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The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume I (1845–64)


page 221

BEFORE THE WINTER of 1861 most of the troops in Taranaki were withdrawn to Auckland, Colonel Warre remaining in New Plymouth with his regiment, the 57th. Major-General Pratt left for Melbourne after the arrival of a new Commander-in-Chief, Lieut.-General Sir Duncan Cameron, who had led the 40th Regiment at the Battle of the Alma, and the Highland Brigade at Balaclava and the siege of Sebastopol. Many of the troops sent to Auckland were employed on the Great South Road, which was being cut through the forest from Drury to the Waikato River. In Taranaki the Atiawa were amicable, but the Ngati-Ruanui and their kin remained unfriendly.

An incident of 1862 (1st September) was the wreck at Te Namu, near Cape Egmont, of the steamer “Lord Worsley,” 600 tons, carrying passengers, mails, and gold from Nelson to New Plymouth and Auckland. Wiremu Kingi te Matakaatea and Eruera te Whiti (afterwards the celebrated prophet of Parihaka) befriended the shipwrecked people, numbering sixty, who were permitted to go overland to New Plymouth with their baggage, after this had been examined by the Kingite customs officers; each person had to pay 5s. on passing the Maori toll-gate established as the result of a large Maori conference at Kapoaiaia. Mr. Robert Graham, Auckland, who was a passenger, pluckily saved the gold that was on board, and twice traversed the hostile territory, carrying his loads safely into New Plymouth. A young half-caste named Hori Teira (George Taylor), who was one of the keepers of the toll-gate, obtained a horse for Mr. Graham and otherwise assisted him, and this act of friendship brought its unexpected reward in the following year, when Hori lay in prison in Auckland.

Soon after Sir George Grey had succeeded Colonel Gore Browne as Governor of New Zealand, arriving at Auckland on the 26th September, 1862, in H.M.S. “Cossack,” from Cape Town, a new native policy was promulgated. A Commission had investigated the proprietary interests in the Waitara lands, and page 222 as the outcome of its inquiries the Governor issued, on the 11th May, 1863, a Proclamation announcing the abandonment of the purchase of Teira's block and the renunciation by the Government of all claims to that area of land. This tardy vindication of Wiremu Kingi's cause had unfortunately been preceded by the armed occupation of the Tataraimaka Block, which had temporarily been abandoned in 1860, and which the Maoris now claimed by right of conquest. Three hundred officers and men of the 57th, under Colonel Warre, marched out along the south road, and on the 4th April encamped on Tataraimaka, and built a redoubt on Bayley's Farm, near the Katikara River. The Taranaki Tribe had previously informed the Governor and General Cameron that Tataraimaka would not be given up unless the British first gave up the Waitara. The march upon Tataraimaka was naturally accepted as an act of war, and Taranaki promptly sent out appeals for assistance to Ngati-Ruanui and Nga-Rauru, and to Ngati-Maniapoto and Waikato; a letter was sent to Wiremu Kingi at Kihikihi. Five weeks elapsed before the Government made amends for the error of Gore Browne and his advisers, and in the meantime hostilities had commenced.