Reminiscences of The War in New Zealand
Chapter LII. — Campaign Against The Uriwera Tribe—continued. — Te Kooti. Attack on Mohaka. Murder of lavin, his wife and three children, wilkinson and cooper
Campaign Against The Uriwera Tribe—continued.
Te Kooti. Attack on Mohaka. Murder of lavin, his wife and three children, wilkinson and cooper.
On the 10th, the Hauhaus were discovered in possession of a high hill overlooking the camp, and a trifling skirmish, mere waste of time, took place, so that Colonel St. John put a stop to it. Two horses were killed this day for meat, but no one seemed to care particularly about it, though one page 283mess-man made a stew, and disguised the horse with potatoes sufficiently to admit of its being swallowed.
On the following day, the Hauhaus took possession of a hill two miles from camp, and began to entrench themselves, but were dislodged after a slight skirmish by a division of the Armed Constabulary. The conquered ground was then handed over to the Arawas to hold, while the division returned to camp for their blankets, as they intended to hold the position so long as the column remained in the valley. No sooner, however, had the Europeans retired, than the Arawas did likewise, and the enemy resumed possession, and on the 12th, four divisions of the armed constabulary were paraded to retake the hill; sharp work was expected, as Te Kooti and his men from Mohaka were said to be present. Such, however, was not the case; Te Kooti did not arrive until after the force had left Ruatahuna. Contrary to their expectations, our men found the rifle-pits empty, and the hill deserted; but the Arawa scouts, under Major Mair, came across a Hauhau picket, who fired and wounded one of them. The remainder, with the exception of one man, bolted; but the major and this man charged the picket before they had time to reload, and a few shots from their revolvers started the enemy running for their lives. Colonel Whitmore had taken the precaution to send a number of Arawas under Henare Te Pukuatua round the back of the hill, to turn the position in case of serious resistance; into this party the picket ran. Three of their number were shot, and Henare, proud of his success, cut off their heads and brought them into camp. Thinking that the results of this skirmish might have somewhat calmed the fears of our allies, Colonel Whitmore tried hard to persuade them to follow him to Waikare Moana; but without the slightest effect, for the Arawas, having a dread of bush fighting, particularly when against the Uriwera, were satisfied with their present safety, and only desired to get out as soon as possible. That night they held a general korero, at which all but sixty (Pokia's page 284men) decided to return to Ahikereru on the following day. Under these circumstances, Colonel Whitmore made up his mind to proceed with the Europeans and Pokia's men, if the retiring natives would carry out the wounded. This they promised to do; but twelve hours altered the course of events, and next morning it was found that Pokia's men had also decided to return. It was perhaps as well that they did so, for the season was too much advanced to render it safe to cross the snow-covered Huiarau range; so, after destroying one more large kainga, the force returned to Ahikereru and took up a line of posts on the Rangitaike river, from Te Teko to Fort Galatea. Here it was intended the men should pass the winter, and occupy Taupo in the following spring. The main body of the Arawas under Major Mair, carrying the wounded, had retired by way of the Horoman gorge, a different track to that by which they came. They started on their return march shortly after Colonel Whitmore's column had left. Hardly had they ascended the range, when they saw the enemy, who had evidently been watching every movement on our part, enter their deserted camp.
For some hours the retreat went on quietly, but about midday the enemy overtook the rear-guard of the Arawas, and a few shots sent this valiant tribe rushing down the track in a state of panic-stricken terror, leaving the Ngaitai and Ngatipukeko tribes to hold the enemy in check and carry the wounded. Had it not been for the personal courage of Major Mair and Dr. Leslie, with this small but faithful band of men, who declared they would never leave their leader and his friend, the wounded must have fallen into the enemy's hands. As it was, the enemy followed all one day and part of the night, but were afraid to venture on too close quarters with men who paid so little attention to their firing and yelling. On arrival at Fort Galatea, it was found that plenty of rations had been stored there, and if any of my readers have lived on horseflesh and potatoes for any length of time, and in very page 285small quantities, they may picture to themselves the gastronomic feats that ensued.
Te Kooti, after his attack on Whakatane and retreat from Tauaroa, mentioned in the preceding chapter, retired to Ruatahuna, where he called a meeting of the Uriwera, and proposed to attack either Mohaka or Te Wairoa. The Uriwera chiefs consented to join him, provided he would make a raid upon Mohaka, which was the more unprotected place of the two.
One hundred men were selected from the mixed tribes who followed Te Kooti, and with this force he marched over the Huiarau range, and arrived at the south-west arm of the Waikare Moana lake. Te Kooti here issued an order that he would cross over in the first canoe, and that his men would then follow. A section of the Uriwera paid no attention to this order, but pushed out into the lake in a small canoe, which, when about half-way across, was capsized by one of those squalls which frequently occur on this lake. The crew reached shore with great difficulty, leaving their arms and ammunition at the bottom. So exhausted were they, that one died from fatigue. Te Kooti, with his usual promptitude, took advantage of this circumstance, and assembling bis men, warned them of the extreme danger they incurred by disobeying his orders, and concluded by informing them, that the reason he had ordered them to wait until he crossed was, that God had warned him of the coming misfortune, and that it could only be avoided by Te Kooti himself crossing in the first canoe. The superstitious Maories were much impressed by this statement, and did not again disobey.
From hence the Kokiri marched by way of Te Putere to the Upper Mohaka, and arrived at the Arakanihi village before daylight. The native inhabitants, thoroughly surprised, were taken prisoners and butchered without much noise, the tomahawk being the weapon used.
A party of the Uriwera were then sent across the river to attack the houses of the Europeans. Messrs. Lavin and page 286Cooper were met on the road, and the latter was shot, but the former, who was not hit by the first volley, attempted to escape with his wife. They were, however, overtaken and shot. For some reason, the Hauhaus did not molest the bodies. When found by the European force, Mrs. Lavin had a large sum of money in her pocket, and Mr. Lavin had his revolver. Three little children (Lavin's), while playing on the river-bank, were tomahawked, as also Mr. Wilkinson, making in all seven Europeans killed, a Later on the same day the Hauhaus marched down the river and attacked the Huke pah, which had a garrison of six men, and several women and children.
The greater part of the fighting men were on an expedition against Te Waru's village at Te Kiwi, and little thought that Te Kooti was turning the tables upon them in so truculent a fashion.