Incidents of The Maori War
Militia enrolled—Cavalry and Rifle Volunteers—Absurd pride of race—Uneasy feelings among the Settlers—Assistance asked from Sydney and Melbourne—Southern expedition from New Plymouth—Skirmishing with the Natives—Meetings of Natives at Hawkes' Bay and Wellington—Blockhouses at Auckland—The Colonial war-steamer 'Victoria'—Emigration declines and ceases—Great conference at Ngaruawahia—Missionary influence—The Lord Bishop Selwyn—Mr. Parris' escape—Waikatos joins Wiremu Kingi—Captain Richard Brown shot—Generous conduct of Wiremu Kingi—Native sympathy with Shipwrecked Marines—A detachment, 40th regiment, sent to Waitara Camp—Heroic Conduct of Captain Miller of the 12th regiment—The Fiji Islands—Fever at New Plymouth.
The Militia in the northern island of New Zealand were now enrolled according to their localities; a fine body of men, the Auckland Cavalry Guards, were organised, Captain Beckham, resident magistrate, their commander, Lieutenant Mayne and Cornet Holt were the other officers of the troop. The first or Royal Company of Auckland Rifles were com-page 125manded by Capt. F. Steward private secretary to the Governor, at Otahuhu,*the neighbouring settlers were enrolled as a cavalry corps under Colonel Nixon, and the Auckland Coast Guards, mustered as artillery, were under Captain Campion.
In every community there are men of low minds, usually also cowardly, who seem to take a pleasure in insulting those whom they may think inferior to themselves, particularly if the skin is of a darker hue than their own, forgetting or ignorant of the fact that if our first parents lived in a climate similar to that of Mesopotamia of the present day, they too must have been bronzed and wore the "livery of the burnished sun." The term "niggers" for every brown skin is in these mens' mouths constantly, and which even to negroes themselves is a term of reproach, of inferiority, and much more when applied to Musselmen or Hindoos of caste in India, or to the Maories proud of their pedigrees.
* 'Ota,' saw dust, 'huhu,' a grub.
Friendly natives visiting the town complain that during the last five days they have been treated with marked rudeness by the Europeans, and are frequently told that they will be turned out and no longer permitted to carry on their trade as. heretofore. His Excellency is satisfied that it is only necessary to call public attention to the subject to ensure friendly treatment to individuals of the native race.
By his Excellency's command,
Signed, H. J. Tancred.
All this while the great Waikato tribe continued quiet but watchful, appeared friendly towards Europeans, and at the King's place, Ngaruawahia, Potatau and his people still proclaimed as their motto: "Religion, love and law," but a Ngatiruanui mission was in the neighbourhood and a great conference expected. page 127Burning and pillaging had been carried on in the Taranaki by the natives, and there all was alarm among the settlers. In the province of Auckland, the out-settlers on good terms with the natives, were in doubt about arming; as long as they were unarmed they were of course at the mercy of the natives; yet the Maories sat still. And if the settlers armed they would probably excite the jealousy of the natives by becoming soldiers. In and about the town of Auckland the rifle volunteer movement was flourishing. Those only who have lived on the outskirts of civilization, pioneers of the west, or South African border farmers, can rightly judge of the anxiety of families near warlike tribes of natives and quite at their mercy, whilst to leave their clearings and come into town would be utter ruin, abandoning houses, crops and cattle. We cannot in fairness say it is the settlers own look out they must protect themselves, if the Government do not prevent their settling, they are bound, by means of outposts and a military force, to afford them places of refuge and protection. The French in Algeria have 100,000 men to control three millions of Arabs, and cannot do page 128with less seemingly, the annual expense is three millions. Our wide spread possessions east, west, north and south, Indian mutinies and China wars absorbed our peripatetic soldiers, and New Zealand for sometime had only one regiment to watch and ward the whole of the territory.
His Excellency the Governor having applied for assistance to Sydney and Melbourne, in the middle of April there arrived at the seat of war, Taranaki, H.M. steam sloop ' Cordelia' eleven guns, Captain Vernon, and the 'City of Sidney' steamer with five officers and hundred fifty-seven of the 12th Regiment, one captain and forty men Royal Artillery; afterwards came H.M.S. 'Pelorus' Captain B. Seymour, accompanying the ' Wonga Wonga' with two hundred and fifty men of the 40th Regiment; more followed afterwards and inspired hope and confidence.
It being deemed advisable to send an expedition to the south of New Plymouth to act on the Taranaki and Ngatiruanuis, a force was organized consisting of two hundred and eighty men of the 65th regiment, one hundred and fifty blue jackets and marines, eighty Militia and page 129Volunteers, forty Royal Artillery with two 24-pounder howitzers and four six-pounder field-pieces, also twenty Royal Engineers, the whole under the command of Colonel Gold, and Captain Seymour, R.N. Accompanying this expedition were thirty carts laden with camp equipage, ammunition, stores of various kinds and provisions.
It was considered that invading the territory of the insurgents might stop marauding and murdering in the Taranaki. Starting at an early hour on the 20th April, the force crossed the Waireka valley at 11 A.M. the force encamped at Tataraimaka* and a reconnoitring party with two guns was sent out towards Hongatahwa river, when this was reached, a strong pah was observed, and apparently difficult to be got at.
* ' Tatara,' a mat, ' i maka,' was thrown away—a garment thrown away.
† 'Wai,' river, 'rau,' leaf.
The pah was then pulled down, and some of the houses and provisions of the natives were burnt.
* 'Wai,' water, 'atea,' clear.
A number of mares and foals were captured, and the mill searched for, but it could not be found. The homeward march was commenced, the houses at Mokotura were levelled and the march resumed without obstruction. To carry out the usual practise of war (though capture but not destroy, should I think be adopted in future) five stacks of wheat were burned inland. Mr. Parris, the native commissioner, lost some wheat in this expedition, which a native had set apart as payment of a debt.
At the sand hills near Komena's pah the skirmishers descried some natives, fired at eight hundred yards and one man was seen to fall. The guides in trying to cross a swamp, whilst searching for horses and cattle, were fired upon from the scrub. After this the force rested to refresh among the rich pastures of the Tataraimaka, three companies of the 65th page 132were left there with two guns, and the rest of the force returned to New Plymouth, after being treated to a grand war dance by the allies with the usual shouts, contortions and thrusting out the tongue.
The example having been set of firing pahs and houses, and destroying property, the Taranakis and Ngatiruanuis exacted a fearful utu or payment, on the settlers afterwards, as will appear in the course of the narrative.
Though more was expected of the above expedition in punishing the insurgents of the south, yet considering the extremely difficult nature of the country, the tracks for roads, the steep gullies, the entangled bush, thick scrub and deep swamps, perhaps as much was done as could reasonably be accomplished by a force with wheeled carriages; mounted rifies with pack horses might have done a good deal more, but at the time they could not be got together.
Interesting meetings took place at Hawkes' Bay and Wellington under the superintendants and at which the native chiefs, invited to attend, professed no desire to quarrel with their page 133white brethren, but on the contrary to have very friendly feelings towards them.
The great chief (or king) Potatau still professed friendship to the Europeans, yet he was believed to be more pf an instrument in the hands of ambitious chiefs, than possessing any real power. Thus, though it was said he did not sanction the stoppage of the overland mail to Napier (Hawkes' Bay), yet on the 23rd April it was stopped by natives of Taupo Lake and Wakotere paruas. This occasioned uneasiness in the scattered settlements, south of Auckland, about Drury, Papakura,* Wairoa,† and Waiuku. ‡ It was suggested that alarm posts should be fixed on, and that signals by bells should be made in case of an irruption from the Waikatriver, also that the settlers should enroll themselves as Southern Rifles; tar barrels, kept ready for burning, it was proposed to put on various hills, so as to communicate with Auckland, if large bodies of the natives advanced towards it; scattered parties of eight and nine men, burning farm homes were more likely to come.
* Papakura, an insect.
† Wairoa, long water.
‡ 'Wai' water, 'uku,' white clay.
Block-houses for the defence of the capital were now constructed under the direction of a valuable officer, ever attentive to his public duties, Colonel Mould, C.B., commanding Royal Engineer; these were placed on the heights of the Government domain overlooking the town, and at Freeman's Bay where there is a favourite landing place for Maori canoes. On the green hill at Onehunga* there was also a stockaded block-house, at the Whau,† nine miles from Auckland, and a place where the Maories from the Manukau harbour used to carry their canoes across to launch them again in the Waitemata or Auckland harbour. Lieutenant Cope, 14th, was for some time in charge at the Whau with a party.
The Militia were also organised and officered; Lieutenant-Colonels Haultain, Kenny, and Nixon, appointed to command the three Regiments of Auckland Militia, Lieutenant-Colonel Balneavis, Deputy-Adjutant-General of Militia, and Colonel Mould, Commandant of the whole of the Auckland Militia.
* 'One,' sand,' hunga,' people.
† Whau, a plant, Enhelia arborescens.
The flourishing colony of Victoria now came forward in the handsomest manner to aid her sister colony of New Zealand in her season of difficulty. The colonial war steamer, "Victoria," ably commanded by Captain Norman and well officered, was placed under the orders of Commodore Loring, commanding in Australian waters. Her first duty was to embark at Hobart Town, Tasmania, in conjunction with the steam transport "City of Hobart," portions of the 40th Regiment, Colonel Leslie commanding. The colony of Victoria placed their ship at the disposal of the crown, the Imperial Government paying all expenses, and furnishing the crew with rifled breech-loading carbines, of which, as I afterwards saw, when I sailed in her, the crew were not a little proud and of which they proved the use on shore.
Emigrants continued to arrive in May and were no doubt surprised to find that the ploughshare was converted into the sword, and instead of at once settling on farms or assisting on sheep runs, they were expected to turn out for morning drill and to be prepared to do battle, if required, against the stout natives of page 136the south. Some took to the firelock readily; but others seemed to feel the force of these lines.
"Oh! who would fight and march and countermarch,
Be shot for sixpence on a battle-field,
And shovelled up into a bloody trench
Where no one knows!"
Emigration continued to decline from month to month, and after a year there seemed to be no arrival at all, as during Caffre wars, from want of confidence as to peace prospects and protection of life and property in the colony.
It was not generally known at this time, in the highest quarters in England, the strength of the French force in the Southern ocean, and we may here state that in May, 1860, it consisted of the 'Monge,' screw; 'Aviso,' 1800 tons; the 'Thisbe,' sailing corvette of twenty-two guns; the 'Bellone,' screw of fifty guns; 'Sybille,' sailing frigate of fifty-two guns; 'Isis,' sailing frigate of forty-two guns; a fifty-six gun screw frigate for the Admiral's flag, and the 'Caledonienne,' steamer all bound for the new possession New Caledonia. For Australian waters generally, we had the 'Iris,' twenty-six guns, sailing frigate; the 'Pelorus,' screw corvette of twenty-one guns; the 'Niger,' screw page 137sloop of thirteen guns; 'Cordelia,' screw sloop of eleven guns; 'Pawn,' screw, of seventeen guns.
A great meeting was held in May at Ngaruawahia, the Maori King's place at the junction of the Waikato and Waipa* rivers, to discuss the question of peace and war; tons of of flour, droves of pigs, canoe loads of dried eels, potatoes, and kumera (sweet potatoes) were provided by the hospitable entertainers on the occasion. The great chief (or King) Potatau still remained friendly to the British; but a considerable number of Waikatos, with their natural taste for war, and believing that they had a claim from conquest to Taranaki land, hastened to join Wiremu Kingi at the Waitara.
* 'Wai,' water, 'pah,' habitation—well-peopled river.
At "the great talk" at Ngaruawahia, European traders were not absent, one of whom sold his goods at these rates: Cavendish tobacco at 2s. a cake; negro-head at Is. a fig, two hundred per cent over Auckland prices, common print shirts 5s. each, composition candles Is. each. It was said that certain white men (there are many runaways up the Waikato) first suggested the Maori King idea, and we know that two bad characters who asked for and obtained leave to trade in the upper markets, immediately opened a grog shop, to corrupt, if they could, for their own vile gains, the Maories, who are, as a people, disposed to temperance; individuals of them, however, would sacrifice the honour of their families for drink. Would that the laws of the Hudson Bay Company, against drink supplied to natives, could be put in force here, and a fine-page 139looking and intelligent race saved from disease and the death of drunkards!
A certain portion of the plain was staked off for the tarngata whenua, men of the soil (of the district), another portion for natives from a distance, and a third for European visitors, among these was the Lord Bishop Selwyn.
An intelligent looking chief. Rahi, having planted three sticks in the ground, one much longer than the other two, placed on one of the short sticks a hat; at the foot of the other he laid a native mat, then united the three by a. cord of flax plant, and described what was intended to be represented—the longest stick God or Religion, the next one with the hat represented the Governor at the head of the white people in New Zealand, and the stick with the mat was for the Maori nation. " Who," he said, " could think of disjoining the bond of amity he had thus typified!" The chief Wytene then came forward with a fourth stick in his hand, and drew a circle round the others, and said, "The Maori nationality is now set. We don't want to fight the Governor, but we will hold the hand of those who want to sell more land to the page 140Pakeha." Alluding to the Taranaki, he said, " that the Governor by making war with Wiremu Kingi, had loosened the cord of love," (here Wytene untied the flax cord) " which had hitherto united the two races; and that there was now only God and Potatau remaining to the Maorie. The Governor should now desist from purchasing, more Maori land, as that was the cause of the strife."
Rahi asked if he had made that clear; Wytene made no answer. Then Tamati Ngapura (a man of great influence and of good character, and brother of Potatau, in whose company and that of others of note I afterwards proceeded to the Taranaki), spoke at great length urging peace, and that sooner than war should be made, that they should toss their arms and ammunition into the ocean. It is believed that Tamati Ngapura is deeply imbued with religious principles, and is greatly esteemed by all who know him. Another chief seconded Tamati Ngapua's propositions, and added, " Love to our friends, the Pakeha, love to our friends, the Maories, love to the whole world. My principal word is, let us erect a temple to the worship of page 141Jehovah;" probably meaning a church where Pakehas and Maories should conjointly worship theDeity.
Tarapipipi (W. Thompson) then delivered a very florid oration, interspersed with scriptural quotations, (he is a man of great talent, and well versed in sacred lore), and displacing the hat from the stick said, " Let the Governor work on his own land, and allow the Maori to work on his. Don't let the Maori jump on the land of the Pakeha, or the European tread on that of the Maori. I have still no desire for the Waikato to act against the Governor. Tamati Ngapura has said well about putting away weapons; but let the Pakeha set the Maories the example. The question now is, shall we go with the Governor, or support Raogitaki (W. Kingi.)" Several spoke for and against supporting the Governor. The peace party seemed to be prevailing, when the word came that the Chief Katipa and his contingent were not far off. They came with flashing paddles in two large war canoes, the large one ninety feet long, and seating one hundred and twenty men and women, had cost from the Ngapuhis £300. The smaller seated sixty page 142persons; both were handsomely carved and ornamented, and the lusty and tattoed voyageurs were gay with feathers in their hair.
Katipa, though esteemed a friend of the Pakeha, was received as usual with the waving of shawls and the firing of guns, which his party duly returned from some excellent arms. Katipa's people then made themselves comfortable for the rest of the day by pitching tents by means of paddles, poles and sails, and preparing their afternoon meal.
On Sunday, religious services were held in different parts of the encampment, and the Bishop Selwyn and the Reverend Messieurs T. Buddie, J. Morgan, J. Watts, A. Read, Garaval, and some native ministers officiated. The audiences were numerous and attentive.
Where Missionary influence is wisely exercised, the effects of it, under Provience, are sometimes truly wonderful. When a people are taught to work as well as pray, to improve their circumstances, and place them above the fear of want and starvation. Also, when peace is promoted where evil passions and oppression page 143prevailed, when the evil desires and inclinations of man are subdued, and a love of morality is substituted for vice in every hateful form, the native mind must feel and acknowledge its deep obligation to its spiritual guides.
To preserve and elevate the native races by the influence of true Christianity, has been one of the primary aims of Missionary societies. His Excellency Sir George Grey, both in New Zealand and at the Cape of Good Hope, recognised this design, and earnestly endeavoured to bring the influence of the Government to sanction and assist it. When aide-de-camp and private secretary to Sir B. d'Urban, at the Cape, I made the acquaintance of Sir George Grey, when as a Captain of the 83rd Regiment, he was on his way to explore at Shark's Bay, Australia. When assisting in his outfit, I remarked then his earnest character and his attention to the work in hand; and the expectations formed of him in his youth, have been most amply fulfilled in his mature years.
For centuries, bloodshed and violence prevailed in New Zealand, and before the war began, the Maories were reckoned a chris-page 144tianised people—that is to say, war among the tribes seemed to have ceased, though chiefs and tribes might still have been jealous of each other; yet the improvement was marvelous, and when peace again exercises her benign influence over the land, the Maories will make themselves respected as a civilized people.
Next day, the Bishop assembled the natives connected with his church, and after morning prayers, he asked them if they intended to assist at the erection of a new flag staff? A number of them answered they did; he rebuked them for their folly, said he would not stay to witness it, as it would lead to strife; he then struck his tent, and took his departure.
The Bishop and the party who think as he does, have been strongly in favour of leaving abundance of land with the Maories; as much as they can possibly want, as forest land, corn fields, sheep-runs, &c. Yet he always advised them to haul down the King's flag, and not " for a piece of bunting" to risk a contest with the powerful Pakehas.
Katipa at the korero, or talk, which was resumed, professed his adhesion to the Euro-page 145peans, and Mr. Donald MacLean, the native secretary, at the request of the Maories, explained the circumstances connected with the purchase of the Waitera land. With regard to any Waikato claims there, by right of conquest, Mr. MacLean stated, and which was confirmed by Te Whero Whero (Potatau) himself, that the Waikatos had years ago surrendered their claim to the land to the British Government, for a consideration.
Tare, of the northern Ngapuhis, a relative of Tamati Wakanene, said they had eaten food* in the Waikato country before, and might do so again; he reminded some of the King's party that they promised allegiance to the British Queen, and that they had obtained many advantages from the intercourse with Europeans; he recommended the removal of the new flag-staff, and to avoid engaging in the Taranaki quarrel.
* An old Maori expression for a victory and its results.
At this time, Mr. Parris, the native commissioner, was saved, by means of the Waikatos, from a determined plot to take his life by the Taranaki and Ngatiruanui deputation on their return from the conference with King Potatau. Mr. Parris had been asked to procure for them a safe escort to their homes, as they had not been concerned in the murders at the Omata, and he resolved to do so, it being rumoured that possibly our ally, Ihaia, of the Waitara, might endeavour to cut them off.
There was an escort of one hundred and fifty Waikatos, the deputation numbered about fifty. On the way to Taranaki, the Waikato chief, Epiha, discovered and communicated to Mr. Parris, that it was the intention of the deputation to form an ambush and destroy him, out of hatred to the white man. Mr. Parris threw himself on the protection of the Waikatos; accordingly, Epiha, and Honé, another Waikato chief, forming double files on each side of him, and an advance and rearguard at the place where the deputation were in waiting to cut him off at night, brought him safe through. When Mr, Parris took page 147leave of his preservers, Epiha said, " Do not thank us, but God; I may yet meet you by day as an enemy, but I could not consent to your murder."
On the 19th May at the Waitara, it was understood that the Waikatos in considerable numbers, had joined Wirermu Kingi, and had hutted themselves between Huirangi and the Waitara river, and it was supposed that Kingi with his reinforcements of the Waikatos, Ngatiruanuies, and Taranakis, would put up a pah on the disputed land, and then make an attempt on New Plymouth.
One had often to lament the extreme imprudence of old settlers in the country, thus exposing themselves needlessly, being either shot at or shot by the natives during the contest; and then the latter stigmatised, as blood thirsty savages, and when the white man would have done the same thing by the native if lie had caught him unawares. High minded men spare the enemy when at their mercy. " I can't shoot that old fellow,' cried the noble soldier and good sportsman, Major Gregory, 98th, in the first Caffre War, as he tossed up his gun after covering a stout old page 148Caffre who dashed across an open glade; but we cannot expect uneducated men to be Gregories.
Captain Richard Brown, the commandant of the native auxiliary force, went out of the block-house at the mouth of the Waitara, it was said to look for firewood along the shore. Three of the Ngatiawas, who were lurking among the flax bushes and fern, watched their opportunity, crept on him, and fired at him as he heedlessly and singly rode along the shore. The first shot struck his cartouche box and glanced off; the second took effect on his thigh, and the third passed through his left side and lodged in his body.
Captain Brown's horse swerved, and putting spurs to it, he galloped back towards the camp, and being observed to droop in the saddle, he was carried in a fainting state and lodged in a wharre in the fishing pah. Captain Brown was an energetic settler, and a brave man; too daring, in fact, like a strong swimmer who ventures too much and too long.
Previous to this affair, Wiremu Kingi had returned a horse, complete with saddle and page 149bridle, the property of an officer, which had strayed from the camp. Wiremu Kingi, until the Waitara land dispute, had been a friend of the British, and fought on their side in a former war.
At this time also a schooner, the " Louisa,' was wrecked on the east coast, and the crew and passengers were in a helpless condition; when on making known their distress at a native settlement, the chief, Paratene, received them most hospitably; turned out his people; brought, with his horses, the white men and their goods to his wharres; and not working on Sunday, on Monday saved spars, sails, and running gear from the wreck, and thirty sacks of wheat; and sent in canoes the crew and passengers to Auckland, charging only forty shillings for his peoples' services.
Whilst unpleasant feelings were existing between the two races at the time, it is pleasant and proper to record this instance of native svmpathv for shipwrecked mariners.
Tall flag-staffs and yards for signals were now erected at the Bell Block, Omata Stockade, and Marsland Hill, and a code of signals was arranged under the direction of page 150Serjeant Marjoram, Royal Artillery, by means of wicker balls by day, and lanthorns by night, forming words.
On the Queen's birthday there was a respectable turn out of Regulars, Militia, and Volunteers, and the usual salute with great guns and small arms fired. Major Nelson being sent to the Waitara camp with a part of his fine regiment, the 40th, but new to the country and the native mode of warfare, was a mistake.
On the 4th of June, Captain Miller, of the 12th Regiment, distinguished himself by his heroic endeavours to rescue from drowning a son of Mr. Wakefield, of Taranaki. The youth who was on horseback, was trying to ford the Huatoki stream near its mouth, he lost his seat, and was washed out to sea. Captain Miller happening to be present, immediately plunged into the sea to try and save him; he swam strongly towards the boy, but got among the breakers, and was carried back into the mouth of the swollen river, where the heavy surf broke over him repeatedly, and he was at last washed up apparently in a dying state on the beach, from page 151whence he was carried into the Kowau pah, where after vigorous efforts he was restored to consciousness.
Mr. Hoby junior, boldly, on horseback, swam into the sea, but also failed to save young Wakefield from death.
When I arrived in New Zealand, and heard the Fiji Islands, Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, and other islands of the great Southern Pacific ocean, familiarly talked of as near neighbours, and of easy access, I truly felt I was " far, far from home," and indeed removed to an ultima thule the ancients had never dreamt of. Now in June, 1860, Colonel Smythe arrived in Auckland on his way to the Fijis on a political and commercial mission; it having been understood that the Fijeans, that wild and warlike people of books of voyages, were desirous to place themselves-under the sovereignty of Queen Victoria, and it was expected that thus another field for cotton growing would be open to British enterprise, along with other advantages.
In the Taranaki at this time, the middle of June, the hostile natives were collected in page 152some strength, and near the Bell Block carried off the stock of the settlers there, and broke up and destroyed the insides of their houses in the wanton, spirit of savage nations. These devastations were performed in the night. Portions of the 12th Regiment and 40th were sent out to endeavour to surprise the marauders; but they seemed to have early intimation of the movement of the troops, it was alleged from friendly pahs, and thus could not be caught.
In New Plymouth, from over crowding, neglect of sanitary measures, inattention to removing nuisances, and in some houses, (built a yard off the ground on piles; blocking up the foundations with turf, &c, and preventing the air blowing freely under the floors, occasioned fever. The people became alarmed, thinking that an epidemic had arisen among them to add to the misery of being driven from their country homes, but malaria from local causes, and these removable, was the origin of the fever.