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  • Lloyd’s Head August 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback


    In 1864 at Ahuahut in New Zealand a group of Maori warriors defeated a small British contingent led by one Captain Lloyd and seven of the Brits, including Lloyd, were decapitated: the Maoris waited behind a fringe of ferns and shot at close quarters, Lloyds men were outwitted and didn’t stand a chance. The fight took place against an extremely unpleasant backdrop of colonial bullying (Lloyd and his men were out burning Maori crops) and religious extremism (the Maoris were, for the most part, members of a new messianic religion Pai Mārire, founded just two years before in 1862). But not the least interesting thing was the fate of the heads, particularly that of Lloyd.

    Captain Lloyd’s blood was drunk by the natives that killed him, and after having finished their orgies, they cut off his head and buried it. Next night the Archangel Gabriel is said to have appeared to those who had partaken of the blood and desired them to disinter the head and dry it in the old Maori fashion, in order that the captain’s spirit, speaking through the head, might become the medium of communication between the Almighty and mankind, and be carried through the island as a banner under which a crusade against the pkaheas was to be preached. This was accordingly done, and the head it asserted to have spoken and propounded the new creed, as well as appointed T Ua, of Ngatiruanui, Hepanaja, of Taranaki, and Matene Rangiauira, Wanganui, as its chief priests.

    The Maoris were reported to have rejected everything European and yet to be under the protection of the Virgin Mary and, as suggested above, the Archangel Gabriel. Their religious innovation is fascinating: it would be interesting to see how long it survived. Even as late as the 1970s many Maoris still declared themselve believers. Are there still faithful today?  As to Lloyd’s head, the British government understandably went to great lengths to get it back. Like the Romans with their eagles, the lack of the head was an affront to the dignity of the colony in New Zealand. In 1865 it was finally recovered and buried in Lloyd’s grave, only it almost certainly wasn’t Lloyd’s. So what happened to Lloyd’s head? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Perhaps somewhere on an alter in the brush where giant large flightless birds stalk through the moonlight. Someone somewhere must know surely? Lloyds descendants or more likely the descendants of his killers?

    31 Aug 2013: The Count writes: How curious that you should discuss those head-stealing Maoris only two days after your post on bulletproof Mormons, which may have inspired the Ghost Shirt movement, since you didn’t mention that there’s a kind of connection. It’s not uncommon for tiny, mad religious movements, especially those with their backs against the wall because they’re facing overwhelming armed opposition, to somehow come to believe that they cannot be killed by gunfire. Pai Mārire was founded by the clearly psychotic Te Ua Haumene, who reacted to losing a tribal debate about matters not in any way connected with religion by claiming to have been visited by the Archangel Gabriel, as a result of which he not only became a prophet, but (reports from his own followers are confused as to exactly what happened next) either sacrificed his own child to Jehovah, or broke the poor kid’s leg and then cured it by magic. Or at any rate, he said he’d done one or both of these things to a lot of other Maoris. He also decided that his group’s victory in the skirmish you discussed was not due to the Maoris employing excellent tactics that almost guaranteed a win, but divine intervention, therefore they couldn’t lose, and could in fact protect themselves from bullets by raising their right hands and continuously repeating a chant consisting mainly of the word “Hua!”, meaning “Over!”, as a result of which they became popularly known as Huahuas. This also led to the Surreal spectacle of Maori warriors charging fearlessly into battle holding up one hand and, as far as the British soldiers could tell, barking like dogs.No actual bulletproof garments were employed in this instance, since the bullets were supposed to miss completely rather than bounce off, but the idea was the same, and equally successful. Three weeks after their supposedly miraculous victory, several hundred of them tested their supernatural protection by attempting to storm a small fort containing 75 soldiers and 2 mortars by running straight at it. They were of course utterly routed, and were probably lucky to get away with casualties of only 20% – presumably the other 80% noticed fairly quickly that it wasn’t working.’ Thanks Count!