Volume 51 1942 > Volume 51, No. 1 > The upraised hand, by William Greenwood, p 1-80
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Our little systems have their day:
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of Thee,
And Thou, 0 Lord, art more than they.

CIVILIZATION is ruthless in its impact on a primitive people. It assumes an unproved superiority, overwhelms all resistance, and sweeps away age-old conventions. It substitutes one moral code for another and one civil law for another, without considering for a moment that the imposed change may not be suitable for the ones on whom it is imposed, and refusing to consider if it might not itself learn something by a study of the institutions swept away.

Two transitions in quick succession were forced upon the Maori. On the first contact with the Pakeha his mode of living was revolutionized, and since then he has witnessed the amazing and rapid social transformation of the Pakeha himself in the bewildering blossoming-out of the civilization of the twentieth century.

One wonders whether the sailors who accompanied Captain Cook when he landed in Poverty Bay in 1769 had a sense of foreboding regarding the future relationships of the Maori and the Pakeha. One wonders also, whether the natives who stood “motionless as if petrified with astonishment” as they gazed upon the dead body of their late - 2 comrade, Te Maro, regarded the ominous events of that day on the banks of the Turanganui river with misgiving. Immediately the two races came into contact, blood was shed.

Following close upon the heels of the great explorer, came the sealer, the whaler, the trader, the land-shark, hungry for the produce of the land. Many of these visitors observed no moral code, were utterly ruthless in their dealings with the Maori, and before long natural enmity and distrust filled the native mind with resentment. Then came the missionaries, and rival missionaries, teachers, deacons, bishops, one talking against another, but all hungry for converts; then settlers and more settlers, desperately hungry for land.

The first reaction on the part of the Maori was one of dread of the power of the ruthless Pakeha; then one of wonder at his boundless possessions; and finally one of contempt for his greed. He had to make up his mind as to what phases of this incongruous civilization he was to adopt, and in his quest he had to pass through the ordeal of war and land-confiscation. In this respect, one might think it incredible that the early settlers did not display more foresight than to use muskets as a means of barter with the Maori: they surely must have known that bloodshed must result if a naturally war-like people were stimulated by some grievance, imaginary or real. Further, the Pakeha had no moral right to purchase large areas of land for a few blankets. In a year or two, the Maori had no blankets, whilst the Pakeha still had the land. It was not long before the Maori realized the injustice of such dealing; and in objecting to it he was branded as a rebel.

In the 'thirties, tribal wars died down under the influence of increasing legitimate trading, mainly in flax and pigs, thus giving a much-welcomed impetus to missionary activity. It is said that more than one quarter of the Maori population of the North Island were baptised by 1838. By 1840 missions were established in the South Island. In 1838 the Maori New Testament made its appearance and in 1867 the first complete Maori version of the Scriptures: odd books of the Old Testament had appeared in 1853 and 1855.

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The Christian religion, however, as observed by the Pakeha, contained obvious inconsistencies which proved bewildering to the Maori mind. In the first place there were at least three so-called true religions, all based on the same Bible. The missionaries ministered to the Pakeha settlers as well as to the Maori, but their influence on the former was apparently negligible. In addition to this the Maori studied the Bible with a zeal and earnestness that could rarely be attributed to the Pakeha.

Through the disastrous wars brought about by the early hurried and faulty land-purchases, the Wairau tragedy of 1843, the Wellington disturbance of 1846, the Waitara dispute of 1860, and the quickly-succeeding clashes merging in the bitter wars of the 'sixties and 'seventies, the Maori kept his faith in the Bible, whilst at the same time he lost his faith in those who introduced it. The Scriptures themselves spoke as they had always spoken, and the Maori conceived the idea that as the Pakeha had derived more than one inspiration from the Bible, there must be a message and an inspiration for the Maori also. The warful Old Testament as well as the peaceful New were now in his hands, and he drew inspiration from both.

As the Children of Israel were in captivity, so were the Maori people held in captivity by the Pakeha. Israel in Babylon, and Judah plundered, indicated native land-confiscation. The promised land was Aotearoa restored to the Maori, who took these Old Testament stories seriously, and believed them implicitly with a child-like faith that would shame many a twentieth-century Pakeha churchman. The angel Gabriel speaking was a reality, not a figurative expression. If the angel of the Lord spoke to the prophets of Israel, he would do so again, but this time to the prophets of another Israel in bondage, the Maori. Thus was established a line of Maori prophets, extending even down to our present time.

Unfortunately for the Pakeha, the revelations made to Te Ua Haumene, the first Hauhau prophet, were not favourable to the Pakeha; and, judging in retrospect, this is not surprising.

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Friends, this is a word from God to you. If any minister or other European comes to this place, do not protect him; he must die, die, die.


A common religion binds a people into a united brotherhood. A common enemy welds a disunited people into a congruous unit. A common religious faith coupled with a common enemy produces a formidable body capable of exercising every talent and resource at its disposal in fanatical zeal to protect its hereditary prerogatives. Such were the elements embodied in the most ferocious institution ever established in New Zealand, the Hauhau or Pai-marire religion.

The founder of this sect was Te Ua Haumene (in full Te Ua Horopapera Haumene, the word ‘Horopaper’ being a transliteration of the Biblical name ‘Zerubabbel’ given him when he was baptized by the Wesleyan missionary, the Reverend John Whiteley). He had studied the Scriptures under the missionaries, and had also learned much of the magic art of the tohunga. It is thought that he had studied the art of hypnotism, and was also familiar with spiritism, this latter quality having been part of the tohunga system of philosophy. Before his meteoric rise as a prophet and the founder of a new religion, he had been regarded by Maori and Pakeha alike as a harmless individual of weak intellect.

His first notoriety came with the wrecking of the steamer Lord Worsley on the Taranaki coast. Te Ua certainly appeared to be of a peaceful disposition on this occasion, for he endeavoured to persuade the natives not to loot the wrecked steamer. They did not respond to his advice. - 5 It was absurd, from the native point of view, that a tribe should have no right to plunder a ship wrecked on their own domain. A remarkable belief was then promulgated, namely that the wreck of the Lord Worsley was brought about by the supernatural drawing-power of the new prophet. Instances are also recorded of such power being from time to time claimed by Hauhau leaders in other parts of the North Island.

Shortly after this, Te Ua was accused of assaulting the wife of one of his tribesmen. The husband of the offended woman bound him hand and foot and left him in a whare to meditate upon his misdemeanour. In this state the prophet communed with his atua, Pai-marire, “the Good and Peaceful.” The archangel Michael, the angel Gabriel, and many other spirits of the other world then came from the Lord Worsley and visited him as he lay bound. At Gabriel's command, Te Ua burst his bonds asunder, and was free. Again his captor bound him, this time with a chain, but under the directions of Gabriel, he again broke free. This story was widely believed by the superstitious Maori, and the fame of Te Ua as a prophet protected by God was assured.

The next appearance of Gabriel occurred during the prophet's sleep. It will be remembered that to the Maori, dreams were the wanderings of the spirit that had temporarily left the body. There was, consequently, a reality about them. Te Ua was acquainted not only with the teachings of the heathen religion, but also with the Scriptures, where stories of dreams are of frequent occurrence. The Book of Revelation, too, apparently well studied by Te Ua, would give him ample reason for believing in supernatural revelation.

If the Supreme Atua in ancient times so dealt with men in need of guidance, then He—the same God—would do so again. He did so. Sending His angel Gabriel as His messenger, He showed Te Ua all the tribes of the world surrounding him on every hand. Then a loud voice was heard which cried out, “Te Ua, go out and kill your son.” In compliance with the order, he seized his son and broke his leg in several places, but before the final stroke was made, the angel intervened and told Te Ua to go and wash his son in water. He did so, and the son was thereby restored to health. The - 6 attempted offering of his son bears a resemblance to the sacrificing of Isaac on Mount Moriah. The sign was given, and the angel henceforth proceeded to relate the tenets of the new faith.

Apart from the Bible, too, there are religious faiths in existence to-day, faiths that have established themselves in New Zealand and have quite a substantial Pakeha following, having their inception as late as during the past century with some miraculously given divine injunction. One of these sects found mainly among the Maoris, but nevertheless with Pakeha missionaries from overseas, is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, or the Mormons. Hauhauism was the outcome of a set of circumstances. The Maoris I were seeking in the dark, as it were, for something upon which to lay the burden of their grievances. Te Ua Haumene provided that something.

The centre of worship was the niu pole, or flagmast rigged up like the mast of a ship, around which the faithful marched chanting their powerful incantations. They were to be endowed with the gift of tongues of every language on earth. In furtherance of the divine revelation a most potent chant was given by the angel Gabriel, a chant to be used at all meetings; and the Ringatu sign, the sign of the Upraised Hand, was to be adopted. When Pai-marire soldiers went to battle, they were to use this sign and shout, “Hapa! Pai-marire, hau, ” (Pass over, good and peaceful). If they observed this injunction, the bullets of the Pakeha could not hurt them, but would pass over their heads.

The chant taught to the prophet by the angel Gabriel was chiefly a transliteration of English into Maori. The theme was ridiculous, and the simple followers were beguiled into believing that some day a divine revelation would make known the true meaning to the faithful. To commence a karakia (service), the leader would cry out: “Porini, hoia!” which was simply Maori-ized “Fall in, soldiers.” He would be standing at the foot of the pole, and his followers would arrange themselves in a circle around it. Then followed the angel-revealed chant:

Kill, one, two, three, four, attention.
River, big river, long river, stone, big stone, attention.
Road, big road, long road, bush, big bush, attention.
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Long bush, long stone, hill, big hill, long hill, attention.
Mountain, big mountain, long mountain, big staff, long staff, attention.
North, north-by-east, nor'-nor'-east, nor'-east-by-east, north-east, colony, attention.
Come to tea, all the men, round the niu, attention.
Shem, rule the wind, too much wind, come to tea, attention.

This song, transliterated, is mere gibberish, but the converts were taught that it actually was English. “Kill, one, two, three, four, ” was rendered “Kira, wana, tu, tiri, wha”, and “Long bush, long stone, hill, big hill, long hill, attention”, became “Rongo puihi, rongo tone, hira, piki hira, rongo hira, teihana.” The words were neither Maori nor English. Who then could question their seraphic origin? At any rate, many died in the belief, simple-minded martyrs to a false cause.

The invocation completed, the leader would then call, “E te Matua, Pai-marire” (O Father, good and peaceful); and the faithful would respond “Rire, rire, hau” (Mercy, mercy, hau). This response seems to have taken the place of the usual “amen” used in Christian ritual.

The fervour with which the proceedings were carried out can be imagined. Thrice would they sing, in the ritual of the Waiata-mo-te-ata: “My glorious niu, have mercy upon me”, then “Rire, rire.” Thrice would they sing, “Atua, Pai-marire, ” then again “Rire, rire”; thrice “Atua, Tamaiti, Pai-marire, ” then “Rire, rire”; and thrice, “Atua, Wairua-tapu, Pai-marire, ” then finally “Rire, rire.”

In these words may be found a curious translation of a Church of England Prayer-book chant. “Pai-marire” was the name of the God “Good and Peaceful.” The word “atua” (deity, or spirit) here means “God.” Thus the ritual could be interpreted:

God, the Good and Peaceful, (thrice),
Mercy, mercy.
God the Son, Good and Peaceful, (thrice),
Mercy, mercy.
God the Holy Ghost, Good and Peaceful(thrice),
Mercy, mercy.

There was yet another hymn of invocation to the Blessed Trinity which finished at the end of each line with “mai merire, ” a transliteration of the Latin words “mei Miserere” - 8 gleaned from the prayer-book of the Roman Catholic Church. In place of the benediction a gloria was recited in an almost incomprehensible jumble which might be called pidgin-Maori, the words “Rire, rire, hau” taking the place of the customary “Amen.”

The stage was now set for the spiritual whirlwind of Hauhau fanaticism.


The first blood was shed 6 April, 1864, when a company of the 57th regiment and some newly enlisted Taranaki military settlers were attacked at Te Ahuahu. It appears that the main body of the men under Captain Lloyd had piled their arms and were awaiting the arrival of their comrades, when suddenly they were surprised by a volley fired at close range. Then came the Hauhaus from their cleverly concealed trenches crying “Pai-marire, hau, hau, hau.” The party was overwhelmed; seven soldiers were killed, including Captain Lloyd, and twelve were wounded, the natives losing four of their men. The heads of the Pakeha killed were cut off and carried away. The victory, a relatively small thing in itself, inspired the faithful with unwarranted enthusiasm. The Pakeha had been defeated in battle, and the faith confirmed.

Still more important was the new series of revelations immediately following the conflict, and as a result of it. The angel Gabriel once more revealed the will of Pai-marire to Te Ua Haumene. The High Priest, as he was now regarded, was bidden to exhume the head of Captain Lloyd, and preserve it by the ancient Maori method of smoke-drying. This head was to be taken from tribe to tribe of the North Island, and to be used as a medium of communication between God and man.

It was then reported that the head had told Te Ua that when this task was completed, legions of angels led by Joshua would be available to aid in the extermination of the gentile white-man. Upon the conversion of every tribe, and the final conquering of the Pakeha and the restoring of New Zealand to its original owners, the gift of tongues would descend upon the faithful, together with the gift of knowledge of every science and art. The ceremonies and karakias

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(From a photograph.)

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of the Pai-marire, especially the chant taught to the prophet by the angel Gabriel, were to be the inspiration for this great purpose.

Captain Lloyd's head also told Te Ua that he was the chief prophet of Pai-marire, and that Matene and Hepanaia were to be his disciples. Actually five prophets or priests of the new faith were appointed. These were Hepanaia Kape-whiti, who came to an early end in the Sentry Hill battle in May, 1864; Matene te Rangi-tauira, who was killed about a fortnight later in the Battle of Moutoa; Patara Raukatauri, of a much milder disposition than his colleagues, and who lived to see peace established once more; Kereopa te Rau, who later earned the unenviable title of Kereopa Kaiwhatu, or the Eye-eater, and who was eventually hanged in Napier for murder; and Horomona, who was hanged in Auckland on a similar charge. As these prophets went from tribe to tribe, they gave authority to others to act as priests, in many cases tohungas agreeing to accept this privileged role.

It is needless for our purpose to detail all the conflicts that ensued between the Pakeha and loyalist Maori on the one hand, and the Hauhaus on the other, but some indication may here be given of the effect of the fanatical faith on the Maori when going to battle. A redoubt on Sentry Hill, Te Morere, Taranaki, was the scene of the first attack on the British forces after Te Ahuahu affair. The leader of this attack was Hepanaia Kapewhiti, one of the appointed Hauhau priests.

In the very early morning Hepanaia (Zephaniah) and his followers conducted the sacred ceremonies around the niu at Manutahi. All the leading chiefs of Taranaki were present. First the usual opening command of “Porini, hoia” was given, and then the heaven-sent chant was sung. Immediately after this, the attack was made on the redoubt, the magical battle cry “Hapa, hapa, hapa; hau, hau, hau; Pai-marire, rire, rire, hau” being chanted by the attackers with hand uplifted in the sign of the Ringatu. So great was the faith of these men, that instead of crawling or running in a stooping position up the hillside, they attacked by running in the ordinary way, upright. “Fight on, fight on,” encouraged the chiefs, “be firm, be firm.” But many a brave soldier - 10 fell that day, including the leader, Hepanaia Kapewhiti. The Hauhau religion was proved false; over fifty natives were killed.

When Te Ua was informed of the battle and its result, however, he assured his doubting followers that those who had fallen could not have put absolute faith in their incantations. This explanation was accepted; in fact there were those who were prepared to say that those who obeyed every minute detail of what was required, had escaped from the conflict unhurt. The faith spread through the west coast tribes with great rapidity. Soon the prophets were able to go further afield, and the niu pole with its attendant ceremonies was established in more distant parts of the Island.


Most religions depend upon the exciting of the emotions to gain proselytes. This is vindicated to some extent by modern psychologists, who even go so far as to state that every change of outlook, every action decided upon, and every conclusion drawn, must necessarily be accompanied by emotion, however slight, even imperceptible. In the paragraphs immediately following therefore, dealing with changes wrought in a people's attitude to the Pakeha, the fact that the emotional impulses were played upon must not be forgotten.

The method used to convert a sceptic to the Pai-marire religion made a direct appeal to him in a manner very difficult to resist. The service around the niu pole had, in itself, a great fascination for the primitive intellect. Even though a Maori observer had been educated in the mission schools, had been accepted into the Christian faith by baptism and confirmation; even though he himself had been in his turn trying to win others to Christianity; still the ceremonies around the niu pole must have had a powerful influence upon him. The believers would march around the pole for an hour on end, holding up their hands in the manner of the faith, half-dazed, and apparently oblivious to anything apart from their worship. Stories are told of unbelievers who watched the ceremonies, even laughed at them; but who, after a while, began to tremble; then suddenly they would join in the incantations, and with a new enthusiasm would take their place in the

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The march round the niu., —From H. Meade., THE “Prophet's staff,” which had been set up in the middle of the open space, was a stout spar, some 30 feet high, from which floated first the “Riki, ” or war-flag, a long red pendant with a white cross. Beneath it, a large handsome flag, very carefully made—black, with a white cross next the staff, and a blue fly, the whole surrounded by a narrow scarlet border; and beneath that again another red pendant, much broader than the upper one, with a St. Andrew's cross and some other design which I forget. The priest stood near the staff, which was further “supported, ” as they say in Heraldry, by three little children who stood with their backs against it, while two men with drawn cutlasses walked up and down the inner sides
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of the square to prevent anyone approaching too close to the sacred staff, or the high priest, whilst he was under the influence of divine inspiration., As soon as silence and order were established, Te Aokatoa commenced gabbling away at a tremendous rate, varying the performance with occasional yells; he then being supposed to be the favoured mouthpiece of the Deity, and to have the gift of divers tongues. Thus I was told at one time that he was speaking English, at another French, and then Hebrew—I need hardly say that it was all gibberish. At intervals he would stop to make obeisance to the staff and to the four points of the compass, with the usual Pai Marire salutation, but accompanied by genuflexions. When he had apparently come to the end of his wind and his Hebrew, he paused a little to take breath, and then chanted a hymn in Maori, followed by something which appeared to imitate the style of our Litany, to which the people gave responses in their own language., Then at a signal from the priest, the whole of the assembled tribes (there were delegates from many) sprang to their feet, men, women, and children, and having formed round the flag-staff in a circular column, eight or ten deep, began slowly marching round the staff, pointing to the skies above them with swords or guns or spears, 1 and chanting the responses after the priest in excellent time and powerful voices. It was the first time that I had heard Maoris singing in tune. It appeared to resemble some of our own church music, from whence it doubtless took its source, though with many wild variations. The striking character of the surrounding scenery—the scarlet, black and blue of the flags, with their white crosses waving forth in strong relief against the dark woods beyond—the varied and many coloured dresses—the throng of eager upturned faces, fervent with fanaticism—little children, young girls, swarthy warriors, with upraised hands and weapons pointing heavenward—and the swelling chorus rising through the stillness of the primeval forest—all combined to produce a very remarkable effect., This was the end of the “Karakia”; and after they had all made obeisance to the staff as described above, the congregation resolved itself into a “Runanga” to decide on my fate., Extract from A Ride through the Disturbed Districts of New Zealand, by Lieut, the Hon. Herbert Meade, pages 126-129 (Journal kept 1864-1865, published 1870).
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march round the pole. Such “conversion” was accounted for by the fact that the spirit from the niu pole had entered the convert.

The women-folk in particular seem to have been susceptible to the frenzied emotionalism engendered by the recitation of the karakias. This was especially the case when hanging on the niu pole, about three feet from the ground, was the smoke-dried head of some slain enemy. The worshippers would be carried away in their excitement, the women at times gnawing at the hair and flesh of the grisly trophy hanging before them. For all practical purposes, this had the effect of stimulating the hatred of the believers toward their enemies. It made them not only furious warriors, but also filled them with a blood-lust which found expression in most revolting practices.

When there were candidates eager to be initiated into the new faith, these would be arranged round the niu, and bidden to gaze steadfastly at the top of the pole. This gazing must be kept up until such time that the spirit from the sacred pole had entered the initiate. When this gazing had been going on for some time, one of the Hauhaus would go from one initiate to another and by the simple flapping of a handkerchief in their faces, ascertain whether the desired end had been obtained. Then each would be seized by the arms and whirled round and round until he was unconscious. This done, he was deemed to have been made porewharewha (po-rewha-rewha—a word meaning giddy, stupefied; in this procedure practically hypnotized). When he recovered, he was willing to submit to the authority of the leaders, and would take his place as a regular worshipper around the pole. It was deemed unnecessary for chiefs to submit to this ordeal, their mana ensuring ready compliance once their sympathies were enlisted.


One scene taken from history will illustrate the ready compliance of people whose emotions have been aroused to acts from which in normal circumstances they would recoil with repugnance. The story of St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in France when the Huguenots were the unfortunate victims, now fills one with horror. All the chief - 14 instigators of this general massacre were gathered in Paris. The king, Charles IX, recoiled at the suggestion, but was unable to withstand the taunts of his mother. The order was given, and the worked-up fury of the soldiers throughout France was responsible for the deaths of as many as 100, 000 victims. Strange to relate, the courts of Europe regarded this terrible deed as a master-stroke. It was not until some considerable time afterward that the horror of the event made its impression upon the rulers of that day. Here the paradox of religious zeal being accompanied by revolting excesses is exemplified.

Kereopa te Rau, arch-priest of the new religion, visited Whakatane and demanded that the Roman Catholic priest, Father Grange, should be handed over to him by the Ngatiawa tribes. Prior to this, Kereopa had requested the people of Te Teko to hand over a miller named Aubrey. Fortunately for both, nothing happened, and the blood-lusting prophet made his way to Opotiki. Accompanying Kereopa was Patara who, when he arrived at Opotiki, demanded the missionary, the Reverend Carl Sylvius Volkner, a German Lutheran minister working among the Whakatohea people under the auspices of the Anglican communion. Volkner was absent in Auckland, and Patara wrote him a letter telling him not to return.

A niu pole was erected, and Captain Lloyd's head, which had been brought from Taranaki, was hung upon it in the customary manner for ceremonial purposes. The Pai-marire karakias were then taught to the people, and the religion established. On 1 March the schooner Eclipse arrived from Auckland, bringing the Reverend Volkner and the Reverend Grace of Taupo. The two missionaries were seized, but a peculiar belief of the fanatic faith allowed the captain, Captain Levy, and his brother to go free. It was stated that as they were Jews they were akin to the Hauhaus, who were regarded as Jews in captivity.

On the following afternoon, the Reverend Volkner was taken under armed guard into his own church, where was gathered a crowd of excited people. It is stated that they had been given fermented peach-juice in order that they might be brave. Kereopa stood by the altar and gave instruc-

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(From T. W. Gudgeon, Reminiscences of the War in New Zealand.)
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(later cut down and burnt by loyal Maoris.)
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tions that the prisoner was to be put to death. Volkner was stripped of his coat and waistcoat, which Kereopa put on. It should be mentioned that there were many Maoris who opposed the execution of their missionary, especially as some of them, knowing that he was a German, regarded him as having nothing whatever to do with the land question, the central grievance of the Hauhau followers.

However, evil counsel prevailed, and he was taken out and hanged on a willow some distance away from the church. It is also believed that Kereopa shot him immediately that he was hanged. The body was hauled up and down several times, then allowed to hang for about an hour, and finally taken down. It is stated that the Reverend Grace, whose life was also in danger, with little apparent thought for his own safety, pleaded earnestly that the Reverend Volkner might be spared. Not satisfied with the murder of this victim, however, the fanatics went further.

The fanatical priest ordered the body to be cut down, and removed to a place near the church. A man by the name of Heremita decapitated it, while the believers crowded round in order to catch and drink the blood. Kereopa then went into the church, followed by all the chief men and women. The leader then produced the dead man's head, which had been wrapped in calico, and placed it on the pulpit in front of him: beside it he set the communion cup, which had been filled with blood.

Then Kereopa recited, “Hear, O Israel, this is the word of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We are the Jews who were lost, and have been persecuted.” Then he took the head and gouged out both eyes, holding one in each hand. “Listen, O tribe, this is the Parliament of England. These are the eyes which have looked upon the destruction of this island; I will eat them. He has eaten me, and I will now eat him. He crucified me, and I will crucify him.” Then he swallowed one eye after the other, the second catching in his throat. This was swallowed with the aid of a drink of water. After Kereopa's arrest some years later, he stated that he knew that he would come to a violent end, as the catching of the second eye in his throat was a bad omen. He repeated this eye-swallowing ceremony on subsequent - 16 occasions, and became known as Kereopa Kai-whatu, or Kereopa the Eye-eater.

Then he drank some of the blood, and said, “All men, women, and children must eat of this sacrifice.” The cup was then passed round to those in the church, all sipping, the prophet drinking the remainder. Some dipped leaves into the blood, and sprinkled themselves with it.2

Outside the church the priest proclaimed, “Friends, this is a word from God to you. If any minister or other European comes to this place, do not protect him; he must die, die, die.” Kereopa wished the Reverend Grace to be killed also, but this was not agreed to. The deceased missionary's head was first taken to the Roman Catholic priest's house and set upon the mantle-piece, and then to the victim's own residence. The object of this was to make common all places that were believed to be tapu to the Christians.

With these acts, the darkest extremes of this fanaticism had been reached.

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And the Lord your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the Lord your God has promised unto you. Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right or to the left.

Joshua 23, 5-6.

A detailed account of the engagements and battles fought during the Hauhau calamity, and especially the wars of Titokowaru on the west coast of the North Island, will be of little value in an essay purporting to deal with the establishment and significance of a unique Christian church among the Maori people. It is as well to realize, however, that from the slaying of Captain Lloyd and six others at Te Ahuahu in Taranaki in April, 1864, to the final skirmishes with the followers of Te Kooti in the Urewera country in 1872, about 130 engagements are recorded. Over 400 Europeans and friendly Maoris lost their lives, while it is estimated that possibly 1800 of the “rebel” forces were killed. Heavy fighting took place in Taranaki, the Bay of Plenty, and on the east coast of the North Island, including Hawkes bay, while, especially during the final stages of the conflict, arduous campaigns took place around lake Waikaremoana and in the rugged Urewera country.

Pertinent to the subject matter of this book, however, is a record of the events which led up to the illegal deportation of Te Kooti Rikirangi to the Chatham Islands. It is the story of a tragic blunder with tragic consequences. Strangely enough, the majority of historians appear to treat lightly the fact that Te Kooti was deported without any semblance of a trial. Though that incident is now past history, it is history that has had a powerful influence in forming the destiny of the Maori people.

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Immediately after the martyrdom of the Reverend Volkner at Opotiki, the Hauhau missionaries, Kereopa and Patara, journeyed through the Waioeka to Poverty Bay, eventually establishing themselves at Taureka (Waituhi). The new faith met with remarkable success, so much so that Bishop Williams had to leave his mission station at Waerenga-a-hika, and retreat to Turanganui (Gisborne), and then on to Paihia. Had it not been for the coming of the Hauhaus, Gisborne could well have been to this day the episcopal centre of the Waiapu Anglican Diocese.

Kereopa was reported to have stated that he would deal with the bishop in the same manner as he had dealt with the Reverend Volkner; but Patara appears all through to have been opposed to murder and violence. This peaceful disposition is also stated to have been an attribute of the founder of the faith, Te Ua Haumene. This being so, the name Pai-marire as meaning “Good and Peaceful” is not inappropriate. It seems that the followers of the faith disregarded the instructions of their original founder, and thus Hauhauism became a cult of terror. It was the preaching of Patara that earned for him the distinction of being the founder of the movement in the Tairawhiti area, extending as far north as Hicks Bay. Included in the karakia as taught by him, was a doleful tangi “for the people who are stripped naked, and for the islands reduced by half.” In April, the two priests left the district, but it was not until the following November that a most important battle between the Hauhaus and the Government took place at the siege of Waerenga-a-hika.

Much fighting had taken place among the Ngati-porou people north of Gisborne during the year, with the result that this district had been pacified. The Hauhaus were by now well entrenched at Waerenga-a-hika, there being several hundreds of them in the fortified pa within easy reach of the bishop's late residence. After much preparation, the Government succeeded in raising an army of about 150 to 200 Pakehas and 300 Maoris to attack the stronghold. The siege lasted about seven days, the Hauhaus being finally routed. The Government forces lost fewer than a dozen men, while the defenders lost over ninety dead, and up to

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(From T. W. Gudgeon, Reminiscences of the War in New Zealand.) (Originally from a photograph.)
- viii
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three hundred prisoners taken. This battle destroyed the menace of the Pai-marire religion in Poverty Bay.

More important than the battle itself, was a side issue which, unfortunately for the Pakeha, had far-reacihng consequences. Serving among the Government forces, was a Rongowhakaata native (Poverty Bay) named Te Kooti Riki-rangi. A friendly chief by the name of Paora Parau arrested him with the accusation that he had been discovered communicating with the enemy. He was confined for a day or two, and then released as there was no positive proof against him.

Prior to this, Te Kooti was well known in Poverty bay, as one who was rather light fingered, and always getting into trouble. He would think nothing of borrowing a horse to ride home on, and then turning it loose. One story is told of how he stole rum from a trader. The trader was particularly puzzled by the mysterious disappearance of his rum, and as Te Kooti was frequently intoxicated, he invited suspicion. One night he was caught in the act. The method he used was ingenious. Having located the position of the casks, he would crawl underneath the store, bore a hole through the floor and the bottom of the cask, and insert a long reed through which he could draw off the rum. The hole would then be plugged. No one at that time would have predicted that a simple expedient to get rid of him, would turn him into one of the greatest of leaders of men.

At this time, he would probably be in his forties. He is stated to have been about five feet nine inches in height, keen-eyed, and slightly built. He was not tattooed. Historians emphasize the lowliness of his birth; but whilst it is true that he was not a chief, yet it must be conceded that his genealogy, reproduced herewith, is one of the best.

When, after the battle of Waerenga-a-hika, Hauhauism had been finally put down on the east coast, it was decided to release the least guilty of the “rebel” prisoners, and to deport the remainder to Chatham Islands. The officers in charge of the arrangements were Captain R. Biggs (later Major Biggs), and Captain James Wilson. To these men representations were made by local chiefs, and in particular Paratene Turangi, to have Te Kooti included among the - 20 deported. All kinds of allegations were made against him, both in regard to his behaviour at the siege of the Hauhaus, and also in regard to his daily life. Even though nothing definite could be proved, it was finally decided to send him into exile with the others.

It is related that the prisoners were marched down to the boat at Turanganui. Not only were men-folk deported, but women and children were included. It seems incredible that such a cruel scene as was enacted on that day should be glossed over in our history-books. The women in particular were broken-hearted at being sent away from their native country, some being parted from their family, their relatives, not knowing whether they would ever see them again. Some took handfuls of soil with them on their long journey. All sense of sympathy appears to have been absent in those responsible for the carrying out of the deportation, and it is related that the prisoners were literally kicked into the boat.

Te Kooti protested that he was not a Hauhau. His protests went unheeded, and the Pakeha officers ordered him to go on to the boat, saying “Go on to the boat, go on to the boat.” Paratene Turangi was there, and imitating the English of the Pakeha echoed “Go on-a te boat. Go on-a te boat, ” kicking him repeatedly while saying so. These words remained fixed in the mind of Te Kooti during his two years of exile.

At Napier, he made three distinct appeals to the Superintendent, Sir Donald McLean, to be tried, or at least to be told why he was being deported. This gentleman presumably took it for granted that the charges had been proved in Gisborne, as no reply was given; and the unfortunate prisoner was placed on board ship and sent with the Hauhaus to Wharekauri on Chatham Islands.


Prior to the troubles with the Pai-marire religion in Poverty bay, Te Kooti Rikirangi had received an education at the mission-station at Waerenga-a-hika. This stood him in good stead in his later role as a Maori prophet. During his captivity on Chatham Islands he had a severe illness, and during his convalescence he commenced a study of the

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Family Tree. PARAKI, Haeora, Tui, Tau, Maia, (Effigy in Whakato meeting-house, Manutuke, Poverty bay.), Ngamaka, Kuparu, KIWA(Capt. Takitumu canoe), Kahutuanui, Hauakiterangi, Aniukitaharangi, Ngoreoterangi, Ueangore, Tahungaehenui, Ruatepupuke, RUAPANI, Ruarauhanga, RUAROA (Escaped from Popoia Pa), Ruatapunui, Ruatapui (Daughter of Kahungunu), Tupoho — Kahuturi, Turumakina, Tutakamaiwaho, Hineteata, Kotore, Hinepehinga, Tukutuku, Hinepahauariki, Hikaaupaki, Pakira, Paua, Hinekiri, Te Awhitu, Tira — Mutu (see J49), Manuka, Te Maara, Kaiora, Pita te Hukinga, Waaka Puakanga, Irihapeti (Wife of Te Kooti Rikirangi), Tuhoropunga, Ruatapuwahine (Adopted by Ruapani and m. Kahukuranui, son of Kahtngunu), Rongpmaitara, Teaonui, Hinetekawa, Kahutauranga, Tirapare, Tauatangihia, Taharakau, Mate, Rongoteuruora, Terangihiria, Mokaiohungia, Rangirukuhia, Ngetengeteroa, Maukakawhiwhia, Pouwhakaika, Hinehoua, Kamakama, Hinerakakao, Paratene Turang (Slain by Te Kooti), Mika Turangi, Lady Carroll (A Chieftess of the Ngaitawhiri tribe), Taringa, Temanga, Tekapa, Ruku, Kahutia, Riparata, Tukorero, Hinekuku, Raupiu, Tehinuheke, Paku, Haka, Hirini Whaanga (Paramount Chief of Ngati-Rakaipaaka), Onganga, First known ancestors to visit Turanga), PARATA, Teaotu — Teanaunau, Te Aohore, Hinetuahoanga, Tawhaowhao, Kateretemoana, Tepiatangiwharau, Ngatoroirangi, Puatoro, PAWA (Capt. Horouta canoe), Hineakua, Poutupari, Poutiriao, Manutohikura, Taneuarangi, PAIKEA, Pouheni, Tarawhakatu, RATA (Brother of Hinetuahoanga), Poumatangatanga, Paimanutanga, Ruatapu, Te Hau, Nanaia, Tapuae, Teaokuratawhiti, Rakaipo, Rakaiwetenga, Tupaeatehaurangi, Hinekehu, Whaene, Materoa, Hinetu, Rongomainuhiao, Tawhiri, Uetekoroheke, Aniwaniwa, POROURANGI, Hau, Kokouri, Tumaurirere, RONGOWHAKAATA, Rongomairatahi, Turouou, Whare, Rongomai, Ruawhetuki, Parematawhanui, Nihotunga, Kahuputangarau, Tiakiwhare, Atuakauru, Hemongaherehere, Takigawhetu, Amotutu, Turakau, Kori, Arero, Hokohoko, Hone Rangipatahi, TE KOOTI RIKIRANGI, Weteni Rikirangi, Rangi Weteni, Mrs. Piki Smith Ueroa, Tokerauwahine, Iwipupu, Tamaiwaho, Ohomairangi, Ohomatuarua, Ruamatarangi, Taunga, Tuamatua, Rakauri, Ngatorirangi (Chief-priest Arawa canoe), Houmaitawhiti, TAMATEKAPUA (Capt. Arawa canoe), Tekuraimonoa, TOI (Twelve generations from Tiwakawaka, the grandson of Maui-tikitiki-a-taranga.), Rauru, Whetuma, Whetango, Teatuahae, TOI 2, Whatonou, Tahatiti, Ruatapu, Rakeiora, Tamakitehau, Tamakitera, Tamatehekaponga, Tamateaurehaea (Leader Takitumu migration), (Tamateapokaiwhenua in N.Z.), Uenuku, Ruatapu, Puhi, Rere, Tata, Maika, Muriwhenua, Tutamateakaiariki, KAHUNGUNU, (Rongomaiwahine), Kahukuranui, RAKAIPAAKA, Puke, Kuratewhaiao, Tawake, Rakainui, Tehotunga, Tuamano, Tuarau, Tira, Manuka, Terangitu, Waiokura, Nehua, Teanewa, Te Munu, Hori Pomana, Pine Amine, Pito, Rere, Tato, Korotoi, Rongokako, Tauheikuri, Tawhiwhi, Hinepua, Porete, Heke, Kuratewhaio, Terangitapuatia, Tukaitangi, Tutaopuku, Hinemoki, Mutu (see A49), Awanuiarangi, Uiraroa, Awaroa, Awatumakiterangi, Parinuitera, Awamorehurehu, Irakewa, TOROA (Capt. Matatua canoe), Ruaihonga, Mahinaarangi, Tahingaotera, Awanuiarangi, Rongotangiawa, Irapeke, Awatope, Irawharo, Ahukawa, Tamataipunoa, MAHAKI, Tawake, Roro, Hikatoa, Ponapatukia, Mahiaotea, Takapaurangiora, Te Hapimana, Ropata Wahawaha (Who fought against Te Kooti Rikirangi), Uiraroa, POURANGAHUA, —Kaniora (Sister of Tauka and Hoaki), The figures at the extreme left and right are the approximate dates, based on a computation of 25 years to a generation. It is not pretended that the dates are exact, but an approximation is all that can be hoped for till some surer basis is discovered, as it may be. The next figures at left and right are not intended as the number of generations (for this the names in the line under any particular letter must be counted), but are, in combination with the letters at the head of the columns, a handy means of reference: H29, for instance, at once gives the place of Rongowhakaata on this particular genealogical lattice. One line of descent may differ from its neighbour in regard to the number of persons over the same period: this does not necessarily show disagreement, but probably indicates that in one line a generation may occasionally have been less than 25 years, or in the other more; and such apparent discrepancies have a cross-check in the dates. The more genealogies that are compiled and investigated, and the more that are hung on this lattice or any lattice compiled on similar lines, the more likely is an approximately correct picture to be obtained of the long and complex Polynesian genealogical lattice. Events, being attached to persons, have also their place on the lattice, which thus may provide a birdseye view of Polynesian history.
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Bible, especially the Books of Joshua and Judges and some of the Psalms. He held religious services both morning and evening. He taught his fellow-prisoners to repeat some of the Psalms, and compiled prayers containing Scriptural verses. He was under lock and key, but one of the gaolers allowed him to hold these services, against the express orders of the officer in charge. It is stated that his presence made his followers very earnest in prayer, and that his absence had the opposite effect, objectors among the prisoners seeking to destroy his teachings.

It is not just to assert that the whole of the faith propounded by Te Kooti is based on the Old Testament, as New Testament passages comprise a large portion of the ritual. To the dispassionate mind what must be regarded as almost a miracle was being worked. The men in exile, apart from Te Kooti, were Hauhaus, familiar with the worship and ritual of the niu pole, acquainted with heathen superstition, and whose outlook was of the lowest. These were the men and women whom Te Kooti persuaded to form themselves into a new faith, a faith which discarded their old superstitions, and was based entirely upon Te Kooti's own interpretations of the Christian Bible. Almost to a man they responded, one exception being a prisoner and spy in their midst, the uncle of Te Kooti, Te Warihi Potini. One vestige only remained of the Pai-marire faith; the sign of the Upraised Hand (the Ringatu), was adopted. It was emphasized by Te Kooti himself that the holding up of the hand was not for the purpose of warding off bullets, but as an act of homage to God. Thus, in the far Chatham Islands, was formed the Ringatu Church, a church born in bondage, and to-day recognized as an established church by the Government of New Zealand.

New Zealand was regarded as “home, ” and Chatham Islands the land of bondage. Just as the ancient Israelites found comfort in the songs of Zion, and just as the Hauhaus believed that the Pakeha's destruction was foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures, so also the prisoners at Wharekauri found comfort in the Psalms of David and in other portions of Holy Writ. Te Kooti stimulated the imagination of his followers by working signs and wonders. He would rub - 22 phosphorus from wax-vestas on his hands, and in the dim light of the building display the glow of his skin. By such means his mana was increased; his religious leadership was undisputed.

Reports reached New Zealand that the guards were ill-treating the prisoners, and the New Zealand Government sent Mr. Rolleston to investigate the position. It is stated to have been proved that the prisoners were forced to undergo medical inspection of an obscene nature, and much cruelty and immorality was reported. In the House of Representatives the matter was then raised of returning the prisoners to their various tribes in New Zealand. Whatever may have been their origin, the stories handed down of the behaviour of the guards are not flattering to the Pakeha, especially as the Maori was making some semblance of religious observance. Te Warihi tried to warn the authorities of the meaning of the new religion, but they regarded his warnings lightly, deeming it unlikely that such peaceful captives could successfully plan a revolt. Te Kooti, however, was more than a match for his captors. He prophesied that soon an ark of salvation would make its appearance, and deliver them from captivity.

On 30 June, 1868, a Government schooner named Rifleman, of 82 tons, and a ketch named Florence arrived at the Chathams bringing provisions. It was customary for the prisoners at Wharekauri to be detailed for the unloading of the ship. Te Kooti then laid his plans to seize the larger ship, the Rifleman, and on her to escape to New Zealand. At that time the European guard had been reduced to a minimum. The prophet picked two parties of men, one of which was to surprise the redoubt, and the other to seize the schooner. He gave strict instructions that no blood was to be shed. The plans were laid for the morning of Saturday 4 July, and were duly carried out. Despite the instructions, one of the sentries at the redoubt was killed by the blow of an axe. Captain Thomas who was in charge of the settlement was bound, and left in his office.

Equal success was achieved in the taking of the Rifleman. Captain Christian was absent on shore when the attack was made, and the small party on board was soon - 23 mastered and made prisoners. The number of escapees finally taken on board was 298, comprising 163 men with 86 stand of arms, 64 women, and 71 children. The Florence was then cut adrift and later became a wreck, so that those remaining on the island could not pursue the schooner. There appears to have been no panic in the deliberate manner in which this coup was achieved, and the escapees made sure that they were well supplied with arms, ammunition, provisions, and clothing.

Three men had no desire to accompany the party. They were Kete, Kawerio, and Te Warihi, who all through had been antagonistic to the religious teachings and ambitions of the prophet. The former two kept well out of the way, but the latter had hurt his foot, and was forced by Te Kooti to come aboard. There were five Pakeha on board the ship, namely, Mr. Payne the mate, the steward, and three seamen. They had no option but to submit to the Maori, and that evening the whole company set sail for Poverty Bay, the white men being promised that if they carried out the instructions implicitly they would be given their liberty on arrival.

On the fourth and fifth day at sea, that is on 8 and 9 of July, the vessel met with adverse winds, and mountainous seas were encountered. The passengers began to murmur against their leader, and quarrelling on more than one occasion added to the difficulties of the voyage. Some of them in desperation reverted to their old gods and murmured incantations and spells to stay the fury of the waves. Te Kooti would have none of it, and ordered them to give up their tikis, and other talismans, and threw them overboard. Te Warihi refused, and this almost brought about a mutiny. Te Kooti then dared an act which restored his prestige in the sight of his simple-minded followers. He announced that there must be a Jonah on boai'd the ship, and that the Jonah was Te Warihi. Te Warihi had always been a trouble-maker; he always referred to Te Kooti as a tangata kino, a bad man. He was tied, and in spite of his protests, was thrown overboard, to go “the way the greenstone gods went, ” a sacrifice to the “god of the wind.”

The great waves threatening the ship subsided, the wind very soon changed, and before it set the sun was shining - 24 again. All were now willing to submit to the prophet's rule. He prophesied that New Zealand would be sighted next day.

On Friday the 10th, the schooner was anchored outside Poverty bay, about six miles to the south, at a place called Whareongaonga. At seven o'clock in the evening, the escaped prisoners commenced to land. It took them all night to do so, as they not only went ashore themselves, but took with them everything from the vessel that might be of use to them—food, clothing, arms, ammunition; in fact they left the crew only bare necessities with which to make their journey to Wellington with the startling news of the events of the past week.


When two days later the Europeans at Poverty bay learned of the escape of the Chatham Island prisoners, Captain Biggs sent a force under Captain Westrupp to demand the immediate surrender of their arms until such time as the Government should issue instructions. Te Kooti replied that God had released him from bondage, but that he had no desire to menace Poverty bay. It was reported to be his intention to send a force into the Waikato to dethrone the Maori King. Whether or not he ever had any such intention may be a matter for conjecture. Several engagements then followed in which Te Kooti and the Hauhau were in the main successful in warding off the Pakeha. These successful military exploits enhanced the prophet's standing among the Maori, but among the Pakeha earned for him the reputation of an arch-villain.

Although it is customary to refer to the followers of Te Kooti throughout the remainder of the wars as Hauhaus, they were not Hauhaus in the strict sense of the term. Prior to the battle of Waerenga-a-hika many, in fact the bulk of them, would be included in the Hauhau forces. These same men still remained opponents of the Government, but their new leader would not condone their fanatical religion. He became their spiritual guide, and in so doing laid the foundations of a new church which exists to this day, an abiding monument to a great leader who for many years was the terror of the Pakeha. Greater still was his success in winning the erstwhile niu-pole worshippers to a respectable - 25 faith. Had he not been successful in doing this, it is impossible to estimate the depths of spiritual degradation to which these people would have fallen. It is practically certain that the missionaries of the then established churches would have received unqualified rebuffs wherever they might have attempted to establish themselves. This is a point that is overlooked by historians in their summing up of the qualities of Te Kooti Rikirangi.

A whole month, the month of October, 1868, was spent in finalizing his preparations. The recitation of passages of Scripture to stimulate the fire and enthusiasm of the raiders was part of the proceedings. One of these passages was from the Book of Joshua, chapter 23, verses 5 and 6, which reads as follows: “And the Lord your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the Lord your God has promised unto you. Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left.”

With a religious zeal such as that which characterizes the fiercest of the crusaders or the administrators of the inquisition, the massacre was committed in the early hours of the morning of 10 November, 1868, four months after the landing from the schooner Rifleman at Whareongaonga. The position of the various settlers' residences was obtained, and the raiders divided into several attacking parties, each led by a man appointed by Te Kooti. Among those killed were some of the leaders of those who originally sent the prophet into exile. Thus the massacre served the double purpose of inflicting a blow upon the enemy, and of executing vengeance upon those who were responsible for sending a man into exile without even the semblance of a trial.

Among those killed were Major Biggs and his wife and baby together with two servants and a half-caste girl; Captain Wilson and his wife, three of their four children, and a servant named Moran; two sheep-farmers named Dodd and Peppard; Lieutenant Walsh together with his wife and child; and many others, in all thirty-three Europeans and thirty-seven friendly natives.

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When Te Kooti was shipped from Poverty bay two years earlier, the local chief, Paratene Turangi, seemed as keen as any to get rid of him. As stated above, it was he who, imitating the Pakeha instruction, said “Go on-a te boat. Go on-a te boat.” Te Kooti dealt with this man personally. He had now been captured by the raiders, and Te Kooti approached him in a mock welcome, one hand advanced, the other behind his back, and said, “Greetings! my father; you who said, ‘Go on-a te boat, Go on-a te boat’—go on-a te tomahawk.”

Thus died Paratene Turangi.

In dealing with such an historic event as the Poverty bay massacre, one is inclined to look at the fact as presented from the Pakeha point of view. The fact that men, women, and children were slaughtered is held up as proof that Te Kooti's followers were treacherous, with no moral sense. It must be remembered that war was actually being fought between the Maori and the Pakeha, and that the rules of warfare were applicable. The Poverty bay massacre is a minor incident when compared with the bombing of civilians in modern times. One is given the impression from our histories, that this massacre stands out as almost unique in the annals of warfare. This is certainly not the case. There was a law of utu among the natives, a law of revenge. It was given expression in many ways. In Maori warfare the wounded were never spared; indeed, the wounded would rather be killed than be spared for the degradation of servitude. After the fall of Ngatapa pa, the friendly natives went right through the pa and despatched the wounded. It was ridiculous to defeat an enemy and then care for his wounded—it was looking for trouble.

An aged Maori some time after the close of the Te Kooti campaigns, gave it as his unbiassed opinion that Te Kooti had every right in conducting the Poverty bay massacre as he did, though he thought it both wrong and foolish to treat the womenfolk in the way he did. In these later years, although a pardon had been granted to the prophet, there were still many who would have killed him had the opportunity arisen.

As might be expected, heavy fighting soon followed the Poverty bay massacre. The most severe defeat suffered by the followers of Te Kooti was early in 1869, at Ngatapa. - 27 Over one hundred and twenty of the defenders were slain, but the prophet escaped into the Urewera country. A story is told by Lieutenant-Colonel Porter in connection with this battle which illustrates the extremes to which the natives would go to satisfy the demands of “utu” or vengeance. A Maori named Nama was responsible for leading the band of raiders who murdered the Wilson family in the Poverty bay massacre. In the battle at Ngatapa, he was wounded and taken prisoner. Some of the friendly natives under Major Ropata addressed him in Maori: “Your atua has deserted you. Now the devil has you, and we will give you a taste of fire in this world before you get it in the next.” Thereupon they tied ropes to him, and dragged him backward and forward through the fire of the burning pa, until he was dead. It is also stated that the natives filled their pipes with the ashes as a token of having eaten him. It was at this action at Ngatapa that Major Ropata Wahawaha won the New Zealand Cross.

Further fighting took place through 1869, and well on into 1870. Details of these campaign are not essential here; suffice it to say that most important battles took place at Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty, Mohaka on the east coast, and in the Ureweras at Maunga-pohatu, Maraetai, Waikare-moana, and a score of other places. There was also a raid made by the prophet on Tolaga bay, on the coastline well north of Gisborne. His fame spread far and wide, and even in the Waikato the natives were convinced that his God was as powerful as he represented. It is reported, however, that the great Rewi told Te Kooti that he and his God were imposters, and that he had no skill in battle. Having declared himself in such manner, Rewi returned to the Waikato in a rage. The reason for this outburst was the defeat of Te Kooti and some Arawas at Taupo: the leader of the Government forces was Major McDonnell, and the battle was regarded by the natives as the major's “utu” to compensate for the Poverty bay massacre.

Further skirmishes in the Urewera took place in 1872, but the prophet eluded all efforts to arrest him, and escaped into the King Country. He established himself chiefly at Tokangamutu near the present Te Kuiti township, and for the next eleven years was able to preach his new religion. - 28 He also achieved a considerable reputation as a faith-healer. He was pardoned in 1883, but was never able to return to his native Poverty bay. He died in 1893 at Ohiwa, greatly mourned and venerated by his followers.


[Pages 29 and 30 were not found in 3 different copies of Volume 51 No. 1.]

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And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

—St. Matthew 7: 3, 4.

Confusion of thought and inaccuracy of records greet the student in his search for knowledge of the history of a religion. Particularly is this the case when he comes into contact with that remarkable institution with a total membership of over five thousand, known as the Ringatu Church. This organization displays no ostentation in that it is practically without church buildings in the accepted sense of the term, has no vestments, no ceremonial as distinct from ritual, will not tolerate a stipendiary clergy, teaches no articles of faith, and possesses no written tradition. Added to this, the Ringatu tohunga confronts the outside world, even of the Maori race itself, with a marked reluctance to divulge any information regarding the polity and influence of the church.

Probably this is the reason that so many erroneous ideas are current concerning the practices of the Ringatu religion. To the average mind, the movement presents itself as a relic of the ancient whare-wananga, perpetuating the heathen superstitution of the centuries-old lore of the pagan Maori.

It is true that many relics of heathendom have been assimilated into the Ringatu religion and endowed with a new meaning; and it is also true that many unique customs and practices attend the ministrations of the tohungas, but in this the Ringatu does not stand alone. One has only to study the ecclesiastical advertisements page of any city newspaper on a Saturday to obtain some idea of the multiplicity of faiths that obtain among the white population of this country. Consider for a few moments the divergence of religious practices represented in these advertisements, and multiply them considerably to cover the whole of Christen- - 32 dom. One finds scores and possibly hundreds of denominations; each possesses characteristics peculiar to itself; each caters for some particular class, race or outlook; each perpetuates some cherished tradition or revered name; and in many cases denies the right of the other kindred organizations to exist. Practices, ceremonials, rituals, and customs differ greatly, and on every hand one finds the fundamental principles of heathen institutionalism firmly embedded in Christian pomp and circumstance. It is not out of place here to mention the words of our Lord, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” The “sin” of the Ringatu Church is more imaginary than real.

An appeal is needed for tolerance and patience in any earnest enquiry into subjects dealing with the Maori and their problems. It must always be remembered that the Maori cannot be judged by European standards, or the European by Maori standards. If this had been realized by the early settlers in this country, the distrust, suspicion, and misunderstanding that have characterized past dealings between the two races, would have been avoided. It is tragic, but true, that the Europeans have introduced most of the evils of which the Maori of to-day are accused, yet speak of them as though those evils were natural to the Maori, and therefore to be expected. On the contrary, the Maori leaders of a century ago found quite repugnant some of the practices of the Pakeha. One even finds that the finer innate qualities of Maori morals, not respected or even appreciated by the invaders, have had to give way before the undiscerning pitilessness of western civilization.

A sympathetic attitude toward the Maori is therefore essential, and it must be realized that most probably those traits of chivalry and morality which are peculiar to him, have not been altogether extinguished and forgotten, but are awaiting a revival, which will assuredly come, placing the Maori in his true setting as the descendants of a noble race living side by side with the white-man; not antagonistic to him, yet distinct from him.

The Maori is becoming race-conscious, and instead of marrying into the Pakeha race as his forebears did, he is marrying back into his own race, thus ensuring the continuity of his separate individuality and existence. This fact - 33 presupposes that Maori institutionalism must necessarily come back into its own. Supposing this to be true, the fact of the existence of the Ringatu Church as a purely Maori Church perpetuating Maori customs is important. There is no other religious organization among the Maori, except one or two small sects, that is essentially Maori in character. Strange though it may seem, there is the additional fact that the Ringatu Church is essentially a Bible Church, gleaning all its ritual direct from the Maori version of the Bible.

In collecting data connected with ancient Maori customs, much literature is available. Although authorities differ in details, and especially in the recording of genealogies, one can still obtain an adequate idea of his subject from their publications. Books sponsored by the Maori Ethnological Board, the Polynesian Society, and the New Zealand Government, are in the main reliable sources for study purposes, but unfortunately these are not the only literature on the market. There are several unreliable books which have to be guarded against, and it is advisable to obtain the opinion of some adept in the subject as to the reliability of the text book to be studied.

In dealing with such a subject as the Ringatu faith, however, one encounters a somewhat different set of circumstances. One may obtain a reasonably adequate and reliable knowledge of the lore of the whare-wananga by a systematic study of literature by such reliable authors as Elsdon Best, S. Percy Smith, and others, and even where those authorities may differ to some extent, a little judicious enquiry will usually result in the approximate truth being obtained.

This is not the case as regards the Ringatu faith. The most common error made by historians is to confuse this faith with the Hauhau or Pai-marire religion of Te Ua Haumene, Kereopa te Rau, and their followers. The Ringatu faith is not Hauhauism. The error apparently crept in during early times when the fire of the Hauhau fanaticism died out, though the Maori wars dragged on for a few more years. It became the custom among the Pakeha to call all anti-government natives “Hauhau.” The term was common place, political rather than religious, and was probably not intended to connect the warriors in any way with the religion - 34 bearing the same name. Consequently, when the term is used in any history of this Dominion, the student must be careful to ascertain whether the real Hauhau are referred to, or merely opponents of the government.

Actually very little has been written concerning the Ringatu faith, and in practically every instance the references have been far from sympathetic; in some cases they have been definitely hostile. Probably the most accurate references, coming from the pen of one who evidently regarded it as a heathen institution, are found in an excellent little publication entitled “East Coast (N.Z.) Historial Records,” compiled and left typed by the late Bishop William Leonard Williams, Bishop of Waiapu from 1895 to 1909. In those records he states inter alia (page 79):

By Te Kooti's direction they ignored the Lord's Day and observed Saturday as a day of rest from ordinary works, but apparently without any special religious observances besides their usual morning and evening devotions. The usual practice for morning and evening was that after one who acted as leader had said “Let us sing to Jehovah,” a cento of verses from the Old Testament was chanted in unison by the whole assembly. This being concluded, the leader recited a few short prayers addressed to “Jehovah,” to which the people responded with a loud and somewhat prolonged “Amen.” As the prayers and the passages of Scripture which were used, were fixed in the memory of all by constant repetition, the office of leader required no special qualifications.

In the main, this passage is accurate, but a more detailed study of it reveals several defects which tend to mislead the reader. In the first place, it is hardly just to suggest that the office of leader (tohunga) requires no special qualification. Actually the leader has to know his waiata, panui, and hymns by heart. No Bible is actually used in the services, and mistakes are not allowed. Besides, the leader has to pursue his usual occupation in daily life, and often sits for hours in the evenings studying the meaning of and memorizing lengthy passages of Scripture. Of course there is the slovenly person who will not do his duty faithfully, but this type of person is to be found in the ranks of the clerical profession of all churches.

The second comment is the fact that he has placed the word “Jehovah” in inverted commas. Probably this was - 35 done thoughtlessly, but it illustrates that the bishop regarded the procedure referred to as irregular. Actually, there is no technical difference between praying to “Jehovah,” and praying to “God the Father.” The idea possibly intended to be conveyed, was that the Ringatus differentiated between the Father and the Son to such an extent that all prayers were to be made to the Father only. Hence one finds that instead of the usual “through Jesus Christ our Lord” being used, they have substituted “Glory be to Thy Holy Name,” being a direct reference to Jehovah as distinct from Christ. This does not mean that they have rejected the Christ, and references to “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost” appear in some of their prayers.

Another reference made by the bishop appears on page 84 of the same publication:

In accordance with Te Kooti's instructions they have avoided all intercourse with Mormon teachers, but they have no formal creed, and their religious observances consist simply in the recital of the forms taught them by Te Kooti, combined with the revival of some of their old superstitions. The fact that they address their devotions to Jehovah and that they have introduced the Saviour's Name into some of their prayers tends to make the task of winning them over to Christianity more difficult inasmuch as they claim that their prayers are addressed to the God whom the Christians worship, and that there is no necessity for doing what, from their point of view, would be merely altering the method of their worship. The schools which have been planted by the government in all the Maori districts have had a beneficial effect in making the younger generations more accessible than their fathers and grandfathers who were actively opposed to the Government in the war time and there is therefore a brighter prospect opening for working among them.

Here again, it is obvious that the writer is portraying his point of view with an intimate knowledge of the subject, but nevertheless, one cannot help feeling that the conclusions drawn are coloured by the fact that the bishop, by virtue of his office, was actively engaged in trying to weaken the influence of the Ringatu movement among the Maori people. Besides, it must be remembered that the above may have been written nearly half a century ago.

A reason is given in the narrative for the apparent difficulty in winning the Ringatus over to the regular church. - 36 He says, “they claim that their prayers are addressed to the God whom the Christians worship, and that there is no necessity for doing what, from their point of view, would be merely altering the method of their worship.” The question naturally arises: Is not the reason said to be given by the Ringatus for their apathy toward the Pakeha form of religion valid?

Is there any reason for the Ringatu to surrender his lifelong and historic connection with his church, if in doing so he honestly believes that he would simply be taking on a new form of worship? If on the other hand he is persuaded that he is duty bound to belong to the Church of England, a matter of principle immediately enters the considerations, and the bishop's arguments become effective. As a matter of fact, Te Kooti advised his followers that should they wish to leave the Ringatu Church for any reason, they should join the Church of England, which he regarded as the parent church. One object of this book is to show that the Ringatu faith contains all the elements necessary for the true worship of God as revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ, in which case the bishop's reference to “winning them over to Christianity” is based on a mistaken notion as to the real nature of the faith.

In the latter portion a reference is made to the influence of native schools in making the prospects of working among the Maoris in the future more bright. Actually, this attitude toward the native schools is rapidly on the decline, and it seems that in the future the existence of native schools will have the effect of preserving Maori culture and institutions.

The greatest authorities on the Maori have usually spent much time in living among them, studying their lives not from books but from observation, learning the language, and capturing the spirit of their theme. In studying the Ringatu faith, the same applies. Even if books were available to give a detailed account of this religion, one could only get an inadequate idea of the real position by reading them. In order to capture the spirit of this religion, and to understand the deeper meaning of its practices, it is essential to attend their festivals and observe at first hand exactly what is done. This procedure is not altogether as easy as - 37 it may seem, as the permission of the tohunga must first be obtained. Usually the influence of a chief of some standing will be necessary to accomplish this. Then again, it is as well to be accompanied by someone who can from time to time explain the procedure.

In addition, one is fortunate if the views of some of the leading Maori people, and those intimately connected with the Maori race, can be obtained. Very often available data are conflicting, and further enquiry is essential to reconcile them. A further difficulty arises, in that the details of the accepted teachings and karakias vary according to the locality. The Ringatu Church has been broken up into various sections, and it is not until recently that any movement has been made for church union within itself. Fortunately, this factor is gaining impetus, and the present prospects indicate that the Ringatu Church of the future will present itself as a great and abiding influence among the Maori.

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God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with mens hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.

Acts 17: 24-25.

To the uninitiated, even among the Maori themselves, an air of mystery seems to attend the institution known as the Ringatu Church. Whether it be that the name of Te Kooti Rikirangi is looked at askance by the average person, or whether it be that the Ringatus themselves are reluctant to discuss their religion with others, or whether it be that the karakias (services) are, in the minds of those not familiar with them, associated with the ancient rites of tohungaism, the fact still remains that the term “Ringatu” is either unheard of by the average Pakeha, or is regarded as some mysterious and secret organization that would be better if non-existent. Such erroneous misunderstandings are at once dispelled by personal contact and participation in a Ringatu service.

To the Ringatus the twelfth of the month is a holy day, established by Te Kooti himself for regular monthly gatherings. The reason given for this is that the number twelve is mentioned so often in the sacred writ of the Christian. There were twelve children of Israel, twelve tribes, twelve apostles, and twelve gates with twelve pearls in Revelation. Some also say, but this is very doubtful, that the twelve heavens of the ancient Maori are also commemorated. Evidence seems to show most clearly that Te Kooti relied solely upon Scriptural grounds for any innovation he brought into the Ringatu Church.

The meeting-house on the afternoon of the eleventh where such a festival is to be held, is a scene of activity. - 39 Children will be seen playing in and about the marae, while the men-folk and the women-folk are busy preparing the evening meal, and getting the meeting-house ready for the services that evening. When a Ringatu sets out for one of these festivals, and indeed on any journey, he asks the prayers and blessing of the tohunga to protect him on the way. Should there be no tohunga available, the prayers will nevertheless be said, and God's protecting care petitioned for safe conduct. It is sometimes necessary to set out the day before in order to arrive at the pa in time for the commencement of the services in the evening.

As visitors arrive at the meeting-house they approach slowly until one of the local tohungas appears. The “policeman” will ring a bell which is hanging at one corner of the building, and then the tohunga will offer a prayer of praise and blessing for the safe journey and arrival of the visitors. Formal greetings and hongis (nose-pressings) are then exchanged, and the new arrivals escorted to their places of honour in the meeting-house.

These visitors will have brought with them their blankets, mattresses, and pillows. These they arrange on the floor of the meeting-house, which will literally be their place of abode until the morning of the 13th. The monthly festival of the Ringatu Church portrays the communal Maori in his most natural state. Whole families attend these services, even including the youngest of the babies.

It should be emphasized that the name “tohunga” used in connection with the Ringatu Church must not be confused with the “tohunga” of Maori heathendom; it is simply the same name adopted and applied to the ministers of the Ringatu Church. The name is appropriate in that it distinguishes him from other ministers of religion, and, more important, tends to perpetuate the essentially Maori character of the proceedings. He is not dressed in vestments, but in ordinary every-day clothes, not necessarily even with a collar and a tie. What is more important, he is a learned man, well versed in the Scriptures, and capable of giving advice to anyone requiring it on matters pertaining to things spiritual.

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The order of precedence of those attending a Ringatu meeting is simple. It follows the custom of the ancient Maori in this regard. As one enters the meeting-house, the visiting tohungas take their places first along the right-hand side of the building. Next to them come the other visitors, the order of importance being according to the distance travelled, those being furthest away taking precedence over those nearer, the chief being the head of each section. At the far end of the building, looking from the front entrance, the local tohungas will be seated, and along the left wall the local inhabitants.

After the evening meal has been eaten, the gathering assembles in the meeting-house upon their mattresses, and at about seven o'clock the first service of the evening will commence. The first indication is the ringing of the bell by a “policeman.” The bell must be kept ringing until everyone is in the building, even though it may be necessary to ring it for half an hour until someone a long distance away arrives. The tohunga is not allowed to commence the service until the bell stops ringing. He will then rise to his feet, and, the congregation remaining quiet, he commences a karakia (service). He may or may not preface the karakias with a short address of explanation. His inois (prayers), waiatas (psalms), panuis (Scripture passages), and himines (hymns) are all taken direct from the Scriptures, both from the Old Testament and from the New. No music is provided, and the hymns are sung according to the old Maori standards of music before the coming of the Pakeha. Every portion of the services, and possibly six or more services are held throughout a night, are repetitions of Scripture with possibly one or two extempore prayers, but these are exceptional. A great feat of memory is required of the tohungas, and indeed of others taking part in the services, as everything must be learned by heart, and no mistakes are tolerated. A Ringatu of the old school would regard a mistake as a bad omen; an invalidation of that particular part of the service; an indication that God has already answered that particular prayer in the negative.

Each service deals with a particular subject, and the inois, himines, panuis and waiatas deal with that subject, every verse in some way relating to the theme. A prayer of - 41 thanksgiving may consist of a fairly long psalm recited by the tohunga, but if any verse in that particular psalm should not happen to deal with thanksgiving, it would be quite in order to leave it out, and possibly insert other verses from other psalms and other portions of the Scripture instead. Some of the panuis are a medley of verses from all portions of the Bible, but in themselves making a complete theme. The effect is matchless in its beauty, and reflects great credit upon Te Kooti, who was responsible for its introduction; in fact the panuis constructed upon this principle by him are still largely used. The Ringatu religion is a strict religion of the Bible in a sense that no Pakeha faith has yet been able to approach. Doctrinal tenets based on strained interpretations of Scriptural verses do not appear to constitute any part of their church polity. This is claimed to be part of the belief of the Associated Churches of Christ; but compared with the Ringatu application of this principle, other churches seem to fall short of the ideal.

As mentioned elsewhere, the words concluding Ringatu prayers are “Glory be to Thy Holy Name,” these taking the place of the usual “through Jesus Christ our Lord” or “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” of other churches. In some churches the sign of the cross is given in opening and closing prayers. The Ringatu faith, however, has a custom peculiar to itself. As stated, the Hauhaus used the sign of the Upraised Hand to ward off enemy bullets, and Te Kooti Rikirangi carried on the use of this sign as an act of homage to God. Although this is generally admitted to be the origin of the custom, nevertheless the Ringatu tohungas are definite in stating that the general Scripture gives adequate reason for such a sign. In Nehemiah 8: 6, it states:

And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands:

Also in Psalm 141: 2 is written:

Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

In addition, references such as the lifting up of the hands of Moses in order that God's people might prevail, provide ample evidence to justify the act as a Christian rite.

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Actually, on the words “Glory be to Thy Holy Name” the tohunga repeating it will place his hands for a moment in the acknowledged attitude of devotion, namely the tips of the fingers touching and pointing upward, and the assembled gathering will for a moment raise their right hands to about the level of their faces, saying “Amen.” This is done at the conclusion of every prayer.

On examination of the customs of other churches, it must be admitted that the Ringatu is quite justified in developing his own peculiarities. The festivals of other churches are in the main festivals brought forward from the days of heathen observance. Very few people actually believe that our Lord was born on Christmas Day, and yet the observance of that day is common throughout the Christian world. In like manner, the Ringatu Church has adopted a sign which was originally a product of paganism. Just as life redeemed from the depths of sin and degradation takes upon itself a new meaning when brought into contact with our Lord, so the Upraised Hand, once the sign of a fierce fanaticism, has become the dignified symbol of the Ringatu faith.

When the tohunga is leading a service, he must stand, and during the chanting of the hymns and psalms, the assembly also must stand. When more than one tohunga is taking part in a service, it is the custom for them to stand in turn, seating themselves again when their particular portion is completed. Although an atmosphere of the utmost reverence prevails all through the meetings, there is no standard of pious etiquette such as is found in Pakeha churches. Apart from the tohungas it sometimes seems that the people are simply lolling about, and yet on a closer examination it must be admitted that this is not so. The people place themselves in as comfortable a position as they can, mainly sitting on mattresses, blankets, and even on the bare floor. No smoking is permitted while a service is in progress, although it is allowed between the services.

There must be some good reason for allowing members of the congregation to remain seated during the singing of the hymns and psalms; usually such reasons as old age and sickness. In addition, the “police” have it in their power to - 43 awaken anyone who may go to sleep, but usually they use their discretion in this matter.

In spite of the apparent laxity of attitude, reverence and dignity are present. The prayers are said in a way that shows the people are in earnest. There are no “cold churches” in the Ringatu faith. Its worship is essentially an affair of the mind, an attitude toward God, so much so that outward formalities are practically non-existent.

In almost every outward respect the Ringatu service differs from a Pakeha service. On entering a Pakeha church the shoes are retained, in the Ringatu church they are removed; in a Pakeha church hymn-books or prayer-books are handed to the worshippers as they enter so that they may join in the service, the Ringatu worshippers use no books and need no books, for all the texts, hymns, etc., used by them, all based on the Bible, are memorized; the Pakeha has his stipendiary clergy, the Ringatu has none; the Pakeha grows restive if the service lasts longer than an hour or so, the Ringatu is unwearied in a religious atmosphere lasting for nearly two full days on end at least once a month, probably attending services weekly on Saturdays in addition.

Beneath the rough and tumble appearance of the tohungas can be detected an unmistakable earnestness of faith, and they reveal an amazing Bible knowledge that would put to shame most of the ministers of the Pakeha faiths, even those who rely wholly on Bible authority; though it must not be taken that all tohungas are equally thorough.


The first service, which lasts from twenty minutes to half an hour, may be of an introductory nature. A prayer may be offered to ask God for a special blessing upon the people gathered together, a prayer of thanksgiving for protection since the last services, and also for the safe conduct of those who come from a distance. At the close of the service, the “policeman” stationed at the door will announce that there will be a break before the next service. The second service will be preceded by the ringing of the bell, and should anyone chance to be absent, the bell must be kept ringing until all are once more inside.

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Possibly the next, the most important of the evening, will include prayers for the sick. Some sick persons may have been brought to the festival and left in an adjoining building as they were too sick to take part in the proceedings. In this event, a tohunga will be sent to conduct prayers with those persons. The length of the actual service including prayers for sick will depend upon the number of people present. When the tohungas have completed their chanting, anyone in the building may stand and offer a special prayer on behalf of some sick friend or relative. There is, however, an orderliness about this procedure. There must be a complete chain of prayers extending to the right and round the room. The person on the right of the tohunga may pray, and on his finishing the one on his right, and so on along the row and round the room anti-clockwise. It may be that one, two, or more may not wish to pray; if so, the second, third, or fourth along, after waiting a reasonable time may start his prayer, when those in between, having had their chance and not taken it, have lost their turn to pray during that service, the prayer going always on until the circle of the room has been completed. The length of this service can be imagined if hundreds of people are gathered together, and possibly fifty of them desire to pray. Each prayer is usually a psalm or other passage of Scripture learned off by heart, but extempore prayers are permissible. From its nature, the service is usually very solemn, and exemplifies a Ringatu karakia at its best.

It is usual to bring the sick to these meetings; but if for any reason one of the faithful cannot attend, because of illness, a penny will be given to the tohunga, and a special prayer will be incorporated in the service. Also, if any other rule of the church cannot be complied with, a good-will offering of a penny is the atonement. It is obvious from the smallness of the gift that this is no mere monetary consideration for the forgiveness of a sin, neither is it so regarded by the tohungas. It is simply a token that no offence is intended by the breach of church discipline. If no such gift were voluntarily offered, the church officers would be justified in regarding the offence in a more serious light. Such a gift may also accompany a request, such as a special prayer for some sick person. These pennies are not used for any - 45 purpose, and are simply offered as a burnt offering of sweet incense, and subsequently cast away so that they may not be used again.

It has already been mentioned that a mistake in the proceedings is regarded by the older Ringatus as a omen of evil import. It is particularly touching to realize that a tohunga has made a mistake or has had to be prompted in a prayer when the service is for the sick. It is a matter of etiquette that no comment should be made on the subject afterward, but nevertheless all pray inwardly that God may overlook this weakness of the flesh, and that notwithstanding the irregularity, the prayer might be acceptable in His sight. One of the hymns sometimes sung in the service for the sick is the fourth chapter of the General Epistle of James. This gives some idea of the use made of the Scriptures and their application to the various needs of the members of the church.

At the conclusion of this lengthy service, in which all may take part, there will be another short break. A further ringing of the bell will herald the commencement of a third service in which only the leading tohungas will take part.

After this, supper will be taken, and a korero indulged in for the rest of the evening until midnight or after. During this period speeches will be made by local chiefs and prominent visitors, and in general the meeting is open for discussion on practically any subject affecting those present, and more particularly religious subjects. It is etiquette for the person addressing the crowd from time to time to stand while he is doing so, and in general such a period is orderly, informative, and social, there being numerous passages of wit and good humour. Ancient songs and chants are permitted in order to vary the proceedings.

To illustrate the trend that a conversation may take in one of these informal koreros, the writer will relate an incident which he has witnessed in a Ringatu korero. For obvious reasons, the names mentioned are fictitious. One of the matters often debated by Ringatus is the relative importance of the Old and New Testaments, the more modern Ringatu regarding the New Testament as the fulfillment of the Old. In opening the discussion on this particular occasion, young Kahu contended that the New Testament did - 46 indeed fulfil the Old. He considered that one of the reasons for the wanderings in the wilderness of the Children of Israel was that the old generation had to die out, and that only the new generation might enter the Promised Land. He said that he believed that the same applied to the Ringatu Church; it would enter into the fulness of the Christian religion only when the older generation had passed on.

This immediately brought the chief tohunga to his feet. The statement was not accurate. Joshua and Caleb belonged to the old order, and they were allowed to enter the Promised Land. Then up rose old Henare, the most venerated and capable of the tohungas present. He contended that he was an old-timer, but nevertheless he refused to die for anybody. He wanted to know whether the young Kahu had any designs for hitting him on the head. Besides, he placed the New Testament in its proper setting, and furthermore the younger tohungas could not afford to do without him. A suggestion that Henare and another might be Joshua and Caleb brought Henare into a more serious frame of mind, whereupon he gave an address which commanded the attention and respect of all present:

“Although I am getting on in years I do not belong to the old school like many others do. Because I am a tohunga, why should I be regarded as tapu? Why am I supposed to be tapu from the head upward? Why should I wash only in cold water? Why should my pillow, or my food, or this or any other building be regarded as tapu? They are not tapu—the only tapu I desire is in the words that flow from my mouth.”

After midnight another service is held, and the company may then settle down to sleep or engage in silent prayer. The tohungas may also sleep if there is nothing else to do, but in a meeting of any size, they may be engaged almost continually in conducting private prayer with anyone desiring spiritual help, and particularly in praying and caring for the sick who are present. It is not just to accuse the Ringatu tohunga of sorcery, but he is a genuine faith-healer, and with the exception of one or two, he does not hesitate to encourage the engagement of doctors, nurses, hospitals and the like, when the occasion arises. His administrations are in the form of prayer and advice. During the early hours of the morning, the occasional chant of the tohunga in - 47 muffled tones may be heard from various parts of the building.

At day-break, say some time after four o'clock, another service of a very short nature is held. This is a service of praise and thanksgiving, an Old Testament hymn and a New Testament panui possibly comprising the service. From then on the people gradually bestir themselves, and later on another service is held preparing them for the love-feast.

The love-feast which is held in the morning is a feast in the literal sense of the term. When a large crowd is gathered for the more important festivals, the feast is held in the open, the “tables” being laid on the ground in true Maori fashion. The meal provided is of the best, the natives proving themselves lavish in the provision made for this most important part of the proceedings. An abundance of wild pork, wild pigeon, pipis, preserved maize, fowl, fruit, jellies, cream, and everything that could be desired, finds a place on the “table.” The tohunga offers grace, and the meal is eaten with relish. Truly only the best is provided, the motive being that it is a love-feast to God. A collection is taken at the close of this meal, the money being used for church purposes only. This collection must not be used for defraying the expenses of the meal, or making other provision for the entertainment of the gathering. It is also a rule of the church that the money given must be earned by the sweat of the brow—interest on investments, proceeds of sale of land or leases, not being acceptable.

After the meal is cleared away, the people once again gather for the most important service of the series. It is referred to as the communion service, although the elements of bread and wine are lacking. This is explained by reason that the service is to be regarded as of a spiritual nature. This was the express desire of Te Kooti. A novel reason is given for this desire, and it must be taken in all seriousness.

Te Kooti's contemporaries on the west coast were guilty on more than one occasion of cannibalistic practices, but the warrior of the east would tolerate no such practice. He was a gallant warrior, but a faithful follower of the religious cult he had himself established. On more than one occasion it was heart-breaking to him that Ringatus were over-come by - 48 their passionate hate of the Pakeha to such an extent that they were inclined to revive the Pai-marire religion in all its hideousness. Let any man place himself in Te Kooti's position for a moment, giving him the full credit due for his sincerity, and it will be realized that he had a task that few men could face. He declared that it was repulsive to him that cannibalism should be practised, and probably judging the Eucharistic service from a somewhat High Church angle, he considered it better to have nothing to do with the partaking of the bread and wine. The idea of partaking of flesh and blood was so repulsive to him, that he omitted it from his religion even in its symbolic form, and instituted instead a spiritual communion service, which illustrates that the Ringatu religion is based not upon the Old Testament only, but upon the whole Bible.

The love-feast just described was held to commemorate the love-feast held in the Upper Room on the first Easter Thursday night, and now comes the communion service, spiritual communion as a climax to the whole proceedings. The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world is commemorated in the most direct method possible. All that is necessary to bring the central feature of the Christian religion into prominence, and to impress the same upon the mind of the adherent, is contained in this commemoration. The theme of the proceedings is beautiful, the services being conducted in a most earnest manner, giving the impression of intenseness of thought, and real communion with the Eternal.

After the communion another break is allowed, and tea served. In the evening the proceedings are not so strenuous as the previous evening, but long koreros might easily develop keeping the people awake until all hours of the night. The following morning a service is held, and after breakfast the people make preparations to return to their homes.

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A new generation shall rise up, and it shall fall to their lot to revise and settle the true teachings of our church.

Te Kooti Rikirangi, 1889.

During the lifetime of the great prophet and general, Te Kooti Rikirangi, he appointed a secretary named Hamiora Aparoa. This person had not received any education; he had attended school for only one day. It is related that as soon as he saw the Pakeha teacher he ran as if for his life and never again ventured near a school. Consequently, when Te Kooti intimated that he desired him to be his secretary, he objected that having had no education, he could neither read nor write. Te Kooti told him that he could learn, and that if he had sufficient faith in God, He would help him in the task. Hamiora took the prophet at his word, and the rapidity with which he did learn to read and write was regarded by many of the Ringatu followers as miraculous.

Before his death in 1893, Te Kooti appointed several district leaders, but did not name anyone to be his successor as leader of the whole church. Actually Hamiora Aparoa continued to act as general secretary, but it was not until the twentieth century was well under way that any definite move was made to appoint a representative for the whole church. Meantime, the various branches went their own way, and soon the Ringatu Church, instead of presenting itself as a united Maori movement, was divided into factions, several of which are at enmity with each other to this day. The tohungas had no legal standing; and when it was realized that many ecclesiastical ministrations such as marriage and burial required a certain civil legal procedure, steps were taken to constitute the church as a legal united body, the tohungas being registered as ministers under the Marriage Act.

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At first the leader of the whole church was called a bishop, the two holders of this office in succession being Matiu Repanga and Eru Tamutere. Then it was realized that the term “bishop” was hardly applicable, as the leader had no episcopal functions such as are undertaken by bishops of other churches. It was then decided to call the head by the name of “president,” and under this title the late Koopu Erueti held office. Following his death, a full and representative gathering of Ringatus was held at Ruatoki from 25 to 28 June, 1938, when several matters of church government were decided upon. In the report of the meeting, published under its own authority, it is stated that the persons present were considered to have complied with that phrase of the invitation “the many branches, the various divisions, within the Ringatu Church.” It could be said that at the opening hour on 25 June, 1938, “all the various leaders of the various branches of the church were present, men who were authorized to act, and to form a foundation for the unity of this church.”

The first clause under the heading “The Unity of the Ringatu Church” in the report states that “The church in the main shall be that founded by Te Kooti Rikirangi.” It is plainly pointed out that during the time that the church was still growing in New Zealand, variations came into existence which caused the formation of various branches. The meeting in June, 1938, was held for the set purpose of evolving or creating some means, whereby these various branches might become more united so as to truly represent the parent church which Te Kooti Rikirangi founded. The meeting wisely decided that the branches should be kept intact, it being considered that this was a sign of spiritual fervour and growth. However, while the branches grew, the parent body from which they sprang must under no circumstances be forgotten.

The office of leader of the whole church was retained, but the old names of bishop and president were discarded. After considerable discussion, the name “poutikanga” was agreed upon. This was the name by which Te Kooti sometimes called himself, and many of the district leaders also possessed that title. The meaning intended to be conveyed by this title is that the holder is the mainstay or support, - 51 that is, the leader of the church. Mr. Paora Teramea of the Whanau-a-apanui tribe was duly elected as the first pouti-kanga of the “Unity of the Ringatu Church.”

Paora Teramea will continue to hold office until June, 1940, 3 when another poutikanga may be appointed at the general assembly of the church. It is provided that a new poutikanga shall be appointed every two years, but there is a stipulation that a reigning poutikanga may, by a majority vote, be re-elected to the position at the expiry of the biennial term. He is the representative of the church in all matters connected with the law of the land, representing not only the church as a whole, but also all the branches. He is the chairman of the executive committee of the church, and is in charge of the biennial general assembly.

An executive committee of twelve members is appointed in addition to the poutikanga, this committee also being elected biennially at the general assembly. It is empowered to create its own constitution so that it may perform its duties and responsibilities in the most advantageous manner. Among other things, it is responsible for determining the matters to be dealt with at the general assembly. It must keep a record of all members of the branches considered efficient to obtain authority to perform marriage ceremonies under the Marriage Act, and must forward such names to the Registrar of Marriages at Wellington. This committee must hear all grievances which arise within the church, enquire into the nature thereof, and place its findings in connection therewith before the general assembly for the information of the church as a whole. All urgent matters must be attended to, and action reported to the general assembly.

Provision is made for the appointment of a general secretary, who is also to act as the secretary of the executive committee. He is appointed at the biennial assembly, and his duties are determined by the executive committee. Ropata Peene (Robert Biddle) was the first secretary to be appointed under this constitution. The disposal of finance coming into the hands of the church is vested in the general assembly, - 52 and in accordance with the usual practice, two trustees were named (Te Amoamo te Riake and Erueti Peene).

Regarding the general assembly of the church, the report goes on to say, “The authority in control of the church for the creation of regulations, for making decisions, for considering all matters pertaining to the church, is the general assembly of the Ringatu Church. This assembly which was held at Ruatoki on 28 June, 1938, shall be called the first general assembly of the Ringatu Church. It was decided that the second of such general assemblies should be held at Ruatoki on 1 July, 1940. Thereafter a general assembly is to be held biennially at any place decided upon by the general assembly.”

A number of regulations then appear relative to the executive committee and its relation to the several branches, the most important being that regarding the requirements of the Marriage Act. The report concludes with a statement to the effect that the manner in which the proceedings were carried out was most commendable, there being always a purposeful spirit present. It is added that each person weighed the position in his mind, realizing that all matters, actions, deeds, and behaviour that had any tendency to destroy or interfere with the unity of the members as a whole, must be eradicated.

It will be observed that the constitution outlined above, and adopted as late as 1938, is of such a nature that it might be the constitution of any European organization. This assembly was held for the purpose of establishing the Ringatu Church on a proper basis, one of the reasons being the meeting and overcoming of any legal difficulties that might arise, and having the church recognized with other religious organizations in the Dominion. It must be realized, however, that this is not the fundamental basis upon which the Ringatu Church is constituted. The officers of the church as constituted by Te Kooti Rikirangi still operate in the local organizations, and these officers are in reality the life-blood of the movement. Just as the bishop and diocesan committee of an episcopal church are useless without the loyal support of the priests and laity of the parishes, so also would the central organization of the Ringatu Church be inoperative were it not for the efficient conduct of the local organizations. - 53 As a matter of fact, the unity of the Ringatu Church depends entirely upon the loyal co-operation of the local executives, and in many cases it seems that this loyal co-operation is still in the nebulous stage. The work of the church at the moment is to unify its forces, and this is a task that must necessarily meet with a little difficulty. Patience and perseverance are needed, and these qualities are not lacking in the present poutikanga and his associates; and their endeavours are bringing about the transition that will ensure the unity of the organization.

The term “poutikanga” may still be applied to a leader of a parish, a parish consisting of a number of hapus. He need not necessarily be a tohunga, and his duties are to appoint the tohungas to conduct the various services, to arrange the times and duties of the tohungas at the services, and also to announce to the people present the order in which the services are to be taken. He is really the medium between the tohungas and the congregation.

There appear to be three divisions of tohungas, namely: 1 Ture; 2 Takuta; 3 Tohunga.

There is usually only one ture in a parish, and he must be well versed in the church law. He is usually appointed by the tohungas themselves from their own number, although it is quite in order for the tohungas to appoint him from the laity. A takuta is a tohunga who conducts faith-healing services, and consequently there may be a number of them in a parish. The rest of the tohungas have no special duties to perform apart from their usual responsibilities as ministers to the people.

Between the tohungas and the people is another order of churchmen called “pirihimana” (policemen). These are people selected from the congregation, and who are eligible to become tohungas. They may be likened to curates or probationers, although actually they have great powers considering their position. They have absolute control of the marae, the cooking and sleeping arrangements, and the conduct of the people present at the services. They may call attention to any lapse on the part of either the tohungas or the people, and in general are responsible for the good conduct of the proceedings, the caring for the sick, and the - 54 keeping of the premises clean and tidy throughout the festival.

These policemen are authorized to inflict fines for breaches of church discipline, and in general do not hesitate to utilize this power. There is a rule, however, that if the police fine a person for misbehaviour or any lapse, that person may escape the fine by penitently offering the tohunga a penny as a token of goodwill. Should the tohunga accept the penitent offering, the fine is waived. Several policemen attend every meeting, and they must stand during the services. Often a policeman is preparing himself for the more responsible duties of the Ringatu ministry, that is, to become a tohunga, although there is nothing requiring him to do so.

No officer or tohunga of the Ringatu church is allowed to receive remuneration for his services. This is very strict Ringatu law, and in support the following Biblical references are quoted:

I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. —Acts 20: 33-35.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. —1 Timothy 6: 7-10.

Each tohunga therefore must earn his living with his own hands, and anything that in any way represents tithing is not tolerated. The Ringatu Church is democratic in its organization in that the tohungas are elected by the local congregations, and may be dropped from office if they become careless in the performance of their duties. It may even happen that a tohunga may grow to be the acknowledged leader, not so much by common consent as by absence of opposition. However, this looseness must necessarily be less - 55 likely in the future where definite regulations are laid down for compliance with the Marriage Act.


The Ringatu Church is essentially a Bible Church. There is no other Christian organization which uses the Bible so fully as this church. It may be repeated that all waiatas, panuis, inois, and himines constituting a service are gleaned direct from the Scriptures. The psalms and hymns are sung according to the ancient Maori ideas of singing, and the panuis are recited by the congregation. Samples of waiatas are Acts 4: 1-20, and Psalm 63. The latter is regarded as an early morning waiata.

In the recitation of the panuis, however, a novel procedure is followed. The tohunga announces each verse, recites the first few words commencing that verse, and the congregation recite the whole verse. The whole is from memory, no Bible being actually used during the service. The verses are not necessarily consecutive, but may be taken from various parts of the Bible, making, nevertheless, one complete theme. An excellent example of this is found in panui sixteen which runs as follows:

  • Genesis 1, 1-2: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
  • 1 Samuel 12, 5: And he said unto them, The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness.
  • John 9, 35: Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
  • Genesis 1, 3-4: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
  • 1 Samuel 12, 6: And Samuel said unto the people, It is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.
  • John 9, 36-37: He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou has both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
  • Deuteronomy 4, 23-24: Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with
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  • you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God has forbidden thee. For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
  • Job 42, 5: I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
  • John 9, 39: And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

When it is considered that the above must be known by heart, and mistakes on the part of the tohunga are deplored, it can be imagined that the task of tohunga in the Ringatu Church is no light one. Many services are held during a monthly festival or half-yearly celebration, and unless the leaders are constantly studying their Bibles it would be impossible for the services to be held.

The above panui disproves statements that have been made that the Ringatu Church takes its religion from the Old Testament only. The redeeming message of the Bible is well portrayed in panuis like the above, which was constructed by Te Kooti himself. It reveals in Te Kooti a deep understanding of the Gospel message, and of the Providence of God in the world around us.

In the panui just quoted, the first passage reminds the people that God is the Great Creator. The people having this fixed in their minds, are then challenged with the fact that the Lord's anointed, whom they understand to be Jesus, is a witness against them for their sins. The third passage raises the question as to whether the individual actually believes that Jesus is the Son of God, the following passage from Genesis imploring for light to shine into their darkness. The people are then reminded by another passage from Samuel that it was God who advanced Moses and Aaron, the implication being that he can do the same for them. The verses from John raises the question as to who it is that they are to believe, and the comforting answer is found in the same passage. The Deuteronomy verses contain a warning, which then seems to burst into the realization expressed in Job. The text from John forms a conclusion to the panui.

Another panui, again by Te Kooti, will reveal similar characteristics:

  • Genesis 3, 4: And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.
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  • Genesis 3, 5: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
  • Genesis 3, 8: And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
  • Matthew 2, 10: When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
  • Matthew 2, 11: And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
  • Matthew 2, 12: And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
  • Genesis 3, 9: And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
  • Genesis 3, 10: And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
  • Mark 10, 23: And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!
  • Daniel 9, 9: To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgive-nesses, though we have rebelled against him.
  • Daniel 9, 10: Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
  • Luke 7, 9: When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Although verse fifteen of the third chapter of Genesis is not quoted, the theme contained in that verse is reflected in the panui just quoted. This verse reads, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” This verse is generally accepted as the first reference to the Christ in the Old Testament, and the panui just quoted appears to be a direct representation of the connection between the coming of Christ and the fall of our first parents in the garden of Eden.

The first three verses of Gensis reflect the sense of shame that visited Adam and Eve when they first fell into - 58 sin. Having definitely established that, the panui soars to heights of joy at the birth of the Redeemer. Having portrayed the coming of the Redeemer, the people are reminded that God called out Adam, who admitted that he was afraid of the consequences of his sin. The verse from Mark reminds the congregation of the seriousness of his predicament, but in the two verses from Daniel they are told of God's mercy despite their human waywardness. The final verse taken from Luke emphasizes the pleasure of Our Lord in the manifestation of faith.

The Ringatu rigidly regards his Bible as a sacred (tapu) book. This law of tapu finds expression in many ways. For instance, anything holy must not be brought into contact with food. The European common custom, therefore, of having Bible reading and prayers immediately after breakfast while the family is still seated at the table, would be quite out of place in the Ringatu home. In the past many have carried this sacred reverence for the Bible to impracticable extremes. Some have placed it in the rafters of their whares, and have refused to remove it because of its sacredness. The writer has been told that the advice given by the present poutikanga is to take the Bible down from the rafters and read it. Though it is a sacred book, it is of no use until it is read.

There are generally no buildings in the Ringatu Church set aside solely for public worship, although one exception is “Rongopai” at Waituhi in the Poverty bay district which is regarded as strictly tapu and must be used for divine worship only. The usual custom is to use the tribal meeting houses, thus leaving the meetings open for everyone to attend. The Church engages in no missionary activity, and there is no proselytizing: a person becomes a member of the Ringatu Church by expressing a desire to join, and there is no ritual attendant upon joining.


In the outline given earlier in this chapter on the constitution of the Ringatu Church, reference was made to the fact that various divisions exist, and that in the “Unity of the Ringatu Church” each branch was to be allowed its own independence and self-expression. These branches are - 59 fundamentally Ringatu, and in practice their services are along the same lines, varying only in details.

One branch ministering mainly in the Poverty bay district has an innovation peculiar to itself. The service held just after midnight on the evening of the eleventh is given a special significance. It is a commemoration of the feast of the passover as instituted by Moses in Egypt.

When Te Kooti Rikirangi was exiled on the Chatham Islands, this, he thought, was like the bondage of the Hebrews in Egypt; and when he ultimately captured the Rifleman and landed in 1868 at Whareongaonga near Gis-borne, this was like the deliverance of the Hebrews from bondage. At Whareongaonga Te Kooti is said to have held a passover feast in commemoration of his deliverance. The service in the early hours of the morning fills the dual purpose of commemorating the Egyptian passover and Te Kooti's escape from exile.

The selection of Scripture often recited at this particular service is Exodus 12, the two most important verses, from the point of view of this branch of the Ringatu Church, being verses 22 and 23:

And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood on the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

This institution of the feast of the passover was later given special significance by Christ in the Lord's supper. Just as the Hebrews of old were bidden to observe this rite annually, so these Ringatus in the early hours of the morning of their holy days, make a similar observance. The policeman announces that there must be no smoking, no drinking, and no eating until sunrise, and that no one must leave the building. This is referred to as a period of tapu, and may be likened to a short fast. It is a small thing in itself, but it is an act of remembrance of one of the solemn events in Hebrew history. One tohunga stated to the writer that the angel of death passes over New Zealand every day, and - 60 therefore our daily life should be a spiritual passover, a continual thanksgiving to God for our daily existence.

Many Ringatus regard the story of the growth of the Ringatu Church as a counter-part of the wanderings in the wilderness of the Children of Israel. It has been mentioned that Te Kooti and his church which he founded while actually on Chatham Islands, is a type of the growth of the Hebrew nation in Egypt, a people born in bondage. The capture of the Rifleman is regarded as a God-sent deliverance, and the landing at Whareongaonga warranted a passover celebration.

This thought followed up means that the Te Kooti wars were the wanderings of Israel through the desert wilderness. Adepts in this study see how practically every little event in the lives of Te Kooti and his church through those days of trouble fits in with the troubles encountered by the Hebrews. The final settlement in the land of Canaan is a parallel to the close of the wars, culminating in the pardon of Te Kooti in 1883. From then on, the gradual settling down of the Ringatu Church is depicted in the history of Israel and Judah. We are assured by those who hold this belief, that the Ringatu Church is now entering into the fulness of the Christian religion, this being the whole aim of Te Kooti Rikirangi.


Apart from the regular monthly services held to commemorate the twelfth, and the regarding of Saturday as the Sabbath of the Lord, there are other holy days recognized in the Ringatu Church. The most important of these are the half-yearly festivals held on the first days of January and July of each year. The services are similar to those held on the twelfth, but special reference is made to the reason for the gathering. The festival on the 1 January is a New Year Day festival, a festival of thanksgiving for the past year, and prayer for the first half of the new year. The same applies to the 1 July gathering. The tohungas will say that it is fitting that this gathering should be held, and moreover it is Scriptural, Leviticus 23, 24 being quoted, “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath .....” - 61 It is not pretended that the Ringatu Church keeps the Jewish festivals, but nevertheless, where the Bible can be quoted to justify anything done by that church, the tohungas do not hesitate to accept its authority.

Another festival is held on the 1 June. This also is similar to the 12th festivals, but has a significance of its own. It is a special praying for good crops during the forthcoming season. The people gather together on the evening of 30 May, and services are held that evening. Three services are held during 31 May, appropriate prayers being selected beseeching God's blessing upon the crops to be sown so that the harvest will not fail.

Each family coming to the festival brings a kit of sample seeds from those he intends to plant on his own plantation. These seeds are hung up under a tree and left there in the meantime. During the evening before 1 June, the kit of seeds is taken to the front of the meeting house where the people in turn touch and handle them. In the early hours of the morning, while all the congregation are awake or have been awakened, a short service is held, at the conclusion of which a tohunga and one or two assistants, either tohungas or policemen, plant the seed in a plot specially prepared. While this planting is being done, those remaining in the meeting-house sing waiatas, inois, etc., until the return of the planter. He on his return takes over control of the service from the tohunga who had been left in charge. At the conclusion of the service, the people are once more at liberty to sleep or converse. No food must be eaten between this service and the love-feast. On 1 June four other services are held, say at 10 a.m., 3 p.m., and two in the evening. The two in the evening are held without a break, the first being taken by the tohungas only.

A harvest festival is held on 1 November or December according to the locality, when the crops planted on 1 June are dug and used in the love-feast.

A wedding conducted by a Ringatu tohunga is of the simplest nature. At the opening, the requirements of the law are complied with, the questions and answers being given in conformity with those observed at a marriage by the registrar. Then follows the Ringatu service of waiatas, - 62 panuis, inois, and himines. One of the waiatas is Psalm 128 and another Joel 2, 14-18.

The sacrament of infant baptism is practised by tohungas, the mode varying with the locality. In some places the rite is prefaced with a Maori custom known as “tua,” whereby the feet of the child are placed in water and the name given. One tohunga has expressed the opinion that this ceremony should be perpetuated in memory of the feet-washing of the disciples by Our Lord. In some localities no water is used, and the child is simply dedicated to God by the name being given and a prayer recited.

Simplicity is also observed in the dedication or ordination of a tohunga. At a suitable time in a service the candidate is required to stand, and is asked several questions by the leading tohunga; such as, “Are you accepting the office of tohunga for fun or in real earnest?” “Do you fully understand the implications of the step you are taking?” “Will you help others to understand and to know God?” The prospective tohunga then makes a statement undertaking to do all he can to learn, understand, and teach the Scriptures. Prayers are offered and the candidate is a fully accredited tohunga.

One branch of the Ringatu Church recognizes female tohungas. These womenfolk take a free part in all the services, minister to the sick, and in general are placed on an equal footing with the male tohungas. The branch that allows this practice is small compared with the parent church, but it quotes Scripture authority for its action:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. —Gatatians 3: 28.
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. —Colossians 3: 11.

It is contended that if no distinction is made in the sight of God between male and female, but Christ is all, and in all, then both sexes of mankind should be placed on an equal footing in matters of religion. It is held that those passages written by St. Paul which can be interpreted to mean that women should be excluded from speaking in - 63 churches were purely local matters not intended to bind the entire Christian church. The Ringatu Church as a whole, however, in common with the majority of other churches, does not place men and women on an equal footing.

The Ringatu Church as a whole, too, is antagonistic to witchcraft, sorcery, and spiritism, though at the same time the majority of the tohungas believe in the existence of evil spirits, a personal devil, and angels. They do not hesitate to pray for anyone who believes himself possessed of an evil spirit, but unlike the tohungas of Maori heathendom, the Ringatu minister does not presume to be able to detect the presence of evil spirits in another person.


A chapter on the polity of the Ringatu Church cannot avoid dealing briefly with the question of land ownership by the church. There is no State Church in New Zealand, and there is no law preventing a number of persons from collecting together in any place for regular worship under any name whatever, provided that the laws of the land and of the local authorities are observed. Certain formalities are prescribed if a member of the congregational gathering is to be authorized to perform functions such as solemnizing marriages, but beyond this the Statute law does not interfere.

The law becomes very much concerned, however, when the question of land ownership is involved. Practically every religious organization of any importance has its Act of Parliament governing its constitution in relation to the land, and in many cases individual blocks of land are vested in a church by a special Act of Parliament. In this respect, the Ringatu Church stands side by side with the other churches; and although Parliament has not laid down any rules affecting the Ringatu Church's activities, there is nevertheless a Statute vesting in that church six hundred acres of land in the Bay of Plenty, and providing for its administration. The average Ringatu tohunga seems to be more pleased with the fact of the implied Government recognition of the church in the Act, than with the vesting of the block of land in church trustees.

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The preamble and first sub-section of the Native Land Amendment and Native Land Claims Adjustment Act, 1921, section thirty-one, read:

Whereas the land known as Wainui, or Section 313, Parish of Waimana, in the Bay of Plenty, comprising six hundred acres, was reserved under sections two hundred and thirty-five and two hundred and thirty-six of the Land Act, 1892, for the use, support, and education of aboriginal Natives: And whereas during the lifetime of Te Kooti Rikirangi the said land was occupied by him and his adherents, known as members of the Ringatu Church, by arrangement with a former Native Minister, the late Honourable Alfred Cadman: And whereas since the death of the said Te Kooti Rikirangi the said land has been occupied by members of his family and by members of the Ringatu Church, and disputes have arisen among them from time to time as to the occupation and administration of the said land. And whereas it is desirable that the said land shall be vested in the Ringatu Church, and that provision be made for its better occupation and administration: Be it therefore enacted as follows:—
(1) The said land is hereby vested in trustees, to be appointed in accordance with this section, in trust for the Ringatu Church.

Then follow several sub-clauses dealing with the powers of the Native Land Court and the trustees, the latter having all the powers of a committee of management under the Native Land Act. At the first general assembly of the church in 1938, the question of leasing a portion of the block was dealt with, and also the question of liquidating a mortgage incurred for the purpose of purchasing European land to give access from the main road to Wainui.

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He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

1 Corinthians, 14: 3.

The word “prophet” is too often used without due regard for its actual meaning: a definition will be helpful. In dealing with the functions and teachings of the prophets, Hasting' Dictionary of the Bible (p. 761) states:

“His (the prophet's) chief work was to serve as a great moral and religious teacher, especially in relation to the duties of national life. He was sent to minister to his own age, to teach his contemporaries the duties of the hour, how to apply the highest religious principles to current questions of political and social life. In the course of the delivery of his message he was moved to utter predictions, and these formed so characteristic and important a feature of the prophet's teaching that foretelling the future came to be regarded as his chief work. This was not strictly the case, since the forecasts of the future arose out of the delivery of the message to the speaker's own age.”

On page 760 of the same publication it is stated:

“How were the people to distinguish between the true and the false? Ostensibly both classes had the same ends in view—the honour of Jehovah and the prosperity of the nation. But some put religious principle first and taught that prosperity would follow obedience; others, blinded by false ideas of national advantage, thought they were doing God service by promoting a policy which seemed likely to lead to the aggrandizement of His people.”

This agrees well with the concise definition in the Oxford Dictionary: “Inspired teacher: revealer or interpreter of God's will: one who predicts.” Too often the last definition, which is of less importance, is taken as the one of chief importance.

The distinction between the true and the false prophets must at times have been difficult, especially when the pro- - 66 phecies of the false were the more attractive, and probably the more likely from the point of view of the people. Hence is found a definite rebuke to false prophets in Ezekiel 13, 16: “to wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord God.”

In dealing with the prophecies of Te Kooti Rikirangi, not only must the prophesying of future events be considered, but also any statement that was made for the edification of the people. It will be found upon comparison with the prophecies of other Maori prophets, that Te Kooti stands high above them; in fact, it is not difficult to distinguish between the true and the false when Te Kooti's prophecies are compared with theirs.

It must not be concluded that the teachings of false prophets were necessarily themselves false. Te Ua Haumene was in earnest, but being mentally unsound, suffered from delusions when he professed that many of his messages came from the preserved head of Captain Lloyd, saying that the Pakeha would be driven from New Zealand, and that the gift of knowledge of every science and art would fall upon the faithful. Kereopa te Rau, on the other hand, appears to have been “prophesying out of his own heart” in the advice he gave his followers from time to time. Rua Kenana, who appears to have regarded himself as a successor to Te Kooti, promised his followers that New Zealand would be handed back to the natives by the King of England in person.

An interesting story is told in connection with Rua Kenana, the prophet of Maunga-pohatu. One day he took his followers to the water's edge and asked them whether they believed that he could walk the water. On receiving an affirmative answer he said that there was then no necessity for him to perform such a miracle. There was here no question of his taking advantage of their credulity; their affirmative answer demonstrated their trust in his leadership; a negative answer or a doubt expressed would have demonstrated their lack of trust, and his object would have been attained in either case.

The attitude of Te Kooti to the European churches that had already established themselves in New Zealand, and especially the Church of England, must be considered. In - 67 1886, three years after the pardon, Te Kooti and his followers visited Wairoa, where was stationed an Anglican Maori clergyman named Tamihana. It is an old custom, not yet discontinued among the Maori, that visitors should occupy the right hand side of the meeting-house as a place of honour. The local people must occupy the left, or inferior side, and also provide the food necessary for the gathering. Te Kooti Rikirangi belonged to Gisborne, although at the time he was living in the King Country. Tamihana immediately commenced to fulfil his obligations in accordance with the usual custom, but Te Kooti objected, in these words:

“You shall occupy the main side of the meeting house, and I the small side of the house. You are the visitor and guest, therefore the main side is yours. I am the host, and I must occupy the small side. I, as your host, must supply you with food.”

There is a belief current that Te Kooti was acknowledging the pre-eminence of the Church of England as the parent church in offering them, through Tamihana, the honourable side of the meeting-house. Actually, the opposite was intended. What he meant was that the Ringatu Church was the indigenous institution, whereas the Church of England was a foreign organization which did not originate in New Zealand. Hence Te Kooti regarded himself as the host and Tamihana as the visitor. Later in the same day, he said:

“Listen, O leaders, and all the remnants from Wharekauri; in the future you must not let your children go to the mission schools, be they Anglican, or Roman Catholic, or anything else. You must not allow your children to be baptized or wedded by them, but you must do these things yourselves. You must also abstain from their sacraments.”

Another saying of the prophet must, however, be quoted with the above:

“If for some reason you desire to leave the Church of the Holy Spirit, then remember always that the Church of England is the parent church of which our elders were members. Do ye therefore return to that fold.”

The reference to the Church of the Holy Spirit is a reference to the Ringatu Church under its alternative name, “The Church of the Wairua-tapu.” Another interesting saying of Te Kooti deals with faith-healers: - 68

“When a faith-healer comes among the people, do ye seek early his help for those that are sick among you. A healer's powers do not remain long with him. Go quickly: and return to the faith quickly.”

It must be admitted that this is a more broad-minded view than that usually adopted by the average European, either churchman or layman. A text (1 Thessalonians 5: 19-21) is usually quoted in connection with this particular saying: “Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

Other teachings of the Ringatu prophet are of a wide and varied nature, but the above quotations, together with a study of other matters mentioned in previous chapters, give a fair survey of the religious depth of their author. It remains to speak of the prophecies of Te Kooti which deal with the foretelling of the future.


It is unfortunate that much rumour and misunderstanding must attach to the teachings of one who by one section of the community has come to be regarded as a prophet, and by the other sections something little better than rogue and outlaw. In the search for authentic information concerning Te Kooti Rikirangi, the writer has encountered enthusiastic exaggeration of the follower on the one hand, and on the other suspicion and distrust, not unattended with like exaggeration.

During his lifetime, Te Kooti took the wise precaution of having his sayings and prophecies written down, but these records were kept secret from the general public, his secretaries alone having access to them. When Te Kooti died, the surviving secretary jealously guarded and preserved those records. Anything that has been included in this chapter on Ringatu prophecy, has been carefully compared with the original writings to ensure correctness. Where an interpretation of the prophecies is given, the interpretation is that acknowledged by the present day leaders of the Ringatu Church. Where any saying of Te Kooti is not recorded in his own writings, a statement to that effect is made.

The most difficult of the prophecies of Te Kooti are those which may be termed “The prophecies of the two - 69 stars.” The first of this series was made at Te Kuiti on 1 July 1878 while the prophet was still a refugee from the law with a price upon his head. He said:

“The star is showing plainly in the east. I now foresee the leader coming closer and closer to us.”

The following year, still at Te Kuiti, he amplified the prophecy by saying:

“I now tell you that it is definite that a leader will arise. There shall be a sign when he appears. I shall be buried beneath his feet. He may be a Pakeha, or a Pakeha relative, or a Maori, or even one of the Queen's grandsons. He will carry on the faith that I have established, and I shall rest in peace. He shall pass on the faith to our children, and to posterity for ever.”

It is not until 1880 that the appearance of two stars is mentioned. The prophet was still at Te Kuiti:

“Behold two stars instead of one, the one star striving against the other, and each shining very brightly. The star in the east is a good star, but the star in the west is evil. If the star in the west gains the ascendency, and the star in the east fails, let me tell you that conditions in this island are going to be adverse.”

Five years later at Katikati, after the pardon, when Te Kooti was a free man in the eyes of the law, he prophesied:

“The two stars are still standing as they were in 1880. I make it known to you that this leader is going to be from the east. He shall appear directly between Nga-kuri-a-wharei and Tikirau, no further.”

Nga-kuri-a-wharei is a point near Katikati, Tauranga; and Tikirau a hill on the eastern side of Whangaparaoa, cape Runaway. Some Ringatus say that the star of the east is Sir Apirana T. Ngata, while the star of the west is Ratana. As one of the leaders of the Ringatu Church points out, however, there are two difficulties to be overcome if in Sir Apirana T. Ngata are to be invested the virtues of the eastern star. The first is that he lives outside the boundary set in the prophecies, and the second is that he is not apparently carrying on Te Kooti's religious work. On the other hand, it should be pointed out that Sir Apirana T. Ngata belongs to Whangaparaoa through his maternal ancestry, and also that he exercised a great influence for the good of the Ringatu Church at the Ruatoki General Assembly in 1938. - 70 It seems that individual attitude toward this prophecy is influenced considerably by political bias.

There is a reputed prophecy by Te Kooti that does not appear in the originals, but yet has wide acceptance and should be mentioned in a work such as this.

“Turanga is the seat of hatred because I am of those tribes. My religion there is harshly treated, therefore to lighten their burden is one of love. Let the tapu be from the head to the neck.”

The interpretation of this passage as accepted by many is to the effect that the Turanga (Gisborne) Maoris have a natural antagonism toward the main Ringatu Church, and therefore it is not incumbent upon the Ringatu members of that district to be associated with the main church. “Let there be tapu from the head to the neck” is stated to mean that Turanga Ringatus will be fundamentally Ringatus, but will nevertheless hold aloof from the main organization. It is indeed unfortunate that in practice this appears to be working out, but nevertheless it should be emphasized that although Te Kooti mentioned that hatred and intolerance were to be expected from Gisborne, the prophecy expounded in the above form does not appear in his writings. Judging from an impartial point of view, the tenor of the passage is somewhat of a reflection upon the people of Gisborne. Besides, there is a strange consistency in Te Kooti's prophecies, in another of which he says of the leader that is to appear:

“He is to lead in spiritual matters, and carry on the religious work laid down by me, and he shall be leader to them all.

If this leader is to be the leader to the whole church, the consistency of the prophecies is upset if it is admitted that the Turanga natives are excepted.

When Te Kooti visited the Waioeka pa near Opotiki, the local people had built a meeting-house for his use. Te Kooti there prophesied that a rat would undermine the back portion of the building, and that this undermining would continue until the rat had come out at the front of the building. The building referred to in the prophecy was not the meeting-house, but the Ringatu Church, and the rat was to be a man who would accomplish this undermining within that Church. The leaders of the Ringatu movement agree that - 71 the prophecy has been fulfilled in the person of Rua Kenana, who appeared on the scene twenty years after and succeeded in persuading the whole of the people in his locality to join him. At the present time the effect of the undermining of their faith is still apparent.

Another prophecy said to refer to Rua Kenana is:

“A prophet shall appear, and he shall trample underfoot this faith. Others also will appear and they shall bring forth schisms and lead astray many of my people.”

In another recorded prophecy, Te Kooti gives his followers a warning:

“A garden of flowers shall come forth from Whanganui; it shall visit all parts of this Island, and it has a very persuasive manner: so beware, do not be enticed by it.”

In a song Te Kooti mentioned the head-waters of the Whangaehu river where this movement was to appear. To the orthodox Ringatu, this is fulfilled in that Ratana's home was on the banks of the Whangaehu river. Ratana also went around the Island faith-healing, and promising the Maori people many things. He had a persuasive manner, and his followers are numbered in thousands.

The most remarkable and yet the most straightforward of all the prophecies was made at Oputao as early as 1869, less than one year after the commencement of the Te Kooti wars. As his followers were gathered together there he said:

“Listen! At present we are all eating out of the one dish, but I say unto you here and now, that in the very near future you shall turn against me. You will be helping the Government side against me, and even strive to capture me, and even try to kill me. But I want to make it known to you this day, that you will not succeed, and the authorities also will fail. I shall not be killed by you and the Government. My death shall be by accident, and wherever this is to take place, the leader for my people shall come forth from there, and I shall be buried beneath his feet. Listen, O people! I say this to you: we are going to part very soon, but there is a day coming, and in that day you will be bowing down to me again.”

This prophecy was fulfilled in every detail. These Tuhoe people sided with the Government forces under Ropata Wahawaha and others, but were not successful in apprehending Te Kooti. Years afterward, when Te Kooti was in the King Country, multitudes of these very people went into - 72 that same country to pay the prophet their respects, and today (1939), their descendants constitute the bulk of the people clinging to the Ringatu faith.

The other part of the prophecy was fulfilled in 1893 when Te Kooti and one hundred of his followers were journeying from the King Country to the Bay of Plenty. One very hot day they were resting by the road-side, and as there was no shade about, some of them, including Te Kooti, were sheltering under a trap (spring cart). The horse had been unharnessed, and as the cart was loaded, the shafts were propped up. Suddenly the cart tipped up and Te Kooti was seriously injured internally. It was somewhat less than two weeks after that when he finally succumbed to the injuries, thus fulfilling his own prediction. He died at Te Karaka, Ohiwa harbour, within the two points, Nga-kuri-a-wharei and Tikirau, thus making the two prophesies regarding leaders coincide, and further illustrating the consistency of the prophecies.

Less than twelve months before this, on 1 July, 1892, at Ohiwa, the prophet stated:

“There is one sign in the heavens whose glory shall remain; and a voice shall be heard from the heavens saying: This is my beloved Son, follow Him.”

The Ringatu leaders regard this as a reference to St. Luke's Gospel (9:35). It is a clear reference to Christ, and ample evidence that Te Kooti intended his followers to be disciples of Our Lord.

At the end of his life, just five days before his passing, Te Kooti made a prophecy which, even though it may be unwise to hazard a guess at its fulfillment, nevertheless illustrates the depth of soul of its originator:

“In twenty-six year' time a leader shall appear for us, but if everything goes well this period will be shortened; even within three years he will appear. On the other hand, if the general administration is not sympathetic toward us, and this unsympathetic attitude is backed up with harsh treatment that will be meted out to us by leading chiefs in tribal matters, particularly in land matters, tribal controversies in matters of no import being uppermost, then the coming shall be prolonged indefinitely.”

At the conclusion of this prophesy, the dying prophet sang a waiata: - 73

Tera te ahi te ka mai ra
Kei nukuwai;
Na to ringa rawa, koe, i tahu mai,
Kia mihi atu au.
Hohoro koe, na, te kau mai,
Hei tokorua;
Hei hoa ake ki te moenga,
E tuohu nei.

This waiata has been translated into English verse by Mr. Arapeta P. M. Awatere of Gisborne as follows:

Oh! Yonder there, a fire glows
Across those waters vast;
'Twas kindled by thy hand alone,
'Tis there my thoughts I cast.
Oh, cross those waters, haste to me,
Come, be my faithful friend;
Abide with me where lone I dwell,
Abide until the end.

And so passed the prophet of the Ringatus with a deep yearning in his heart that the work which he had established among the Maori people might be carried on. Who is to say that this leader is not to-day answering that prayer in the evangelical revival within the Ringatu Church that is apparent to those who have in any way come into contact with its tohungas in their meetings?


Was Te Kooti Rikirangi a prophet in the true sense of the term? Using the definition given at the start of the chapter, it seems that an adequate answer to the following questions will serve as a guide:

  • 1. Was Te Kooti a great moral and religious teacher, especially in relation to the duties of national life?
  • 2. Did he minister to his own age, teach his contemporaries the duties of the hour, and how to apply the highest religious principles to current questions of political and social importance?
  • 3. In foretelling the future, did he betray a keenness of insight that meant that eventually his prophecies must come true?
  • 4. Did these prophecies point to some future condition of the Ringatu people discerned by the prophet himself, and yet from the conditions of the time in which he lived, it would have been regarded as hardly likely that those things would come to pass?
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The first two questions can be very briefly answered in the affirmative. To the Ringatu people, the erstwhile Hauhaus, he brought a new religion entirely different from and superior to the old. From the horrors of the Pai-marire fanaticism he raised his followers to heights of spiritual understanding and a worthy conception of God which would have been impossible for any European missionary to achieve. Te Kooti was essentially a minister to his own people and his own age. He was their counsellor in matters of religion, social order, war, and political relationships. He and his followers might well have said: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinth., 4:8-9).

Neither is it difficult to answer the third question in the affirmative. Te Kooti seems to have had a keen understanding of human nature. His address to the people gathered at Oputao in 1869, when he told them that they would desert him and ultimately return to him again is proof of this. When he was pardoned in 1883, he told the Government delegation that he would never again break the peace; but at the same time he told them that the Government would. This actually took place several years later when he was arrested by Colonel Porter in the Waiotahi pa. The reason for the arrest was that Te Kooti set out to visit Poverty bay, the scene of the massacre; but so great was the alarm among the residents, that the Government undertook to persuade him to cancel the visit. Thus the prophet's prediction was fulfilled.

An examination of those passages referring to the two stars assists in determining the value of the prophecies of Te Kooti. It must always be borne in mind that the bulk of the original Ringatus were essentially heathen in outlook, and Te Kooti's great task was to lead them to a knowledge of the Christian religion. It was naturally impossible to do this in one sweep; the suspicion of his followers to anything obviously Pakeha in essence would be too strong. Te Kooti took the wide view, started at the beginning, and worked gradually. It seems that the only fundamental of the faith was to believe in the Bible; it has been seen that holy days were set aside for continuous religious worship, and that the - 75 services were taken from the Bible alone. Although the religion he established seemed to the observer to be an Old Testament religion, the karakias also comprised passages from the New Testament. His panuis seem to have a definite Christian theme in them. The prophecy which he made “This is my beloved Son; follow Him” gives an indication that he desired to lead his people to a definite Christian faith. In this respect he refers to a sign in the heavens the glory of which will never fail.

Is there any indication as to the deeper meaning of the other prophecies referring to the star of the east? It seems that at first he himself was not too sure of it. Then he becomes more definite. There will be a leader for the people, and he will carry on the faith. It seems that a certain man yet to be raised up is in view, though the dramatic reference to Luke's Gospel turns the thought in another direction. Was Te Kooti trying to tell the people, without raising their ire, that ultimately they would accept the Christ whom the Pakehas worship?

Then there is that beautiful waiata sung a few days before his death. In this waiata he sees a fire glowing across the waters of time. He sees one who has kindled that fire, and longs for him to come to be his faithful friend. He feels that when this is accomplished, all will be well.

Just as Isaiah was speaking of the remnants of Israel, but actually portrayed the Christ in his prophecy, so it may be that Te Kooti in his desire to portray a great leader to succeed him over the Ringatu people, in reality disclosed his innermost thoughts and desires, namely that his people would find their real leader in Christ.

The fact remains that the Ringatu leaders to-day are striving for a clear understanding of the Christian message, and with the Bible as their sole guide they are coming to realize that there is only one leader in matters of religion, namely the Christ.

In closing this chapter it should be mentioned that present day Ringatu leaders will not listen to any who rise up in their midst and profess to have the gift of prophecy. From time to time the writer hears rumours of recent prophecies by the Ringatu Church, especially in regard to election results, wars, and unseasonable weather. These things - 76 are not recognized by the Ringatu Church itself, and it can be stated definitely that apart from Te Kooti Rikirangi, no Maori prophet will find acceptance by the Ringatu Church.

Whether or not question 4 at the opening of this section is to be answered in the affirmative, will depend entirely upon whether the possibility of prophecy will be acknowledged in these days, and also whether racial barriers present a real difficulty. One tohunga said to the writer that as a Christian he failed to see how Te Kooti could accomplish the great things he did, were he not inspired by the Holy Spirit. He was convinced that his achievements were beyond the capabilities of an unaided human being.

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This vineyard of the Lord
Constant labour will afford;
He will your work reward:
Work, brethren, work.

Te Hahi o Te Wairua Tapu, or the Church of the Holy Spirit, is not known officially by that name to-day; in fact, it is probable that the majority of Ringatu followers are unaware that this was the intended name for their church. This is to be regretted, as the name in itself largely reveals the attitude of the founder of the Ringatu Church toward the existence of the Almighty, and especially his belief in an ever-present God working within, and revealing Himself through the individual personality.

This belief in the direct personal relationship between God and man is further manifested in the private prayer of Te Kooti, used in times of trouble, and especially when engaged in warfare. The prayer is simply a repetition of Psalm 3: 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7:

  • Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
  • But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
  • I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
  • I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
  • Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

This prayer is reported to have been disclosed to Te Kooti by God himself in the bush at Wharekauri during the exile on Chatham Islands. Knowing that Te Kooti implicitly - 78 believed in revelation by the Holy Spirit, which is the belief of every devout Christian, and bearing this in mind, it can safely be assumed that when Te Kooti was in the bush at Wharekauri he came across the above passage of Scripture during the course of his meditations. The verses came to him at a time when his future was apparently involved in hopeless uncertainty, so that he was convinced that the Holy Spirit must have revealed them to him.

He ever sought to persuade his followers to have unquestioning faith in the providence of God. To this end he taught them to recite in unison, as a collect:

Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. (Psalm 3: 8).


A comparison of the religious statistics taken from New Zealand Year Books showing the census returns of the Maori population in the years 1926 and 1936 will dispel the notion sometimes held that the Ringatu faith is on the wane.

The 1936 census returns show the Ringatus thus:

Ringatu 5091
Hauhau 586
Te Wairua Tapu 25

Taking the first figures only, the Ringatu Church numbers 6.2% of the Maoris, but if the second and third are included, 6.9%. On the basis of this latter figure, the Ringatu increase over ten years was 48%.

It must be realized that the census figures include all the natives of New Zealand, even those of the South Island. The Ringatu religion is confined to the Tuhoe people, the Bay of Plenty and the East Coast in general. The largest church operating in Ringatu areas then is the Church of England, the church responsible for the education of Te Kooti at Waerenga-a-hika. The Ringatu Church also comes into contact with the Ratana movement, the Mormons, and to a lesser extent the Methodists.

Of all these religious organizations, the Ringatu Church stands alone as the one church purely Maori in essence. The churches responsible for the planting the Gospel in this land - 79 are obviously European churches with branches or departments among the Maori people. Even the appointment of a native Bishop by the Church of England, while tending to make the native portion of the Church of England more Maori in appearance, does not make it a Maori institution. Next to the Church of England, the numerically strongest church is the Ratana. This may be claimed as a Maori church as it was founded by a Maori, but an examination of its services reveals that it is essentially a Maori-ized European church, carrying on many Maori customs. The only church which is Maori throughout is the Ringatu Church. The only point in which it has an affinity with the other churches is that it uses the Maori translation of the Bible.

With the modern growth of Maori nationalism, gradually improving living conditions, and the developing desire to give expression to native culture, tradition and custom, the future prospects of the Ringatu Church are promising indeed.

Although the tendency to return to native custom is indicative of racial pride, the Ringatu Church is nevertheless faced with many dangers. Internal divisions sometimes assume exaggerated proportions, the spiritual life and unity of the church consequently suffering. More subtle still is the insidious influence of the licentious example of many Pakeha people. When two races come into contact, the smaller in numbers usually retains its own vices, adopts those of the numerically superior people, and in measure overthrows its own peculiar standards of virtue, without at the same time assimilating to a corresponding degree the virtues of the other race.

The main concern of the Ringatu Church at the moment is a parallel with the same difficulty encountered by the European churches, namely to supply an adequate ministry for the rising generation. Much zeal and patience are required to master the Scriptures sufficiently to become an effective tohunga. The secularism of the age is manifest among the Maori as well as among the Europeans, to such an extent that it is not an exaggeration to declare that the average young Maori would rather play football and hockey, or go to the cinema and dance-hall, than study the Bible.

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The task of carrying on the work in the future is difficult but not impossible. The revival that is long overdue has its seeds already sown within the Ringatu Church. In many places the steadying influence of the Christian Gospel appears to be the monopoly of the Ringatu followers, but in other places the influence is imperceptible, the fruits of the labours of the Ringatu leaders apparently taking long to form. But the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” and a general religious awakening among the Maori people is imminent. The Ringatu Church is a praying church; not only do they pray for their own welfare but also the welfare of others, especially those who show a genuine desire to help. But not only are they praying for others, but others are praying for them: the age of chivalry has not passed, but the valour of the warriors of the faith in this twentieth century is void of ostentation and display.

Be that as it may, through generations yet to come, the chant of the tohunga will be heard, “Glory be to Thy Holy Name,” and the congregation will respond in one voice, “Amen,” with the sign of the Upraised Hand.


1   “Taiaha,” a weapon between a spear and a cutting-club.
2   The relics of the Rev. Volkner's martyrdom are preserved in St. Stephen Church at Opotiki. The missionary's grave is in the chancel, and the blood-stained pulpit and chalice are still on view.
3   e was re-elected for two years in 1940.