Whakatōhea Raupatu – Our Past
Te Tiriti o Waitangi
- Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed at Ōpōtiki on 26 & 27 May 1840
- There were seven Whakatōhea signatories:
- Āporotanga – Ngāti Rua
- Rangimātānuku – Ngāti Rua
- Rangihaerepō – Te Upokorehe, Ngai Tamahaua
- Tauātoro – Ngai Tamahaua, Ngāti Ngahere
- Takahi – Te Upokorehe
- Ake – Te Upokorehe
- Whākia – Whakatōhea
- The first 20 years after the signing of Te Tiriti was a time of prosperity and rapid social change. Ōpōtiki became the heartland, the capital of Whakatōhea.
- Extensive crops of wheat, corn, potatoes and kūmara were cultivated on the flood plain of the Otara and Waioweka Rivers.
- In 1846 the first shipyard was established in Ōpōtiki to build ships, and by 1853 there were six shipyards operating in the township.
- By 1857 Whakatōhea rangatira owned 19 trading vessels.
- Hira Te Popo of Ngāti Ira was a successful entrepreneur and built a flour mill to grind his own wheat. The mill was some distance from the water-front, so he built a road and bridges for carts to transport the flour to his ship.
- In the early to mid 1800’s Whakatōhea had welcomed the Ringatū faith, Christianity, particularly with the arrival of the Catholic and Anglican missions.
- In August 1861, Reverend Carl Sylvius Volkner took up the post of Anglican priest in Ōpōtiki. The Hiona Church was completed in 1864 and named Hiona.
- Kereopa Te Rau and Patara Rakatauri arrived in 1865 of the Pai Mārire faith. The message to Whakatōhea was that the Pai Mārire was a force not to be trifled with and they arrived to convert to this new religion.
Kereopa Te Rau
- Kereopa was from Ngāti Rangiwewehi of Te Arawa.
- Kereopa’s main objective was vengeance for his wife and two daughters who were killed the previous year when the British troops attacked Rangiaowhia and burnt the church where they were at worship.
- Kereopa railed against missionaries and urged Whakatōhea to expel Pakeha settlers living there. By now, he was focusing on Volkner.
- Volkner returned to Ōpōtiki. on 1 March 1865 on board the Eclipse. His Whakatōhea supporters tried to warn Volkner and Thomas Grace not to land. Volkner had faith in his supporters and landed anyway. Volkner and Grace were taken prisoner in a house on shore overnight. Kereopa decided to execute Volkner the following day. Tiwai, his sister Kateruri and Ranapia continued to plead for Volkners life.
Execution of Volkner
- Rev. Carl Volkner was executed on 2 March 1865, at a willow tree a short distance from his church.
- Following Volkner’s death his body was subjected to further disrespect within his own church by Kereopa. He exhorted his followers to drink Volkner’s blood.
- By the time Patara returned from Tōrere on 4 March, Kereopa was gone, taking Volkner’s preserved head with him.
Invasion of Ōpōtiki
- A government expedition of 516 officers arrived in Ōpōtiki on 8 September 1865. The cost of the expedition would be underwritten by confiscating Whakatōhea land for on-sale to military settlers. The Defense Minister instructed the commanders to apprehend the murderers.
- Governor Grey issued contradictory instructions to the commanders. The expedition would be conducted under martial law.
- While the British ships were anchored at the entrance to the Ōpōtiki Harbour Tio Kahika approached them chanting and discarding his garments. He was shot and his body was used for target practice by the troops. Kahika was unarmed and was the first Whakatōhea casualty. Sailors on the Huntress spent the day bombarding Pakowhai (Ōpōtiki) with their six pound cannon. Gunners used the church steeple to zero in on the village.
- Whakatōhea fled Pakowhai after the bombardment.
Pillage of Pakowhai (Ōpōtiki)
- Major Brassey commandeered Volkner’s church and converted it into a redoubt, a storehouse for munitions and a haven at night for local settlers. The tower was used to house prisoners. Troops took everything – food, livestock, implements and valuables. They feasted on Whakatōhea beef, pork and poultry.
- The scorched earth policy of destroying crops and villages thought to be occupied by Hauhau was designed to weaken resistance.
- Ngāti Ira remained in the Waioweka Valley close to Pakowhai. On 5 October 1865 Te Tarata Pa was attacked by the British Cavalry. Ngāti Ira Hapū lost 35 dead and forty wounded. The dead were thrown into the trenches of Te Tarata and covered over. Ngāti Ira abandoned Te Puia the next day and retreated upriver in the Waioweka Gorge.
- The military operation in Ōpōtiki killed 58 people of which 44 belonged to Ngati Ira. Most of the hapū fled inland to refuges in the mountainous areas of Toatoa and Whitikau.
- Whakatōhea commemorated the siege of Te Tarata 150 years later on 4 Oct 2016. Ministers of Parliament including Minister Finlayson and other dignatories converged in Ōpōtiki and were met by over 400 warriors from Tauranga, Waikato/Tainui, Raukawa, Tūwharetoa and Tūhoe.
- In October 1865, 200 Ngāti Rua came out of Whitikau and surrendered. Mokomoko and section of Ngāti Patu also surrendered. Following this Mokomoko was charged with taking part in the execution of Volkner.
- In June 1870 Hira Te Popo and Ngati Ira Hapū surrendered in Ōpōtiki.
- In 1866 143,870 acres of land was confiscated from Whakatōhea, from a total of 491,000 acres. The bulk of what remained was mountainous hinterland.
- Whakatōhea lost everything between the Ohiwa Harbour and the Waiaua River, including their homes, villages, treasured possessions, animals, the rich alluvial soils of Ōpōtiki for agriculture and animal pasture, the mahinga kai resources for eels, shellfish, mullet, flounder, kahawai, kingfish and sharks at Ohiwa, Waiotahe, Waioweka, Otara and Tirohanga.
- The confiscated land was given to Military settlers.
Opape Native Reserve
- In 1866 Judge John Wilson made an out of court decision to remove Whakatōhea from Ōpōtiki to the Opape Native Reserve, an allocation of 20,789 acres extending along the coastline from Waiaua River to Opape, and then inland. This was traditionally Ngāti Rua Hapū land.
- Although the land belonged to Ngāti Rua, the other hapū fitted in where they could on the undivided reserve. With insufficient arable land at Opape, hapū quarrelled over cultivations.