survey of his land, saying that a refusal to sell was a return to 'savageism'. While many missionaries were strongly opposed to the Government's actions in the Waitara incident, by the time of the Waikato war, they had changed their approach. Regarding Grey's invasion of the Waikato, one historian has commented:
Most missionaries did support the invasion. Most of them did want a military victory that would teach Maori a lesson and brign them back, as it was ofen expressed, to their senses. Most missionaries, and [Bishop] Selwyn too, initially supported government plans for confiscation of Maori lands after their fighting. (K R Howe, "The Bishop Alien: Selwyn and the New Zealand Wars of the 1880's" in BISHOP SELWYN IN NEW ZEALAND, 1841-68. ed W Limbrick, Palmerston North, 1983.)

How did Maori understand this missionary role? Bronwyn Elsmore has written:
To the Maori, this action was synonymous with that of the tohunga karakia who would accompany a taua for the express purpose of reciting chants which would ensure victory. (Bronwyn Elsmore, LIKE THEM THAT DREAM, Tauranga, 1985, page 47).

Selwyn's role as chaplain to the British military in the Waikato was a particularly sore point for Maori, and resulted in misunderstanding of his actions at Rangiaowhia, and the suggestion of a link between that incident and the killing of Volkner at Opotiki. This misunderstanding continued on for the next century, and was referred to by Pei Te Hurunui Jones at the Hui Topu at Ngarawahia in May 1962. Fortunately, the missionary T S Grace obtained documentary evidence which exonerates Selwyn form the charge of being with the troops (and giving them directions to Maori locations) when old men, women and children were massacred at Rangiaowhia. (this evidence, lost for some time, came to light after Pei Te Hurunio Jones comments in 1962).

Another ingredient in the Volkner incident was Father Garavel, a Roman Catholic missionary:
When war broke out in 1863, Garavel was still able, most of the time, to move freely in Maori districts, and to pass from on side to the other, carrying out his spiritual ministrations and giving information to both parties. His impartiality caused some Europeans to see him as disloyal.(E R Simmons, "Garavel," THE DICTIONARY OF NEW ZEALAND BIOGRAPHY, Volume One, Wellington, 1990)

Garavel carried a message from Wiremu Tamihana to Whakatohea. the message apparently encouraged belligerence [standing up to]. Volkner complained to Grey, who asked Bishop Pompallier [head of the Roman Catholic church in NZ) to act. Pompallier withdrew Garavel, and rumours amongst Maori suggested Garavel had been hanged in Auckland. The ill feeling between Volkner and Garavel was typical of relations between Anglican and CAtholic missionaries. Vollkner's role in the withdrawal of Garavel formed part of Whakatohea's grievances against him.

When Volkner returned to Opotiki from Auckland on 1 March 1865, he and fellow missionary T S Grace were captured by maori before even disembarking from the ship. On the 2nd, Volkner was hanged, and his body desecrated and eventually buried. Maori involved in the incident were influenced by Pai Marire. In traditional interpretations of the Volkner incident, much of this factor. This, together with the reports of events after Volkner died, has led to assumptions that Volkner was in some sense, a glorious martyr killed for being a Christian, by barbaric savages.
Pakeha values were outraged by Volkner's death, which was perceived as martyrdom, and so the legend of a mad, apostate [not religious] faith was created. From this time the word Hauhau was used to describe any Maori who opposed the government. (Lyndsay Head, "Te Ua Haumene," THE DICTIONARY OF NEW ZEALAND BIOGRAPHY, volume One, Wellington, 1990, page 513).

But a reconsidertion of history leads to the conclusion that Volkner was killed for political reasons, not just religious ones. He had broken the confidence of those who had trusted him, who had given him mana. He was perceived to be aiding the military opponents, and was, along with fellow missionary T S Grace, seized immediately upon his return from Auckland (bringing medicine amongst other goods). Depositions [statements] taken soon after the event show that the decision to kill Volkner was made without Kereopa Te Rau, the Pai Marire missionary, being present. (Eruera Tutawhia Deposition, 9 May 1865, enclosure to McLean to Col. Sec) Why was Grace unharmed? In the meeting of Maori after the capture of Volkner and Grace, Kereopa demanded the death of a missionary. Whakatohea had a fondness for Volkner, but their overrriding concern was to reject both Government and missionaries. The death of Volkner, because of his political activities, would enable them to do both. Having initially accepted Christianity through the agency of Maori evangelists such as Ngakuku, they now chose to reject Christianity through the agency of Kereopa, the evangelist for Pai Marire. The death of Grace became irrelevant and unnecessary.

T S Grace, wrote the following account of the poshumous tral of Volkner:
Three charges were brought against him by different Maoris to justify his death. Ist - His going to Auckland as a spy for the Government. 2nd - a cross had been found in his house, and therefore, he was a Romanist and a deceiver. 3rd - he returned to Opotiki after having been told to remain away. the second charge, respecting the cross, broke down." (T S Grace A PIONEER MISSIONARY AMONG THE MAORIS, G H Bennett, ppl142-3.)

In their letter to the Government on 6 March 1865, Whakatohea declared that Volkner was killed according to the laws of "New Canaan". The Church of England was condemned for a gospel perceive by Maori as not coming from God, but from the "knowing society of the Church of England". Atrocities at Rangiri and Rangiaowhia, where women were killed were further reasons given for the rejection of Church and Pakeha, and evidenced in the killing of Volkner. Any religious overtones in the killing were secondary to the primary political reasons for Volkner's death. Bronwyn Elsemore Comments: the political condition of the period, the time was right for the formation of an alternative to the religion of the oppressing power".

This new religion was not universally accepted by Maori. For instance the Ngati Porou leader, Mokena Kohere, wrote to Bishop Williams deploring the killing of Volkner, and he also took up arms against the Huauhau. Mokena's reasons were not only religious:
Mokena's rejection of Pai Marire stemmed from his opposition to a creed at variance with the treaty covenant and with his own religious beliefs, from his objecion to interefence in his territory by outsiders, and from his concern for the welfare of his people. He realised that action against the government would lead to the confiscation of tribal land. (Rarawa Kohere, 'Kohere, Mokena,' in THE DICTIONARY OF NEW ZEALAND BIOGRAPHY, volume One, Wellington, 1990, p230).

What then was the role of the Hau Hau leader, Kereopa, in the events? There are several strands. In February 1865, Kereopa Te Rau and Patara Raukatauri came as Pai Marire missionaries to the East Coast, given orders to conduct a peaceful mission. Also Volkner had passed on details of the Pa at Rangiaowhia, where relations of Kereopa were subsequently killed by British troops. Kereopa discussed his plans with Whakatohea, who as mentioned above, had their own reasons for wanting to kill Volkner. Many of the Taranaki party with Kereopa objected to the plans of Kereopa and Whakatohea to kill Volkner, and moved to another kainga. There is clear evidence involving Kereopa in the killing of Volkner.

Much has been made of the events immediately following Volkner's death with regard to the treatment of his body. It needs to be remembered that there were no Pakeha eye witnesses, and that it would suit the settler press to overemphasise some details in order to justify the current settler demand for more Brtitish troops in the colony. At the same time, it must be borne in mind that the events would have been most alarming in a time of great upheaval.

Volkner's missionary companion, T S Grace, wrote:
More has been made of the 'horrible doings' attendant on the murder of Mr Volkner than the facts bear out." (Grace to CMS, 7 August 1865)

Much of the exaggerated reporting came from two traders, Morris and Levy, who were probably anxious to justify their lack of involvement in Volkner's behalf.

Following the death of Volkner, British troops were despatched to Opotiki under the leadership of Major McDonnell. Settler attitude is graphically shown in Grey's "Proclamation of Peace," which in reality was a threat to confiscate land and the ready use of marial law: