The Invention of Papahurihia : A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Historians portray Papahurihia as the first Māori prophet and founder of a syncretistic religion that combined elements of Judaic and Christian theology with Māori beliefs. They also say he observed a Saturday Sabbath and that his followers were known as Jews. This thesis disputes those conclusions. It re-examines the commentaries of the CMS missionaries in the Bay of Islands from the context of 1830s Protestant evangelicalism and draws on the texts of the Wesleyan and Roman Catholic missionaries and European settlers to show how Papahurihia behaved in various situations. It argues that historians have failed to take account of the way that Protestant and Catholic writers saw Papahurihia through the lenses of their own religions. The thesis recreates Papahurihia in the context of the Ngāpuhi seasonal cycle and links him to the persistence of ceremonies like the hahunga. It argues that historians have overlooked the extent to which he operated on a Māori concept of time and how the missionaries and Europeans made assumptions about the behaviour of Papahurihia and his followers based on the Christian calendar. The thesis concludes that Papahurihia responded to the advent of Christianity in a way that was consistent with the behaviour of tohunga at the time, rather than as the founder of a syncretistic religion. It also concludes that the historiography on Papahurihia ultimately went awry because historians interpreted the missionaries’ comments about him from a secular perspective.
Prophets, Māori