Missionary in Mataatua


Maori Chiefs
Ngakuku, Missionary in Mataatua

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Ngakuku was a chief of Waikato, from the Ngati Haua iwi, living near Waharoa. He was the father of Tarore. Our infromation comes mainly from A.N. Brown (C.M.S. Missionary) - See quotes at bottom of prayer pages.

On the first anniversary of his arrival in the Matamata area, Brown lists Ngakuku as one of the two men for whom:

“We have reason to hope the Gospel is proving under the influence of the Holy Spirit, a saviour of life into life . . . “- Archdeacon Brown

Frequent inter-tribal skirmishes in the district led to the decision to close the mission station at Matamata and evacuate the school children. On 18 October 1836 Ngakuku left with John Flatt, one of the missionaries, and 20 children to travel from Matamata to Tauranga. They stopped in the Kaimai Range overnight and were attacked by a war party from Rotorua, and Ngakuku’s daughter Tarore was killed. At 9 a.m. the next day Ngakuku returned to Matamata carrying his daughter Tarore’s body.

Buried poor Tarore at the pa. Those who so narrowly escaped sharing a like death, followed the corpse to the grave. . . . After singing a hymn and addressing the assembled party, Ngakuku asked me if he might also say a few words, and on my assenting, he said with deep solemnity of feeling, “There lies my child; she has been murdered as a payment for your bad conduct. But do not you rise to seek payment for her. God will do that. Let this be the finishing of the war with Rotorua. Now let peace be made. My heart is not dark for Tarore but for you. You urged teachers to come to you - they came - and now you are driving them away. You are crying for my girl. I am crying for you, for myself, for all of us. Perhaps this murder is a sign of God’s anger towards us for our sins. Turn to him. Believe, or you will all perish.” - Archdeacon Brown

Brown attributed this remarkable plea to the work of the Holy Spirit. Ngakuku was eventually baptised on Good Friday 1839. He took the baptismal name of William Marsh, William from Henry and William Williams, and Marsh because that was the name of A. N. Brown’s only son.

Ngakuku was a keen traveller, and on more than one occasion Brown cautioned him “lest he should acquire a vagrancy of habit that would prove detrimental to his growth in grace”. Nevertheless, Ngakuku helped to found the Opotiki mission station and was a teacher there before J.A. Wilson took up residence. He also frequently accompanied Archdeacon Brown on his journeys and assisted wherever he could in forwarding the work of the missionaries, including work in the Te Whaiti area of the Urewera Range. Ngakuku was also asked to Tolaga Bay to teach and preach there. In later years as Archdeacon Brown was confined to Tauranga by his bad eyesight, it was Ngakuku and others who carried on the work further afield.

Uita, the man responsible for Tarore’s death, due to the gospel he stole from her body, became a Christian andcame to Ngakuku, a visibly changed man, pleading for his forgiveness. It is said that they knelt in the little church and prayed together. Ngakuku is honoured for rejecting utu and as a faithful witness to the gospel.

BORN: Before 1835, Ngati Haua Iwi, Waharoa, New Zealand

DIED: Date Unknown, New Zealand.