Te Rauparaha to Octavius Hadfield

As far as we know Te Rauparaha couldn’t read or write, so maybe it was his son Tamihana who wrote it … David Hadfield, direct descendant of Missionary Octavius Hadfield

Warrior chief turned peacemaker

By Roger Childs

Warrior chief, Te Rauparaha

The letter translated below, has recently emerged from the Hadfield family papers. It shows the huge respect the old Maori chief had for the English missionary. Although he did not become a Christian, he attended services in Otaki later in his life.

As David mentions above, it may have been written by his son. Tamihana was  baptized by Octavius Hadfield in 1841 and served as a missionary in the South Island among the Ngai Tahu.

For much of his life Te Rauparaha was a brutal warrior chief, but after his arrest in 1846 he became a man of peace and lived his last few years in Otaki.

(We are very grateful to David Hadfield for permission to publish the original letter and a translation.)

Transcript of the letter

Ōtaki

June 12, 1848

Oh friend, oh Wira (Shortened name for Harawira/Hadfield – and a form of endearment) greetings to you in your illness. Leave my warm feelings for you to maintain their hold within me, indeed that I might turn to the work that you have left as a bequest before you recently became ill, and that from here (Ōtaki) I continue to care for our work (The building of the church). Oh friend, this town has recently increased in size. The church will be finished soon and it is excellent, and the Pākehā of the town are amazed and in admiration at the sight of it, however the church has not yet been awakened (Officially opened). From the time that it is awakened (opened) it will be magnificent. I am also building a house for myself. With kind wishes from your friend,

from Te Rauparaha.

 

‘For much of his life Te Rauparaha was a brutal warrior chief, but after his arrest in 1846 he became a Christian man of peace and lived his last few years in Otaki.’

I’m very sad to see such an exceptional life, of huge importance to our district and the country as a whole, described in this very limited monocultural way.