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Fr Lampila to Fr Favre, Whanganui, 25 May 1865



This is the second letter Lampila wrote to his superior general about the Hauhau and the death of Euloge. It appears he had forgotten the one he had written a week after the event the year before (L 176). The first page of the original displays much crossing out and rephrasing, an indication, perhaps, not just of the difficulties he was having with his right hand [1] but also of the inner turmoil the events of May 1864 were still able to arouse in him.

The defeat at Moutoa and the death of the prophet Te Matene did not put an end to Pai Marire influence along the river nor to its spread to other parts of the country. From late 1864 Te Ua was sending evangelists to different places, particularly the East Coast. Two weeks after they appeared at Opotiki in March 1865, local converts rose up against their Anglican missionary, Carl Volkner, and killed him, afterward drinking his blood in ritual fashion. But despite Lampila’s invective, there is no evidence that Te Ua himself approved of the excesses of his lieutenants. In Fact, Pompallier was to meet him in Auckland the following year, 1866, which was also the year he died (rf Simmons 175). The original form of Pai Marire probably died with him.

Lampila does not clear up all the problems surrounding the death of Euloge. Fortunately, a Maori eyewitness, the Ngati Ruaka chief Arama Tinirau of Ranana, was able later to supply the missing details. “Te Meirei (a Ranana man who, Tinirau claimed, had some time before lost his mind) rushing over the lower end of the island, saw Brother Euloge kneeling. He cut the top off his head. Brother Euloge picked up and replaced the scalp and knelt for a few seconds, when he fell. He did not die till some hours later, when the battle was over, and the wounded from Kauaeroa were being taken back in canoes.”[1] The brother was buried on the edge of the chiefly burial ground on Puke Hika, on a bluff overlooking the river, opposite the present village of Jerusalem.

The Circulars make only a fleeting reference to his death: “Br Euloge, Professed, killed by the savages, at Wanganui in New Zealand “ (CSG 3. 271). When Br Theophane, superior general, visited the town in the course of his tour in December 1893, he visited the monument erected in memory of the dead of Moutoa, including Euloge, and prayed there (CSG 8. 416). A short biography of the brother appearing in the congregation’s Bulletin de l’ Institut No 48, Juillet 1917 (pp 172-3) is based on the inaccurate information provided by Fr Cognet in his letter to Br Stratonique of 1 October 1894 (rf L 176, Intr.).

Text of the Letter

Very Reverend Father,
I have not written to you earlier because my right hand has been paralysed. Now that it is better, though not yet fully restored, I am fulfilling this duty which is a pleasant one for me.
Over the past year, very rev Father, some very sad things have been happening here. The war between the two races, English and natives, has been doubly disastrous for the latter. The devil has drawn profit from these disturbances. Many of them have abandoned Christianity, replacing it besides with a violent fanaticism and monstrous superstitions. From these they have formed a code of conduct which finds expression in horrible and unparalleled cruelties. There have been displays of barbarism so savage perpetrated on Europeans and even on Maori who remained loyal to the English, that they cannot be explained except as the inspiration of a demon. Recently, one Anglican missionary’s own followers treated him with unheard of cruelty. Since he would not consent to their superstitions they cut his throat, drank his blood, and ate his flesh.
But another memory stirs up our grief for a person more precious. I am referring to dear Br Euloge who was murdered at my side. I think Monsignor Viard, to whom I gave the details of his death, must have communicated them to Lyon in the meantime. It was because I left this responsibility to His Lordship that I wrote only to Sydney at the time.
I think you will be pleased, Your Reverence, to hear some details about this strange sect, worthy in all respects of the Mormons of America or the followers of Mahomet.
Nearly two years ago an English captain with some men was making a reconnaissance of a native fort near Taranaki. Not being wary enough about their tactic of ambush, he was killed with 5 or 6 soldiers, while the rest only just escaped. Overjoyed to have an officer in their hands the Maori thought of nothing else except cutting off his head and burying it, after drinking the blood. Now that night in a dream, or probably following the plan some trickster had worked out beforehand, the head spoke to some of them, promising miracles if they would have it carried to the four corners of the island so all the Maori could see it. Early in the morning, therefore, they made haste to dig up this treasure and three of them, who had contrived to play roles to their own advantage by exploiting the ignorance of their countrymen in order to acquire a reputation with them, nominated themselves tohunga karakia (priests of the new prayer). This was the start of the puerile fantasies of these three Maori who knew how to bewitch the mass of their people with their wild talk.
According to them, or rather according to the head, the Europeans would, voluntarily or otherwise, either have to leave their corpses in New Zealand or flee to some other country, since the Maori who followed the new cult would be invincible. They would, moreover, have the power to paralyse their enemies in combat, no matter how many there were, so they would drop at their feet as if by magic. Full of these mad fantasies, both masters and disciples, they went with audacious confidence to attack a fort garrisoned by English soldiers. They meant to put these fantasies into practice, without firing a shot. One of their uncouth superstitions was to pronounce loudly and continually repeat the word hau (pronounced haou), the name of their new god. Now, since the pronunciation of this word is almost identical to the bark of a dog, they have been given that animal’s name. One of the three tohunga lead this troop of the blind, about forty men. 35 of them lost their lives, as well as the tohunga leading them. There now remained two pillars of Satan and a number of adepts. This setback did not leave them any the wiser. One of the two surviving dreamers, probably assuming their confrere had been wanting in faith in his mission, proposed to restore the prestige of his sect and headed for Whanganui with about fifty men. Here he gained many reinforcements and was able to form a corps of about 300 fighting men. In coming to our river they planned to attack the whites, take possession of the town and its treasures, and kill all the soldiers. They asserted all this with complacence and unshakeable confidence. It certainly did not fail to find a faithful echo in the ignorance and love of novelty of the Maori. So you must imagine how impatiently they were waiting for the day when these marvels would start making the Maori a people who would themselves be first among the wonders of the world.
The saner inhabitants of Whanganui who were not imbued with these detestable doctrines resolved to oppose the plans of these new Mahometans and demanded they return to the parts they had come from. But if they persisted in going down the river to attack the whites, they would oppose them with all their might. That breed, possessed by the devil, did not want to give up their deluded scheme and so the challenge was accepted for the morning of the day before Pentecost in a designated place. The night before this frightening encounter our men went there to await the enemy. They appeared in the morning about 8 o’clock, calling on the god they had invented with all the power of their lungs. When they had finished with their horrible superstitions they advanced at a slow step towards our men. To show them they were not afraid, our men marched right up to them, so close they could almost touch. 10 minutes later there were sixty dead and a great number of wounded. Those who died from their wounds shortly after the battle, including our enemies, numbered 50 dead in their ranks and 15 in ours, 9 Protestants and 6 Catholics, including Br Euloge who was killed 5 or 6 paces from me.
I had advised the good Brother to stay at the village while I went by myself with our Catholics to care for the wounded. But he really wanted to share my lot and I did not refuse him. Presuming everyone would show courage, we were only a stone’s throw from the site of the battle, partially hidden by a mound. We were finishing our rosary when our Catholics fell back outnumbered, deserted by 2 or 3 cowardly platoons of Protestants who fled without firing a shot. This was the moment of crisis for the two of us. Fleeing with the rest, we were soon left behind and continuously exposed to the bullets of our enemy close behind. We crossed quickly from the side opposite but parallel to where those madmen were running, concealed by the ridge which runs the length of the little island where the battle took place. But they arrived at the same time as us at the junction of the two rivers. As soon as I saw this I said to the Brother, ‘Quickly, let’s go back.’ Hardly had I finished speaking when I saw one of those assassins crack him on the head with an axe. Running full speed I reached a spot some thirty metres from that bloody scene, on a slight rise, and crouched down there, each second expecting the same fate as dear Br Euloge. I stayed there 5 or 10 minutes without seeing anyone. But finding myself too exposed I just had time to hide in a clump of trees when our enemies all arrived to pray and practice their scales for about ten minutes.
Many of them fell there before the bullets of our men who had stayed on the other side of the river and who, regaining the upper hand, vigorously pursued those murderers and drove them all from the island. Within a short time they had fifty prisoners and lead them away to the town. The leader of the fanatics paid with his life for leading his countrymen astray. There is only one other left, at the head of 400 as blind as himself, and the English troops have finally decided to hunt them out of their lair.
I am, my very reverend Father, Your Reverence’s very humble and obedient servant,
J. Lampila. Miss. Ap.


  1. Battle of Moutoa Island. Centenary Booklet, May 1964, p 6. Copy in Wanganui Public Library.

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