Life in Early Poverty Bay
An Unfortunate Sequel
An Unfortunate Sequel.
This victory over the Hau-Haus had an unfortunate sequel. Before the engagement, Major Ropata had issued orders that no prisoners were to be taken. The Napier Natives had captured two men and, for some reason, did not wish to execute them. Major Ropata demanded that they be delivered to him, but the Napier men proved adamant. Thereupon the Major, whose own party consisted of only 70 or 80 as against ten times that number of Napier Natives, delivered an ultimatum that the latter could keep the two prisoners until next morning, but they would then have to be given up without fail. During that night, all the Napier “friendlies,” with their two prisoners, departed for Patutahi and were thence returned to Napier, taking no further part in the fighting. Their departure was a big loss to the Government forces.
Very shortly after this, on the same trip, Mr. Goldsmith participated in the attacks on the pa situated on Ngatapa hill. Many of the Hau Haus had retired to this strongly fortified post which was well guarded on all open sides by a series of rifl-epits outside the stout pallisade. All the brush and scrub had been cleared for a considerable distance around the pa and the attackers were thus fully exposed to the defenders' fire when advancing. Major Ropata, however, led an assault to the first line of rifle pits which were captured, but they had to relinquish this position during the night, owing to the supply of ammunition running out.