The sanitised new history says that from the mid-1860s some Hineuru converted to Pai Mārire and Panapa, the Pai Marire leader amongst Hineuru, established a Pai Marire settlement.
The Hineuru settlement summary says:
In 1866 Panapa and the Hineuru rangatira Te Rangihīroa wrote to the Crown that they would come with a party to coastal Hawke’s Bay in response to a Crown invitation to meet. The Crown viewed this party as a threat to the region’s security. In October 1866, after the expiry of an ultimatum calling for their surrender, Crown forces attacked a group of people, including Hineuru, camped at Ōmarunui. On the same day Crown forces also intercepted and surrounded, and then subsequently attacked, another group led by Te Rangihīroa near Pētane. About 35 Māori, including Te Rangihīroa and other Hineuru people, were killed in the two attacks. Crown forces subsequently pursued Hineuru and other Māori, who escaped the attacks, into the Hineuru rohe and plundered the kāinga at Waiparati as well as the surrounding area. By the end of 1866 Hineuru had abandoned nearly all of their kāinga and cultivations due to conflict with the Crown. (1)However, James Cowan, in The New Zealand Wars: The History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering period, published in 1921, wrote:
THE DISTRICT OF Hawke's Bay south of the Wairoa was not seriously troubled by the Hauhau propaganda until late in 1866. Shortly after the Volkner tragedy at Opotiki in 1865 and the arrival of the Pai-marire prophets in the Poverty Bay and East Cape settlements, Mr. Donald McLean (afterwards Sir Donald) and his colleague Mr. J. D. Ormond took measures to influence the Hawke's Bay native chiefs against the spread of Pai-marire in their territory.The sanitised history gives the impression that the wicked 1860s government attacked a harmless group of people who had asked for a meeting, killed many, jailed many more without trial, and took all their land.
The principal rangatiras of Ngati-Kahungunu—the old warriors Tareha, Te Moananui, and Renata Kawepo, supported by Karauria, Karaitiana Takamoana, and others—agreed to do their utmost to stay the spread of Hauhau unrest, which they admitted had permeated some sections of their people. The subjugation of the rebellious faction among Ngati-Porou and the defeat of the Poverty Bay Hauhaus at Waerenga-a-Hika produced a good effect among the small doubtful sections of Ngati-Kahungunu, and in fact the only menace to European settlement on the plains of Hawke's Bay did not come from that tribe, but from an outpost of Hauhauism in the interior, on the mountain-track to the Taupo country.
At the beginning of October 1866, the Ngati-Hineuru Tribe, a small but war-loving clan whose principal villages were Te Haroto and Tarawera—on the present Napier-Taupo Main Road— page 138 set out for the East Coast with the intention of delivering an attack on the Town of Napier. This bold scheme was due chiefly to the fiery counsels of the old warrior Te Rangihiroa, the hereditary head of the clan, and the Pai-marire preachings of a prophet named Panapa; and it had obtained the approval of Rewi Maniapoto and other Kingite leaders, to whom emissaries had been sent from Te Haroto. Panapa had sent spies down to the coast to gain what information they could regarding the likelihood of success in a raid on Napier Town. These men went through the town in the guise of peaceful visitors, ascertained where the barracks were, where the arms and ammunition were kept, and returned to Panapa and Te Rangihiroa with the information. A few days later the Ngati-Hineuru war-party, numbering about eighty men, marched over the range at Titiokura and descended to Pohue and the plains. The “Tekau-ma-rua” (“The Twelve”), as the Hauhau war-band was called, irrespective of its numerical strength, included some wild spirits from other tribes, as far away as the King Country. Besides Te Rangihiroa and Panapa, there were four chiefs of Ngati-Hineuru named Kipa and Kingita (who were Rangihiroa's half-brothers), Nikora, and Petera Kahuroa; with them came a powerful and savage fellow from the eastern shore of Lake Taupo, a big black-bearded man named Te Rangitahau, of whom a good deal will be heard hereafter; he was the principal man of Waipahihi and Waitahanui, and was of the Ngati-Tuwharetoa Tribe. From the Ngati-Maniapoto country there was a young warrior named Peita Kotuku, who had fought in Taranaki in 1860 and was one of the gallant three hundred who held Orakau pa in 1864.
At Te Pohue the force appears to have been joined by recruits from other parts, including some from the Wairoa district, for before a move was made on Napier the total strength was about one hundred and thirty. The column was divided, Panapa going on to Omarunui, on the Tutaekuri River, six miles from Napier Town, with the greater portion of the force, while Te Rangihiroa remained with about twenty-five mounted men. The plan of attack was that Te Rangihiroa was to make a night attack on the town by way of Petane (Bethany), the settlement near the sea on the north side, while Panapa, Nikora, and Te Rangitahau were to deal simultaneously with the out-settlements of pakeha and Maori and then join in the sack of Napier. It was expected that at the same time Wi Hapi and Hauhau sections of Ngati-Kahungunu would march on Porangahau and other settlements in the south of the province. In the event of a successful attack on Napier the Hauhaus in other districts were to rise and descend on the pakeha and the friendly Maoris; the Urewera were expected to page 139 make forays to the plains, and the Waikato Kingites were to renew the war on their frontier. A disaster at Napier, therefore, would have involved many other parts of the country in razzias and bloodshed. (2)
Cowan’s more detailed account shows the other story that the current government and claimants don’t want to talk about. The Hauhaus that Cowan referred to are Pai Mariri.
The Volkner tragedy at Opotiki that Cowan refers to took place on March 1, 1864, when Pai Mariri fanatics hanged missionary Carl Volkner, cut off his head, ate his eyes, drank his blood, and used his head in religious rites and as a means of recruiting followers.
Kingites were those who followed the Waikato-Tainui-Maniapoto Maori king who wanted to drive followers of the British Queen into the sea.
Cowan’s account includes an interview with Peita Kotuku who was one of those captured at Omarunui. His matter-of-fact account of the battle contrasts with the tales of victimhood by his descendants angling for a substantial payout, which they got.
One such victimhood lament came from Labour MP Louisa Wall, who told Parliament that many captives including Hineuru were stripped naked, lined up on the edge of a cliff, and executed. This event in which 120 prisoners were murdered took place at Ngatapa pa near Gisborne on January 4, 1869, nearly three years after the battle at Omarunui.
Hineuru captured after fighting at Omarunui and Petane in 1866 were shipped to the Chatham Islands. On July 4, 1868, they, escaped led by another fanatic cult leader named Te Kooti, with 163 men, 64 women, and 71 children.
Te Kooti’s followers, including Hineuru, murdered 70 people (including 20 Maori) at Matawhero near Gisborne, on November 8, 1868. They murdered a further 56 Ngati Pahauwera and seven settlers at Mohaka, north of Napier on the Gisborne road, on April 10, 1869.
To be quite clear, the so-called good and peaceful Hineuru, who were probably not so good and peaceful in Hawke’s Bay in 1866, were not so good and peaceful when they escaped from the Chatham Islands and followed Te Kooti on his murderous campaigns.
Another aspect of the 1860s armed conflict in New Zealand was that inter-tribal conflict became part of the conflict between disaffected tribes and the government. The execution of unarmed prisoners at Ngatapa was as much to do with old grievances as with the current battle.
A key Maori leader on the government side against Te Kooti was Ngati Porou leader Rapata Wahawaha. He had grown up as a slave to the Rongowhakaata tribe, many of whom became Pai Marire, and many of whom fought for Te Kooti.
Rongowhakaata fighters were terrified of Rapata because they knew he was out for revenge. At Ngatapa, Rapata exacted his revenge. His biography stresses that he only executed “male prisoners taken in arms”.
Militia leaders did not sanction the executions and the leader of colonial troops, Colonel George Whitmore, would have been hard pressed to prevent it because nearly all his soldiers at Ngatapa were Maori. Whitmore did try to prevent the killing of the women and children.
Undoubtedly, MP Louisa Wall and Ngati Hineuru claimants sincerely believe their version of history. Unfortunately, when current oral versions of history are allowed to replace accounts written about 100 years closer to the event we end up with distortions that are being passed into law.
1.Summary of the historical claims by Ngati Hineuru. https://www.govt.nz/treaty-settlement-documents/ngati-hineuru/hineuru-settlement-summary/background/
2. James Cowan, The New Zealand Wars: The History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering period, http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Cow02NewZ-c14.html
3. Wahawaha, Rapata Te Ara Encyclopaedia of New Zealand.http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1w1/wahawaha-rapata