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The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume II: The Hauhau Wars, (1864–72)



page 536

Lieut.-Colonel Thomas McDonnell, writing from Wanganui in 1897, referred to a number of colonial soldiers whom he had recommended for the decoration of the New Zealand Cross, but who had not received it. He said, “I especially recommended the following men: Mr. Northcroft, S. M., of Wanganui, for protecting Economedes (Taranaki Rangers) when mortally wounded in the forest below Tirotiro-moana. Captain Northcroft stuck to his man, defending him till the brave Greek expired, when assistance came up and the body was taken to the Waihi camp and interred. There are numerous other instances where this gallant officer did similar unselfish service. Our fellow-townsman, Mr. McKenna, got the V. C. for exactly similar service in Waikato. Again, Hirtzel: At the fight at Pungarehu, when the order was given to retire, Sergeant Tarrin de Courcey Duff, of the Wanganui Yeomanry Cavalry, fell mortally wounded inside the fence of the fortified pa or village. Hirtzel never hesitated, but sprang over the fence, followed by Captain Northcroft, whilst heavy volleys were being fired into our small band by the strong rebel reinforcements, who came from distant villages farther in the forest to assist the belligerent tribes. Thus Duff was rescued, but Hirtzel got severely wounded in the shoulder. I recommended this brave officer for the Cross for his devotion, but no notice was taken for it. Again, at Turuturu-mokai Redoubt, when attacked by Ngati-Ruanui, Connor of the Army Constabulary, now a messenger in the Government Buildings, formerly a 57th man, was recommended by me for the Cross for his bravery in defending his wounded comrades who were lying helpless at the mercy of the foe, who knew none. Connor and one or two others could have got away, as some did, but they elected to risk death at their posts rather than desert the wounded. A Committee of Parliament some two or three years since investigated this case and did its duty by recommending Connor. No notice was taken of this either. Major Scannell I also recommended for his heroic devotion on the retreat from Te Ngutu, to which many owe their lives. This was also ignored. Private James Shanagan, serious wounded in the act of trying to rescue Major Von Tempsky, is also entitled to the Cross; I would recommend him, but it would be useless. And last, but by no means least, Sir George Grey and Sir Walter Buller, for incidents I well remember before the famous Weraroa pa in 1865. Sir George should receive the Cross and be made Chancellor of the Order. If exception is taken because Sir Walter Buller was a civilian, why, then, did His Honour the late Dr. Featherston get the decoration recommended by General Sir Trevor Chute?”

Of those mentioned by Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell, Captain Northcroft received the New Zealand Cross many years later—in fact, some forty years after the events in which he earned it.


The first award of the New Zealand Cross was that made to Trooper William Lingard, of Bryce's Kai-iwi Cavalry, Wanganui, in 1869. Mr. Lingard (died in Wellington, 1922) was born in Country Clare, Ireland; he was the son of an Imperial officer who had fought at Waterloo. Lingard was intended for the Army, but he came out to New Zealand in 1863 to try his fortune. He served in the Auckland Militia during the Waikato War, and followed a farmer's life in the Wanganui and Waitotara districts. He was a trooper in the Alexandra Lancers, a troop formed about 1865, and afterwards in the Kai-iwi Cavalry (Captain John Bryce), a corps which did a page 537 great deal of patrol and scouting duty. It was while serving in the Cavalry in front of Tauranga-ika pa, inland from Nukumaru, in 1869, that he won the decoration of the New Zealand Cross by an act of great gallantry.

Four troopers of the Cavalry rode up to the front of the pa one day in order to ascertain whether there were any Maoris in the stockade, as the place seemed unusually silent. These cavalrymen were Troop Sergeant-Major George Maxwell, Troopers Arthur Wright, Henry Wright, and William Lingard. They rode close up to the pa and galloped past the palisade. Suddenly a heavy fire was opened on them, and Maxwell was shot. He stuck to his saddle until he had ridden about a hundred yards from the stockade before he fell. Troopers George Small and Allan Campbell galloped forward and recovered his body under heavy fire. At the same time the horses of both the Wright Brothers were shot down about a chain from the palisading. Arthur Wright jumped off his horse before he fell, and, taking his saddle, ran down near the bush and rejoined the troop in the valley below, 400 or 500 yards from the pa. Henry Wright's horse did not fall until Arthur Wright was half-way to the troop. When the horse tumbled over he rolled on to his rider's leg and pinned him to the ground. The trooper lay in this position under fire, within a very short distance of the stockade; he kept firing his revolver at the palisade, but was unable to use his carbine. A Maori warrior, the locally celebrated Big Kereopa, came out from under the palisading with a long-handled tomahawk, and Wright would have been killed had it not been for the promptitude of Trooper Lingard, who galloped up and helped him away. He pulled him clear of the horse, and protected him under the heavy fire, while he (Wright) retreated, crouching. Lingard, when he saw Wright was in comparative safety, then turned his horse and galloped round to the far side of the pa. A few moment later he returned leading a Maori horse (looted from a settler) which had been tethered to a tutu bush; he cut the line with his sword. After assisting Wright to mount this horse the two troopers rode down the hill and safely rejoined their corps. Undoubtedly, had it not been for Lingard's courage and alacrity, combined with good horsemanship, Trooper Wright would have been tomahawked. The rescue was performed under a heavy fire at close quarters, and Lingard well deserved the New Zealand Cross bestowed upon him on the recommendation of Colonel Whitmore.

Lingard was soon afterwards put in charge of a small party of scouts organized by Colonel Whitmore; he was invalided at Patea, and Sergeant (later Captain) C. Maling was then appointed to the command of the scouts, styled the Crops of Guides.


Sergeant Arthur Wakefield Carkeek received the New Zealand Cross in 1870 on the recommendation of Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell. On the 7th February 1870, while the force under the command of Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell was serving in the Patetere country, Te Kooti, with his men, came out of the bush on the Rotorua side of the ranges and was engaged by Captain Mair. It was of the utmost importance that immediate notice should be sent to McDonnell of the whereabouts of the enemy, and Sergeant Carkeek, who was then at Ohinemutu, used every exertion to get natives to convey a note to him at Tapapa through the bush, but no one could be induced to incur the risk. Sergeant Carkeek then determined to take the information himself, and, having found one native who agreed to accompany him, he started at daylight on the 8th, and arrived at Tapapa about 3 p.m. He travelled over thirty miles, through dense bush known to be haunted by the enemy, and in danger of being surprised by them at any moment, when certain death would have been his fate.