September 1858: Maafu’s men massacre 30 of Ritova’s party in Church on Sunday at Natakala, Bua

aug16-bechehttp-wwwhistorynavymilacexplorationwilkes98-089-bnConsul Pritchard favoured Cakobau over Maafu,  because of the brutality of the Maafu-lead Tongan Methodist Wesleyans.  Cakobau (Thakombau) in his time, was as brutal, but by the time Pritchard arrived at Levuka, Cakobau had begun to modify his traditional behaviour;  he  had  a decade of  engagements with missionaries and traders, notably,  beche de mer trader, Mary Wallis.
Pritchard shocked at Maafu ‘s warfare: The newly -arrived Pritchard  – from the relative peace of Tahiti – reported – in shock – one example of Maafu-style Tongan warfare, this way : ‘Two wily.crafty chieftains were met face to face, each suspicious of the other, and both attempting to overreach one another. The result of their interview was that Thakombau sent a canoe, under the command of a trusty chieftain, to accompany Maafu’s expedition.
A watch over Maafu: Thakombau’s real object in sending this canoe was to have a watch over Maafu, knowing as he did that he really could not check Maafu’s plans without an open rupture, for which he was not prepared. Maafu’s object was to shelter himself under the countenance of Thakombau, until it suited his purpose to turn upon his associate. Both chieftains conceived that they had each attained their respective aims, and overreached the other.
Maafu and his followers arrived at Bua: In due course Maafu and his followers arrived at Bua, the head-quarters of Tui Bua’s district. Thence the united forces proceeded up the Mathuata coast, carrying all before them, and sending death and devastation into every Fijian hut.
Tongans a fiercesome lot: In missionary reports we read fearful stories of Fijian atrocities and treachery, while not a line is penned to record the butcheries of the favoured Tongans, whose boast it is that they are the champions of Wesleyanism in Fiji.
Surrender in Church: At a town called Natakala, Ritova’s party, worsted in a fight, took to the bush. After destroying all their yam plantations and cutting down all their cocoa-nut trees, Maafu left his Lieutenant Semisi to hunt up the fugitives. Though he could not capture them in the bush, Semisi managed to communicate with them, He promised them that if they would return to the town, submit to Maafu, and deliver up their arms, their lives should be spared. The Fijians asked for a guarantee. Semisi replied, ” Meet me in the church on Sunday morning; there, in the house of God and in His presence, our deliberations shall be sacred.”
Fiijians surrender: The Fijians, to the number of about thirty, accepted the invitation, and on Sunday morning they emerged from their hiding-places, and appeared in the church. They gave up their arms, which were placed in the centre of the building.
Tongans kill Fijians as they are ‘heathens”: Surrounded by armed Tongans, Semisi addressed them : ” You are all heathens ; you are all wicked men. You have fought against us who are propagating the religion of Tonga. You must all die.”* This speech concluded, Mafi, a Tongan, stepped from the side of Semisi, in obedience to a wave of his hand, and began tying one man’s right hand to the next one’s left, until he had completed the circle. Unarmed and entrapped, resistance was useless,  remonstrance worse than useless. And with that stoicism which not unfrequently marks the conduct of the savage when inevitable death, however horrible the manner, stares them in the face, the Fijians passively submitted to their fate.
Eyes gouged out; heads chopped off: Their hands tied, Mafi, in their presence and under the direction of Semisi, sharpened an American axe on a grindstone that was kept in readiness for the occasion. He then took up a bayonet that was fixed to a spear, and outdoing Nahash the Ammonite, deliberately gouged an eye out of each man’s head ! This done, he resumed his axe, and as the victims sat, tied hand to hand, and powerless, in the house of God, he chopped off each (head)’.
Pritchard, William T. 1866 Polynesian Reminiscences; or, Life in the South Pacific Islands. London: Chapman and Hall.

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