The Pai Mārire movement was a syncretic Māori religion or cult that flourished in the central North Island of New Zealand from about 1863 to 1874. Founded in Taranaki by the prophet Te Ua Haumene, it incorporated Biblical and Māori spiritual elements and promised its followers deliverance from Pākehā domination, providing a religious aspect to the issue of Māori independence, which had until then been a purely political movement. The embracing of the religion by some Māori also signalled a rejection of Christianity and a distrust of missionaries over their involvement in land purchases. The religion gained widespread support among North Island Māori and became closely associated with the King Movement, but also became the cause of deep concern among European settlers due to the random violence of the followers on isolated settler communities.The founder Te Ua called the followers of the religious cult Hau Hau.
Although founded with peaceful motives (its name means Good and Peaceful), Pai Mārire became better known for an extremist form of the religion popularly known as Hauhau, though there is evidence the most violent activities, committed in 1864 and 1865, were led by subordinate prophets acting against the wishes of Te Ua and the basic precepts of the religion. The rise and spread of the violent expression of Pai Mārire, as Hau Hauism ,was largely a response to the New Zealand Government's military operations against North Island Māori, which were aimed at exerting European sovereignty . Hau hauism became well known for its revival of ancient rites including incantations, a sacred pole and belief in supernatural protection from bullets. Its rites also included beheadings, the removal of the hearts of enemy soldiers and cannibalism. Hau Hauism spread rapidly through the North Island from 1864, welding tribes in a bond of passionate hatred against the Pākehā and helping to inspire fierce military resistance to colonial forces, particularly during the Second Taranaki War (1863–1866).
Governor Sir George Grey launched a campaign of suppression against the violence of the Hau Hau cult in April 1865, culminating in the raiding of dozens of villages in Taranaki and on the East Coast and the arrest of more than 400 adherents, most of whom where incarcerated on the Chatham Islands. Most elements of the religion were incorporated in the Ringatu ("Raised hand") religion which was formalised in the mid 1870s by Te Kooti, who escaped from the Chatham Islands after being incarcerated there by the government..Te Kooti who had initially fought against the Hau Hau on the East Coast but was arrested and sent to the Chathams when it was believed he had aided a rebel Hau Hau who was his brother. On the Chatham Islands, which was run as an open prison farm with few guards, Te Kooti emerged as a Hau Hau leader and orchestrated the attack on the 6 guards which resulted in 2 murders ,the hi jacking of a ship and the destruction of another.
New Zealand censuses have as recently as 1961 showed hundreds still listing Pai Mārire as their religion.
Te Ua Haumene was born in Taranaki, New Zealand, in the early 1820s. He and his mother were captured and enslaved by a rival tribe in 1826. He learned to read and write in Māori while in captivity and began studying the New Testament. He was baptised by the Rev John Whiteley in the Wesleyan mission at Kawhia in 1834 and given the name of Horopapera Tuwhakararo, a transliteration of the name John Zerubbabel. He later returned to Taranaki.
During the 1850s he became a supporter of the King Movement, which opposed further expansion of European sovereignty and the sale of land to European settlers, and in the 1860s fought against colonial forces in the First Taranaki War and Waikato War, in which he also acted as a chaplain to the Māori soldiers. By the early 1860s Te Ua was part of a runanga (local board of management), which administered local government and also ensured that the boundary of the land that was covered by the mana of the Māori King was undisturbed.
By then the cornerstones of Te Ua's religious teaching were set. He believed Māori had a right to defend the boundaries of their territory; believed in national salvation of the Māori from the white settlers; and suspected that missionaries were aiding and abetting the government by providing them with letter about Hau Hau activites.
The elevation of Te Ua to the role of prophet followed an incident in September 1862 in which the British steamer Lord Worsley was wrecked off the Taranaki coast and local Māori debated what action should be taken with the cargo and crew. Te Ua – then living at Wereroa Pă, near Waitotara – argued that goods salvaged from the vessel should be sent to New Plymouth untouched, but was ignored and the cargo was instead plundered. On 5 September, aggrieved over what had taken place, he claimed to have experienced a vision in which the Archangel Gabriel announced to him that the last days of the Bible were at hand and that God had chosen him as a prophet who would cast out the Pākehā and restore Israel (the Māori) to their birthright in the land of Canaan (Aotearoa/New Zealand). There are conflicting reports over Te Ua's response to the vision: he is claimed to have killed his child, explaining in a letter circulated to tribes that it was as a redemption for his people, "forgetful, desolate and in doubt"., while there are also claims he broke the child's leg and healed it miraculously. As reports about Te Ua began to circulate, he quickly gained a reputation for having other miraculous powers. The view among settlers was less sympathetic: Bishop William Williams claimed Te Ua showed strong signs of insanity and colonial soldier and historian T.W. Gudgeon claimed he had been thus far regarded as a "harmless lunatic" of "weak intellect, but yet of peaceful disposition".
Te Ua began to formulate his new religion, complete with a holy book, Ua Rongo Pai (the Gospel according to Ua) which combined elements of Old Testament morality, Christian doctrine and traditional Māori religion. Its goal was to create a peaceful society in which righteousness and justice prevailed by killing Europeans and driving them from New Zealand. Initially the Hau Hau were successful in their violent uprising because they took the settlers by surprise. They believed they were a second Chosen People and that, with divine aid, they would regain control of their hereditary land when the Creator, Jehovah, fought for them and drove the English into the sea. To help him propagate the religion, Te Ua chose three men – Tahutaki, Hepenaia and Wi Parara.
Among white settlers, the existence of the violent,xenophobic religion was brought into dramatic focus with a series of attacks in April and May 1864. On 6 April, a force led by Tahutaki and Hepenaia mounted an expedition to Ahuahu village, set amid dense bush south of Oakura, near New Plymouth, believing some Pākehā would be delivered into their hands. The group surprised a combined force of 57th Regiment and the newly formed Taranaki Military Settlers, a total of 101 men, as they rested without their weapons . The Hau hau rebels killed seven and wounded 12 soldiers. The bodies of the seven dead, including their commander, Captain P.W.J. Lloyd, were stripped naked and decapitated. The leg of one of the soldiers was also removed.
The easy victory by the Hau hau rebels over the numerically stronger British-led force gave a powerful impetus to the Hau Hau movement and confirmed in the minds of many Māori the protection of the Archangel Gabriel, of whom Te Ua was now regarded as a prophet. The number of adherents swelled and Hau hau rites continued to develop, some incorporating the decapitated heads of the slain soldiers, through which Te Ua claimed to communicate with Jehovah.
Three weeks later, on 30 April 1864, 200 warriors demonstrated their faith in divine protection when they marched on the Sentry Hill redoubt, 9 km north-west of New Plymouth. The redoubt, on the crown of a hill, was defended by 75 imperial soldiers and two Coehorn mortars. Atiawa Māori viewed the construction of the outpost on their land as a challenge and formed a war party of the best fighting men from west coast iwi. When they came under fire at close range, they shielded themselves from the fusillade only by holding their right hands up and chanting. As many as a fifth of the Māori force were killed in the assault.
In a 1920 interview with historian James Cowan, Te Kahu-Pukoro, a fighter who took part in the attack, explained: "The Pai-marire religion was then new, and we were all completely under its influence and firmly believed in the teaching of Te Ua and his apostles. Hepanaia Kapewhiti was at the head of the war-party. He was our prophet. He taught us the Pai-marire karakia (chant), and told us that if we repeated it as we went into battle the pakeha bullets would not strike us. This we all believed."
Led by Hepanaia, the warriors participated in sacred ceremonies around a pole at the Manutahi pā, with all the principal Taranaki chiefs present: Wiremu Kingi and Kingi Parengarenga, as well as Te Whiti and Tohu Kakahi, both of whom would later become prophets at Parihaka. The force, armed with muskets, shotguns, tomahawks and spears, marched to Sentry Hill and at 8am launched their attack, ascending the slope that led to the redoubt. Te Kahu-Pukoro recalled:
|“||We did not stoop or crawl as we advanced upon the redoubt; we marched on upright (haere tu tonu), and as we neared the fort we chanted steadily our Pai-marire hymn.
The soldiers who were all hidden behind their high parapet, did not open fire on us until we were within close range. Then the bullets came thickly among us, and close as the fingers on my hand. The soldiers had their rifles pointed through the loopholes in the parapet and between the spaces on top (between bags filled with sand and earth), and thus could deliver a terrible fire upon us with perfect safety to themselves. There were two tiers of rifles blazing at us. We continued our advance, shooting and shouting our war-cries. Now we cried out the ‘Hapa’ (‘Pass over’) incantation which Hepanaia had taught us, to cause the bullets to fly harmlessly over us: ‘Hapa, hapa, hapa! Hau, hau, hau! Pai-marire, rire, rire — hau!’ As we did so we held our right hands uplifted, palms frontward, on a level with our heads — the sign of the ringa-tu. This, we believed, would ward off the enemy's bullets; it was the faith with which we all had been inspired by Te Ua and his apostles.
The bullets came ripping through our ranks. ‘Hapa, hapa!’ our men shouted after delivering a shot, but down they fell. ‘Hapa!’ a warrior would cry, with his right hand raised to avert the enemy's bullets, and with a gasp — like that — he would fall dead. The tuakana (elder brother) in a family would fall with ‘Hapa!’ on his lips, then the teina (younger brother) would fall; then the old father would fall dead beside them.
About 34 Māori and one imperial soldier were killed. Among those shot dead, at almost point-blank range, were chiefs Hepanaia, Kingi Parengarenga (Taranaki), Tupara Keina (Ngatiawa), Tamati Hone (Ngati Ruanui) and Hare Te Kokai, who had advocated the frontal attack on the redoubt. According to Cowan, the slaughter temporarily weakened the new confidence in Pai-marire, but Te Ua had a satisfying explanation: that those who fell were to blame because they did not repose absolute faith in the karakia, or incantation.
Two weeks later, on 14 May, a Pai Mārire war party from the upper Whanganui River advanced on the settlement of Wanganui, intent on raiding it. In what became known as the Battle of Moutoa, Lower Wanganui kupapa (Māori loyal to the Queen) routed the war party, killing 50 of them including the prophet Matene Rangitauira.
The reverses at Sentry Hill and Moutoa Island reinforced Māori belief in Te Ua's movement, with the conviction that the defeats had been caused by disobedience to the leader by the prophets Hepanaia and Matene. More iwi attached themselves to Te Ua. In early 1865 emissaries carrying the smoke-dried decapitated heads were sent from Taranaki to chief Hirini Te Kani at Poverty Bay via Wanganui and Taupo in two parties – one via Rotorua, Whakatane, Opotiki, and East Cape, and the other through the centre of the island via Ruatahuna and Wairoa. The emissaries were instructed to proceed peaceably and obtain the support of tribes they passed, delegating their spiritual powers to leading converts in each tribe, who each took up the duties of Pai Mārire priest. But on 23 February the group clashed at Pipiriki near Wanganui with Māori loyal to the New Zealand government and determined from then to murder missionaries they encountered.
Among European settlers unease grew at the spreading influence of Pai Mārire. In a latter to the Native Minister, the Resident Magistrate for Central Wanganui warned: "The Hauhau fanaticism is spreading very rapidly in the Province, and I fear will be the cause of great mischief. It is now the mainstay of the King movement."
The warning came too late to save the life of one North Island missionary. At Taupo the Pai Mārire recruiting party ransacked the house of the Rev. T.S. Grace and at Opotiki on 2 March shot, hanged and decapitated the German-born Rev. C.S. Volkner. His head was taken to the local church, where his eyes were removed and eaten by the prophet Kereopa. The killing was claimed to be in part revenge for Volkner's activities in spying on local Māori for the government, but may also have been motivated by Kereopa's wish to bring government retaliation on local Te Whakatōhea Māori as a payback for an earlier intertribal battle with his Te Arawa iwi. Grace, who had fled from Taupo to Opotiki, was arrested and put on trial by the Pai Mārire party. He was rescued from captivity two weeks later by a British man-of-war, HMS Eclipse, after an attempt by local Pai Mārire leaders to exchange him for Tauranga chief Hori Tupaea, who was in prison.
On 22 July Taranaki prophet Horomona led the murder of the master and two of the three crew members of the schooner Kate at Whakatane.
On 29 April 1865 Governor George Grey issued a proclamation condemning the "revolting acts ... repugnant to all humanity" carried out by Pai Mārire followers and warned the government would "resist and suppress by force of arms if necessary, and by every means in my power, fanatical doctrines, rites, and practices of the aforesaid character". Horomona and Kirimangu were hanged for their 22 July killings on the schooner Kate and a coalition of government and loyal Māori forces led by Hawke's Bay Province Superintendent Donald McLean embarked on a mission to crush the religion on the East Coast. From June to October 1865 there was a virtual civil war on the East Coast culminating in the battle of Waerenga-a-Hika in Poverty Bay in November. Hundreds of followers were arrested in the campaign, while in Taranaki a separate campaign led by the increasingly reluctant British commander, General Duncan Cameron, raided dozens of villages to arrest hundreds more adherents.
In February 1866 Te Ua was captured near Opunake in Taranaki by Cameron's replacement, Major-General Trevor Chute. Chute claimed Te Ua was immediately abandoned by all those in his village, who swore an oath of allegiance to the Crown and were set free. He reported that kupapa (loyal) Māori urged his immediate execution. Te Ua was taken to Wanganui, writing en route to his North Island supporters, urging: "Let evil be brought to an end ... in order that the General may cease operations against you." Te Ua and Patara were freed in Auckland and most other leaders were pardoned, but Grey transported 400 East Coast followers, including Te Kooti, to the Chatham Islands for incarceration. Elements of Pai Mārire were later incorporated into the Ringatu religion founded by Te Kooti.
Te Ua died at Oeo in Taranaki in October 1866.
Te Ua's followers identified themselves with the Jews, calling their ministers Teu (Jews) and accepted the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath. They believed they were a second Chosen People and that, with divine aid, they would return from the wilderness to freedom in their hereditary land. Te Ua taught that the Creator, Jehovah, would fight for them and drive the English into the sea. When the last of the enemy had perished, every Māori who had died since the beginning of the world would be resurrected and stand in the presence of Zerubbabel, healed of all of diseases and infirmities. Men would be sent from heaven to teach Māori all the arts and sciences known by Europeans. Their first great day of deliverance would be in December 1864. He urged men and women to abandon monogamy and live together communally to produce as many children as possible.
Services were held at a niu, a tall pole, often about 18m high, with yard-arms from which hung ropes. The first of these niu was the mast of the Lord Worsley. Members of the congregation circled the niu several times a day, chanting and touching a decapitated head mounted on a pole while priests conducted prayer services. Historian Babbage wrote: "The worshippers worked themselves into a state bordering on frenzy during the procedure of the ritual, until catalepsy frequently prostrated them." The chants as devotees circled the niu were described as "a jumble of Christian and ancient concepts, of soldier and sailor terms, of English and Māori language with the barking watchword of the cult interspersed". The "angels of the wind" were said to be present during the service, ascending and descending the ropes dangling from the mast's yard-arm. By the end of 1865 a niu stood in almost every large village from Taranaki to the Bay of Plenty and from the north of the Wellington district to the Waikato frontier.
Historian James Cowan described many of the chants as "simply meaningless strings of English words rounded into the softer Māori; others were either transliterations or mispronunciations of parts of the Church of England services, with a sprinkling of Latin from the Roman Catholic ritual. Some phrases were military orders, picked up at the soldiers' camps. Some others showed a nautical origin; Te Ua boxed the compass like any pakeha sailor."
The chant began:
Te Ua taught that the divine service and strict adherence to his instruction would make them impervious to bullets if, when under fire, they would raise their right hand and cry, "Hapa! Hapa! Pai Mārire, hau! Hau! Hau!" "Hapa" meant to pass over, or ward off, while the exclamation "Hau!" at the end of the choruses – said by one soldier to uttered in a way that sounded like the bark of a dog – had a literal meaning of "wind" but referred to the life principle or vital spark of man, while the wind angels were named "Anahera hau".
Here you can share your comments or contribute with more information, content, resources or links about this topic.