Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Old Whaling Days

Chapter VII. — Rescue of the “Harriett's” Crew, 1834

page break

Chapter VII.
Rescue of the “Harriett's” Crew, 1834.

On 14th April, 1834, a vessel of 240 tons called the Harriett, commanded by Richard Hall, sailed from Sydney for Cloudy, Bay. On board of her was a shore whaling gang under John Guard, already well known to our readers as the pioneer of shore whaling in Cook Strait. Guard was accompanied by his wife and two children—a son and a daughter. Besides these were two mates and 23 ordinary seamen.

At half-past four on the morning of 29th April, the Harriett was driven ashore at Cape Egmont in a strong W.S.W. gale, and by evening had been battered to pieces on the rocks. None of those on board were drowned, but all were got ashore, with only ten muskets, a small quantity of powder. a few sails—which were afterwards made into tents—and some provisions. Three of the ship's boats were got off in safety.

While the shipwrecked mariners were making the best of their unfortunate position ashore, and were actually preparing a boat to sail to Cloudy Bay, they were visited, on 1st May, by some thirty natives. Three days afterwards two seamen, named Thomas Mossman and James Johnson, joined the Maoris and took away with them some of the powder and other materials rescued from the wreck. On the seventh, a whole tribe of 200 men, armed with muskets, tomahawks, and spears, came down upon the unfortunate party, plundered, and maltreated them, and at the same time threatened to kill and eat them.

The climax came on the tenth, when the rival forces occupied the opposing banks of a river, the Europeans under arms the whole night through, determined that a fitting tribute of Maori life should accompany their own destruction. The attack commenced at eight o'clock in the morning, when the Maoris rushed the little party and cut page 113 down two of them, one of whom Guard says they cut into two and the other they cut up into joints for their cannibal repast. Then the Europeans opened fire, and an engagement commenced which lasted over an hour, when, although the Maoris had on several occasions been compelled to withdraw, they had, by taking advantage of their superior numbers, and utilizing the shelter furnished by the broken ground, killed some twelve of the defenders and forced the remainder to retreat. The Maoris fought from holes which they dug in the ground. Captives who were alive—with the exception of Mrs. Guard and her children—were at once killed. Even Mrs. Guard was twice cut down by a tomahawk, and was only saved from having her head split open by a large comb which she wore in her hair. Guard was amongst those who escaped.

The fourteen survivors made their way towards Moturoa, the old native settlement at the Sugar Loaf Islands, a little south of the foot of the New Plymouth breakwater. On their road they fell in with a party of about 100 Maoris, to whom, as they had no means of continuing the combat, they surrendered. After being kept for a few hours they were sent on as prisoners to Moturoa. Here they were confined for three days in the Pa, in a state of nudity, living on potatoes supplied by the Natives. When the three days had passed, the marauders returned from the scene of the wreck and divided up the party of Europeans among them as slaves, each man going to the Maori who had stripped him. Some of their clothes were returned to the prisoners, some were appropriated by their captors, and portions of the flesh of their comrades were offered them for food.

After a fortnight had elapsed, the Natives reported that a boat still remained at the scene of the wreck. Hearing this, Guard made the proposition to them that if they would allow him and some others to go away in the boat he would return with a cask of powder as a ransom for the party. The Natives accepted his offer, brought round the boat on 20th May, and arranged that five men should accompany him, while the remaining eight, including his page 114 brother, should remain as hostages. The ransom of the prisoners was treated by all as a purely commercial undertaking.

With the primitive appliances at their command, consisting only of a hammer, a pocket knife, and a few nails got from the broken timbers of the other boats, at the cost of one month of infinite labour, the boat was patched up and Guard was ready to leave. He sailed from Moturoa on 20th June and several Maori chiefs accompanied him. The following narrative of the voyage was given to the Sydney papers:—

“June 20.—Captain Guard and six Europeans, accompanied by three natives, started for Cloudy Bay in a small whale-boat, and which was in such a bad state, that it required one hand to be constantly engaged in bailing the water out. After being at sea in an open boat for two days and two nights, we reached Blind Bay, and hauled our boat on the beach, being unable to proceed further at that time on account of the wind blowing strong from the north, with heavy rains.

“June 22.—Started from Blind Bay; the night, however, coming on, and a heavy sea from the N.E. caused us to put in at a small river, where we again fell in with a party of natives, who robbed us of what we had in the boats, and our oars, and if we had not known some of them, they would have stolen our boat, and perhaps have done what was worse. We were here detained one day.

“June 25.—Started and reached Stephens Island where we had the pleasure of a meal of mussels from the rocks; we were afraid to visit the native settlements, expecting, if we did, that we should be taken prisoners or slaughtered, or lose our boat.

“June 26.—About 4 p.m. (and we have much reason to recollect the hour) we arrived at the European Settlement, Queen Charlotte's Sound, where we had the pleasure of hearing of the page 115 schooner, Joseph Weller, Captain Morris, which was lying at Port Nicholson. For the kindness of Captain Morris, we shall always feel grateful.

June 27.—Reached Cloudy Bay.”

At Cloudy Bay they found the Marianne, of Hobart Town, and Captain Sinclair, who commanded her, did everything in his power to assist them. He not only lent the party a boat to go across to Port Nicholson and get in touch with the Joseph Weller, but he gave Guard a supply of goods to ransom his wife and family, and the imprisoned sailors. On 30th June, Guard's party reached Port Nicholson and found the Joseph Weller getting ready to return to Sydney.

Guard experienced no difficulty in arranging with the captain of the Joseph Weller to call at Moturoa, to leave the chiefs and the ransom, and take away the shipwrecked mariners, together with Mrs. Guard and the children.

The Joseph Weller crossed over to Cloudy Bay and sailed from there on 14th July, but the weather prevented her making the Taranaki coast, and she went on to Sydney, where she landed Guard and the three Maoris on 17th August.

Up to this stage Guard had never done anything else than regard the rescue of the prisoners as merely a question of ransom, and had made all his plans to pay such ransom and to bring on the unfortunate captives to Sydney in the Joseph Weller. Had he not been prevented from carrying out this scheme by the accident of bad weather, the whole incident would doubtless have been closed by this time. Now, however, things began to develop a new phase in Sydney.

The Joseph Weller had come from Otago where the local whaling station was in fear of an attack by the natives at any hour. When she reached Sydney it was found that the Lucy Ann had arrived from Otago the day before with a full account of the dangers which beset Mr. Weller's establishment. Probably a conference between the captains of the Joseph Weller, the Lucy Ann and the other New page 116 Zealand captains in Sydney, was responsible for Guard's next step. He now abandoned the idea of ransom, and applied, under date 22nd August, for the assistance of the New South Wales Government, and stated his own and Captain Anglin's willingness to assist any party sent down to punish the natives and to teach them to respect the British. In saying, as they did, that they would be able to conduct the vessel to the best ports, the two captains evidently had in view a visit to Otago.

Guard was examined before the Executive Council on 22nd August, and frankly stated “A blanket, a canister of powder, some fish-hooks, and other trifling articles, would be sufficient ransom for each man, but more would be required for the women and children.” He also stated: “I believe if a ship-of-war were to go there, and a few soldiers landed, they could be got without ransom.” The excited condition, which the news brought by the Joseph Weller and the Lucy Ann had thrown Sydney into, was probably what nerved Guard, in spite of his admission that the captives could be ransomed, to ask for a man-of-war, and say: “I will not rest here, if a force is not sent down to intimidate them.”

He succeeded, and persuaded the Executive Council, with only the Colonial Treasurer dissenting, to make an application to Captain Lambert, of H.M.S. Alligator, then in Sydney, to obtain the restoration, peacefully or by force. For which latter purpose, in case it should be required, a military force was provided.

Three sources of information are open to us when we come to describe what took place from this time onwards. Official Despatches, published in London in 1835, give the text of Governor Bourke's Report to the Colonial Office, which forwarded the Reports of the commanders of the ships and of the troops. The Journal of H.M.S. Alligator, which is to be found in the Record Office, London, gives a quantity of interesting matter which has not appeared in any description of the expedition up to the present date. Lastly, William Barnett Marshall, who was surgeon on page 117 board H.M.S. Alligator, published a detailed account of the proceedings, and, though evidently written with intense feeling, and to that extent open to question as to his conclusions, his narrative of the different incidents is very valuable, and can be relied on. For the proper Maori names and the location, I am indebted to Mr. W. H. Skinner and Mr. S. P. Smith, of New Plymouth. The traditional Maori version will be found in the Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. XIX. pp. 108 and 109. The well-written European account which precedes it suffers in details, by the fact that the writer had not before him the printed despatches of the two commanders, dealing with the events which transpired after H.M.S. Alligator arrived off the Taranaki coast.

No time was lost by Governor Bourke in making the necessary arrangements with Captain Lambert. The 50th, or Queen's Own Regiment, was stationed at Sydney at the time, and three officers and 60 men were taken and distributed between H.M.S. Alligator and the Colonial schooner Isabella—Lieutenant Gunton and 25 men to the former, and Captain Johnston, Ensign Wright and 40 men to the latter—and the two vessels left Sydney under command of Captain Lambert on 31st August; Guard and his sailors accompanied the expedition; Battersbey acted as interpreter, and Miller as pilot.

On 12th September, the Alligator reached Taranaki, and Captain Lambert landed Battersbey and Miller at Te Namu Pa, with instructions to demand the restoration of Mrs. Elizabeth Guard and her two children, John and Louisa. When these men landed, they discovered that Mrs. Guard and her children had been removed to Waimate, and the two interpreters accordingly determined to push on with a guide to that pa, which was about twenty miles away. Captain Lambert took his ship down the coast and cast anchor opposite the Waimate and Orangi-tuapeka Pas. He then sent an officer in a boat to negotiate with the natives, but without success, as the latter demanded a ransom, and the captain had determined to give none. page 118 Guard acted as interpreter. His policy, as we have seen was “no ransom.”

Up to this time, readers will remember, British troops, had never met Maoris, and it could hardly be expected that lessons which had not been learnt in the “sixties,” after several Native wars had taken place, were known by intuition before the first British-Maori engagement.

The following day the vessels had to run for shelter, and they made for a little bay on the South Island, near Point Jackson, where they found excellent shelter, good anchoring ground, and plenty of wood and fresh water. Before leaving this spot the name of Gore Harbour was given to it, after the commander of the naval station belonging to these waters. Old native huts were there, but no inhabitants were seen.

On the sixteenth, Lambert sailed for the North Island again, and, on the afternoon of the next day, took on board the two interpreters at Te Namu. The two men appear to have had a terrible time of it. They fled in fear from Te Namu Pa and made for Waimate, but were prevented from entering that place by the stories of Maoris they met on the road, that the inhabitants would eat them. Not knowing where to go, they sought refuge in the bush, but a night or two of that was enough, and they returned to the Te Namu Pa. What they represented to the Natives is referred to only in Marshall's account, but there is no reason to doubt his story that they admitted having led the Maoris to believe that they would be well rewarded on returning the captives. This certainly complicated the position very much, and the subsequent regrettable incidents probably owed something to the cowardice shown by these two men.

Once more Lambert was driven for shelter to the South Island. On the eighteenth, a storm drove him for refuge to a beautiful harbour on D'Urville Island, to which the name of Port Hardy was given. Here the troops were landed and exercised in target practice. Already a fairly page 119 large ransom had been frittered away, and not one soul rescued.

On Sunday the twentieth, Lambert weighed anchor and reached Moturoa, where the Native fortifications on Mikotahi and Paritutu evoked the wonder and admiration of the sailors. Speaking of the latter, Marshall says:

“The most prominent feature of this picture is a round and lofty promontory, rising by an almost perpendicular ascent from the mainland to the height of several hundred feet, and forming the site of another Pa, the stockading of which seemed like reeds when seen from the ship, and the inhabitants proportionately diminutive. It occasioned an almost universal exclamation of surprise from those on board, how any human being could have dreamed of building on such a spot; and captious indeed must he be who could withhold his admiration from the courage, perseverance, and laborious industry of the men who have here fixed ‘their highland home.’”

On the afternoon of 21st September a whaleboat and gig were lowered, the four New Zealander chiefs who had been across to Sydney (Quinacke, Hawaree, Ontere, and Hakawaw) were landed, and eight of the shipwrecked men from the Harriett were liberated by the Maoris immediately they were demanded. The names of these men were Wm. Christopher, Jas. Johnstone, John Francis, John McDonald, Danl. Harris, Edward Chester, and Charles Guard. One John Oliver, described by Guard as the only European resident of the place, came on board H.M.S. Alligator with the Harriett's crew. He was one of a flax party that had long been located in Taranaki and whose companions had moved south. The men had now been four months in the hands of the Maoris, and were looking very haggard and poverty stricken. They had been poorly clad and still more poorly fed, but the treatment otherwise was nothing to complain of. Some little doubt prevails regarding the name of the eighth Harriett sailor. Probably it was Horseback who was page 120 received on board the Alligator On 23rd September, and was discharged to the Isabella, on the same day as all the others, but C. Guard, who that day came on board the Alligator, presumably from the Isabella. They appear to have taken away a New Zealander, “Bobby,” with them when they sailed.

Marshall describes the Harriett men in very unfavourable terms, and states that, although they were rescued and had clothes bought for them out of the pockets of their deliverers, they refused to help to work the ship on which they were, unless they were paid for it. In justice to the men it should be stated that they alleged themselves physically unfit after their long privations to do the work asked of them. Two had escaped from the Maoris—one was drowned crossing a river, and the other reached the Mission Station at Kawhia. This would make sixteen in the party that escaped when Mrs. Guard was captured.

Bad weather prevented a landing for several days, but during that time—on the twenty-fifth—Battesbey got ashore at Te Namu and found that Mrs. Guard and one of her children were there. Marshall says they were in readiness to be delivered up on payment of a ransom, but Lambert simply reports that the Natives refused to give them up. There appeared so little hostility on the part of the Natives, that one of them actually came aboard. The soldiers were now on the schooner, and with them were Guard's men, and Marshall alleges that the influence of the latter caused a general impatience among the former to get ashore and meet the Maoris.

On the morning of Sunday, 28th September, finding that a landing could be made, orders were given to Captain Johnston to proceed with 30 soldiers and marines, and the boat's crew of the Alligator, and attack the pa.

As the party landed the Natives came along the sands to meet them. One was a chief, Oaoiti, who claimed to be the proprietor of Mrs. Guard, and who promised to give her up if he received the payment which it was page 121 alleged the terrified interpreters had represented would be paid for her. His only reply was to be seized and sent to the Alligator in a boat manned by Guard's sailors. On the passage to the ship he was treated with every possible indignity, until he finally jumped overboard, when he was fired at and wounded in the leg, before being recaptured and brought on board the Alligator, when he fainted from loss of blood as he reached the deck. Twelve bayonet and bullet wounds were found on him by the surgeon. Though it was unfortunate that Guard's men were employed on any service at all in this connection, it is satisfactory to know that it was not a party of British soldiers who meted out this treatment to the Chief. Captain Lambert records the arrival of the Chief on board, in the following matter of fact entry:—

“11 Whale Boat returned on board with a New Zealand Chief (wounded).”

Captain Johnston lost no time in carrying out his instructions and led his men against Te Namu. It was a stronghold which, like many other Maori fortifications, had been chosen with consummate skill. It occupied a triangular arch of land, bounded towards the sea by a precipice, and cut off from the mainland, on a second face, by a stream of running water. A narrow isthmus of land connected the third face with the mainland. There were two entrances, and a few men might have held them against a whole company of soldiers. This easily defended citadel the Maoris abandoned without firing a shot, and only a solitary pig grunted at the troopers as they rushed within its invincible ramparts.

As the natives fled, they took with them Mrs. Guard and her child. The storming party was accordingly divided into two forces, the first of which sought to rescue the white woman; Mr. McMurdo, the senior mate of the Alligator, led the other party; both of them failed in their pursuit. In the meantime a party of natives came down and plundered the boats, taking away three oars and a boat rudder. They vanished as quickly as they had page 122 come, but had they known that all the ship's boats but one were lying on the beach in front of them, they could have made things very awkward for the rescuers of Mrs. Guard. That afternoon and evening, which were wet, were spent by the men in the pa, divided up amongst the Maori dwelling places, and fires were lit to cook the potatoes which were found in great quantities in the pits, which are still visible, scattered about all over the place. At daybreak, on Monday 29th September, Guard reported that there were several huts not far off and a party was sent to reconnoitre, but without result. Later on a report was brought in that Natives were visible, and Captain Johnston set out to get in touch with them. He succeeded, and Battersbey and Marshall ascertained that Mrs. Guard had been removed to Waimate, which was considered impregnable. Several of those present at the interview wore clothing stolen from the ship's boat. On his return, Johnston burnt Te Namu and re-embarked his forces. Shortly afterwards the Alligator almost drifted ashore, but by dropping the anchor her progress shore-wards was arrested, and after some hours in a dangerous situation, she was got out to sea.

At half-past one on the thirtieth, when opposite Waimate, the boats were sent in to negotiate with the Natives for the release of Mrs. Guard. The Natives saw them coming and were apparently ready to have their revenge. They had Mrs. Guard and her child down on the beach to invite the soldiers ashore, but the good lady took the opportunity of warning them of the danger. The Natives themselves sang “Haere-mai, haere-mai.” This and other attractions were continued until the boats were near the shore, when a war dance was commenced, but Captain Lambert wisely declined their invitation, and the boats returned to the ships, after having landed a Native who had volunteered to come on board at the last stopping place. By this means, word was conveyed to the Natives that their chief, Oaoiti, was alive. Towards evening another attempt to establish communication with the shore page 123 was, owing to the weather, unsuccessful, but the natives could be seen, gathered in circles listening to their orators, and every now and again giving vent to their opinions with loud demonstrations, finally ending with three cheers. At this korero they decided to give up Mrs. Guard.

At ten'o clock two boats made for the shore. One of them contained Oaoiti, whose wounds, which would have killed a European, had been dressed for the last time by Marshall, and who had been promised that on the delivery of Mrs. Guard and her children, he would be liberated. Arrived outside the surf, the Maori chief harangued his countrymen, who, delighted at seeing him once more alive, brought down Mrs. Guard and her child, placed them in a canoe, and launched them. It was not long before they were on board the Alligator, and Oaoiti among his countrymen. The parting present of the Maoris to Mrs. Guard was a Native dress, consisting of two superb mats, while that of the Europeans to Oaoiti consisted of a blanket, a shirt. a jacket—which the chief wore, buttoned behind—and a Scotch cap.

There still remained the boy to be recovered. Captain Lambert had surrendered the chief for Mrs. Guard and her daughter, realising that, as the boy was under the control of another tribe, it would not be reasonable to expect both children to be given up without special negotiations with the other tribe. A message was therefore sent to the second tribe demanding the return of the lad, and the vessel waited off the pa for a reply. Everything appeared to be going to end well, though costly, and Natives came out through the surf and carried on a traffic in curios and potatoes with the sailors and soldiers. It was at this stage that the serious mistake of the expedition appears to have been made. First of all by orders, fearing treachery, the boats returned to the ships, and all communication with the shore ceased for some time. In the afternoon, Lieutenant Thomas again approached the shore, only to return in an hour with the report that he had been fired on from the pa. In his Journal, Lambert says:—

page 124
“2. The Boat returned having been fired on from the Pah. 3. Beat to quarters and commenced firing on the canoes.”

In his report to Governor Bourke, Lambert says. “A reef of rocks, which extend some distance from the shore. I regret prevented my getting as near them as I could have wished.” He, however, brought the two vessels in until they touched bottom, and then, out of range of the harmless firearms of the Natives, the two vessels bombarded their pa and fired at their boats for three hours. At one stage the Natives held up the little boy Guard, and hoisted a white flag. The white flag is said to have been hoisted more than once. It was no use the demonstration of force went on to a finish.

To meet the natural fear of the reader that the incident is wildly exaggerated, the author gives the following copy of a certificate, found by him amongst the papers of H.M.S. Alligator:—

H.M.S. Alligator, October 1st, Cook Straits. Extended firing on the Pahs of Wyomatte and Ultramooce in consequence of the Natives on shore firing on our Boats.

Article No.
Catrs Filld with 2 lb. 10 oz. of Powder 250
Cartrs filld with 1 lb. 8 oz. of Powder 30
Cartrs filld with 3 lbs. 11 oz. of Powder 14
Powder for priming F. Gm 20 lbs:
Tubes Fynmore 160
Shot Round 32 Pns 250
Shot Round 18 Pns 30
Shot Round 9 Pns 14
Grape Shot 32 Pns 6
Case Shot 32 Pns 6

D. McKenzie, Gunner.

During the three hours bombardment 306 shots were fired from the big guns. It is not to be wondered at that collectors of curios have not yet exhausted the supply of round shot from the battlefield of Betty Guard Island.

page 125

How did the Maoris behave when under the fire of the British troops for the first time? They sent away their women and children, and, in regard to the remainder, betrayed not the slightest sign of fear; they even watched the flight of the shot, and, when they located where one fell, rushed forward eagerly to secure it. They tried the white flag, but gave it up when they found it produced no result. Now and again they fired off their own little guns, but for the most part did nothing but look on at their homes and their canoes being reduced to matchwood, with 306 discharges of round, grape, and case shot.

A westerly gale on 2nd of October, drove the fleet across to Port Hardy, where they spent until the fifth, and Lieutenant Woore completed a survey of the harbour.

Lambert was determined to rescue the boy, and he returned to Waimate on the sixth. This time, on the first request for the child, the Natives invited the boats to land, but steadily refused to give him up. Next morning those Maoris who had possession of the boy, offered to bring the lad on board if an officer went ashore as a hostage. One man was willing to go, but the captain would not hear of it, and it seemed as if the expedition was going to fail in the accomplishment of its object.

On the eighth, 6 officers and 112 men, including Guard and his men were landed about three miles to the south of the pa, with four days provisions and 70 rounds per man. There was landed with them a small six pound carronade under McMurdo, and Marshall states that the first gig Jay off the pa carrying a flag of truce. Lieutenant Clarke found a spot above the cliff, where the Natives had improvised means of ascent, by ropes suspended from strong stakes driven into crevices in the rock. Up this the men climbed, and the gun and ammunition was hoisted by means of ropes landed from the ship. At this stage Natives approached and intimated their desire to have the matter settled peacefully. The soldiers were at once halted, and more Natives coming up intimated that the child would be produced as soon as it could be made presentable.

page 126

At last the lad arrived, seated astride of a chief's back, with Oaoiti in European dress bringing up the rear. Lieutenant McMurdo and a party of five seamen, with the two interpreters, were told off to take possession of the child, but the chief who carried him “expressed a wish.” so says the despatch, “to go on board the ships for the purpose of receiving the ransom which he supposed would be given for the child.” He was told that none would be given, and, absolutely fearless in the midst of so many armed Europeans, he turned to run away with his precious burden. One of the sailors seized hold of the child, and, finding that the lad was tied to the chief's back, he cut him adrift, and the boy fell on the beach. Another seaman, seeing the chief escaping, levelled his firelock and stretched the brave old fellow lifeless on the sand.

Frightful as was this, it was nothing to what followed. In the twinkling of an eye, firing commenced and spread along the whole line, first along the beach, then along the cliff, volley after volley being poured on the poor natives, whose only safety was in flight, or crouching behind the boulders strewn along the beach. Captain Johnston and Ensign Wright rushed among the men crying out to stop firing, but it was some time before they could get their orders obeyed, so utterly beyond control had the warlike spirit of the soldiers got. At last this unforgivable incident ended by the cessation of firing, and preparations were made to fall back to the landing place.

Having got his men under control and obtained possession of the child, Captain Johnston decided to reembark, and signalled to the vessel. But bad luck was following his footsteps, the weather came up thick, the wind shifted, and the vessels stood out to sea. Just as Johnston found himself adrift from his vessels, some Natives, concealed in high flax, opened fire on the soldiers and the “Advance” was sounded. The Maoris were easily cleared out, and the whole party advanced towards the pa. On the road a second engagement of a minor nature took place. When page 127 within a mile of the pas, there was encountered a deep ravine with a swollen stream running at its foot. At first it was thought impossible to get the guns across, but Lieutenant McMurdo overcame all difficulties and the troops were before the Waimate and Orangi-tuapeka Pas at half-past four.

McMurdo's artillery was too much for the brave Maoris, and they fled after a few shots had been fired. But the honours of the engagement are given to a chief, who left his pa slowly and deliberately, firing at his assailants as often as he could reload, while he was, himself, the mark of 100 guns. He never went out of a walk, never spared a shot, never avoided a bullet, and he left the field dignified and uninjured. The deserted pa was at once occupied by the soldiers.

That evening the troops were visited by Lieutenant Thomas and Midshipman Dayman, who had been sent by Captain Lambert with a fresh stock of ammunition, but on landing, their boat was stove and they and the crew had to remain ashore. The fire lit in the pa to cook food for the men got beyond control, and quite a number of whares were burnt, and a considerable quantity of powder exploded. Until the fires were extinguished, the soldiers, ran considerable danger of being hemmed in by the conflagration, in which case few indeed would have escaped from the trap.

The sea during the morning of the ninth was too rough to embark the soldiers, and the day had to be spent ashore. As the men searched about for anything which inquisitivness prompted them to unearth, they discovered the preserved head of a European, which Guard's men identified as Clarke, late of the barque Harriett. It was not until the eleventh that the state of the surf permited embarkation, and, on a signal of two guns from the pa, Captain Lambert sent his boats off and the men were taken aboard.

The object of the expedition having been attained, Captain Lambert sailed on the eleventh for Kapiti, which he reached the following morning and found that the page 128 information had already preceded him and caused considerable alarm. There, on a low tongue of land which runs out like a natural pier, was the native village with numerous canoes drawn up on the beach. The opposite shore was covered with huts and canoes. Several natives came off to the vesels, and among others Te Rauparaha, who expressed himself well pleased when he heard what had been done, but regretted that so few had been killed. The old cannibal asked why none of the bodies had been brought for him to eat and stated that he would go and fight them himself. According to Marshall, his appearance, conduct, and character, were those of a complete savage, but he had the reputation of treating Europeans well, and encouraging shipping to come to Kapiti. The same authority states that an Englishman had resided there for several years as the agent of a mercantile house in Sydney and his report of Te Rauparaha's treatment of him was satisfactory. His besetting sin was covetousness and he indulged in it to the utmost. If spoken to he asked for muskets, blankets, pipes, or tobacco. While here some of the natives were seen wearing convict's clothes.

The Alligator and the Isabella stopped only a few hours at Kapiti and then sailed through Cook Strait en route for the Bay of Islands. Before he sailed, however, Captain Lambert issued a notice to the most powerful chiefs on the Island. The document reads as follows:—

His Britannic Majesty's Ship Alligator,
Entree Island, 11 October, 1834.

George Robert Lambert, Captain.

“Two ships of war, belonging to His Majesty King William the Fourth, having arrived on this coast in consequence of the horrid murder of part of the crew of the Harriet, the remaining part having been made slaves by the people of Mataroa, Nummo, Taranachee, and Wyamati, and to require the said people to be given up which has been effected after a most severe punishment inflicted page 129 on the said tribes, by burning their pahs, their property, and killing and wounding many of them; and at the same time to point out to the other tribes that, however much the King of England wishes to cultivate friendship with the New Zealanders, the indignation he will feel at a repetition of such cruelty to his subjects, and how severely he will punish the offenders.

Geo. Robt. Lambert,

Captain of H.M.S. Alligator.

The ship's acounts show that the marines and the seamen of the Alligator, while on shore on the occasion of the second fight, expended 1140 musket and 140 pistol ball cartridges, while the soldiers of the 50th regiment used 750 musket ball cartridges and 50 musket flints. In connection with the carronade, 36 Fynmore tubes were used and 1 barrel of powder expended. There was also a long list of muskets, swords, scabbards, belts, boxes, frogs, rammers, and bayonets, lost by the fire in the pa. To make the list of lost articles complete there must be added a ship's anchor, and some material belonging to the carronade, lost on board the colonial schooner.

At the Bay of Islands all the survivors of the Harriett, except the carpenter, shipped on board the Elizabeth, bound for London.

The publication of the result of this expedition caused a storm of criticism to be levelled against the Administration in London, and in 1837, a Committee was appointed in the House of Commons to consider what measures should be adopted to secure the protection of the Native inhabitants of British Settlements. Before that Committee were put the papers relating to this incident, and evidence was called, with the result that the Committee reported in very strong terms its disapproval of what had been done.

The essence of that report, so far as it relates to this incident, is contained in the following extract:—

page 130

“When the chief went down to the crew of the boat, unarmed and unattended; when he exchanged with Guard the usual token of peace, and when they saw him, instead of receiving the promised ransom, seized, dragged to the boat, exposed to violence and a species of torture, and finally shot at and wounded,—it was natural for them to suppose that they had been treacherously dealt with, and this was their construction. This impression may have been confirmed by the burning of their fortification. Again, on the afternoon of the same day on which Mrs. Guard and her children had been restored, their town was cannonaded, and their canoes destroyed by the fire of the vessel. Again, some days after, they see a large body of soldiers landed on their beach: the natives, it appears, declared at once that they did not wish to fight, and that the child would be forthcoming. Soon after the child appeared on the shoulders of a chief, who had, as it seems from Mrs. Guard's declaration, been her protector; they see the child snatched from him, the chief slain, his body mutilated, and a destructive fire poured upon them from musketry and cannon; and finally, after three days had passed, when the conflict had not been renewed, and when every prisoner had been restored uninjured, they saw two of their villages committed to the flames.

“The impression left with that tribe of savages must have been one of extreme dread of our power, accompanied with one of deep indignation. The Committee cannot refrain from expressing their regret at the transaction, because it may be fatal to many innocent persons; and because it seems. calculated to obstruct those measures of benevolence which the legislature designs to native and barbarous tribes.

“It appears to your Committee that those evils might have been avoided if further efforts for negotiation had been made in the first instance.”

page 131

Thus ended a most regrettable incident.

While the author was engaged in getting together the threads of the story, nothing occupied his attention more closely than the task of locating the responsibility for the death of the chief upon the proper shoulders. It seemed inconceivable that the shooting could have commenced under any form of military discipline, and the known fact that Guard and his rescued men took part in the engagement suggested that they had allowed their pent up fury to get the better of their judgment and had seized the opportunity, when the last child had been rescued, to wipe off old scores. The author was at last fortunate enough to find material which put the matter beyond doubt. On the return of the expedition to Sydney the inevitable interviews with the members of the ships' companies took place, and these interviews were published in all the five newspapers which circulated in Sydney. The only account published, given by one of the rescued men, thus describes the crisis:—

“The crew of the Harriett, finding the child safe, now determined on having ample revenge on the murderers of their shipmates, and there being about 103 natives assembled on the beach, we fired upon them; the soldiers on the hill, supposing that orders had been given for firing, commenced a discharge of musketry upon them; numbers of their dead strewed the beach, the others fled for shelter to their par and to the woods.”

The butchery therefore took place through the Harriett's men being allowed to have arms in their hands while taking part in the expedition, and, when they saw that the child was secure, taking advantage of that fact to have their revenge. The soldiers were innocent. With the treatment of the Chief in the boat due to the Harriett crew, and the butchery of the natives due to the above cause, it is marvellous that it was not brought out in evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons. The subject seems never to have been dealt with before.

page 132

In Appendix C will be found:


Mrs. Guard's description of her captivity, given to a Sydney reporter.


The full text of the Harriett sailors' interview.


The carpenter's protest against their treatment on board the Isabella.


The terms of an Appeal to the Public for funds to help Mrs. Guard and her children, and the names of some of the contributors.

It only remains to add, as a matter of the greatest interest, that the lad who played such an important part in connection with the first Anglo-Maori war, is. after the lapse of 79 years, still hale and hearty, living at Kekapo, Port Underwood, a spot occupied by the Guard family for nearly 80 years, and not many miles from Te Awaiti. where he was born in 1831. The author will never forget the pleasure he enjoyed of spending a night at Oyster Cove listening to the story of incidents in the life of the veteran himself, and of his father before him, long prior to the veteran's own recollection. Armed, as the author was, with details of these same incidents, got from contemporary Sydney newspapers, he was astonished at the accuracy with which he heard them fall from the lips of one to whom many of them had been passed on by another, and dulled by the passage of 80 long years. It gave an inkling of what could be so passed on when men were specially trained for the purpose.

Regarding the four chiefs mentioned on p. 119, Mr. W. H. Skinner sent the following note when the chapter was in type:—Quinacke was Koinati, a chief of the Puketapu hapu, closely related to the Nga-motu people at the Sugar Loaves. He died in Queen Charlotte Sound. Hawaree was probably Hawhere, and Hakawaw, Ha Kawau. Ontere cannot be traced. Natives long ago told me that a chief, Poharama, came back in the Alligator. The last might represent him.