Watch: STOLEN LANDS— Betrayal of a Chief.

Stolen Lands: Betrayal of a Chief. 📸: Ten Canaries / RNZ

Stolen Lands - Betrayal of a Chief is the story of one of Aotearoa's most compelling and misunderstood historical figures. In a thrilling five-episode series, we will cover the accusations, injustice and conspiracy that took place in Ōpōtiki in 1865, which led to the unjust execution of Te Whakatōhea Chief Mokomoko.

 This thrilling five-episode series uncovers the conspiracy against the 19th-century Māori chief Te Whakatōhea Chief Mokomoko who was wrongfully executed for murdering a German missionary Carl Völkner.

In keeping with the Settlements Act of 1863, the Crown also confiscated hundreds of thousands of acres of Mokomoko's tribal land.

In Stolen Lands, the story of Mokomoko's unjust (and now overturned) conviction for the murder of Carl Völkner is narrated by his direct descendants Jake Mokomoko and Summer Mokomoko in te reo Māori. Academics and Māori land experts fill in the facts, highlighting how and why this land was stolen.

In 1992, Chief Mokomoko was pardoned for Völkner's murder but did not receive full recognition of his innocence.

137 years after his body was buried in Auckland's Mt Eden prison, Mokomoko's remains were exhumed and returned to his ancestral land.

In 2013, to restore mana to their ancestor, the Mokomoko whānau led the creation of the Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana, and Reputation) Bill.

In 2023, a decade on, there has still been no official compensation awarded to Chief Mokomoko's descendants for the loss of his life or their land.

Credits:

Writer, Creator and Producer: Claire Varley
Director: Jake Mokomoko
Cast: Jake Mokomoko, Summer Mokomoko, Karen Mokomoko, Peter Lineham, Te Kahautu Maxwell, Michael Belgrave, Nehe Dewes, Hon Aiden Warren, Teriaki Amoamo

Meet one of Aotearoa's most compelling and misunderstood historical figures... Te Whakatōhea Chief Mokomoko.

In episode one, we go back to the 1860s when the intelligent and enterprising Māori chief Mokomoko was dedicating his life to protecting the land and people of Bay of Plenty's Te Whakatōhea Iwi.

The 1860s was a trying time for Māori in Aotearoa as they tried to adapt to Queen Victoria's new system of government which was working to obtain Māori land for colonial settlers.

In episode one, Chief Mokomoko becomes a prominent Māori chief who dedicates his life to protecting the land and people of Bay of Plenty's Te Whakatōhea Iwi.

Mokomoko was born into a legacy of leaders and was known for his intellect. He was well-versed in trading and exporting produce to Auckland and New South Wales and secured land connected to one of Aotearoa's most sought-after ports.

Mokomoko was well aware that the Crown was confiscating land from Māori in the North Island. People corresponded through letters at the time, exchanging information about the Land Wars and the rise of Christianity.

In the 1860s, a group of Māori Christians known as Pai Mārire began to cause unease among Pākehā settlers, rejecting traditional Christianity and distrusting missionaries.

There was growing concern amongst tangata whenua about the government's grab for Māori land. As more land was taken over, battles erupt between Māori and The Crown.

In episode two, we learn about Carl Völkner, the German-born missionary Mokomoko was wrongfully accused of murdering.

In 1861, Carl Völkner was sent to New Zealand by the North German Missionary Society and took charge of the church mission station in the Bay of Plenty town of Ōpōtiki.

Initially welcomed by the local Te Whakatōhea tribe, Volkner built a church and a school for the mission station with the support of Governor George Grey, who at that time was attempting to defeat Māori fighters in the Land Wars.

Völkner was a political as well as a religious figure and instead of building his relationship with the tribe, wrote to Governor Grey informing him of an alliance between local Māori and a Catholic priest.

Völkner's actions caused people in Ōpōtiki to question his motives and they started to wonder if he was a spy for the British government.

Once, when Völkner travelled to Auckland, he was warned by members of Te Whakatōhea not to return to Ōpōtiki because of the rumours.

Ignoring the warning, Völkner returned to the Bay of Plenty and was apprehended by the Māori Christian group Pai Mārire.

Taken prisoner and held in a house, Völkner was hanged from a willow tree near the church the following day.

Afterwards, he was taken down and decapitated before his eyes were gouged out and swallowed by Pai Mārire leader Kereopa Te Rau. 

In episode three, Colonel George Grey's militia bombard Ōpōtiki, Chief Mokomoko surrenders and is then wrongfully executed for the crime.

 Colonel Grey had declared martial law and requested that Māori tribespeople assist in the arrest of the killers or their land would be confiscated.

When Grey's men arrived at Ōpōtiki they shot at the Māori, forcing them to retreat into nearby bushes.

Rather than pursue them, the Crown troops looted the pā then burnt it to the ground.

Chief Mokomoko, unaware he was the prime suspect for Völkner's murder, surrendered to the Crown on the condition their tribe would suffer no further punishment.

He and four other men was arrested for murder, trialled in Auckland and evidence of the rope used to hang Völkner was deemed sufficient for them to be sentenced to death.

Mokomoko proclaimed his innocence yet he and the other men were executed in May 1866. One hundred and thirty-seven years later, his remains were exhumed from Auckland's Mount Eden prison and returned to Ōpōtiki.

In episode four, we look at the aftermath of his wrongful execution in 1866.

After land was confiscated from the Whakatōhea iwi via the Settlements Act of 1863, the remaining Māori were left with only a small amount of liveable land made difficult to access by hills, gorges and valleys.

Three years later, Chief Mokomoko was executed and the court declined his family's request for a proper burial.

Mokomoko would spend 123 years buried in the courtyard of Auckland's Mt Eden Gaol before his remains were returned to his ancestral land of Ōpōtiki.

In 1988, with the help of some experts in Māori exhumation, the Mokomoko whanau were able to see their tipuna [ancestor] brought back to his land.

In episode five, —Chief Moko's descendants fight to have his name cleared and his mana restored.

On 14 May 1991, Tuiringa Mokomoko lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal on behalf of himself and members of the Mokomoko whanau against the wrongful murder conviction.

Two years later, in 1993, the Crown issued an apology for the 1886 attack on Whakatohea in which property was destroyed and land confiscated.

In 1992, a loosely worded pardon of Chief Mokomoko did not state that he was innocent of the murder of Carl Volkner.

In an attempt to reinstate mana to Mokomoko and clear his name, his whanau fought for a new piece of legislation and the first bill in te reo Māori.

In 2013, the Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana, and Reputation) Bill was passed.

In 2023, a decade on, there has still been no official compensation awarded to Chief Mokomoko's descendants for the loss of his life or their land. 

Copyright

© Series Classification: PG (Parental Guidance) | Produced for RNZ by Ten Canaries | Made with the support of Te Māngai Pāho

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Comments 3

TauraRyan on Tuesday, 18 April 2023 13:26

Kia Ora koutou for bringing this important knowledge to our attention.So admire your dedication to our tipuna and may what is rightfully yours be honoured.keep up the good and rightous fight for justice.I am a descendant of The whakatohea, I was whangai as a baby, and now as a adult , have reconnected with my birth whanau, who marae and urupa are The Pepe at Waioeka.
This beautiful mahi of yours is a treasure to me and my posterity of our history in our beloved Opotiki.Nga mihi Kia koutou.happy)

Kia Ora koutou for bringing this important knowledge to our attention.So admire your dedication to our tipuna and may what is rightfully yours be honoured.keep up the good and rightous fight for justice.I am a descendant of The whakatohea, I was whangai as a baby, and now as a adult , have reconnected with my birth whanau, who marae and urupa are The Pepe at Waioeka. This beautiful mahi of yours is a treasure to me and my posterity of our history in our beloved Opotiki.Nga mihi Kia koutou.:(happy)
ruaumoko42 on Friday, 21 April 2023 16:39

Kia ora TauraRyan. All good but not my mahi ehoa but I am always wanting to learn more about what went on way back then as its defiantly had an impact on the generations after till today.

Kia ora TauraRyan. All good but not my mahi ehoa but I am always wanting to learn more about what went on way back then as its defiantly had an impact on the generations after till today.
ruaumoko42 on Thursday, 20 April 2023 11:14

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