This has come from:
Prepared for Opotiki District Council New Zealand Historic Places Trust Environment Bay of Plenty
Matthews & Matthews Architects Ltd Lyn Williams and
R A Skidmore and Associates Archaeology B.O.P.,March 2006


1832 a party of Whakatohea invaded Poverty Bay, but were defeated by the superior musket power of their opponents.9 Another major engagement occurred at Te Kaha in 1834, against Ngai Tai. After these disputes, captured Whakatohea were taken as far afield as the Waikato and Northland; many returned in 1831, establishing themselves again in and around Opotiki by 1840, under Titoko’s leadership. By the mid 1840s it was estimated that there were 1200 people at Opotiki, a further 3000 in the eastern Bay of Plenty coastal area, and 2400 in the Urewera ranges.10
Contact with Christianity occurred first through the work of Maori missionaries such as Piripi Taumatakura who had been taught at the Bay of Islands and returned to the Opotiki area in 1834, and with William Williams’ mission on the East Coast. When the Church Missionary Society’s Rev. A.N. Brown at Te Papa mission (Tauranga) sent Ngakuku (called Wiremu Maihi or William Marsh) to Opotiki in September 1839 to prepare the way for a resident missionary, converts were already holding regular services there. In late 1839 Whakatohea requested the Church Missionary Society (CMS) to send them a missionary. Ngakuku returned on December 29 with Rev. J.A. Wilson. By 8 January 1840 Wilson had selected a site for the mission “on the western side of the river, and about three-quarters of a mile from the great pa.... After nine days of making arrangements the Ngaitama tribe met on 17 January 1840 and concluded the sale... the value of the trade goods was approximately ₤300.” At the same time he also purchased land for his family.11 This was the first recorded sale of Whakatohea land.
The kainga of Pakowhai was large enough to encourage the Roman Catholic Church to establish a mission also. Bishop Pompallier visited Pakowhai in late March 1840. He was welcomed by a large number of people including Moka, a northern chief who had married a high-ranking Opotiki woman. They had built a church of reeds “... and it was in this modest little building that Pompallier celebrated the district’s first Catholic mass and baptized a baby girl. Pompallier said there were 700 Maoris at Opotiki.” Pompallier drew up a deed to help protect their land, and provide land for a Catholic mission.12
On the 27-28 May 1840, seven Whakatohea chiefs signed the copy of the Treaty of Waitangi taken to the eastern Bay of Plenty by James Fedarb.13 Three of the chiefs, Tautoro, Rangimatanuku and Rangihaerepo, wanted it noted that they were Roman Catholic, so Fedarb drew a crucifix next to their names. The other signatories were Te Aporotanga, Takahi, Atua and Wakiia.14
From late 1840 Whakatohea’s contact with European culture became direct and sustained with Pakeha living with or near to the people of Pakowhai.

9 Bentley 1999: 166

10 sketch drawn by CMS missionary John Wilson in c. 1844-45

11 Irwin 1967 :163

12 Westgate 1991

13 McKinnon. pl.36a.

14 Cresswell 2004: 23-24, Orange 2004: 304-5. Orange suggests alternative spellings for three of the chiefs’ names may be Tauatoro, Te Whakia and Te Awanui Aporotanga.

Living in two worlds - time of change for Whakatohea

Rev. John A. Wilson took up permanent residence at the CMS mission at Hikutaia in December 1841, Ngatuku (William Marsh) continuing teaching in the interim. In 1848 Wilson reported that there were 1000 professed Christians of the Opotiki district assembled at a hui. In his 1851 report he said there were 163 communicants in Opotiki, and 121 baptisms had been carried out during the year while 230 candidates for baptism remained. When he took up his appointment there were only two baptised Maori in the district.
In 1854 Wilson’s replacement, Rev. Christopher Davis, shifted the mission station closer to town. His retirement in 1855 left the Opotiki parish without a resident minister, but it was looked after by Archdeacon Brown from Tauranga, Rev. Chapman from Rotorua, Rev. Rota Waitoa from Te Araroa and Bishop Selwyn.15 Late in 1859 Rev. Carl S. Volkner, a German, arrived to look after the CMS congregation. Volkner purchased two small plots of land in Opotiki for a vicarage, which he called Peria, and a more substantial church. The latter was built on the site of the raupo chapel built in 1843. Construction of Hiona, now St Stephen’s, began in late 1862 and was completed in 1864.16
Some of Whakatohea preferred the Roman Catholic concepts. In 1841 Father Rozet and his French servant established the seventh Catholic mission in the country. A raupo chapel was built, with a wooden floor because of the mud and flooding. The Roman Catholic mission was immediately adjacent to Pakowhai17. After Rozet left, the mission was managed from Whakatane until Father Chouvet took up residence at Opotiki in 1843 until 1846. In 1850 the Mill Hill Fathers took over the mission with Fathers Grange and Garavel. Garavel remained there till 1865.
Amongst the practical skills taught by missionaries was the cultivation of wheat. Wheat was ideally suited to the arable soils of the Opotiki plains, and cropping was soon under way. Whakatohea were quick to develop markets for their wheat and other produce such as flax, pigs, sheep and potatoes, and rather than relying on European traders, by 1843 had acquired two ships of their own which could transport this produce to the growing population of Auckland. European goods and equipment were brought back. Father Chouvet recorded the purchase of a ship at Opotiki in about 1844 “... from a Jew called Russell. This Englishman was selling them a schooner of twenty tons for the price of two hundred pigs ... the contract, drawn up in the Maori Language, was read out and signed by two or three leading chiefs and the seller.”18
Whakatohea were then competing with the Pakeha traders established along the coast, so many set up as shipbuilders, employing European shipwrights who came to live at Opotiki. Independent shipwrights also settled in the district, mostly from early 1840s to late 1850s. Hezekiah Hunt built five ships in Opotiki between 1851-1856; Lovatt Thoroughgood built three ships 1850-52; William Webb and Thomas Williamson built one in Opotiki in 1846. Four other shipbuilders with no ships registered in their names were John Middlemass, David David, Joseph Curtiss and John Vickery.19 A small shipbuilding industry was flourishing at Ohiwa also.20 Three of the ship owners were Tepana, Rangimatanuku and Rangitokino, with other ships being registered simply under the iwi’s name. Whakatohea owned at least 19 (possibly 22) named ships between 1840 and 1860. The ships were often not very seaworthy, couldn’t be maintained and didn’t last long. Many were wrecked, in Opotiki estuary and elsewhere.
Greater quantities of wheat were grown in the 1850s after ploughs were introduced. By the early 1860s, three tribally-owned flour mills run by waterwheel power were built in the Eastern Bay.
15 Cresswell 2004: 28

16 Cresswell 2004: 30

17 This is now the block between Grey and Kelly Streets, east of Church Street. 18 Van der Wouden, A. 1985:91 quoting Chouvet

19 Van der Wouden, A. 1985: 97-98

20 Cresswell 2003: 26

At least one of these was owned by Whakatohea who in 1858 contracted Messrs Galloway and Dixon to build the mill. “Construction did not proceed smoothly, for a year later the Whakatohea committee complained about the workmanship of the mill .... Final payment was made in August 1860.” The mill ran for several years, despite difficulties.21 Production began to decline because of soil exhaustion due to over-cropping, damage to ploughs, and the inability of the Pakeha millwright to maintain equipment. The Australian market declined also in the late 1850s, affecting Maori exports.
Father Chouvet encountered a Pakeha-Maori (mokai) living in the neighbourhood of Opotiki, a man who was covered in moko but who was having difficulty accepting his newly-adopted lifestyle. Chouvet gave him some clothes. The man was presumably an escaped convict or deserter, as he said he would not return to European society.22
In 1853 and 1854 seven Pakeha shipwrights and one settler, Thomas Wilkinson, were listed on the electoral roll as Opotiki householders.23 Most of these were British or continental Europeans. Samuel Levy, a trader, and his ship-captain brother Morris who came to Opotiki in 1863, were Jews from the Channel Islands. Dr Alfred Agassiz, a Frenchman, married a local woman and settled, as did his brother. Joseph Jeans (aka Jennings or Jahus), a Portuguese, lived at Opotiki for six years with his Ngatiawa wife.
By the end of the 1850s Whakatohea had become relatively wealthy; large numbers had converted to Christianity in either the Roman Catholic or Anglican denominations; crops were a mixture of traditional and introduced vegetables, cereals and fruit; they had horses, pigs, sheep and cattle; ownership of European clothes and goods was widespread. They were also more familiar with European ways, values and politics. The majority of Whakatohea men (and some women) would have been on a visit to Auckland or the Bay of Islands by 1860. A few Europeans were living at Opotiki, and irregular contact was made with visits by other missionaries and government officials.
These first interactions between Whakatohea and Europeans were amicable, based on religion and commerce. Pakeha residents were in very small numbers, not threatening ownership of land, but influencing spiritual beliefs and material lifestyle. Changes were slow but the situation changed radically in 1865.
Cultural upheaval
Whakatohea had remained independent both politically and administratively, but by the end of 1861 adopted (not very successfully) the New Zealand government’s system of runanga. Pressure from the Kingitanga movement to provide support for their anti-government campaigns in the Waikato and Taranaki saw a party of Whakatohea attempt to go to the Waikato in 1864 to lend their support for the Kingitanga. They were blocked by Te Arawa and British forces, and in a subsequent engagement the Whakatohea chief Te Aporotanga was killed. In addition to this grievance factor, the planting of sufficient crops was not undertaken, and typhoid and measles “had claimed a quarter of their number”.24
Dissatisfaction amongst Whakatohea of the increasing intrusion of the government, the potential increased loss of tribal land and the recent disruptions were factors that provided a fertile ground for the acceptance of the new religion of Pai Marire when it was introduced to the Opotiki people early in 1865. Pai Marire began as a peaceful millenium movement following the teachings of the prophet Te Ua Haumene, but followers (termed Hauhau by Pakeha) became associated with war and violence as they sought justice for land grievances and the preservation of Maori sovereignty.25
21 van der Wouden, 1984: 76

22 Bentley 1999: 32

23 Maori and women were not eligible to vote at this time. 24 Grace 2004

25 McKinnon pl.39a

An additional factor was the belief that Volkner was spying for the government, as he had advised Governor Grey that the Roman Catholic priest Father Garavel was assisting “rebels”, as the Kingitanga followers were referred to. Garavel had delivered a letter from Wiremu Tamihana to an Anglican chief at Opotiki, but was not aware of its contents.26
At Opotiki in March 1865 Rev. Volkner was charged with several crimes by a group of Hauhau under Kereopa, found guilty and executed. The treatment of his body was particularly gruesome by Pakeha standards. Many of Volkner’s own parishioners were involved in the killing and ceremonies, but Roman Catholic parishioners seem to have been less influenced by the Hauhau rhetoric. The aggression was specifically against Volkner, as other Pakeha including Rev. Thomas Grace were unharmed. Some were held captive for several days but the Levy brothers, being Jewish, were allowed to remain free.27

The killing of Volkner was a major catalyst for the subsequent turmoil of the late 1860s. Skirmishes between Maori and Europeans further along the coast led to the whole eastern Bay of Plenty area being declared by the government to be under martial law. A force of 500 colonial troops (including Te Arawa and other Native Contingents) was organised and on 9 September 1865 Pakowhai was invaded. Several Hauhau were killed.28 Whakatohea and the Hauhau visitors were forced to retreat into the hills. Pakowhai village was occupied by the troops, a camp was established around Hiona St Stephen’s church and the next day the erection of a defensive ditch and earth bank was begun.29
In subsequent months the military forces, supplemented by more men of the 1st Waikato and 2nd Waikato Regiments, maintained their occupation of Opotiki, erected other redoubts to the south and engaged Hauhau and their followers in several skirmishes. A battle at Te Tarata on the Waioeka River, on October 4 1865, resulted in 35 Hauhau dead and many wounded, and three dead and nine wounded on the government side. The Hauhau retreated; 200 men of Ngati Rua hapu surrendered. Later in October, 21 people were captured in the Waimana valley and brought to Opotiki for court-martial.30
Land was not all that Whakatohea lost. Food stores, stock, crops, personal possessions and taonga were looted. Lt Stoate boasted that he was having six meals a day: pork chops, beef steak and potatoes. After five days on shore having “glorious fun” he left with a canoe figurehead, tomahawk, spear, paddle and some greenstone; he rejected the Maori books which were available in “any amount”. At least 20 horses were appropriated as cavalry horses; a few were taken by officers and other horses were sold by auction. Major Charles Stapp wrote to his wife: “What a quantity of cultivations corn in abundance such fine potatoes, all their ploughing was done with Horses .... I should say they were very rich.... Ploughs brand new all sorts of implements.... [The force] have got thousands worth of property belonging to them.” Stapp himself appropriated a wash stand, iron bedstead, table, chair, bath tub and straw bed.31
The new-comers
The men of the 1st and 2nd Waikatos were of British and Irish descent, some having been born in New Zealand but most recruited from goldfields in the South Island and Australia. Amongst them were farmers, small businessmen, carpenters or other tradesmen. For over a year Opotiki was a “men-only” settlement, and the visit by Colonel Haultain’s wife in 1866 caused quite a stir. A contemporary account stated: “Now the whole camp off duty, with all the natives, men, women and children, were present to ... give us welcome. Mrs Haultain ...
26 Vaggioli 2000:241-2, 243

27 See Grace and Gilling 1994 for full descriptions of this episode. 28 Cowan : 108

29 Cresswell 2003: 67-8

30 Cresswell 2003: 78

31 Stoate and C. Stapp as cited by Gilling 1994: 15-16

created no little excitement ... [she] ... is the first European lady that the natives have seen since Mrs Volkner left Opotiki.”32
With the arrival of wives and children of the 1st and 2nd Waikato militiamen in 1867, Opotiki began to take shape as a colonial town. Conditions were harsh initially, as rations and pay were in short supply and rural land was not immediately available. Many families left. However by 1870 the population had become more settled. Figures for the non-Maori population of the whole county rose from 300 in 1874 to 773 in 1881 and a gradual increase to 864 in 1886. Population figures for the borough only show that the population continued to increase through the first decades of the 20th Century, from 683 (non-Maori only) in 1906, to 1140 in 1921, despite the loss of c.50 men on active service in World War I. Total population figures show Maori numbers were also increasing, as was the proportion of Maori in the community. By 1956 the non-Maori numbered 1808 and Maori 538, making a total of 2346.
In 1893, 121 women registered to vote on the Opotiki roll, and a further 16 had signed the petition in 1892.33 Of the women registered to vote, only 15 had occupations other than household duties/domestic duties. They were teachers, a storekeeper, milliner, nurse, housekeeper, tailoress, dressmaker, lady’s help and cook.