Today in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia we remember and give thanks for the life of Tarore of Waharoa, a 12-year-old Māori girl who died in 1836.
This information about her life is by Archbishop Sir David Moxon.
Tarore was the daughter of the Maori chief Ngakuku. She studied at the mission school in Matamata where she was given a copy of the Gospel of Luke in te reo Maori by her teacher Charlotte Brown. It was a treasured possession and she kept it safe by wearing it in a kete (a woven bag made from flax) around her neck.
One night while camping in the Kaimai Ranges at the foot of the Wairere Falls, a raiding party from the Arawa tribe came across Tarore’s group and attacked their camp, pillaging what they could find. In the action and skirmish, Tarore remained asleep when she received a fatal blow to the head. Her attacker removed the Gospel of Luke she was carrying, thinking it might be tradable.
Her death immediately created a desire for ‘utu’ (revenge) but back in Waharoa during her funeral Ngakuku, her father, preached against reprisal saying there had been too much bloodshed between the tribes already. Instead he called his people to trust in the justice of God. No blood revenge was sought. This revolutionary act set in motion a sequence of events that paved the way for restoration and reconciliation between tribes.
No one in the Arawa camp was able to read the book. It was not until a literate visiting slave named Ripahau read the text aloud that the people understood its true value. Tarore’s murderer, Uita, was convicted by the message of peace displayed in the Gospel of Luke and humbled himself to go and seek forgiveness from Tarore’s father.
And so we pray:
We thank you for the life and witness of Tarore,
and for the ministry of reconciliation
that sprung from her life and death.
In the same way that she kept the Gospel of Luke close to her heart,
teach us to keep your Words of Life,
your Words of forgiveness and reconciliation,
your Words of hope and possibility,
your Words that pioneer new ways ahead,
close to us;
that we might treasure them
and be transformed by them,
that your kin-dom may increase,
and your gift of Life be made known.
We pray in the name of Jesus,
and in the power of your Spirit.
Jemma Allen is a priest in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Her ministry is currently both in a parish where she works with children and young people and as a counsellor and spiritual director in private practice.
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