Taranaki

Here are some basic facts about Taranaki history

1. Taranaki was virtually deserted after 1830, when a large force of Taranaki fighters left the area, and after subsequent raids by Waikato fighters that meant hundreds of Taranaki people were killed and eaten, and hundreds more were driven into the Waikato as slaves.

2. Te Atiawa chief Wiremu Kingi sold Taranaki to the New Zealand Land Company in 1839.

3. In January 1841, New Zealand Company surveyors laid out New Plymouth town over 550 acres (222ha), and farms were to be laid out in over 68,500 acres (27,720ha) from New Plymouth to beyond Waitara.

4. Maori exiles began to return. In July 1842, a party drove off settlers who had taken up land north of the Waitara River. In 1843, there was a further confrontation when a hundred men, women, and children sat in the surveyors’ path.

5. In June 1844, lawyer William Spain investigated the New Zealand Company’s New Plymouth purchase, and awarded 60,500 acres (24,483ha) to the company and their settlers.

6. There was an immediate Maori protest, and a group was formed to drive out the settlers.

7. New Governor Robert FitzRoy rejected Spain’s recommendation and allotted to settlers a small block of 3500 acres (1416ha) around the township of New Plymouth and told them to leave their farms in the outlying areas.

8. The New Zealand Company complained in London, and colonial secretary Lord Stanley disapproved. FitzRoy was recalled.

9. His replacement, George Grey, was instructed to buy back for settlers the area that Spain had proposed. Missionary Samuel Ironside said that from that time New Plymouth was virtually under Maori control, and noted that “the natives had found out that by assuming a threatening attitude they could obtain any exorbitant demands”.

10. United Maori opposition to land sales appeared at a large meeting of 2000 at Manawapou near Hawera in May 1854. The “land leaguers” as they were called were willing to kill to prevent land sales. Wiremu Kingi, who had sold the whole district to the New Zealand Company 15 years earlier, was by that time chief of the land league.

11. One chief who wished to sell a block of his land was Maori magistrate Rawiri Waiaka, of the Puketapu hapu of Te Atiawa. As Rawiri, his brother Paora, and three other family members, were marking the boundaries of the block on August 3, 1854, a group of fellow Puketapu men acting for land league activist named Katatore, murdered them.

12. A feud with murders and counter murders between those who wanted to sell and those who didn’t continued until 1860.

13. Anarchy continued until March 1859, when Governor Thomas Gore Browne called a large meeting to end the fighting.

14. Waitara chief Te Teira Manuka asked Gore Browne if he would buy his land. The governor said he would so long as Teira could prove his title. Wiremu Kingi verbally objected.

15. Two commissioners spent 10 months investigating ownership of Te Teira Manuka’s 980-acre (396ha) block of land known as Pekapeka at Waitara. The government’s chief land purchase officer accepted the offer. A £100 deposit was paid.

16. The government tried to survey some of the land in February 1860 and found the block occupied by protestors, and this was considered an act of rebellion. Martial law was declared, troops occupied part of the block and attacked Wiremu Kingi’s fortified pa there on March 17, 1860.

17. Fighting between government troops, which included settler fighters and pro-government Maori, caused economic hardship, with migration all but coming to a stop and the destruction of three-quarters of farmhouses and settlements nearer the town.

18. According to historian James Cowan, 196 anti-government Maori died while 64 British, colonists, and pro-government Maori died in the Taranaki fighting.Wiremu Kingi retreated to Waikato and did not submit until 1872.

19. During 1865, a total of 485,469ha of Taranaki land were confiscated under the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863. This aimed to settle trained soldiers upon confiscated land so as to bring peace to disaffected areas.

20. Amid the chaos of sporadic fighting and the seizure of land arose a cult known as Pai Marire that blended Christianity and Maori spirituality that promised deliverance that was mostly interpreted as deliverance of land. But some high-profile beheadings by these "good and peaceful" Pai Marire, and the use of these heads in religious rites, meant this new religion very quickly became synonymous with violence. Settlers called them “hauhaus” because of the Pai Marire battle chant.

21. Te Whiti followed Pai Marire and fought in the Hauhau attack on Sentry Hill in northern Taranaki in 1864. Pai Marire founder Te Ua Haumene consecrated Te Whiti and Tohu Kakahi in 1865 to carry on his religious work.

22. Te Whiti and Tohu founded Parihaka village in 1867.

The basic history set out above shows why settlers living in Taranaki during the 1860s had a very different view of Te Whiti and what was going on at Parihaka.

We must also consider:

1. The 1944 Taranaki Maori Claims Settlement Act, under which the Taranaki Maori Trust Board had received a ₤5000 annuity plus a £300 lump sum payment for loss of property at Parihaka in 1881.

2. That Te Atiawa will receive a total package of $91-million, signed up last year, which includes a $1-million cultural fund and an accrued interest payment of $3-million.

3. That Ngati Ruanui will receive $67.5-million in a deal signed last year.

Te Whiti and Tohu were Te Atiawa and Titokowaru was Nga Ruahine.

By Mike Butler