B y Edna Radford


A true story from New Zealand history, in which two warring Maori tribes of the mid-1800s are reconciled through the death of Tarore and the book she carried.


Ngakuku - Maori chief
Tarore - his daughter
Ngakuku’s warriors
Uira - Maori chief
Ripahau - a slave who can read
Uira’s warriors


Head bands for all, cloaks for 2 chiefs. (One metre of Polynesian style fabric made 1 cloak and 6 head bands.) I made a bag for Tarore out of a mesh orange bag.


Scene 1

Narrator: Over 150 years ago, the Maori people had the gospel of Luke in their own language, but many could not read. A young girl named Tarore, who had been taught to read by missionaries, brought the good news of Jesus to her people, the Waikato tribe.
Tarore’s great treasure was the gospel of Luke, which she kept in a little flax bag around her neck. Each evening, after the day’s work was done, Chief Nagkuku and his people would gather to listen as Tarore read.

Ngakuku: Tarore, read to us from that book - The Words of the Great Spirit.

Tarore: Forgive others, and God will forgive you. If your brother sins against you seven times in one day, and each time he comes to you saying, “I repent”, you must forgive him.

Ngakuku: Tarore my daughter, as you read these words, the Great Spirit speaks to me.

Tarore: Yes, Father, Jesus speaks to me, too. He says: “Love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as you love yourself.”

Narrator: As Ngakuku listened, he realised that this book was more than just words. God told him that He sent His Son to die for everyone and save us all, including the Maori people. He realised that God’s Son was punished in our place so we could be forgiven.
So both Ngakuku and Tarore became followers of Jesus as God’s life-changing power began to work through her little book. But a great trouble was ahead for their tribe.

Messenger: (Running in) Chief Ngakuku, we are in deep trouble. The Rotorua tribe have been raiding pa along the Waikato. Ours could be next. We must get away.

Ngakuku: I must take our children to safety in Tauranga.

Narrator: Ngakuku decided to take a few warriors and all the children from his pa to Tauranga. His uncle had a pa there which was well protected with many warriors. They would be safe there.

(Ngakuku, Tarore and others exit through auditorium, and then return. A song could be sung at this point.)

Scene 2

Narrator: However, the tribe’s journey to Tauranga was interrupted. One night, while they were camping by the Wairere Falls, the smoke of their campfire attracted a raiding party from Rotorua, a raiding party led by Chief Uira.

Ngakuku heard them approaching and managed to rescue his little son and some of the others. He moved them into the bushes out of sight. The battle was on as the warriors burst into their camp site. It was very quick but very terrible. When it was over, Ngakuku checked to see if anybody was missing. Tarore! Where was Tarore? Oh no, she was dead! And the little flax bag which hung around her neck was gone.

Warriors: Utu, utu - revenge, revenge! Tarore has been killed. We will kill their daughters!

Ngakuku: No! We will follow the words of Tarore’s book. The great God in Heaven, whom I have learned to love, will take care of revenge.

Song: (Freely, Freely)

Scene 3

Narrator: Meanwhile, Tarore’s little book had found its way into the pa of the Rotorua tribe. On the night of the raid, Chief Uira had stolen it. At first, he tossed the book aside, expecting to find greenstone or something of value. Uira could not read, so what use was it to him?

Some time later, though, the little book was picked up by a slave named Ripahau, who was passing through Rotorua. He had learnt to read, so once again Tarore’s little book began to speak to the listeners who gathered around. Even Chief Uira listened as Ripahau read about Jesus, and God’s love for all people.

Ripahau: Do for others just what you want them to do for you. A good person brings good out of the treasure of good things in his heart. Love your enemies - do good to those who hate you.

Narrator: As Ripahau read from Luke’s gospel, God’s word went right to Uira’s heart.

Uira: Ooooh! Ripahau, as you read these words, the Great Spirit speaks to me. (Stands) I will become a follower of Jesus. I will go to Ngakuku. I will tell him I am sorry for killing his daughter, and I will ask for his forgiveness.

Narrator: So Uira went to Ngakuku and apologised for the murder, and Ngakuku forgave him Tarore’s death. Her little book had brought them together in peace.


© Copyright Edna Radford 1999. All rights reserved.
This play may be performed free of charge provided no entrance fee is charged. In return, the author would appreciate being notified of performances. She may be reached at marjian@clear.net.nz