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The Story Of Gate Pa, April 29th, 1864

The Fate of the Maori Chaplains

The Fate of the Maori Chaplains

One of the most remarkable incidents of the siege was the killing of both our tohunga. We had two men of prayer in our camp. One who was a Christian minister named Ihaka (Isaac), who fortified us with the rites of the pakeha religion. The other was a heathen priest, one Te Wano, who performed the war rites of our forefathers and recited the olden time karakias (invocations) for victory in the fight. So we were making things right with both sides— the Christian God and the Atuas of the Maori. It was all tino tika (very correct). The cannonade that morning began just as we were about to eat our meal of potatoes. Our Christian tohunga Ihaka, clad in a white surplice, was standing up in a very conspicuous position invoking a blessing. Just as he uttered the words:—”May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and love of—” a shell from one of the big guns struck him in the waist, and bursting, scattered his page 26 body all over the place. Aue (alas), what a sight. Panepane, one of our old men, a tatooed veteran, had leaned his gun against the earthworks while he joined in the prayers. After the burst of the shell he went to pick up his gun and found some of the dead Minister's intestines were wrapped round and round the barrels, and a grim joke even at the cannon's mouth did the old warrior utter:— “He hinu ano kai roto i te purepo a te pakeha,” (“See, the white man even load and fire delicacies at us through their big guns.”)

A few hours later our other tohunga was killed in a precisely similar manner. Te Wano was standing up in an elevated position exhorting us and reciting olden incantations when a cannon shot took him short and he parted from us.