This is from: Lyall, A.C. Whakatohea of Opotiki, published by Reed, 1979 at Auckland. It was reprinted in 2007.


EArly in 1864 Cameron was advancing south in the Waikato and, despite much stronger resistance, the Kingites found they could not withstand the military and naval forces under his command. It was in these circumstances that help was sought from more distant tribes. In letters to Governor Grey, Volkner reported from Opotiki that envoys from Kawhia and people of Ngati-Porou who had been involved in the Waikato, appeared in the Tai-Rawhiti districts seeking active support. Whakatohea along with other tribes were induced by these envoys to participate in stopping further European advances. (Journal of the Whakatane Historical Society, Vol. 7, No. 2.)

In January and February between 700 and 800 men of Ngati-Porou , Whanau-a-Apanui, Whakatohea, Tuhoe and Ngati-Awa had assembled at Matata fully armed and ready to proceed to the Waikato. Their leader was Apanui. (Manu Apanui of Ngai Tama.)

To proceed to the Waikato this Tai-Rawhiti expedition, a it became known, would have to pass through Arawa territory. As an act of diplomacy, a herald was sent to formally request transit rights. The Arawa, however, promptly rejected the request, obviously not relishing the idea of a large well-armed and aggressive force loos on their domains. Furthermore, they sent urgent message to the north where many of their men wre employed on the gumfields, warning them to return home post haste which they did by sea to Maketu. (Cowan, 1956, Vol. 2)

Determined though they were were to obstruct the Tai-Rawhi progress, Arawa lacked the tools of war and requested from the civil commissioner at Maketu a supply of firearms with which to protect their lands. This appeal was declined, the gentleman in question being apparently less than enthusiastic at the idea of Arawa running around fully armed whether for defensive purposes or not. His wished in the matter were thwarted by William Mair who was then Taupo magistrate. He obtained ammunition and powder for Te Arawa from the Imperial forces then stationed at Tauranga.

The TAi-Rawhiti force in the meantime had decamped from Matata and travelled up to the lakes from the coast at Otamarakau; using Hongi's Track from Rotoehu they had arrived at Rotoiti and camped at Tapaue Haruru which is the beach at the eastern end of the lake. Ngati-Whakaue of Arawa, reinforced by allies from Taupo, swept across the lake in a fleet of canoes and established a base on the southern shore. From here they advanced around the shore by land on the route of the present Rotorua-Whakatane highway and joined the Tai-Rawhiti in battle.

The fighting occupied three days from 7-9 April and consisted of a series of skirmishes in the bush around the lake. Tai-Rawhiti lost about twenty men altogether, but the most disastrous aspect was that their losses included the chief, Apanui, who was killed on the bluff which dominates the eastern end of the lake. Mikaere assumed command and the Tai-Rawhiti withdrew to the coast for regrouping and reinforcement.

It was decided to renew the northern march by the coastal route and towards the end of April the advance was resumed with Maketu as the primary objective. In the meantime however, the Arawa main forces had assembled and had been reinforced by European troops of the Forest Rangers and the Colonial Defence Force equipped with artillery. Tai-Rawhiti advanced to a position about one mile east of Maketu, where they dug in. Their positions proved untenable when the guns of HMS Falcon and the gunboat Sandfly were brought into action from the sea. The naval gunfire and pressure from the land forces induced them to abandon the position and withdraw along the coast to the east. They were harrassed by the warships and near Pukehina several of the Whakatohea were killed by the shellfire. On 28 April fighting continued at Kaokaoroa between Matata and Te Awa o te Atua (Thornton). An attempt by the eastern tribes to lauch their 20 war canoes was foiled by Te Arawa who drove them off, seized their canoes and smashed some of them.

Four hundred men of Tai-Rawhiti made a final stand two miles to the west of Matata, but eventually broke in disorder. A Whakatohea chief Te Ringa Mataru and others of the tribe were killed where the Matata railway station now stands. Hira te Popo of Ngati-Ira and his party managed to escape up one of the gullies that mark the face of the escarpment above the beach.

Shortly after the final battle, Tohi te Ururangi, a prominent Arawa chieftain, died of wounds. The combined force had lost about eighty men in this coastal fighting and the Whakatohea chief Aporotanga was the only prisoner taken. Tohi te Ururangi's widow seized a musket and shot Aporotanga dead, (Wilson, 1906) which according to a Maori historian "was only right and proved her affection for her husband was sincere." (Gudgeon, The Defenders of New Zealand).

Thus ended the TAi-Rawhiti expedition.

Aporotanga was the last of the old Whakatohea chiefs. Titoko, Takahi, Rangimatanukuy, Hinaki and RAngi Haerepo had all gone and Aporotanga's death meant that there was no man in the tribe of real influence to guide their thinking. In the opinion of Judge Wilson, this was significant when the prophets of Pai Marire arrived in Opotiki in 1865 and were ble to sway Whakatohea into joining their cause. (Wilson, 1906)

On 2 February 1865 there arrived in Opotiki, KJereopa te Rau and Patara Raukatauri. They were accompanied by two army deserters, of whom one was Louis Baker, a man of French-Canadian and Indian extraction. It was the duty of these two to carry the heads of Captain Lloyd and a drummer boy of the 58th REgiment, who had been killed in the Taranaki war, as symbols of the cult of Pai Marire and evidence of its irresistible strengths. Kereopa belonged to the Ngati-RAngi-wewehi hapu of Arawa and had fought against the British in the Waikato war. A number of Taranaki Maoris made up the Hauhau entourage.

Kereopa and Patara were pursing instructions from Te Auy Haumene, founder of the cult, to proceed from Taranaki via Pipiriki, Taupo and Urewera to TE Kani a Takirau at Turanga, the paramount East Coast chief. They were to carry the doctrine to him in the hope that he would accept its objects, which were a general rallying of the Maori people against the foreign influences which were affecting them with increasing adversity. Te Ua's instructions to his envoys were in writing and included the injunction, "Let your proceedings be correct - let your conduct be good."

Whakatohea were soon caught up in the enthusiam for the new cult taught by Kereopa and just as soon experienced the anti-Christian feelings which it seemed to engender. Volkner had, it seems, worked diligently amongst the Opotiki people and had been held in high regard, but as a Christian missionary he was to be cast aside for all time, one way or another. At the time, he was absent in Auckland so could not be handed over to Kereopa as requested. Patara then sent him a letter telling him not to return; that no minister was to be allowed to be remain amongst the Maori people; that if he returned he would be killed.

Presumably out of a sense of duty and misplaced confidence, Volkner chose to ignore this advice and on 1 March he arrived at Opotiki in the schooner Eclipse with another missionary Thomas Grace, the schooner's owner - a Jewish trader named Levy - and his brother. On arrival the missionaries were arrested and confined; Levy and his brother were allowed complete freedom of movement as long as they did not interfere in the missionary affair.

On 2 March Kereopa ordered that Volkner be handed over to him for execution. There was some disagreement over the proposal; Ngati-Ira and Ngati-Ngahere in particular were opposed to the suggestion. However their opposition was ineffectual. Volkner was taken to the church, where he spend some time in prayer, and then on Kereopa's instructions was taken to a willow tree about a hundred yards away where he was hanged. Patara was absent from Opotiki at the time, engaged in spreading the doctrine further up the coast.

In a sort of trial before his death, three specific charges were brought against Volkner to justify the actions about to be taken. (Grace, 1928). 1. He went to Auckland as a spy for the government. 2. A cross had been found in his house. He was therefore a Romanist (Catholic) deceiver. 3. He returned to Opotiki in defiance of instructions to keep away.

Volkner's reports on Maori movements prior to the Tai-Rawhiti expedition in 1864 are revealed in a series of letters he wrote to Governor Grey, commencing in January 1864. There is little doubt that these contained intelligence of military value whether Volkner saw or intended it that way or not. Even if he remained ignorant of the peril he was placing himself in, it is hard to escape the conclusion that he realised what the Maori reaction be if they became aware of his reports. For in his letter of 16 February he asks Grey to treat his advices as private and not to reveal the source of any information he should make use of as "it would intere with my future usefulness in the cause in which I am engaged." ( Journal of the Whakatane Historical Society, Vol. 7 No. 2 )

Thomas Grace, the Taupo missionary, was kept prisoner for a fortnight while his fate was debated on the basis of his having spread false doctrine. Captain Levy worked and implored diligently for his release, as indeed he had for Volkner, and Grace was finally able to slip away and board the Eclipse just before she eventually left for TAuranga. Outside the harbour entrance they encountered a warship of the same name - HMS Eclipse - which had just arrived and Grace was transferred to her. Patara had helped to save Grace by delaying plans to execute him. He had communicated an offer to exchange Grace for Hori Tupaea a high chief of Ngai te Rangi who had been captured by Arawa and handed over to the government.

There was a rather unusual follow-up to these events. Other Ngai te RAngi chiefs had composed a song deriding the Arawa actions. This is quoted Cowan's New Zealand Wars and makes reference to the Arawa killing of Aporotanga as an evil deed. An Auckland man of prominance, C.O Davis had copies of the song printed and distributed. For this he was arrested and charged with sedition on the grounds that he was inciting other tribes to attack TE Arawa. The charges could not be made to stick and he was acquitted.

THE OPOTIKI CAMPAIGN

Through their involvement in the killing of Volkner, Whakatohea hwere now in deep trouble.

A punitive force of 500 men under Major Brassey was raised an arrived by sea on 8 September 1865. It consisted of: 2 Companies (8 and 10) Taranaki Military Settlers. 2 Companies Wanganui and Patea Rangers. 1 Troop Wanganui Yeomanry Cavalry. Wanganui Native Contingent (Ngati-Hau). 1 Company 1st Waikato Militia (Maj. St John).

The invasion fleet consisted of HMS Brisk, the steam transports Stormbird, Ladybird and Ahuriri and the Huntress. The Patea RAngers, accompanied by the renown Von Tempsky, and the Military Settlers Companies were put ashore first and spend a tempestuous night in the sandhills, half-clad and foodless when the Huntress ran aground on a sandbank.

The first casualty of the campaign was an elderly follower of Pai Marire who was shot dead while haranguing the troops in the open, in the firm belief that the faith he had adopted would protect him from bullets. (Cowan, 1956. Vol 2)

The entire military force eventually occupied the Hauhau position in Opotiki the next day, drove them back several miles on the flats and inflicted casualties. A rusty cannon with a shaped rock for a projectile was found emplaced and read to fire. This was probably cannon taken at Motiti by Titoki from Ngapuhi many years earlier.

The military force set up a bse in Opotiki, where it remained for several weeks. Volkner's church was entrenched and converted into a redoubt with the troops encamped around it, except for the Patea RAngers who set up their own independent camp. They enjoyed the abundance of food available from the gardens, crops and poultry flocks of the Opotiki flats. HOrses commandeered were appropriated by the Wanganui Cavalry.

The Whakatohea Hauhau had fortified themselves within two pas, Te Puia at the entrance to the Waieoka Gore and Opekerau, a hill fort slightly further in on the eastern side of the river. A stockaded pa, Te Tarata, was built near the river and about three-quarters of a mile closer to Opotiki on the Kiorekino plains now known as the Waioeka flats.

On 4 October Major McDonnell advanced to attack Te Tarata. The occupants of TE Puia, seeing this, held a brief and no doubt hasty service around their niu pole and then went off to assist their comrades. Their movements had also been observed, however, and between the two pas they were surprised in one of the few cavalry charges of the New Zealand wars. The Hauhaus suffered a number of casualties, including a youth taken in by the troops with his skull cleft open by a sabre. Bearing witness to an extremely rugged constitution, this individual was still alive and well in 1921, 54 years later.

The Hauhau invested in Te Tarata asked for peace terms in the early evening and were told that any surrender would be unconditional. They then asked for an hour to consider the matter - an hour which they spent busily engaged in loosening a section of the palisade. At the end of the hour they threw it down and in a desperate escape attempt charged out with blazing guns. They lost a number, killed and wounded, in this attempt and more as they crossed the river to get away. The total Hauhau casualties for the day were put at 35 killed and a similar number wounded which made this the costliest incident of the Opotiki campaign to the defending Hauhau.

Major Stapp advanced on Te Puia on 5 October, but its Ngai-Tama and Ngati Ira occupants vacated it and fell back into th high country of the Waioeka Gorge. Intermittent skirmishing continued until November 1865 with cavalry reconnaissance and scouting of the approaches to the plain by the Rangers. With the forces opposed to them, some of Whakatohea were convinced that resistance to the occupation of the plains was useless. In late October over 200 Ngati-Rua laid down their arms to Major Stapp., Ngati Ira, under their leader Hira TE Popo, continued hostile. Some Ngati Rua remained in the bush retreating further back to Toa Toa and adjacent parts. The ones who came out went first to Opape and from there to Torere where they lived with Ngai Tai for up to three or four years. (opotiki minutes vol 2 pg 78)

In the years 1866 and 1867 the Opotiki district continued in a state of tension with continal skirmishing and fatal clashes involving Hauhau, troops and settlers. Ngati Ira were prominent in activities in the Waioeka Gorge. The troops made several expeditions up both Waioeka and Otara Gorges and their guerilla tactics produced the surrender or capture of numbers of Hauhau followers. The chief Mokomoko, prominent in the Volkner affair, was one who came in during the arly part of 1866. The Patea and Wanganui Raner companies were the ones mainly involved in this sporadic warfare until, in May 1866, the Patea Rangers returned to Taranaki where they disbanded, thoroughly disgruntled with the lack of adequate government support and conditions in general. (Cowan)

Ngai Tama of Tuhoe under their chief Tamaikowha were associated with Ngati Ira and came to be particularly prominent in activities against the Europeans in the WAioeka and Waimana Groges. Tamaikowha, although a young man in his 20's was described as a chief of the old school. EArly in 1866 a strong Hauhau position, Wairakau, was captured by the troops and in retaliation for this Tamaikowha laid ambushes at the Waiotaki River mouth. In separate incidents he killed an Arawa mail carrier named Wi Popata and a European named Bennet White. In each cse he committed symbolic acts of cannibalim, surely amongst the latest on record.

From mid-1867 there was a perceptible increase in activity. At that time a unit known as the Opotiki Volunteer Rangers was formed and in January 1868 Major Mair raised his Flying Column of one hundred Arawa. These were based at Opotiki where they were joined by a company of Armed Constabulary. In March 1868 the Huahua attacked Rakuraku and his Upoko Rehe at Ohiwa and killed a tribal elder on Hokianga Island. A punitive force followed them up the Waimana River under Colonel St John, but this proved a fruitless expedition when it became apparent tht they were being led into a trap and so withdrew.

In 1869 after the Ngatapa fight in Poverty Bay, Te Kooti withdrew to Te Wera in the Urewera where he recruited further followers, including Hira TE Popo and his Ngati Ira. These had continued in their refusal to make pace with the government and were now converted to Te Kooti's Ringatu faith. It was Ngati Ira who built for Te Kooti at Maraetahi in the Waioeka Gorge a settlement of 31 houses and a fine whare karakia measuring 80 by 49 feet. There was also a carved house for TE Kooti himself and much care was taken in weaving fine mats for the prayer house and in generally preparing the settlement where they felt secure from government troops.

After being attacked in 1868, Rakuraku and the Upoko Rehe had been either captured by Te Kooti's followers or converted to their beliefs. When TE Kooti learned that a European surveyor named Pitcairn was living on Uretara island in the Ohiwa Harbour he gave orders that he was to be killed. The party allotted the task crossed to the island by canoe on 2 March. When Pitcairn returned from a shooting expedition he was induced by his housekeeper to put his gun aside and was then tomahawked.

Cowan dates the Te Kooti attack on Opape as being in 1870, but it must have been a year earlier according to the date of subsequent events.

Whakatohea had eventually taken an oath of allegiance to the government, but since then had been subjected to continuing pressure by Te Kooti to join him in an attack on Opotiki.

On 20 July a force of Maori and Armed Constabulary had arrived at Ohiwa. Just prior to this, information had reached Lt Rushton, a scout to the Opotiki forces, that TE Kooti was making a forced march from the Urewera to get in behind Opotiki to Omarumutu. Rushton informed Lt Col. McDonnell of this and then at great peril to himself returned to Omarumutu to persuade Whakatohea to align themselves with the government forces. His entreaties prevailed and he rejoined McDonnell with 60 picked and fully armed fighting men from Whakatohea. Te Kooti appared on the scene on 22 July and captured Omarumutu and Opape, but he was defeated in his object of acquiring further military support as the main fighting strength of Whakatohea had already gone. His raid netted him 170 prisoners, plus 30 guns and ammunition which were all taken off to Wairata. (opotiki minutes. Vol 2 pg 78)

In March 1870 the government forces made a two-pronged attack on Maraetahi with predominantly Maori troops under Majors Keepa and Ropata, with his Ngati Porou. There was a highly competitive element in this campaign with Keepa leaving first and travelling up the Otara and Tutaetoko, thence across to the Waioeka at Wairata and plcing his force behind Te Kooti. Ropata meantime made a forced march directly up the Waioeka with Whakatohea guides.

Te Kooti had placed an outpost at Te Karoro a Tamatea known these days as Hell's Gate on the Opotiki side of Oponae. This was a particularly strong position, but fell to a Ngati Porou rush with the firing of only a few shots. Keepa (Kemp) had by this time fought his way to a commanding position in the rear of Maraetahi, but could not bring fire to bear for fear of inflicting casualties on the Whakatohea prisoners from Opape. A combined assault finally overwhelmed the position in which Ngati Ira were numbered amongst the defenders. Both TE Kooti and Kereopa were present at the time and both escaped. About a hundred Huahau were captured and 19 were either killed or summarily executed on the river beach below. The Whakatohea prisoners were liberated, the houses and church burned and the crops destroyed.

From May in the same year, 1870, efforts were made by Col St John with a mixed force including Whakatohea to track down those Hauhaus who still remained in the bush. At this time Ngati Ira went their children in to safety. Atthe end of June, everyone had accepted the futility of further resistance and Hira TE Popo came in with his men and submitted to the government.

Of Hira TE Popo, W.G. Mair wrote to the civil commissioner:... his accession to our party will prove a very severe blow to their (the Kingites) cause. At the same time his accession to our party will be of great gain as he is a man of considerable ability and of good character. He had kept aloof from us hitherto, because the other chiefs of Whakatohea made their peace with the Government without any reference to him - who had not shared in their offence, and his pride prevented him following in their tracks.

This virtually brought to an end fighting in the Opotiki district. To this day, the Ringatu faith claims a larger following amongst Whakatohea than probably any other religion, with Roman Catholicism closely next.

Kereopa was eventually captured and came to trial in the Napier Supreme Court on 21 December 1871. His defence was based on the contention that he had nothing to do with killing Volkner, that it was the doing of Whakatohea and Patara. He had always tried to protect the missionaries from Patara who wanted them killed. He climed not to have been present when Volkner was hanged nor in the church. He did not, as has been said, claim that the killing was an act of revenge for the burning of women and children at RAngiaowhia. He did in fact way in reference to that tand in implied acceptance - "that is quite different; there was fighting there." (DAily Southern Cross, 2 January 1872. Correspondence with National Archives. 8 September 1976)

His own statement and line of defence were at variance with the testimony of other witnesses, both Europeans and Maori, who recited in full and incriminating detail his every action on the fateful day nearly six years earlier. The jury retired for only 20 minutes before returning with a verdict of guilty. Kereopa was sentence to death and subsequently paid the supreme penalty.

LAND CONFISCATION

In 1926 the government of the day set up a Royal Commission to inquire into "Confiscation of Native Lands and other Grievances."

Confiscation had occurred under a series of Acts and Amendments beginning with the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863. On the powers taken therein, certain Native lands became government lands "by reason of the fact that such Natives or some of them had been engaged in rebellion against Her then Majesty's authority". The purpose of the Acts was the introduction of a sufficient number of settlers able to protect themselves, preserve the peace of the country and prevent future insurrection or rebellion. The Acts provided for compensation in land, money or scrip to be granted to all such persons as had any title or claim to lands taken, excluding from such compensation the classes of persons defined in section five of the NZ Settlements Act 1863, being largely those Natives who were actually in rebellion against Her Majesty.