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Showing posts from January, 2013

A Stain Upon History: The Ngatapa Massacre, January 1869

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Imagine this: somewhere between 86 and 128 people, captured or surrendered at the end of a siege, are stripped naked, lined up against the side of a cliff, and summarily executed without trial by government forces. Couldn’t happen here, many people would probably say. But it did, and the story behind the worst massacre in New Zealand history deserves to be more widely known.

In July 1868 Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki and nearly 300 other mostly East Coast Maori escaped from the Chatham Islands (Wharekauri) and made their way back to the mainland. This group, known as the Whakarau, had been held at Wharekauri since 1866. None of their number had been tried, and the government admitted that they were being held as ‘political offenders’ while arrangements were made to confiscate their lands back home. Judith Binney suggested that Te Kooti had been included among those illegally imprisoned at Wharekauri because he was regarded as a threat by rival traders back in Gisborne (Turanga).

Te Ko…