Story: Intelligence services

Letter from Carl Völkner to Governor Grey, 1864

On 15 January 1864 missionary Carl Völkner wrote to Governor George Grey, informing him of secret plans for a Māori attack on Auckland. Völkner included with the letter a sketch plan of a at Rangiaohia (Rangiaowhia). He also mentioned a Māori spy network in Auckland. Völkner, based at Ōpōtiki in Bay of Plenty, was one of many government informants in Māori-dominated territory. Others included fellow missionaries John Whiteley in Taranaki and John Morgan in Waikato. John Gorst, resident magistrate in Waikato in the early 1860s, also acted as an intelligence agent. Völkner paid a high price for his spying – it was one of the reasons why he was executed on 2 March 1865 by adherents of the Pai Mārire religion (also known as Hauhau).


                                                                                                        Opotiki January 15/64

To his Excellency
Sir George Grey
Governor of New Zealand

            I beg to inform you that Wiremu Kingi the assessor at Tunapahore has told me of a secret plan of the natives for attacking Auckland.
Their plan, as far as I was told it is this. The natives from this coast and inland are to occupy Maungatauturi and Rangiaowhia, and the 2000 Waikatos, who are thus relieved will cross at Manakau Heads [partly], a little to the north of the Auckland flagstaff 1000 from Ngapuhi have agreed to join them. There are 12 natives as spies in Auckland to give notice of a convenient time and opportunity which the natives think will be when there are few or no soldiers there and the pakeha think themselves secure. The attack must be at night and some of the houses will be set on fire. Absurd as this appears to me I think it right to mention it to you as it shows the state of mind the people are in for the people natives do not think it improbable for the Waikatoes to carry out such an idea.
Wiremu Kingi asked me if I should give information to request that his name should not be published.

Many stories reach us from Waikato of the wonderful strength of the pas at Rangiaowhia and Maungatauturi [the?] ground plan of the former I saw.

                                                                                                        I am
                                                                                                        your Excellency’s
                                                                                                        most obedient servant
                                                                                                        C S Volkner

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How to cite this page:

Peter Clayworth, 'Intelligence services - Intelligence services, 1800s to 1945', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 5 June 2023)

Story by Peter Clayworth, published 20 Jun 2012