NEW ZEALAND Scene of the murder of the Rev Mr Volkner at Opotiki print 1865
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Home > Prints and Maps by Country > Australasia > New Zealand

NEW ZEALAND: Scene of the murder of the Rev. Mr Volkner, at Opotiki, print, 1865

Price: £7.99

CAPTION BELOW PICTURE: 'Scene of the murder of the Rev. Mr Volkner, at Opotiki, New Zealand'

Völkner Incident
The Völkner Incident describes the murder of the missionary Carl Sylvius Völkner in New Zealand in 1865 and the consequent reaction of the Government of New Zealand in the midst of the New Zealand land wars.

The Battle of Te Ranga, June 21, 1864, was the last major conflict of the Tauranga Campaign and is also said to mark the effective end of the fighting involved with the Invasion of the Waikato. It left an uneasy peacenot so much a peace as an absence of conflict, one that lasted for several months. This period saw two significant changes in disposition of the warring parties.
The Imperial Troops were fighting their last campaign in New Zealand before being withdrawn to garrison duty and then complete withdrawn from New Zealand. At the same time the Colonial Militia were being reorganized and rearmed to take up the slack.
Meanwhile the Pai Marire movement (or Hau Hau) was gaining ground and converts among the East Coast Mori. The Pai Marire Movement began in 1862 as a combination of Christianity and traditional Mori beliefs. Originally peaceful, it had soon changed to become a violent and vicious anti-Pkeh creed.

Völkner's murder
Pai Marire evangelists arrived in the Opotiki area of the Bay of Plenty in February 1865. On March 2 the missionary, Carl Völkner, discovered that his Mori congregation had moved on from Christianity to Hau Hauism. Although warned to stay away from the town, on his next visit he was captured, put on trial and hung from a tree; after an hour or so he was decapitated. Then the Hau Hau prophet, Kereopa Te Rau re-entered the church and conducted a service with Völkner's head in the pulpit beside him. At a suitably dramatic moment he plucked out the missionary's eyeballs and swallowed them. The news of this brutal murder caused great alarm and anger among Pkeh.
Völkner's death at the hands of his congregation was caused by his willingness to act as an agent of the Governor, Sir George Grey. Seduced by Sir George's personal charm during a visit to Opotiki, Völkner began sending him reports of anti-Government activity, which are still extant in the archives (one is transcribed in Lyall's book, see Further reading below). Sir George commonly used such reports from Protestant missionaries to battle his two enemies: anti-Government Mori and the Parliament; in turn he supplied the Protestant missionaries with information on the movements of Catholic missionaries.
That said, the New Zealand government was in no position to do anything about itthe Imperial Troops under General Cameron were virtually on strike. There was active conflict in Taranaki (on the opposite side of the Island) which had to be resolved before anything could be started in the Opotiki region.

For several months nothing happenedthen came the capture of Wereroa Pathe relief of the siege of Pipiriki in August, 1865 that virtually ended that phase of the Second Taranaki War. This freed up the militia for action elsewhere.
In September, 1865, the forces then available to the New Zealand government, some 500 men, were transported by ship from Wanganui through Cook Strait, around the East Cape to Opotiki. The composition of this force was significant. There were four companies of militia, a troop of cavalry and a contingent of Ngti Hau (not to be confused with their enemy, the Hau Hau) warriors lead by Kepa te Rangihiwinui. These were the units that had already been campaigning together during the Taranaki War and had a history of successful cooperation and mutual respect.
The landing at Opotiki was accomplished with difficulty. One of the ships ran aground on a falling tide and came under fire from the shore. Eventually it had to be abandoned and the crew and militia waded ashore but it was another twenty-four hours before the other ships were able to land their men and supplies.
As soon as they were established and the snipers driven away the militia occupied the church where Völkner had been murdered. While some of the Pkeh soldiers worked at turning this into a fortress the others with Kepa and the Ngti Hau were turned loose on the countryside. There followed a season of pillage, rape and murder. Within two weeks they had stripped the countryside of all available food supplies, keeping what they needed and destroying the rest. Beyond a few muskets the local Mori lacked any weapons with which to defend themselves. It was made clear to them that these depredations would continue until the men responsible for the murder of Völkner were captured or surrendered. But the man they wanted most, Kereopa, had retreated to Tuhoe lands in the Urewera Mountains and had no intention of surrendering.
In the midst of all this, the commander of the militia, Major Brassey, was arrested for being drunk at his post and was replaced first by Major Stapp and then by Col. St. John, a one-armed veteran of the Crimean War.

By the end of October the local tribe's position was desperate. Some twenty of its chiefs surrendered and were shipped to Auckland for trial. Five of them received the death penalty and were hanged the following year. Large areas of land around Opotiki were confiscated under the New Zealand Settlements Act of 1863 and sold to settlers.
In the early 1870s, the Ureweras were invaded by the government forces searching for Te Kooti and the Tuhoe were effectively conquered and subdued. They were forced to yield Kereopa to Ropata Waha Waha, and he was tried and hanged for Völkner's murder on 5 January 1872.
In 1993, Justice Minister Doug Graham delivered an apology to Te Whakathea along with an official pardon of Mokomoko, one of the chiefs hanged. In 1996, the New Zealand Government signed a Deed of Settlement, acknowledging and apologising for the allegedly wrongful invasion and confiscation of Te Whakathea lands, and the subsequent economic, cultural and developmental devastation suffered by the iwi. In 1998 the New Zealand government offered the Whakathea iwi NZ$40 million as compensation for all their historical claims including the invasion and the confiscation of land following the Völkner Incident; however the offer was not accepted. Te Whakathea are presently preparing to negotiate a full settlement with the New Zealand Government. As part of the settlement of neighbouring iwi Ngti Awa's claims in 2003, the Völkner Rocks near Whakaari/White Island were renamed "Te Paepae Aotea (Völkner Rocks)".

(Source Wikipedia)

Notes on the historical context / background to the print can be viewed at: Völkner Incident

DATE PRINTED: 1865    

IMAGE SIZE: Approx 14.0 x 23.0cm, 5.5 x 9 inches (Medium)

TYPE: Antique wood engraved print

CONDITION: Good; suitable for framing. However, please note: Tight top margin; The image shown may have been scanned from a different example of this print than that which is offered for sale: The print you will receive is in Good condition but there may be minor variations in the condition compared to that shown in the image. Please check the scan for any blemishes prior to making your purchase. Virtually all antiquarian maps and prints are subject to some normal aging due to use and time which is not obtrusive unless otherwise stated. We offer a no questions asked return policy.

AUTHENTICITY: This is an authentic historic print, published at the date stated above. It is not a modern copy.

VERSO: There are images and/or text printed on the reverse side of the picture. In some cases this may be visible on the picture itself (please check the scan prior to your purchase) or around the margin of the picture.


PROVENANCE: Illustrated London News

NEW ZEALAND: Scene of the murder of the Rev. Mr Volkner, at Opotiki, print, 1865
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