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The rise of Paimarire and the military response

Ka tae mai a Tamarura, Ka puta te atua ki Taranaki

Te Ua Haumēne founded Paimarire during the crisis generated by the grounding of the mail steamer Lord Worsley (Rōri Wētere) at Te Namu Bay in Opunake in 1862. This event is described by Taranaki as the appearance of Tamarura in a vision to Te Ua where he became pōrewarewa (mesmerized). The vision appeared as Kapariera (Archangel Gabriel) who in essence, instructed him to ‘Rise up’, reject the warlike practices and to cast off the yoke of Pākeha domination, to restore the birth right of Israel (te iwi Māori) in the land of Canaan (Kēnana or Aotearoa).

The tension and renewed conflict in 1863 became a key point in the rise of Te Ua’s Paimarire faith. Taranaki Iwi had assembled at Kaitake pā on the ridge above Oākura and other smaller pā along the base of the Kaitake ranges. Te Ua spent days challenging the people to liberate themselves of their faith in Pākeha doctrines (in particular pākeha missionaries) and turn to ‘te atua paimarire’ (god of peace and goodwill), who would protect them from ill harm and liberate them from degradation and conflict. Despite the scepticism of many of his Taranaki iwi relations it was not until the southern Taranaki Iwi hapū had joined them that a niu (mast head) was erected, the ‘hau’ ceremonies conducted and a resolution to adopt the new faith confirmed. Te Ua then appointed his apostles and his flag ‘Riri’was hoisted.

Te Ua had now provided a theological aspect to the issue of Taranaki iwi’s independence, which was largely political at the time. The embracing of the religion signalled a rejection and distrust of Pākeha missionaries over their involvement in land purchase issues and against a backdrop of proposed confiscation and war, gained support from other Taranaki iwi which spread further afield as emissaries from Taranaki moved across the land as far as the East Coast.

The show of military might was brought to bear on many Taranaki Iwi under Te Ua and in 1865 the troops, under Colonel Warre and Assistant Native Secretary Robert Parris landed on Opunake beach. With the impacts from the loss of life after the famed attack on Te Morere (Sentry Hill) almost a year prior, (and the bulk of Paimarire followers engaged in conflict in south Taranaki), Warre and Parris erected the Opunake redoubt on the hilltop above the beach. They then ‘negotiated’ with Taranaki Kaumātua rangatira Wiremu Kīngi Matakatea and Arama Karaka Te Raeuaua and sought to bring them under the Governor’s influence with promises of protection and land. By this time Te Ua Haumēne had also proclaimed that fighting should cease (‘kia tukua te haeata, kia rere kia mau te rongo, kia whakamutua te whawhai’ amongst the people and became the basis of Te Raeuaua and Matakatea’s decision to surrender. However, they were under no illusions of what to expect in terms of the soldiers behaviour and to whom sweetness would result, this was captured in the following speech made by Te Raeuaua as he spoke with Parris:

‘tūwhera kau atu ngā kūhā o te wahine
he kokomo kau tā te tāne i te ure ki roto ki te puta
te mutunga iho, he reka.’

‘the thighs of the (our) women are open
entry now by (your) the mens’ penises into the vagina’s
will result in sweetness.’

Despite the Opunake people’s surrender, further military campaigns were mounted to suppress any remaining Taranaki Paimarire resistance and Crown forces burned villages and stormed pā with bayonets along the south Taranaki Coast and into Taranaki Iwi lands. Days later, upon reaching Opunake, Te Ua, alongside Arama Karaka, Hone Pihama and 34 other men were marched at bayonet point into camp and compelled to swear an oath of allegiance for the second time. Matakatea’s village was also sacked and his house Nuku-te-apiapi burnt, despite his oath for peace sometime earlier. While Arama Karaka, Hone Pihama and the others were freed, Te Ua was held prisoner. He was paraded around various settlements in the country to demonstrate the failure of Hauhau resistance. He was also held under house arrest with Grey at his Kawau Island home.