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Life in Early Poverty Bay

Ropata's Clever Strategy

Ropata's Clever Strategy

Two days after this narrow escape, Major Ropata arrived at Patutahi from Napier and Mr. Goldsmith joined his party as a scout, once more getting up to the firing-line. Leaving Patutahi, they set out for Ngatapa and had reached Makaretu, when they engaged a strong body of Hau-Haus. The enemy were caught in a valley with a deep creek at the bottom, so Major Ropata divided his party, sending a band of friendly Napier Natives, some seven or eight hundred, along one ridge, while he took up a position, with the remainder of his force, on the other. Caught between two fires, with no possibility of escape, the Hau Haus fought bravely despite rapidly-diminishing numbers. The Government troops gradually closed in and drove the rebels up the valley which narrowed down to an end in a clear space near the hill-top. When the retreating Natives reached the end of the cover, they had the choice of rushing out into the open to be shot down or of jumping into the deep creek at the side. Some made a dash for the open, but none won through Others jumped into the creek (which had a deep flow of water) and attempted to escape down stream. “They hadn't a chance in the world,” Mr. Goldsmith remarked reflectively, “and with some of them swimming and others breast-high in the water, we had no trouble in fixing them all.”