Add comment March 7th, 2010 Headsman
On this date in 1842, New Zealand carried out its first official execution: the hanging of Maori teen Maketu Wharetotara for murdering five people.
The son of a Nga Puhi chief named Ruhe, Maketu took employment as a farmhand for a white household.
An ill-tempered white servant evidently offended him sufficiently to split the bugger’s skull with an axe … and since Maketu wasn’t the type to leave a job half-done, he went ahead and murdered the rest of the household, too.
European settlers, still a minority, initially worried that this outburst might herald the onset of a general native rising. The police magistrate even refused to apprehend the criminal, who had fled back to his people, for fear of triggering conflict.
But internal Maori politics would not let the boy off so lightly.
One of the household members he had murdered was a mixed-race granddaughter of another important Nga Puhi chief, which raised the specter of intertribal strife.
To pre-empt a possible bloodbath, Ruhe turned his own son over to the Europeans.
By British law, it was a pretty cut-and-dried case with a pretty predictable outcome which became, for the crown, a precedent establishing its authority over incidents of interracial violence.
(Maketu Wharetotara — baptized “Wiremu Kingi” by an Anglican minister on the morning of his execution — obtained his milestone status because another Maori minor who had previously been condemned to death died of dysentery before they could noose him.)
On this day..
- 1748: William Whurrier, War of Austrian Succession veteran - 2016
- 1884: Two abusive husbands - 2015
- 1562: Michael Lindener, poet laureate - 2014
- 1968: Veyusile Qoba, the last of the Langa Six - 2013
- 1905: Two murderers beheaded in French Indochina - 2012
- 1811: Thomas White and John Newbolt Hepburn of the Vere Street Coterie - 2011
- 1937: Alexander Yulevich Tivel - 2009
- 203: Perpetua, the earliest Christian woman whose writings survive - 2008
Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Capital Punishment,Children,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Hanged,History,Milestones,Murder,New Zealand,Nobility,Notable Jurisprudence,Occupation and Colonialism,Public Executions,Racial and Ethnic Minorities