The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 8 (December 1, 1933)
Captain Mair and his Arawa
Captain Mair and his Arawa.
Here I can but give a greatly compressed resume of his life and services to his country. Both the Mairs I knew from my boyhood, but Gilbert the more intimately of the two. Many a day, many weeks in fact, we spent together in his later years, exploring his old campaigning grounds, riding over battlefields where he had marched and fought half a century before.
“Tawa” was the name by which Captain Gilbert Mair was universally known among the Maoris. This was given to him by the Arawa after his birthplace, Tawa-tawhiti, at Whangarei. In his teens he was engaged in helping his elder brother buying kauri gum from the Maoris–many of them Arawas who had temporarily camped on the northern gumfields-and he acquired early a thorough knowledge of the native language and an uncommon insight into their modes of thought and ways of life. In 1860, when he was seventeen years old, he was articled to the Surveyor-General at Auckland, to learn land surveying, and he secured his provincial certificate in 1864. Shortly before the Waikato War began he assisted in surveying and cutting up a large area of native land between the Waikato Heads and Raglan. Later he was appointed clerk and interpreter to the Magistrate's Court at Tauranga, and when the war was renewed in the Bay of Plenty district in 1866 he was given an opportunity of developing his natural military talents conjoined with his native knowledge of bushcraft and his athletic, tireless physique.