THE SHADOW OF WAR
By ELSDON BEST.
THE SHADOW OF WAR
NATIVE DISTURBANCES AT THE HUTT AND PORIRUA
TALES OF UNREST.
The first serious troubles that occurred in the Hutt and Porirua districts between the European settlers and the Natives arose over the land question. These lands were supposed, as we have seen, to have been bought by the company, who sold them to settlers, and to some who were not settlers. For some time no trouble ensued that caused any serious breach between the two races. But when the goods obtained by the Natives in payment for their lands had been consumed, worn out or had lost their novelty, then dissatisfaction arose among a section of the Natives, they having held these lands for years by force of arms. For some time these malcontents were headed by Te Kaeaea, alias Taringa-Kuri, chief of the small clan living at Kai-whara-whara. They also appear to have been prompted by Ngati-Toa to harass the Europeans, and thus endeavour to stay the deluge of immigrants that seemed to pour unceasingly on the rugged shores of the Whanga-nui-a-Tara.
This article is taken from the publication “PORIRUA : AND THEY WHO SETTLED IT” by Elsdon Best that was serialised in the Canterbury Times commencing 4 March 1914. Elsdon Best (1856-1931) was born on his father’s farm known as “Grasslees”, Section 48 Tawa, and became one of Tawa Flat’s notable son’s becoming a pre-eminent Maori scholar and historian.
But beyond and behind all this lay another world-old cause of trouble, of war and bloodshed, that was probably the principal one. This was the contact of two races utterly dissimilar in culture, customs and modes of thought. The concrete fact is that neither of these peoples understood the other, their language, habits, methods or aspirations, and herein lay the principal cause of the quarrels that arose between them. Much as been written to support the theory that fighting between the Europeans and the Natives of these isles might have been averted, or prevented; that the country might have been settled without bloodshed. Such a thing is, however, highly improbable. Sooner or later the two peoples had to struggle for mastery. It would have been too much to expect of the Maori that he should fall into line with the methods, customs and ambitions of a race differing so widely from him on these lines and in general culture. Such a thing could not be. Nor would isolation have been effective, for obvious reasons. On the other hand, no civilised folk could have adopted the methods and ideals of a barbarous people. The only way in which the struggle could have been prevented would have been for the white man to have kept away from these isles, to have left the Maori in sole possession. But the early settlers were not of the type to adopt any such altruistic measures, any more than the Maori was hence the white man displaced the Natives, even as the latter have displaced other folk in their time. We have often heard Natives state that Europeans came to this land, took possession of it and displaced the rightful owners, themselves, ignoring the fact that their ancestors did the same thing in regard to the aboriginal Maru-iwi folk, and in a much more vigorous manner. After all, these movements, displacements of peoples, or successions of races, are but workings of natural laws, and no man shall say them nay.
In the fighting that occurred between the two races in the North Island in the ’forties of last century, in no case was the struggle carried on to any very definite conclusion, that is, until one of the parties was crushed or thoroughly subdued. Hence the fires smouldered until, a decade and a half later, they broke out again with greater vigour, and ten years of bush fighting ensued. The outbreaks of the ‘forties were local quarrels, sporadic struggles; those of the later unpleasantness much more widespread, and, had the Maori possessed any powers of cohesion, the latter rising might have been a national one.
One of the earliest items we have to quote, as showing that trouble was coming in regard to Porirua, is culled from Wakefield’s work, “Adventures in New Zealand”. In mentioning one of his walks to Porirua, in 1842, he remarks : – “I arrived at Thoms’s inn at Paremata. Rangi-haeata was there, very noisy, asking for spirits as usual. … he then went on storming about the land. … that Porirua was not paid for, and that he would never let white people come and live there.”
In a report by Captain Collinson, of 1846, he remarks : – “Between 1841 and 1846 the settlers had penetrated a little into the interior, notwithstanding the opposition of the Natives, and had located themselves on the lands assigned to them by the New Zealand Company, some in the Hutt, some at Porirua, and had cleared little spaces in the woods, and built wooden huts.”
It was in 1842 that Te Rau-paraha told Wakefield that he had sent the Natives to clear land and settle at the Hutt, and that Taringa-Kuri, of Kaiwharawhara, had agreed to assist him in harassing the white settlers. All this time the wily Rau-paraha was a true pagan, or heathen whichever may be the more correct term. It was not until after the Wairau massacre, when the missionary Natives were becoming a strong party along the Otaki coast, that the old cannibal clave to the bosom of the Church, and became a Christian! He was no fool, and knew passing well on which side of his bread the butter lay. Hence, hereafter, he was, as stated by his son : – “constantly worshipping until he died.” It is a queer world, and those things contain food for reflection.
The “New Zealand Gazette” of July 16,1842, remarks that Ngati-Toa, of Porirua, were making themselves objectionable to the Hutt settlers, threatening to levy blackmail, etc. The “Gazette” suspects that certain white men were the primary cause of the hostile attitude of the Natives, and opines that, if some respectable farmers, and a respectable clergyman had been located at Porirua, no discontent would have arisen among the aborigines. Apparently that editor did not know much about the gentle aborigines.
In January, 1843, Wakefield had an interview with Te Rauparaha, when the latter showed much anger at the constantly increasing numbers of white people, and stating his intention to stop the inflow, that Porirua, Heretaunga (Hutt district) and the Wairau were not paid for, and that the whites should not have them. … anon that the Awa Natives, who owned the Port Nicholson district when the Tory arrived, were not the folk who attacked our settlers. For those little attentions were indebted to Ngati-Toa and Whanga-nui Natives.
After the Wairau massacre in 1843, it was announced that the Natives were building a pa on the clear land near Thoms’s whaling station, and that they had become very bounceable since the Wairau tragedy. This, of course, would be a natural sequence. They had slaughtered a number of armed white men about as easily as we shoot pigeons, and this easy victory gave them a feeling of contempt for the white man. This feeling was intensified when they found that the Europeans were going to take no steps to punish them. The erection of the so-called Motuhara pa on the raised beach of Taupo (Plimmerton) was an act of defiance; it is improbable that they ever proposed to actually hold it against an attack, open to attack as it was by sea, and commanded by a hill spur within a few rods, notwithstanding the fact that the stockade thereof was constructed of remarkably heavy timbers, and loopholed for musketry fire. This is merely our opinion but is supported by the fact that when Te Rangi-haeata saw that fighting would probably take place at Porirua, he evacuated this pa and retired on Motu-karaka. When M’Killop’s little pleasantries, and the persuasion of the “Porirua Navy,” made that position untenable, he again fell back to Pauatahanui.
On account of the mild attitude of the Europeans, further trouble was now certain, and the atrocities committed in the Hutt district were as a foregone conclusion, but the Native character was not understood in those days, nor do many understand it now, for that matter. Inasmuch, however, as there were no troops available capable of conducting bush fighting with any chance of success, we may assume that the authorities had no option but to pass over the Wairau disaster in the placid and timid manner they did.
Tyrone Power, one of the few military men who ever admitted that the regular soldier had anything to learn in savage warfare, remarks : – “A more helpless object than a fully equipped soldier in the bush can scarcely be imagined.”
In the “New Zealand Journal” of December 23, 1843, is published a letter from James B. Thompson, M.D., from which we cull the following observations : – “With regard to the New Zealanders, we were premature in our putting them in possession, not only of firearms, but of the knowledge of using them as effectively as ourselves; any person supposing that there is not a degree of concert and military discipline amongst them, is very much mistaken indeed, and it would be found, with their present mode of bush or guerrilla warfare, in their mountain fastnesses and fortified pa, that not much success would attend the most numerous and well-disciplined British troops opposed to them; in fact, they would take our troops by surprise in most cases, and hem them in difficulties when least expected.”
These were amazingly sensible remarks to emanate from a tenderfoot Englander, and in less than two years the statement was verified.
Now, contrast a statement in the same journal of January 20, 1844, page 347 : – “Had Te Rau-paraha and Te Rangi-haeata seen a dozen troops of the line ready to support Mr Thompson … they would have been afraid to offer resistance.” This was a reference to the Wairau affair. But the idea is a lovely one, and shows the usual attitude to military folks towards the Natives. Needless to say, the Natives would have wiped the green earth with those twelve swaddies without half trying. Unhappily, this amazing attitude was the cause of much loss of life among the Imperial troops.
The number of Maoris living around Porirua Harbour prior to the Wairau episode, seems to have been by no means large; most of Ngati-Toa were living at Kapiti, Mana Island and Cloudy Bay. After the above occurrence, however, the number seems to have been augmented. More Natives settled here, and the new stockaded pa was built under the spur point of Taupo. The old Native village at that place, on the site of the hamlet of Plimmerton, was also surrounded by a stockade, but a much slighter one. There are said to have been openings in the rear stockade of the latter place by which its inmates could escape into the swamp, whenever they felt so disposed.
Many of the new comers came from Mana Isle and Cloudy Bay, Te Rangi-haeata abandoning the former place and taking up his residence in the new pa at Taupo. He and Rawiri Puaha were two of the principal men at Taupo up to 1846, when the former moved to Motu-karaka with the more turbulent party of the local Natives.
On hearing of the accession to the Native population of Porirua, of, it was said, some 200, which occurred about the time that an armed party of Natives at the Hutt rescued one of their people who was being arrested for theft, Messrs Petre, E.J. Wakefield and MacDonald, proceeded to the Hutt and Porirua in order to see how matters stood. At the former place they found that many Natives had arrived from other parts, and that they had erected two fortified places there. The newcomers were mostly Ngati-Toa, it was said, and some of them had been concerned in the Wairau massacre of which fact they openly boasted among the white folks, as naturally savages would do. At Porirua the trio learned that a new pa was about to be built at Taupo.
The demeanour of the new arrivals at the Hutt was now so threatening, that applications were made in regard to drilling and training the settlers, which the authorities declined to accede to, Major Richmond stating that it might cause “excitement and alarm” among the Natives, a delightful idea. There was no need to worry about the poor Natives being alarmed and excited, they already were; they had tasted the joys of bloodshed at Wairua, without incurring any of its drawbacks, and were anxious to have another merry time with the despised pakeha.
On August 31, 1843, H.M.S. North Star arrived from Auckland with a detachment of the 80th foot, under Captain Best, to protect the settlers.
In September, E.J. Wakefield rode to Porirua, where he found the new village at Taupo containing about 200 Natives, while on the beach lay twelve or fifteen large canoes, and a boat captured by them at Wairua. Here also were Te Hiko-o-te-rangi (son of Te Pehi, who visited England), of Ngati-Toa, and Taiaroa, of Otakou (Otago). The latter was hostile to white settlement at that time.
On October 5, 1843, Sir Everard Horne, captain of the North Star, sailed from Wellington for Porirua, with some idea of putting an end to the state of anxiety and suspense among the settlers of the Hutt and other places. The vessel anchored under Mana, and the captain entered Porirua Harbour in one of her boats. He states : – “I landed, attended by Major Richmond and Captain Best. … We first went to the whaling station or great pa (Paremata Point), where we found Messrs Chetham and Clake, who had been sent on to join us. We found that Te Rau-paraha had left that morning at daylight for Waikanae, and that Te Rangi-haeata had taken to the bush.”
Wakefield, who, on the same day, rode from Paremata to Pukerua, saw about 200 Natives in the bush as he rode up the range. They had left Taupo because they expected that they would be attacked there. It is quite evident that the gallant Sir Everard had a thing or two to learn about catching weasels, albeit his sole mission appears to have been to make a mild request that the looted boat be returned. He now proceeded to Waikanae, where he obtained from Te Rau-paraha an order for the delivery of the boat. Of course he might have simply taken that boat from the deserted village, but then such an act might possibly have hurt some gently savage’s feelings, which would have assuredly been a sad calamity. We believe it was the late Lord Chesterfield who remarked that it is ever well to be polite.
While at Wai-kanae, Sir Everard was much relieved by the assurance of Mr Hadfield, then at that place, that all the reports of native hostility to Europeans were quite without foundation. The war boat now returned to Porirua with Mr Rau-paraha’s order, that order was delivered, whereupon the boat was given up “in the greatest good humour,” a humour produced by a message sent by Rau-paraha overland that, unless the boat were given up, the warship would deliver an attack, presumably on empty reed huts at Taupo. This gallant expedition wound up with a triumphal entry of the Dreadnought into Port Nicholson with her booty of one (1) boat value not stated, also with a picnic given by the officers of the frigate at Aglionby, at the Hutt, likewise a ball given in return at Barrett’s Hotel, Wellington City. So ended the expedition of the British Navy to recover a boat.
Angas remarks that the new stockade of Te Rangi-haeata was a few hundred yards from the village, and a substantial place, erected as a place of retreat in case of attack. Evidence shows that it was used as a place to retreat from. Angas remarks : – “It was guarded by enormous wooden posts sunk very deep into the ground, and firmly lashed together by means of flax ropes and aka (lianes). The approach to it from seaward was guarded by a reef of rocks. Above the pa was a wahi tapu (prohibited place).” This position was sometimes called the Motuhara Pa, a misnomer, as Motu-hara is a place a mile distant from it.
THE NGATI-TOA PA AT MOTU-KARAKA
TE RANGI-HAEATA EVACUATES TAUPO.
On the outermost point of the flat terrace at Motu-karaka, that projects out into the north-east arm of the harbour, may be seen the remains of an old earthwork fort. This consisted originally of ditch and bank, and a stockade. The latter has long disappeared, and but little remains of the bank, though the lines of the fosse are still plainly seen; apparently the plough of the iconoclastic pakeha has passed over the place. We remember seeing it long years ago, when the bank was a prominent feature. The ditch is now from two to four feet below the level of the surrounding land. As it appears now, this earthwork is not far from being circular, but narrows somewhat on the face next the harbour, which constriction imparts a somewhat pear-shaped aspect to the place. The diameter of the enclosure is about twenty yards; apparently the entrance was at the side next the harbour. It is situated within about forty feet of the edge of the terrace, the same being a perpendicular bank of ten feet or so in height, the base of which is laved by the salt waters at high tide. Shell refuse is in evidence at this place.
According to Native evidence, this seems to be the place constructed and occupied by Te Rangi-haeata and his party of hostiles when they evacuated Taupo, and which they afterwards left in order to occupy a more inaccessible spot at Paua-tahanui. Its form is peculiar for a gun fighter’s pa, and no trace of flanking angles seem to be discernible, but the destruction of the earth wall has made such matters doubtful. On some old maps this point is marked as Police Point, and we thought that, possibly, a detachment of police may have been stationed there and had erected a redoubt, but no evidence is obtainable to bear out this theory. Mr C. Stewart, who knew the district from 1842 onwards, informed us that no European redoubt was ever erected at Motu-karaka or at Ration Point, at which latter place supplies were landed for the force engaged with the hostiles up the Horo-kiri Valley, in 1846. Mr James Walker informs us that Mr Tandy lived at Motu-karaka for some time, and we know that the latter was connected with the police force at one time, but cannot say if he was connected with it when living there. He afterwards resided at Paremata Point. The name Police Point appears on Collinson’s map, published in the Corps Papers of the Royal Engineers. It is possible that some of the Durie’s police force were stationed there for a time.
We have not been able to get any light thrown on a passage in Tyrone Power’s work. At page 18 thereof he remarks : – “As soon as the stockade was completed at Porirua, a large proportion of the force was moved on to take possession of two or three commanding points in the neighbourhood of Paua-tahanui, from one of which it was intended to try the artillery on the pa.” After a careful perusal of many papers describing the movements of the military at Porirua, we have come to the conclusion that the above advance was entirely imaginary. No other writer mentions it, and Power does not appear to have been in the district at the time. The published despatches, as also M’Killop’s narrative, are equally silent as to such a movement. Wilson, in his “Ena,” speaks of seeing “the trench of a small military fort” at Motu-karaka, but gives no explanation.
An old Native of the Ngati-Toa tribe explained to the writer that, when the hostile Natives under Te Rangi-haeata resolved to make a stand against the whites, they evacuated the Taupo pa at Plimmerton and moved to Motu-karaka, on the northern shore of the north-east arm of the harbour, where they erected a fortified place, the same that we have been puzzling over. All of the Taupo folk did not so move, some remained at Taupo; apparently Rawiri Te Puaha’s party did so. In after days, the irreconcilables of Motu-karaka (so named from a fine grove of karaka trees that formerly stood on the terrace) came to the conclusion that the position was an undesirable one, hence they deserted it, and moved up the Paua-tahanui stream, where they built a pa on the spur near, and just above, the bridge, which pa was named Matai-taua, a most appropriate name for any fortified position. Its site is now occupied by the churchyard.
It is possible that the bush fighters came to the conclusion that the Motu-karaka position was in too open and approachable a position, where they might be surrounded by an attacking force; but we believe the move was the result of the exploits and reprehensible action of the “Porirua Navy”, under M’Killop. For that navy, composed of a ship’s boat, was wont to stroll round the Paua-tahanui arm of the harbour seeking whom it might devour, and had a careless habit of firing cannon balls into the surrounding scenery, a most deplorable practice, for they might have hurt someone.
The means adopted by the hostile Natives to harass the settlers at the Hutt was by occupying and cultivating portions of their farms, by robbery, and occasional murders. Many of the Natives who took part in plundering the settlers and in demanding more payment for the land, had no claim whatever to such lands. Of such was Topine Te Mamaku, one of the leading members of the hostiles, who was an Upper Whanga-nui chief, also the Ngati-Rangataua folk from Ohura.
Towards the end of 1844 much dissatisfaction existed at the Hutt over the position of affairs, and the question of land titles became a sore subject. The absurd Auckland v Wellington feud had been running for some years, and had borne evil fruit, while the state of affairs between the Government and the New Zealand Company was decidedly unsatisfactory.
During the desultory warfare carried on for some time at the Bay of Islands the southern Natives watched events closely and waited to note results. Those results were of a nature likely to inspire them with a considerable amount of contempt for the way in which British soldiers were led, but also admiration for the courage of the rank and file.
The reports of May, 1845, show that a force of Imperial soldiers held a blockhouse at the Hutt Bridge, while a number of hostile Natives, including a party of Ngati-Toa from Porirua, were encamped not far from the blockhouse.
The stockade erected near the Hutt Bridge was named Fort Richmond, after Major Richmond, the military commander of the district for some time. A good illustration of it appears in Brees’s panorama of early views. Brees remarks that it stood on the bank of the river, and was built under the direction of Captain Compton, an enterprising settler on the Hutt : – “It is planned on the model of those in the United States of America, to guard against the incursions of the Indians. The stockade is erected in the form of a square of 95ft, with towers of defence, or blockhouses, at two of the opposite angles, which command the bridge and the river on both sides. It is composed of slabs of wood 9ft 6in high, and 5in to 6in thick, and is musket-proof. One of the blockhouses is 15ft and the other 12ft square. It was erected at a cost of £124, independent of the value of the timber, which was presented by Mr Compton.”
In April, 1845, steps were taken to arrange for the protection and defence of the Wellington Settlement, on account of the threatening demeanour of the Natives. The greatest want in the young colony at that time was a strong man at the head of affairs, a man not to much given to meekness and forbearance, and turning of the stricken chief, all of which are translated as pusillanimity by ye gentle savage. That man had not yet arrived upon the scene.
Two stockades were built at Wellington as rallying places in case of attack by Natives. Clifford’s Stockade was situated at Thorndon, near the old Hospital; the other was at Te Aro. On May 4, 1845, there were available 150 Imperial soldiers and 300 Volunteers for the defence of Wellington, while 200 more troops were daily expected. On May 26, 1845, Major Richmond, in command of the district, issued a general order as to the disposal of the force under him, and the movements to be made in the event of an alarm. Still much dissatisfaction existed among the settlers at the neglect of the Government to check the actions of the hostile Natives at the Hutt.
There was also a stockade erected at Karori for the benefit of its settlers of which Colonel Mundy wrote in after days : – “Here are several hundred acres partially cleared, and the remains of a stockade built for the defence of the rural community.” This is the writer who, in mentioning Clifford’s stockade at Thorndon, proposes a novel scheme for repelling attacks by barefooted savages : – “by throwing into the ditch all the broken bottles which, in a short period, have been so lavishly emptied by the company’s colonists.”
The Wellington “Spectator” of February 14, 1846, contains an account of the arrival of H.M. frigate Castor, with Captain Grey, the new Governor, on board. The Governor landed in a private manner, and proceeded at once to the Hutt, returning to Wellington the same evening. From now on matters were to be administered in a more vigorous manner. The man of action had arrived.
Meanwhile the hostile Natives were making efforts to gain the assistance of other tribes in the task of expelling Europeans from the Porirua, Hutt and Wellington districts. The pakeha was to be driven back into the sea whence he came. Te Rangi-haeata was active in this line; always a more straightforward enemy than Te Rau-paraha, he scorned to pretend any friendly feelings toward the hated paleface. About the end of 1845 he sent messages to the Napier district asking Taiaki-tai, known to Europeans as Jacky Tye, a well-known chief of that region, to join him in an attack on Wellington, holding out as an inducement the amount of plunder that they would share between them should the attack be a successful one. But Jacky declined, being evidently a prudent person, saying that he had been to Port Jackson (Sydney), and knew something of the power and numbers of the English, who, he remarked would, in the event of Wellington being sacked, simply pour soldiers out upon the land. He saw nothing but destruction for the Maori people as the outcome of such a project. Similar overtures were made to the chiefs of the Wai-rarapa district, and met with a similar reply, Haimona remarking that he had no guns or powder to fight with, and that he saw no advantage to be gained by quarrelling with the Europeans, who supplied him and his people with blankets and other useful articles. Thus the young settlement of Wellington escaped the Deluge of the Barbarians. Had there been more cohesion and unity of purpose among the Natives of these southern tribes, they might have wiped Wellington off the map, and left but the smoking ruins thereof.
At the time when Te Rangi-haeata was sending forth parties of hostiles from Porirua to harass the settlers in the vale of Heretaunga, it was proposed by one journal that he should be captured and transported to Bermuda, or some other distant place. However, he never was so captured, nor does it appear that he was very keen to risk his own life; he seemed to prefer risking other folks’, which, after all, is the essence of diplomatic wisdom. Considering the bitter hatred that this man entertained toward the Europeans, it is astonishing that he did not do more damage. Had he and his hostiles been more energetic they could have stayed the settlement of the Hutt and the Old Porirua Road for some time, nor was there, apparently, anything to prevent them making a night raid on Wellington and practically desolating the district. The country was covered with forest at that time, a forest in which the Imperial troops would have been helpless, but an ordinary thoroughfare to Natives. We may be thankful that these hostiles made so few attacks, none of which were followed up, and that so few of our settlers were murdered, for some of the out settlers at the Hutt seemed to have displayed much want of caution, more so than those of the vicinity of Johnson’s Clearing on the Porirua Road.
Te Rangi-haeata also made himself exceedingly obnoxious in blocking traffic on the Porirua track, a process by which he much inconvenienced travellers, both Native and European, in 1845 and 1846. He seemed to tapu the track whenever he felt like it, or perhaps when suffering from an extra severe attack of spleen, or dyspepsia. At such times, all people were forbidden to drive stock over the track from Pukerua to Wellington, and several times droves of Native’s pigs, and cattle owned by settlers, were held up at Porirua. Dr Best, of Manawatu, was so prevented driving a mob of cattle up the coast, and was compelled to leave them at Cooper’s place at Whitireia. When the gentle Rangi stated that the Taupo-tapu track from Pukerua to Taupo was his backbone, and hence must not be trodden upon, it meant considerable trouble for all sane folk. At one time he had a notice posted on the Pukerua track that it was closed to all stock. Another of his pleasant little jokes was to cause his followers to fell trees across the track. He repeatedly declared that he would vield Porirua to the detested whites only with his life, the life he was so chary about risking. But the time was soon to come when, with life still in hand, he was to be hunted through the bush of his own territory by his own countrymen; his only endeavour being to save his life and leave Porirua as far behind as possible. He was, presumably, somewhat disheartened by the rising of Ngati-Awa against him, by the refusal of the Wai-rarapa and Napier forces to assist him, and by the non-arrival of a force that had marched south from Whanganui with the intention of joining him in a grand attack on the Europeans.
The Rev J.F. Lloyd, who wrote an account of a visit to Otaki, in 1849 speaks of Rangi as “the” heathen chief, which doubtless he was : – “His head was bare, and seemed as if it had never submitted to any kind of covering; the left side was adorned with a large bunch of short feathers, which seemed to be a fixture there, for it was quite obvious that both is head and face were entire strangers to water, and to every kind of cleansing operation. His face, neck, arms, hands, and legs and the rest of his body, so far as I could see were smeared with red oxide of iron. … He is a tall and powerful man, about six feet high, and well proportioned; his head is large, his forehead high and well developed, his nose straight, and the rest of his features well formed. … When his passions are roused he is distinguished for his ferocious courage. … His wife is a coarse, dirty and ill-favoured woman. Round her neck she wore a large ornament of greenstone; her body like her husband’s was besmeared with red oxide evidently never known the use of a comb, nor undergone any kind of cleansing process.”
“It cannot be wondered at that Te Rangi-haeata, and the few other chiefs who still stand out, should be strongly prejudiced against Christianity for in proportion as it advances, their influence diminishes. Their followers are rapidly melting away, insomuch that Te Rangi-haeata, who was once so powerful, cannot now command fifty fighting men.”
This was written but three years after the worthy Rangi and his bunch of hostiles were chased out of Porirua. As to the gentleman’s ferocious courage, it was certainly never displayed in his struggle against the whites – perhaps he was not “roused” sufficiently. His ferocious courage was, however, certainly apparent in his frequent attacks on Geordie Thoms’s bluestone and turps brand of rum at Paremata.
In the Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-42, appears the following description of the above chief : – “With Robolua (Te Rau-paraha) was his principal warrior, Orangidieti (Te Rangi-haeata), a fine specimen of a savage chieftain, about fifty years of age, with a noble though fierce cast of countenance, nearly six and a half feet in height, and as straight as an arrow; his long hair was tied up behind a la Grecque, the knot being secured by two long black feathers stuck through it.”
TROUBLE AT THE HUTT
TROOPS OCCUPY BOULCOTTS FARM.
The first act of Governor Grey at the Hutt was to order the hostile Natives to withdraw from the district, otherwise he would order the troops to advance against them. When, however, the settlers attempted to re-occupy their farms that had been abandoned on account of Native aggressions, they were driven off by a band of Natives, among whom Taringa-kuri was a conspicuous leader. Hence it was that a force of 340 soldiers, under Colonel Hulme, was marched from Wellington to the Hutt. These men were of the 58th, 96th and 99th Regiments. The force left town at 5 a.m. and arrived at the Hutt Bridge at 8 a.m. where it halted, and notice was sent to the hostile chief, Kapara-te-hau, to come out and meet the Governor. As he did not appear the troops were ordered to advance. They crossed the river and encamped near Boulcott’s Farm. The hostiles retreated before them, their ranks thinned by the discreet withdrawal of the worthy Dog’s Ear, Taringi-kuri, and his party of Ngati-Tama, who were a bouneable lot, but did not show any desire to do any fighting on anything like level terms. These Natives retired to the hills on the western side of the valley, whereupon they could, if necessary, readily retire upon Porirua. Among these malcontents, or patriots, according to the reader’s point of view, was a party of Natives from the Upper Whanganui district, already mentioned, under Te Mamaku. These folk had for some time been living with Ngati-Toa, of Porirua, and a number of them had taken part in the Wairau massacre. They were then under the leadership of the above named chief, an Upper Whanganui Native, and of Kaka-herea; the latter died at Porirua, apparently in 1844. Shortly after the Wairua massacre these folk settled on the banks of the Hutt River, at the instigation of Te Rangi-haeata, and were most prominent in harassing the white settlers. Nor were there any of Ngati-Toa living at the Hutt until after its occupation by Europeans, when some went from Porirua to that place in order to annoy the settlers and to extort money from them, or from the company or the Government, it did not matter which. Te Puni, and most of the Ngati-Awa, objected to their presence at Heretaunga, and to their claiming land rights there. It was said that Te Puni proposed an attack on them, but was dissuaded from his purpose by Colonel Wakefield.
After the troops had advanced to Boulcott’s Farm, a notice was found posted some thirty yards in front of the encamped troops, notifying that any Europeans found beyond that spot would be shot.
The Wellington “Spectator” of March 7, 1846, stated that more than thirty families in the Hutt Valley had been driven from their homes by armed Natives, who plundered their property, destroying what they could not carry off. These families had to retire on Wellington. Most of the settlers at Wainui-o-mata had also been compelled to desert their homes, and the settlers, on the Porirua Road, after sending their wives and children into the township, prepared themselves to resist the expected attack.
As observed the hostile Natives had retired to the bush hills about Belmont, where a Maori track left the Hutt Valley and ran across the ranges to the north-east arm of the harbour. The authorities were blamed by the papers for not causing the hostiles to be followed into the bush ranges, but it was assuredly a wise thing to keep the soldiers out of that bush.
A portion of the force was now ordered back to Wellington, the Governor being assured by some non-resident busybodies that the hostiles had left the district. These hostiles now marched round the military camp and commenced a systematic plundering of the settlers on the Wai-whetu. Captain Grey, on hearing that shots had been exchanged between the hostiles and the troops, proclaimed martial law, called out the Hutt militia, and armed the Porirua settlers. Two fortified places that had been erected by our friends the enemy at the Hutt were burned by the troops. One of these stockades is depicted in Brees’ panorama. He gives the name of it, or its site, as Makaenuku (obviously misspelt from Mahakinuku), and we note that this picture was copied from one of Missionary Taylor’s works, wherein it is given as a pa on the Whanganui River. This reminds us of an illustration in White’s collection of Maori pictures, of a “tuahu and hara”, whatever they may be, which is an illustration copied from a Tahitian picture in Ellis’s famed work, published in the thirties.
This picture in Brees shows a small, square stockade, without any sign of earthworks or flanking angles, and situated near the bank of the river.
Martial law now existed throughout the district south of a line drawn from Castle Point to Wainui, just north of Pae-kakariki.
WELLINGTON UNDER MARTIAL LAW.
HOW PORIRUA SETTLERS PROCURED ARMS.
Wellington was now under martial law, and was picketed and patrolled nightly. At night also a large force of sailors and marines was kept under arms on H.M. ships Castor and Calliope, ready to be landed at a few minutes notice in case of a sudden alarm.
The experience of Mr Boddington, a settler on the Porirua Road, about this time, was a peculiar one. He interviewed Major Richmond, and requested that the Porirua settlers might be supplied with arms wherewith to protect their families and property. The request was refused by the major, who remarked that, in the event of any native being killed by a settler, though in defence of his property, he, the settler, would probably be hanged. Upon hearing this, the settler at once applied to Captain Grey, who furnished him with an order for arms, and thanked him for the spirit he had shown in coming forward. In the course of the day, arms and ammunition were issued to the settlers of the Porirua district, who were placed under the command of Mr O. Clifford. During this day it was that these settlers sent their wives and families, as also some of their portable property, into town, while they themselves remained on the spot to defend their homesteads in the case of attack.
CLIFFORD’S STOCKADE ERECTED AT JOHNSONVILLE.
Under Mr Clifford’s direction a stockade was erected on Mr Johnson’s section on the Porirua Road, for the defence of the settlers, and a company of upwards of sixty men was formed for the protection of the district. Captain Grey, attended by a guard of thirty men, under Major Last, proceeded from Wellington to inspect the stockade while in course of erection.
This stockade, known as Clifford’s Stockade (not t be confused with another bearing a similar name, situated at Thorndon), was situated on a knoll just north of the hotel (Ames’ old Accommodation House) now closed, and just east of the railway line. A cottage now occupies that knoll.
An old settler informs us that, during this disturbed period, and when the road was being made, a look-out man was kept posted on what was known as sentry Hill, near Johnsonville, and another on Mount Misery, by the railway tunnel. This hill gained its name on account of its being such an undesirable place to do sentry duty at. The sentry boxes used were formed of sections of hollow hinau trees, with the tops covered to form the roof.
The annoyance caused by natives blocking the transit of stock over the track at Porirua was still going on at this time. When Dr Best’s stock drive was held up, Te Rangi-haeata informed him that, as soon as fighting commenced at the Hutt, he would attack the out settlers. A drive of pigs being taken to Wellington for Mr Cook, of Manawatu, was also stopped by the natives at Taupo (Plimmerton).
BRITISH MEN-OF-WAR TO PORIRUA
YE GENTLE SAVAGE DECLINES TO ATTEND!
The Wellington “Spectator” of March 14, 1846, contains the following : – “On Sunday last H.M.S. Castor, 36, Captain Graham, weighed anchor and proceeded to the Heads, where she was joined on the following morning by H.M. steamer Driver, having on board H.E. the Governor, Colonel Hulme, Brigade Major M’Lerie, etc., and 160 rank and file. The two vessels proceeded to Porirua, and anchored off the mouth of the harbour, when a message was sent to Te Rau-paraha and Te Rangi-haeata, inviting them to come on board to meet the Governor. They both declined to attend, alleging that they were afraid to venture among so many soldiers, but offered to meet the Governor on shore. Thy both appeared to be impressed with the idea that it was intended to punish them for their conduct in the Wairau massacre. Te Rangi-haeata disclaimed having countenanced the rebels on the Hutt, who, he stated, had left the district. … He said that he had no desire for war, and would not fight unless first attacked. We understand that a communication was sent to him by the Governor, informing him that if he interrupted communication between the different settlements, or destroyed the property of the settlers, he would be punished. … Te Rangi-haeata had about 200 fighting men with him. … The Governor landed at Mr Couper’s station at Porirua, and had an opportunity of seeing the district round the harbour, and on Tuesday evening the Castor and Driver returned to Port Nicholson."
“On Thursday, three days only after the Governor’s visit to Porirua, news arrived that Te Rangi-haeata had threatened to stop Mr Skipwith’s sheep, and to kill them if the persons in charge of them attempted to drive them beyond Porirua.”
The humorous aspect of the above expedition hinges on the statement : – “They both declined to attend.” Our H.M.S. Dreadnought, 36 guns, not to speak of a section of the B.A., likewise governors, colonels, brigade majors etc., surrounded by the pomp and panoply of red war, go forth majestically to impress and call upon two semi-naked savage chieftains at Porirua. Those two wily aborigines “declined” to attend.
It reminds us of a similar episode that occurred to a magnate of later days, not a thousand miles from Taranaki. This was another case of declining to attend.
HOSTILES ERECT FORTS AT BELMONT AND PAUA-TAHANUI.
It was about this time that it became known that the irreconcilable element among the Natives, as under Te Rangi-haeata, was engaged in erecting a new pa, or fortified place inland of Porirua, though its actual site was not at first known. This was the Matai-rangi pa at Paua-tahanui, already mentioned. Among these fort-building gentry was that section of the Ngati-Rangatahi clan of Ohura that came south with the local Natives when they moved down to occupy this district; this clan had been most energetic in the harassing of the Hutt settlers. The first plan of the hostiles seems to have been to make a stand in a pa on the Belmont hills, which appears to have been actually built, or partially so, and then destroyed. It was situated on the summit of a hill spur, with steep sides, a gully on either flank. When seen by the military it had already been destroyed, the builders having fallen back on the Paua-tahanui position, or to Motu-karaka.
Meanwhile the settlers along the Porirua Road were disturbed by the track-blocking acts of aggression, and by threats made by the Natives against Europeans. At the time when the ceremonial mourning for the dead, anent the death (1846) of Te Hiko-o-te-rangi, took place at Taupo, the present Plimmerton, a considerable number of Natives from Kapiti, the South Island, and elsewhere, collected at that place, and the attitude adopted by these Natives towards the whites was by no means reassuring. Settlers knew that there was trouble ahead.
MURDER OF THE GILLESPIE FAMILY AT THE HUTT.
That trouble came in a dreadful form. On Friday morning, April 3, 1846, news reached Wellington that Mr Andrew Gillespie and his son, settlers at the Hutt had been murdered by the savages. These settles were engaged in cross-cutting a log on their farm when set upon and tomahawked, their bodies being found by a militia man on the evening of April 2. Life was not quite extinct in either at the time, but both soon passed away.
The murderers visited another settler’s house lower down the valley, but the inmates thereof were fortunately absent at the time. The eldest son of Mr Gillespie only escaped the terrible fate of his father and brother on account of having been sent with a message down to the Hutt Bridge. This was Mr Charles Gillespie, one of the most upright and highly respected of Wellington’s early settlers. He was for many years landlord of the Shepherd’s Arms, on Tinakori Road.; Old Wellingtonians will remember his interesting collection of ethnographic curios, that was so marked a feature of that hostelry.
It is recorded that the murderers went from Porirua expressly to kill some of the settlers, that a small party crossed the river to do so, while the main body remained on the right bank to cover their retreat.
Te Rau-paraha sent word to the Rev Mr Hadfield that the murders had been committed by Natives from Porirua, and that if constables were sent out he believed that he could deliver up one of the murders. Hence Ensigns Servantes and Symonds, with four constables, were despatched to Porirua, but needless to say, they secured no murderer. All they got for their pains was the arresting of two deserters of the 99th Regiment at Jackson’s Ferry, near the present Porirua railway station.
Natives were now seen skulking about the Hutt Valley, and the troops stationed there received orders to fire upon any armed body of Natives that might make its appearance.
MILITARY OCCUPATION OF PORIRUA.
POSTS ESTABLISHED AT PAREMATA AND JACKSON’S FERRY.
When Governor Grey, at Wellington, received despatches from the Hutt reporting the murder of the Gillespies, he at once issued orders for H.M.S. Castor and H.M. steamer Driver to prepare for sea, and 260 men of the 58th, 96th and 99th regiments were conveyed on board. These men were under the command of Major Last. It was afterwards necessary, on account of unfavourable S.E. weather, for H.M.S. Castor to remain at anchor, hence her place was taken by H.M.S. Calliope. Military stores were also placed on board the hired transport Slains Castle. On the weather changing H.M.S. Castor proceeded to join the other two vessels at Porirua.
The “Wellington Independent” of April 15, 1846, states that : – “On Thursday the three vessels got under way at daylight, and proceeded to Porirua (this looks like a detention of vessels not explained in the above paragraph), and remained under shelter at Mana during the late gale. The troops were landed as early as possible.”
The Driver, a six gun boat, had on board the Governor and his party. On arrival at Porirua, Te Rau-paraha went on board and had an interview with the Governor, telling him that he intended to side with the Europeans against Te Rangi-haeata. It was now definitely learned that Te Rangi-haeata had retired to the north-east arm of the harbour. The Driver returned to Wellington on April 12 and the Castor on April 13.
The troops were disembarked from the warships at Porirua, many of them occupying a large Native hut near Thoms’s whaling station, while all were soon employed entrenching themselves at Paremata, near the site of the old stone barracks. It was now seen that the more hostile section of the local Natives had all retired to the Paua-tahanui inlet.
These movements are by no means clearly explained in the journals of the day, for another account states that the Driver, with the Governor on board, left Wellington for Porirua on the Monday, when, on arrival at that place, the Governor and Te Rau-paraha met on the war boat. The Castor sailed for Porirua on the Tuesday, and returned to Port Nicholson on the following morning. The Driver returned to Wellington with the Governor on Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, another expedition was prepared for Porirua, and this was when the troops, under Major Last, embarked on the Driver, Calliope and Slains Castle, the three vessels sailing early on Thursday for Porirua. It was also announced that it was the intention of the Governor to at once commence the construction of roads to Porirua and Owhariu, also another from Porirua across the bush ranges to the Hutt, on the same general line as the Native track between those places. The road to Porirua was soon made, and, after that, the road to Owhariu, but many a long year was to roll by ere the Porirua-Hutt road became an accomplished fact.
The military post at Paremata Point was established in order to keep the road to Wellington open, to protect local settlers, and to watch the movements, and if necessary to act against Te Rangi-haeata, also to prevent any raid on Wellington from that direction.
The “Wellington Spectator” of May 27, 1846, gives the strength of the force stationed at Porirua as follows : –
78 men 58th Regiment (Captain Laye and Lieutenant Pedder).
74 men 99th Regiment (Captain Armstrong and Lieutenant Elliott).
9 men Royal Artillery (under Lieutenant the Hon. N. Yelverton).
25 men Royal Marines, H.M.S. Calliope (Lieutenant Fosbrooke).
186 men total
At Jackson’s Ferry (under Captain Russell*)
34 men 58th Regiment
29 men 99th Regiment
63 men total
Making a total of all ranks of 251.
At this time Major Last had returned to Wellington, leaving Major Arney in charge at Porirua.
It was on April 22, 1846, that Major Richmond, Superintendent, notified the public that the Governor had caused a party of soldiers and police to be stationed at Jackson’s Ferry for the protection of all persons, European and Native, travelling to or from Wellington. Any person happening to be molested in passing along the road was requested to state the circumstances to the officer in command at Porirua.
The police force referred to above was one instituted by the Governor, Captain Grey, for the protection of Wellington and the surrounding districts. It was under the command of Major Durie and Sub-Inspector E.O. Strode. It was an armed force, each division of which included at least one Maori constable.
About this time, probably somewhat later, Wellington news gives, with common and exasperating contempt for dates, the following item : – “A detachment of eighty men of the 99th Regiment, under Lieutenant De Winton, marched yesterday morning, to Porirua from Wellington, to relieve the two flank companies of the same regiment at present on duty there. The Natives were quiet, and Te Rau-paraha continues to profess the most friendly intentions towards the settlers.”
To anticipate for a moment: In the “New Zealand Journal” of September 8, 1849, published in London, appeared the following alarming statement : – “The St Michael left Gravesend on Wednesday for Auckland and Wellington, with … a detachment of seven men and one woman of the Royal Artillery, in charge of Captain F. Travers. Captain Travers and all the men were volunteers for the service.”
This statement is assuredly of a most disquieting nature. Were women to man the walls of the fort at Paremata, or to serve as sea horse artillery in the Porirua Navy? The final sentence also seems to imply that, while the male artillery were volunteers, the female artillerist was not so. Is it possible that this lone Amazon had been “pressed,” and, if so, who by?
We will now quote an account of the military occupation of Porirua from an excellent work, entitled “Reminiscences of Twelve Months’ Service in New Zealand”, by Lieutenant H.F. M’Killop, then a midshipman on H.M.S. Calliope, and who became, in after years, M’Killop Pasha. He gives some explanation of the trouble at the Hutt over land title questions, and proceeds : – “The arrival of the force brought things to a crisis, for soon after two murders were committed on the Hutt settlers, as a warning to the rest to withdraw, at least those show held disputed land. A detachment of troops was immediately marched out, and stationed there for the protection of the neighbourhood, a large reward being offered for the apprehension of the murderers, and every inducement held out to persuade the Natives to give them up. Fair means failing, we tried intimidation, and, to make a demonstration, the Calliope and Driver were sent round to Porirua, the Governor having been there previously, endeavouring to persuade the wily old chief, Te Rau-paraha, to use his influence with Te Rangi-haeata, who was then affording protection to the murderers, as well as to other discontented and badly disposed Natives, to give up the two men supposed to be guilty of the crime for trial.
“Upon our arrival (at Porirua) Te Rangi-haeata and those who had cause to fear, as well as those who had a natural aversion to us, left the coast, and proceeded to a pa at the head of a creek, partly surrounded by a small river, marshy ground and wood (the Matai-taua pa); the approach to it was most difficult, the river being too shallow to admit of anything but a light boat ascending it. We had no idea of the strength of their retreat, and every day’s delay was taken advantage of by them to secure themselves against surprise.”
“We disembarked the troops we had brought round, and left them on a flat point of land (Paremata Point), with their tents, which were in very bad condition, to encamp themselves, and to cut off the communication between Te Rangi-hateata and the Natives on the coast, who were supplying him with provisions. The piece of ground on which they were encamped having been tapu, or made sacred, rendered it highly probable that they would be attacked before they had time to fortify themselves, which they did at first by digging a trench round their front, meeting the sea on either side., which protected their rear; but finding that twice the number of men which they could muster would not have filled it, that mode of fortification was abandoned, and a stockade contemplated.”
Parts of the above mentioned trenches can still be traced. It seems strange that these military folk did not know what area they needed to enclose, or what length of land defence they could man.
The stockade mentioned was built of timbers obtained in the bush near Taupo (Plimmerton), for no timber grew on the sandy flat at Paremata. The troops had much wet weather to distress them while encamped in the stockade, and do not appear to have been richly endowed with the faculty of self-help in the direction of making themselves more comfortable in their quarters. Ere long the authorities commenced the erection of the two-storey barracks and fort combined, the remains of which may still be seen at the Point, the walls of which were composed of stones and a few bricks, set in mortar. Mr Wilson, a Wellington builder, had the contract for the erection of the building, the first stone of which was laid on October 23, 1846, by Captain Armstrong, then in command at Porirua. To quote from a Wellington paper of that period : – “As usual on such occasions, various coins of the present reign were deposited in the stone. Captain Armstrong made a suitable address on the occasion, and concluded by wishing success to the undertaking. We are informed that the work will be carried on with all possible expedition.” Now, we are wondering if any vandal has plundered that fourpenny bit.
An account of a journey from Wellington to Whanganui in February, 1847, published in the “New Zealand Journal” of September 25, 1847, contains the following : – “No house of entertainment at Porirua or Paremata; but passed a very pleasant night in the house of a friend at the camp. The barracks are proceeding rapidly under the management of the contractor, Mr Wilson. The second and last row of joists are laid. The two towers require each an additional storey, and the building department will then be completed. Considering the rough, shapeless and unworkable materials with which the walls have been erected, and the untoward circumstances with which the contractor has had to grapple and contend, the building appears to have been both substantially and speedily executed.”
The “Spectator” of August 14, 1847, states : – “Last Saturday (7th) the new stone barracks at Porirua were delivered over by Mr Wilson, the contractor, to the Ordnance Department.” The “New Zealand Journal” of January 15,1848, in giving news items from Wellington up to August 14, 1847, states : – “The companies of the 99th Regiment stationed in Wellington have embarked for Sydney. The barracks at Porirua have been completed, and will be an important post in keeping open the communication along the coast and securing the peace of the district. What with fortifications of this kind, and the excellent roads constructed in every direction, Wellington will now be perfectly secure from any disturbance in the power of the Natives to cause.”
I have lately, through the kindness of a friend, become possessed of some excellent photographs of the old fort at Paremata, which we hope to publish later on. It is a pity that we have no sketch of the place as it was prior to its destruction, for it must have been a picturesque structure, with its towers and cannon mounted thereon. The photographs in my possession show very clearly the construction of the walls, and the water-worn stones of which they are principally composed.
From the same source I have also received a most excellent copy of a plan of the fort and its surroundings as surveyed by V.D. M’Manaway in 1852. This also I hope to reproduce. It shows the fort surrounded by a stockade which also encloses a number of other buildings, ten in all, including the commissariat, guard room, hospital, sergeant’s whare and privates’ whares. Two gateways are shown in the stockade, one on the north side and one on the western side. The enclosure is six sided; the water face to the south being open for something like eighty feet, the two wings of the stockade contracting at the water front, and apparently were carried out considerably below high water mark. The fort is shown as having two flanking angles at the N.N.W. and S.S.E. corners, and it is situated well towards the middle of the stockaded area, most of the outbuildings being on the south side of the fort. The old try pot is marked in the position that it still occupies, and between the northern flanking angle and the stockade the position of a well is marked. The canteen is marked about a chain outside the eastern face of the stockade, and the bakery out on the flat about three chains north of the canteen. Two buildings are also shown a short distance outside the N.W. face of the stockade, but these are nameless. West of the stockade, between it and the narrow part of the bay, are shown Boddington’s publichouse near the waterfront, with a wharf in front of it, running out a little east of south for about a chain. North of that is an enclosed garden, north of that again another such, and Mr Tandy’s house.
The gentleman to whom I am indebted for an excellent copy of the plan of the fort also sends a few additional notes pertaining to the vicinity. The first accommodation house was situated about where Mr Tandy’s garden is shown on the plan. North of Tandy’s is the place where the troops were entrenched at first, prior to the erection of the stone fort and barracks; some signs of their earthworks and ditches are still visible. The barracks were so damaged by the earthquake of 1848 that huts were erected to accommodate the soldiers.
But we are again anticipating, an evil habit, as most of ours are.
About the middle of 1846 the following item appeared in a Wellington paper : – “Fourteen men of the 99th Regiment were sent into Wellington on Saturday from the camp at Paremata, under a charge of mutinous conduct.”
Colonel Mundy, in “Our Antipodes”, mentions that the troops at Porirua had a rough time at first, and that : – “It is hardly to be wondered at that at one time discontent took the form of insubordination among some of the garrison, an ebullition, however, which was checked with a firm hand, and the ringleaders being removed and punished, discipline was quickly restored.”
(Good Lord! And what sort of feathered soldiers do you suppose these were anyhow, who wailed for steam-heated apartments and goose-hair pillows? And how would these canteen corsairs shape alongside the Old Bush Legion, or, for the matter of that, among thousands of our bush folk and survey hands who are lifting the rough trails of life, and camping in the dark places, even as we pen these lines. They did not have to shift camp every week, nor swag their rations across bush-clad ranges. They had struck a year long camp, the materials to produce comfort were on every side – and they lay down and whined under these dreadful hardships! Well, well! The Lord sends us some curious things.)
After establishing the military posts at Porirua, Captain Grey returned to the north, but trouble in the vale of Heretaunga brought him back to Port Nicholson ere long.
 * Father of the late Sir William Russell
FIGHTING AT HERETAUNGA.
ATTACK ON BOULCOTT’S FARM.
When at the Hutt, the Governor seems to have decided to erect and garrison a strong stockade at, or near, Mr Mason’s farm, the same to be constructed of timber twelve inches in diameter. For some reason this plan was not carried out, and the troops fell back on the Boulcott’s Farm position, on the left bank of the Heretaunga (Hutt) River, about a mile above the bridge.
About the time that the Paremata post was established, Captain Hardy, in charge at Boulcott’s Farm together with a portion of the force stationed thereat, was instructed to retire to the stockade at the bridge (Fort Richmond). Thus there were only forty-two men, under a subaltern, now left a Boulcott’s Farm, instead of one hundred under a captain, as arranged by the Governor, Captian Grey. The Superintendent, Mr Richmond, was blamed at the time for these and other acts of omission and commission. Major Last, in charge at Porirua, was also adversely criticised for leaving the Paremata post and moving in to Wellington. It was remarked by local journals that he should have proceeded to act against Te Rangi-haeata at Paua-tahanui, in order to place that ruffian between two fires, as it were, a course, it was claimed, that would probably have resulted in the hostiles being forced to leave the district. Presumably, however, the major held other views, or instructions, and certainly we cannot imagine Tommy Atkins of the forties as a bush fighter and gully raker in the dense forest. When a force had to be sent across those ranges, Thomas was wisely left in camp.
The “Spectator” of May 23, 1846, contains a statement to the effect that : – “Te Rau-paraha, in a communication lately received from him, distinctly states that, on their visit to Rotorua, he said to Major Richmond and Major Last, “an attack will be made on the Hutt, when you reach (Wellington), take precautions; concentrate the people.” The following is the original of Te Rau-paraha’s letter : – Kihai i mate nga pakeha, na kau ki atu ano au ki a Te Ritimana raua ko Te Raati, kei Heretaurnga te huaki ai, tae, kia mohio, huihuia atu nga pakeha.”
Major Richmond was also warned by Moturoa and others of Ngati-Awa, that the hostiles would, ere long , make an attack on the Europeans. Te Puni, of Pito-one, offered to take the field against the hostile Natives, if provided with arms and ammunition. However, these warnings were apparently not heeded by the authorities, who disbanded the Wellington militia on May 11, and left the Boulcott’s Farm post dangerously weak, and, moreover an open camp! Not even an earthwork had been formed. Good old B.A.
The day before the attack on Boulcott’s Farm, Te Puni called on Major Richmond and warned him that a sudden attack was intended, offering the assistance of his men. The warning was unheeded; no takers; and the B.A. gave no sign.
The next morning, May 16, 1846, at dawn, the post at Boulcott’s was attacked by the savages. Of the forty-two men then stationed there, fourteen were quartered in Mr Boulcott’s barn, the others were dispersed in tents and buildings in the immediate neighbourhood. Lieutenant Page, the officer in command, and his servant occupied Mr Boulcott’s house, while the latter and his two men were in a small house adjoining. (An open camp among hostile savages. In tents and divers flimsy buildings! Of a verity these fold put their trust in Providence.)
The attacking party is said to have been under the leadership of Te Mamaku, of Whanganui, and Ka-para-te-hau, of Nagati-Rangatihi. The soldiers stationed at the farm belonged to the 58th Regiment.
It was shortly before daylight on that sad May 16 that the sentry of the outlying picket observed several Natives creeping towards his post, and at one fired on them. The savages at once rushed forward, and poured three volleys into the tents in quick succession. They advanced, with much wild outcry, and four of the soldiers in one tent were tomahawked. On the first alarm, Allen, the bugler, seized his bugle in order to sound the alarm, when a blow from a tomahawk nearly severed his arm, and he fell to the ground. Lying in this mutilated state, he seized the instrument with his other hand, and made another attempt, when a second blow from the tomahawk of the savage nearly decapitated him. And so the bugler died.
Mr T. Bevan, senior, of Manakau, states that Allen, the bugler, was tomahawked by a Maori named Po-ngahuru, who afterwards worked for Mr Bevan’s father at Manawatu, and that this Native used to describe how the Europeans were surprised and slain.
The savages attacked the buildings in which the main body of the troops was located, and a lively fight waged for some time. At length the soldiers, rallied by Lieutenant Page and Sergeant Norton, beat off the enemy, who retired into the bush. Seven members of the Hutt militia (that had been disbanded a few days before), on hearing the firing, advanced to Boulcott’s and took part in the fray. Six soldiers, including the bugler, Allen, were killed in this affair, and four wounded; also one civilian killed. Camped among treacherous and blood-thirsty savages, protected by tents and the surrounding atmosphere, Tommy Atkins put up a goodly fight of the old brand, and another regrettable incident was ticked off.
News of the attack reached Wellington at 8 a.m. and Majors Richmond and Last at once proceeded to the Hutt, with fifty soldiers, instructions being sent on to Captain Hardy at the bridge to move up to Boulcott’s Farm in support of Lieutenant Page. On their arrival at that place, they found that the enemy had crossed the river, but were still firing on the military. The force now advanced in extended order, and, with heavy firing, caused the savages to decamp. The enemy were said to have had thirteen killed and wounded, though there does not seem to be any proof that any of them were slain.
It was stated that Te Rangi-haeata was present at this attack, but this was never made clear. It is highly probable that the spirited defence of the surprised troops had good effect in damping the military ardour of the savages. The latter lurked about the district during the sixteenth and seventeenth of May, and retired to Porirua on the eighteenth.
Now the offers of the different subclans of Ngati-Awa were accepted, and from Pito-one, Wai-whetu, Pipi-tea and Te Aro, some 250 armed Natives assembled at the Hutt, where they executed a war dance, and encamped near Boulcott’s in order to assist the military in any fighting that might take place.
A small outpost of militia and police at Te Taita was not attacked.
The boats of H.M.S. Calliope were engaged in conveying arms and ammunition to the friendly Natives at Pito-one, and in transferring to town the European women and children of the disturbed district.
At this time, the knowledge that Ngati-Awa had armed themselves against him and his followers, must have caused Te-Rangi-haeata to reflect, as he also had a large body of that tribe in his rear at Wai-kanae. The double-faced attitude of his tribesman, Te Rau-paraha, and the half-hearted assistance he received from a portion of Ngati-Toa, would also have a similar effect. These were probably the reasons that caused him to vacate the Matai-taua pa without firing a shot, and to retreat up the coast. Which same is some more anticipation.
After the attack on Boulcott’s, the Wellington “Independent”, an enterprising journal always ready with advice to the authorities, proposed that H.M.S. Driver should be sent to the north to bring down Tamata Waka Neue and two hundred of his fighting men, the same to be employed against the hostile Natives. This proposal was not heeded by the authorities, possibly for the same reason that the proposition to employ Ghurka troops against the Maori in the sixties was not given effect to. Had two hundred Ngapuhi been turned loose here, what merry scenes might have ensued in the darkling gulches of Porirua.
RECONNAISSANCE OF THE MATAI-TAUA PA.
SKIRMISH WITH HOSTILES IN PORIRUA HARBOUR.
Meanwhile, let us return to the two armed bay, and narrate some pleasing little incidents that occurred in the eastern arm, the moving spirit in which was M’Killop Pasha, then a mischief-loving scamp of a midshipman.
In his “Reminiscences”, M’Killop, who was stationed at the Paremata post, gives the following account of his reconnaissance of the Matai-taua pa at Paua-tahanui : – “The commanding officer of the troops applied for a boat and a party of seamen to co-operate in carrying out the Lieutenant-Governor’s views, which were to cut off, if possible, any canoes endeavouring to get up with a supply of fish to the rebels, as well as to prevent any of their party from leaving their present abode (O simple Britisher!). I was accordingly sent in command of a light eight-oared boat and crew, having also a small whaleboat, manned by the Wellington police, also under my orders. My instructions were to endeavour to get possession of the persons of the murderers and also to capture their canoes, which were to prevent their getting away without taking regularly to the bush, in this neighbourhood almost impassable; at the same time, to avoid, if possible, commencing hostilities. With these instructions from the military commandant, wand with orders from my own captain to make myself thoroughly acquainted with the navigation of the creek, at the head of which the enemy were supposed to be located, as well as to find out the exact spot and nature of their retreat, and to report to him my opinion as to the possibility of surprising the place by taking a force from the camp in boats at night. I was left behind when the ship (the Calliope) returned to Wellington, not exactly knowing how we were to avoid coming to blows if we endeavoured to cut off their supply of provisions, or to make any of them prisoners; however, the day after the ship left, we took one of their canoes coming down for provisions, the Natives taking to the bush and laving us an empty prize.”
“Soon after this, being anxious to find out their exact whereabouts, we started at about three o’clock in the morning, in a light four-oared boat belonging to some of the military officers, several of whom volunteered to make a crew for her. We accordingly pulled up with muffled oars, accompanied by my own boats, all of us being well armed in case of accidents. We managed to reach the head of the creek, a distance of about three miles, just before daylight, luckily without sticking in the mud or being discovered by any of the scouts, who were always watching our movements from a little hill commanding a view of the camp.”
“Leaving the two larger boats at the entrance of the small river which ran out from the wood, we proceeded in the little gig, guided by the smoke; but, unfortunately, we got the boat aground. I was obliged to get out and wade, to look for the deepest water. After some little delay we succeeded in getting into the proper channel, and pulled up till we saw the stakes (palisades) of the pa just over us, on the bank of the river, which was very steep and high, and the river itself not broad enough to allow of the boats being turned around; this we had luckily foreseen, and had taken the precaution of going up stern first. I ascended the bank and soon found myself looking through the palings of the pa (fort), which were trumpery defences. There was an old woman washing potatoes inside, and a nasty little cur with her, who discovered me and commenced barking. The old woman looked up and caught sight of me, and set up a howl that would have awakened the seven sleepers, calling out “Pakeha!” (stranger), and rushing off to one of the huts to tell her tale. I rushed off the other way to tell my comrades of the alarm I had created; and meeting the artillery officer, who was ascending the bank, I rolled over him in my haste and nearly knocked him into the river. I had no time to apologise, but jumped into the boat, knowing that the Natives would be in pursuit of us in a minute.”
As soon as I had made my companions understand what had happened, we pulled for our lives, and had hardly advanced a boat’s length before we heard a musketry fire between us and the party we had left at the entrance of the river. We gave way manfully, and soon discovered that a party of Natives on the beach, a few hundred yards from the mouth of the river, were keeping up a brisk fire on the other two boats, which were, however, at too great a distance for it to take effect.”
“Upon discovering us they immediately ran over and endeavoured to intercept us; but, as luck would have it, their progress was impeded by their having to cross several deep creeks, otherwise we must have fallen into their hands. Just as they discovered us a brisk fire was opened on us by our friends from the pa, who had lost no time in the pursuit. The two boats which we had left outside now pulled in to our assistance, endeavouring to draw the attention of the Maoris to themselves, without, however, firing a single shot in return. The Natives, luckily for us, fired very hurriedly and our pulling fast caused them to make very bad shots; notwithstanding which, many passed quite close enough to our heads to encourage our efforts to get out of reach of this nest of hornets. I was steering one boat, and kept my eye anxiously on the party, who were wading across the last creek, about twenty yards from the entrance to our channel, when unfortunately the boat ran on the sand and stuck fast.”
“We all immediately jumped into the water, and carrying her bodily over the sandbank on which she had grounded, quickly got her afloat. Taking to the boat again, we pulled across a rather disagreeable fire, the musket balls making a noise like the drawing of corks in every direction round about us. The other two boats, seeing we had got through the worst of our difficulties, pulled away; and none of us returned the fire, having been ordered not to commence hostilities (!). As we approached the camp we met the troops marching out, the commanding officer thinking that the Natives would follow us down; the latter, however, gave up the chase about a mile from where they met us. We reached our quarters in safety, having made the discovery that Te Rangi-haeata would not allow us to trespass on his retreat with impunity. The next day, a report having reached Wellington that we had been attacked in the camp, the Superintendent (Major Richmond) and officer commanding the troops in the southern district (Major Last, 99th Regiment) came out to ascertain what had really happened; and upon hearing my account they regretted exceedingly that this decidedly unfriendly disposition should have been evinced, as it was not their policy to come to blows with Te Rangi-haeata and his party. A day or two after this the camp at the Hutt was attacked.”
We have taken the liberty of drawing attention to the above phrase, “this decidedly unfriendly disposition”. Was it the Pasha’s unfriendly hen-pecking into Te Rangi’s backyard, or the savages’ unfriendly disposition displayed in the attack on the whites. We love to draw attention to the mild and forgiving nature of the genus Britisher. Presumably the plundering and murdering of the Hutt settlers did not point to an unfriendly disposition on the part of the hostiles. It is, however, satisfactory to learn that the boats’ crew did not return the fire of the hostiles at Paua-tahanui. Had they done so, the noise might have alarmed those gently aborigines, or perchance some of them might have been hurt, which would have been a sad calamity. The stricken cheek act is, no doubt, a very fine thing, in theory, but never did pay in dealing with savages, or with anyone else for that matter.
M’Killop probably left his boat just above the bridge over the stream at Paua-tahanui, probably at or near the bend in the creek, a chain or so up stream from the bridge site. The steep bank he described would be perhaps twenty-five or thirty feet high.
The two Majors, when visiting Porirua, gave orders that no boat belonging to the military post there should pass beyond a certain point in the eastern arm of the harbour. A journal reported that the police boat chased a canoe conveying provisions from Te Rau-paraha’s pa at Taupo to Te Rangi-haeata, but had to give up the chase and turn back on reaching the above-mentioned point, whereupon “the rebels taunted their pursuers with coarse and insolent gestures of mockery and defiance, and in derision pretended to chase them, taking care, however, not to pass the charmed line. This affair was apparently the one mentioned in the Wellington “Independent” of May 20, 1846, as having occurred on Sunday last, while it also contains the following item : – “On Thursday last the rebel Natives at Porirua fired at a body of armed police, under Major Durie, but, we are happy to say, without injuring any of them.” There is a depressing lack of precise dates in the pages of the “New Zealand Journal.”
After the attack on the boats at Paua-tahanui an order was issued that the troops at Porirua be assembled under arms every morning at daybreak, as an attack on that post was expected.
To continue Mr M’Killop’s narrative : – “Martial law was now proclaimed in the southern district, and whenever we now ventured to approach within musket shot of any straggling parties of Te Rangi-haeata’s Maoris we always found them on the alert, and I was frequently harassed whilst reconnoitring their position in my light boat, and twice had to retreat, upon their showing out in large numbers in their war canoes, my eight men being no match for two or three such boatloads, each canoe containing about fifty men, mostly armed with double-barrelled guns. However, having found out that the water was deep enough to admit of a much larger boat being employed in the service, I suggested to Captain Stanley the necessity of having one which would enable us to meet the rebels on something like an equality.”
“A ship’s long boat was accordingly purchased, and converted into a gun boat by the carpenters of the Calliope, mounting a 12-pound cannonade, which was brought round by ship, and I was installed in my new command, Captain Stanley lending me a brass gun, which he had purchased for his own boat. With these two pieces of ordnance, and the addition of six more bluejackets, we were anxious to have another meeting with our cannibal enemies. After taking some little time to make the necessary arrangements which the boat required, we again ascended the creek. Having seen the natives through a glass in rather large numbers assembled on a point of land about a mile and a half from the camp I thought it a good opportunity of trying of round shot and canister would compensate for the disparity in our numbers. The artillery officer kindly allowed two of his gunners to accompany me on this occasion, and I found them most serviceable.”
“As we approached the point of land where I had observed the natives, it appeared to be quite deserted, not a living creature stirring, but knowing how well they lie in ambush, I pulled close in and raked the bushes with a discharge of canister. The effect was like magic; upwards of a hundred tattooed faces were to be seen in a second in great confusion (for them), not having expected that our shot would have penetrated their cover. They, however, were not long recovering their usual coolness, and we soon found that they did not mean to allow us to have all the fighting on our side, every surrounding bush giving forth its fire; but they, finding the canister was too penetrating for the bush to afford them any shelter, showed boldly out, rushing into the water up to their waists, and keeping up an incessant and well directed fire, nearly every shot striking the boat, many passing through, although she was coppered nearly up to the gunwale.”
“I had taken the precaution of lashing the men’s beds up in their hammocks and fastening them round the boat, making a bullet proof breastwork which afforded great protection to the crew. The water was very shallow, and we had approached so near the point that they made an attempt to board us, fancying we were aground. At this time, finding that I could not bring the cannonade to bear so as to keep them all at bay, I directed the brass gun against a party who were making an attempt to board us on the quarter. Unfortunately the gun burst, knocking me down, blinding me for the minute, and also cutting my head with the lock, which, however, was all the harm it did. I soon washed the powder out of my eyes, and found that the artillerymen, under the direction of my coxswain, had checked the advance of the enemy with the other gun.”
“The Maoris had become so confident of their superiority, from their having formerly caused us to retreat, that they still persevered; but a few of the cautious ones took shelter behind the rocks. They must have sustained considerable loss by this time; and Te Rangi-haeata was urging them to make another attempt to board us, he himself standing foremost and uttering yells of defiance. I now took my double barrelled gun, and used it with some effect, keeping up a smart fire of canister at the same time, which caused them at length to retreat; which they did in very good order, taking their killed and wounded with them, and inviting us to follow them into bush, using every provoking and insulting gesture and speech calculated to cause us to do so. I knew too well, however, the advantage of my position afloat, and contented myself with driving them into the bush, and then sending a few 12 pound shot after them, which brought down some young trees about their ears, but had not the desired effect of bringing them out to the attack again. We now took to our oars (which had been tossed up, one end resting in a socket at the bottom of the boat, to be out of the way of the working of the gun, and had been riddled by musket balls), and pulled away, not having any of the crew wounded, which in New Zealand warfare gives a decided victory. On our return we met the small boats manned by the police coming up to render us assistance, as some of the officers had seen us from a hill in the neighbourhood of the camp, and fancied we had sustained a considerable loss, from the fact of our having kept out of sight under the shelter of the hammocks, and not using our muskets.”
“We soon reached the camp and received the congratulations of our friends. They had observed an extraordinary explosion, and wondered, when informed what it was, that so little damage had been done by it.”
This interesting little engagement of the Porirua Navy took place in the N.E. arm of the harbour, we know not the precise locality, but apparently it was on the south side, as rocky points are not found on the northern side. The following brief account of a similar affair appeared in the “Wellington Spectator” of July 25, 1848 : –
“On Friday, as Mr M’Killop, the officer of the Calliope in charge of the boats at Porirua, was sailing up the north-east arm of that harbour in the gun-boat (formerly the Tyne’s long boat), which was left there on the occasion of the Calliope’s last visit, a party of the rebels fired upon the boat and rushed into the water for the purpose of making an attack, while those on the shore commenced dancing the war dance. Two shots were fired at the m, when the gun was loaded with grape, which there is reason to believe did some execution, as the rebels, after its discharge, set up a terrible yelling, and began to disperse in all directions. None of the men in the boat were wounded.”
This account may refer to the same adventure as the one described by M’Killop, which took place about July 20. M’Killop says that it occurred a few days before the capture of Te Rau-paraha, an event that took place on July 23. We know not what became of the historic long-boat and the rest of the mosquito fleet, but they did useful work, and the crews were much safer on board those plank Dreadnoughts, with beds for armour, than they would have been lifting the war trail in the dense forest that, in those days, clothed the hill and vale throughout the lands of Whanake and Kararu.
In the meantime matters had been comparatively quiet at the Hutt, save for the fact that another settler, named Rush, had been murdered by the savages. It is probable that most of the hostiles fell back on the Matai-taua pa at Paua-tahanui, on account of Ngati-awa of the Hutt being armed against them. There was no love lost between these two clans. The hostiles attacked no more posts after the 57th had repulsed them at Boulcott’s, though they professed contempt for the soldiers as bush fighters, a line of business that Tommy had never been trained to, albeit Colonel Despard had stated that, even in the bush, the British soldiers were far superior to the Maoris. But then the gallant Colonel was the man who reported to the Governor that the troops had taken Rua-pekapeka by assault, omitting to state that they enemy was not in the pa at the time. These be wild deeds, my master.
THE CAPTURE OF TE RAU-PARAHA AT TAUPO, JULY 23, 1848.
The next item of interest in our chronicle is the capture of Te Rau-paraha, whose facing-both-ways attitude had made the Governor tired.
M’Killop states that a few days after the engagement he has described above : – “Two settlers coming down the coast one from Auckland and the other (Mr Deighton) from Whanganui, fell in with a large body of Natives on their way to join Te Rau-paraha by his own invitation; after which they were all to co-operate with Te Rangi-haeata in making an attack on our camp. On learning which, they left them at night and made the best of their way to Wellington, where they informed Captain Grey of old Rau-paraha’s treachery. His Excellency immediately embarked a force in H.M. ship Driver, consisting of a detachment of 58th and 99th Regiments, and as many of the Callope’s crew as could be spared from the ship, and started at once to intercept the body of Natives coming from Whanganui. They proceeded to Wai-kanae, thinking that the rebels would be in that neighbourhood; and his Excellency wished to secure the assistance of the chief Wiremu King (of the Ngati-Awa tribe, who was living at Waikanae with some hundreds of his people), the principal man of this place, in preventing a junction taking place between the party and the other rebels. King promised to prevent their passing along the beach, but refused to attack them in the bush. Here the Governor was fully convinced himself of the treachery of his pretended ally, the wily old Rau-paraha, as well as several other chiefs of his tribe. He came down in the Driver, anchoring off the pa (Taupo pa) at night, July 22, having previously passed it before dark as it going to Wellington, thus preventing any suspicion of his real intentions, which were to make prisoners of these traitors. I was sent for soon after we arrived, and had an interview with the Governor, who informed me of old Rau-paraha’s treachery, and his wish to have him and three others taken prisoners, if possible by surprise; and knowing that I was acquainted with their persons and locality, he asked me if I would undertake the capture of the “old serpent” myself, allowing me to choose my own time and method of doing it, Major Wurie, the Inspector of Police, being selected to take the others.
Accordingly it was arranged that we were to leave the ship before daylight the next morning and land quietly on the rocks some little distance from the pa in which our treacherous allies lived, taking a mixed force of bluejackets and soldiers, amounting to 200 men, to support us in case of the Natives rising before we had effected our object. It was the Governor’s particular desire that we should not lay hands on these men until we had told them they were prisoners for treason, but on no account to let old Rau-paraha escape.”
Major Last, who was in charge of the force on the Driver, remarks in his report of August 4, 1846, that the object of the expedition northward along the coast was to attack the party of hostile Natives (estimated to number 500) that was marching south to assist Te Rau-paraha and Te Rangi-haeata in a grand attempt to wipe out the Europeans of the Wellington district, but that it was found impracticable to do so, as gales of wind, and bad weather prevented the landing of troops. This part of fighting men, the Port Nicholson Raiders, was, however, prevented passing south of Ohau, as the local Natives there barred their progress. Had they reached these parts, there would have been some strenuous times for a while.
The Major gives the strength of the landing force to capture Te Rau-paraha as : –
1 officer and 30 men, 58th Regiment.
3 officers and 70 men, 99th Regiment
4 officers and 30 men, H.M.S. Calliope
Armed Police under Major Durie.
Captain Stanley, of H.M.S. Calliope
In a despatch written by Governor Grey to the Right Hon. W.E. Gladstone, and headed : – “Her Majesty’s steamer Driver, Porirua, July 23, 1846,” the writer states that, on the arrival of the Driver at Wai-kanae, the hostile party was supposed to be about twenty miles to the north, so four of the principal chiefs of Ngati-Awa were taken on board, and the Driver proceeded to Otaki, where six of the principal chiefs of Ngati-Raukawa embarked, and the vessel proceeded to Ohau, where two more chiefs went on board. The invaders were then about seven miles north of Ohau, and arrangements were made to attack them on Wednesday morning (July 22). However, the wind rose, and the surf was too heavy to permit the landing of the troops. Hence the Driver returned to Otaki, and landed all the chiefs except those of Ngati-Awa, who were taken on to Wai-kanae, where they were put ashore. A force of armed men was also landed at Wai-kanae in order to act against the invaders, who, says Captain Grey, were estimated at less than 200 men. (Previous estimates, or reports, had given the number as 500 and 600). Captain (Governor) Grey also learned that the fact of Te Rangi-haeata blocking the coast trail of Taupo by placing a tapu on it had convinced the Natives of the weakness of the Europeans. He also gained further evidence anent the double dealing of Te Rau-paraha, hence he determined to have him arrested, as also others who had enforced the blocking of the road.
“We now return to M’Killop’s narrative : – “I took Mr Wighton (? Deighton) with me to act as interpreter, and four of our own men unarmed, giving them directions to seize upon the old chief as soon as he was made aware of the charge preferred against him and to hurry him down to the boat before he could rouse his people, the principal object being to secure him. We landed at break of day; and while they were forming the troops on the beach, I with my small party ran on, as it was then light, fearing that conscious guilt might sharpen their ears and frustrate our plans. When we reached the pa not a soul was stirring, but our heavy steps soon brought some of the sleepers to the doors of their huts, knowing we were not of the bare-footed tribe. We could not wait to give any explanation, but pushed on to the hut which contained the object of our search, whose quick ears had detected strange footsteps; never having liked me, he did not look at all easy on perceiving who the intruder was, although his wife showed no alarm, and received me with her usual salutation. Upon informing him that he was my prisoner, he immediately threw himself (being in a sitting posture) back in to the hut, and seized a tomahawk, with which he made a blow at his wife’s head, thinking she had betrayed him. I warded the blow with my pistol, and seized him by the throat; my four men immediately rushing in on him, securing him by his arm and legs, started off as fast as his violent struggles would allow of, which for a man of his age (upwards of seventy), were almost super-human. He roared mot lustily : – “Ngati-Toa! Ngati-Toa! (the name of his tribe), endeavouring to bring them to the rescue; and in a few seconds every man was on his legs, and came rushing over to see what was the matter with their chief; but the troops and the bluejackets coming up at the same time, and surrounding the pa, prevented any attempt at a rescue, as he was already in the boat. His last effort to free himself was fastening with his teeth on to my coxswain’s shoulder, who bore this piece of cannibalism unflinchingly. I sent Mr Dighton off to the ship with him, there not being much chance of his escaping from the boat, particularly as he was informed that he would be shot if he attempted to escape. I then returned to the pa (Native fortified place) to search for arms and ammunition, and also to see if the other prisoners had been secured. The interior of the pa presented a woeful spectacle, the women all howling in chorus with the pigs and children.”
“I found that Major Durie had been equally successful with myself in capturing his portion of the traitors. Upon searching closely, we found several barrels of gunpowder, and upwards of a hundred stand of arms of various descriptions, although they had stoutly denied being in the possession of any when asked to assist us against Te Rangi-haeata.”
“We took the arms and ammunition down to the boats, and whilst doing so we heard that a large party of Te Rangi-haeata’s Maoris were coming down to assist Te Rau-paraha, intelligence having reached them that an attack had been made on him. I immediately pulled up in the gunboat towards the head of the harbour, to intercept them. As soon as they discovered us they retreated in great haste, we chased them as far as the depth of water would permit, and knocked up the pebbles about their heels with our round shot until they reached their pa, then fired five or six shots into the place, which only had the effect of producing a straggling fire of musquetry, at far too great a range to do any execution, which they soon found out, and ceased to throw away any more powder.”
“Having silenced them, I returned to the camp … We started that evening for Wellington (on the Driver), having the prisoners secured in the workshop attached to the engine room, just over the boilers. In the night, whilst we were steaming, there was a great noise in the prisoners’ room, such screams and shouting that we expected to find them murdering each other. Having opened the hatch to ascertain the cause, we found the place full of steam, and the prisoners in a dreadful state of alarm, imagining that this vapour bath as an ingenious contrivance for their destruction. It was caused by a leak in one of the boilers. They were very thankful when relieved from their moist quarters. We arrived at Wellington the next morning, and took the prisoners on board the Calliope, where they were to remain until the Governor had made up his mind what was to be done with them.”
According to the report of Major Last, the items taken from the Taupo pa when Te Rau-paraha was captured were as follow : –
|Small iron gun and carriage||1|
|Casks of powder||5|
|Half casks of powder||5|
|Empty casks of powder||1|
Amid the seething turmoil of lurid war it must have been most comforting to his Excellency to hear that the gallant major had gloriously captured that empty keg of powder.
The following is the very free translation of a song composed by Te Rangi-haeata when Te Rau-paraha was captured. It is taken from Thomson’s “Story of New Zealand” : –
One counsel more, the first I gave,
“Break up thy forces, comrade brave;
Scatter them all about the land
In many a predatory band.”
But Porirua’s forest dense
Ah! thou would’st never stir from thence.
“There”, sadist thou. “lies my best defence.”
Now, now of such design ill-starred
How grievously thou reap’st the full reward.
Some of our philo-Maori friends spoke and wrote against the arrest of Te Rau-paraha as an act of treachery, etc., but it was assuredly a sensible act, and had considerable effect in restraining the turbulent Natives. Their hostage was in our hands.
The “Wellington Spectator” of July 29, 1846, stated that the hostiles were much concerned on account of the capture of Te Rau-paraha, and that those located at Paua-tahanui were short of food and disheartened. They acknowledged that four of their party were killed by the discharge of grape from the Tyne’s long boat under Mr M’Killop’s command, in the action described above.
When the Driver left Porirua she left behind one hundred men to reinforce the camp at Paremata.
THE PASSING OF THE HOSTILES.
MARCH OF HUTT MILITIA, ARMED POLICE AND NATIVE CONTINGENT ON PAUA-TAHANUI
FALL OF THE MATAITAUA PA:
The authorities had some fear that the enemy at the Matai-taua pa at Paua-tahanui might again raid the Hutt district, hence it was resolved to make an effort to drive all the actively hostile Natives out of the district, and so rid the countryside of these turbulent and murderous ruffians. It was resolved to attack them with two columns, advancing from the Hutt and Porirua (Paremata); these columns to converge upon the Matai-taua pa, and there combine to expel the hostiles. Like unto some other plans of men and gods, this one did not work out right; one of those columns failed to connect in time to pinch the enemy in the Maitai-taua stronghold, though it assisted in part of the subsequent operations. It was the force that was to advance from Paremata that arrived late upon the scene; in being conveyed by H.M.S. Calliope and Driver from Wellington to Porirua, bad weather caused it to be delayed.
The day after the murder of the hapless Rush at the Hutt, a detachment of troops, under Captain Reid, of the 99th Regiment, had an engagement with hostiles at the Hutt, in which Lieutenant Herbert and four men were wounded, one mortally. A party of the Hutt militia enjoyed a skirmish on the same day, driving the enemy into the busy “with some loss,” a rather vague phrase. Some days afterwards, the body of a Native was found in the bush, where he had evidently died from wounds received in one of these affairs.
Captain M’Donough, who commanded the militia at the Hutt, now volunteered to march across the rugged forest country lying between the Hutt Valley and the stronghold of the enemy at Paua-tahanui, leading his own men and a force of Ngati-Awa friendlies, to attack the Maitai-taua pa in the rear, while the force from Paremata made a simultaneous attack on the other side.
THE BUSH MARCH ON MATAI-TAUA.
On July 31, 1846, this force lifted the rugged trail that led from Heretaunga, in the vicinity of Belmont to the enemy’s pa at Paua-tahanui. The force consisted of the Hutt militia, under M’Donough and White, thirteen of the armed police under Sub-Inspector Strode, and a body of 150 friendly Natives of Ngati-Awa, under the fine old chief Te Puni, and Mr Scott, accompanied by an officer of the 58th Regiment, also by two volunteers, Messrs Ludlam and Stilling.
Starting at one o’clock, the force took the route traversed by the hostiles in their marauding excursions into the Hutt Valley. Deserted breastwork defences were found on a hill above the valley. That night the force camped in the bush about half-way to its destination, sending six scouts forward to gain information. Rain fell heavily during the night; the men in a fireless and wretched bivouac. At 7 a.m. a start was made, and, after marching two miles, the scouts were met, who reported that fires were burning during the night in the Matai-taua pa. Resuming their march, the men moved on until they reached a hill about a mile and a half from the pa, where a discussion ensued between the officers commanding the expedition, including the chiefs of the Natives contingent, anent a plan of operations. It was decided to send forward the scouts again, and that Mr Scott should advance with the Natives, the militia and the police to follow. At the foot of the hill, one of the scouts, Tamit Hapimana, of Pipi-tea, was suddenly attacked by a hostile, one Whare-aitu, also known as Martin Luther, who struck at him from behind a tree at the side of the track with long-handled tomahawk; but the agile Tamati, worthy scion of Awanui-a-rangi, warded off the blow, receiving merely a slight wound on the hand. His assailant then jumped into the creek and fled, but Tamati pursued and captured him by catching hold of his hair. The captured man was a Whanganui Native, and a member of the party that had murdered Mr Rush, at the Hutt; he was also in the attack on Boulcott’s Farm.
While this struggle was going on, three Maori women at some distance, gave the alarm, whereupon the militia rushed on towards the pa. About a quarter of a mile from it, they crossed a stream, from which place they could see the pa. The united parties then crossed a clearing towards a belt of bush, through which it was necessary to pass in order to reach the fortified position. Here a halt was made, and the Maori contingent threw off their blankets, and stripped for the fight. The militia and police also threw aside their swags. Beyond the bush belt was a small strip of cleared land, reaching to a creek about twenty feet wide, which ran round a conical hill about eighty feet high that stood up like an island. On the summit of this hill the pa was built.
(The pa was situated on a spur, not an isolated hill, but a small knoll may have existed at the site of the pa, at that time.)
The order was given to advance against the position, and all rushed forward to the creek, from which the militia and police advanced to the attack, closely followed by the Maoris. On arriving at the pa, which they did at one o’clock, it was found that the enemy, forewarned by the women, had abandoned it, and taken to the bush. So fell Matai-taua.
Mr Ludlam, who accompanied the expedition, stated that the position was a strong one, and, had it been defended, great loss of life must have ensued, as it would have resisted any attempt to take it without artillery (see his account of the expedition in the Wellington “Spectator.”) Mr M’Killop says that the defences were flimsy. Major Last, in his report to the Governor, of August 4, states : – “On examining the pa I found it to be built in a very strong position, having a double row of timber palisades, with trenches and traverses across, about eighty paces long, and thirty five broad, in the shape of a parallelogram, with flanking defences. There was also a bank of earth thrown up on the scrap side of the trenches, which owing to the heavy rain, were full of water. The position altogether is a very strong one, and would have been almost impregnable without artillery; but a hill about 500 yards distant, opposite the front face, commanded it completely. Therefore, had the enemy remained, we might soon have dislodged them with our guns, which were in readiness at Pori-rua, in command of Captain Henderson. The pa stands on very high ground fronting the harbour; at the foot of it runs a deep narrow reek fordable at low water; the ground about it is excessively swampy, which the troops had to pass over. On the side the pa stands rises a very steep bank which, even without opposition, the men had difficulty in mounting, and on the proper left of the position is a very deep ravine, the side of which is thickly wooded. The right face is also thickly wooded, and the ground gradually slopes away into the valley. The rear was the weakest part as to its defence, the ground covered with thick scrub; but, from its locality, I do not consider a position could have been taken up by us on that side. The defences on the front face were a stronger description than any other.”
Mr Ludlam’s statement continues : – “About an hour after the capture of the pa, Mr M’Donough, Mr Scott, and thirty natives went down towards the water and on a clearing on a small point projecting into the harbour on the opposite side, about a quarter of a mile distant, they saw a number of natives collected. These proved to be Te Rangi-haeata and some of his followers. He called out to our party – “What people are in my pa?” to which they replied – “The Governor’s people and the Maoris of Port Nicholson.” He then inquired which way they came, and was told “Over the hills from the Hutt.” He ended the talking by saying he would fight them next morning, and, after firing a volley across the harbour, retired. It is believed that Te Rangi-haeata and several of his followers were in the pa at the time the alarm was given by the Maori women, and that they left very shortly before the pa was taken.”
Crawford, in his “Travels in New Zealand”, remarks : – “The militia stormed the pa, but found, perhaps luckily, that it was abandoned. I say ‘luckily’ in no disparaging terms, for experience has since shown that all attempts to storm the pa unbreached, and without great precaution, are almost sure to end in failure and great loss of life.”
Topine Te Mamaku, of Upper Whanga-nui, was one of the leading spirits among the hostiles at the Hutt and retired with them to the Matai-taua pa at Paua-taha-nui, thence to Horo-Miri and Porotawhao,, from which place he returned to Whanga-nui.
Thus the Matai-taua Pa was taken possession of, and occupied on Saturday, August 1, 1846. H.E. the Governor and Imperial Troops from Paremata arrive at Paua-tahanui. The account continues : –
“About four o’clock on Saturday afternoon (August 1, 1846), his Excellency, accompanied by Captain Stanley, the Hon. W. Yelverton, R.A., and Captain Wynniatt, arrived at the pa in Captain Stanley’s gig. He was accompanied by Puaha (Rawiri Puaha, a noted chief of Ngati-Toa, from Taupo pa), in a war canoe who, with his natives, were received by our allies with a war dance. His Excellency warmly congratulated the militia and the friendly natives on their success, spoke in high terms of their gallant conduct, and seemed to be very much pleased with the result of the expedition. He promised also to send a reinforcement and provisions, of which they were greatly in need, having started with only one day’s rations. Next morning, Sunday, August 2, 1846, the promised reinforcements arrived from the camp at Pare-mata, with provisions. On Monday morning a combined movement was made, including the force stationed at the camp, the reinforcements taken by the Driver, and the detachment of the 65th Regiment recently arrived, who had landed from the Calliope; to these were added the police and militia, 200 Natives (Ngati-Toa from Taupo), and about 160 Port Nicholson Natives (Ngati-Awa) under Mr Scott. The Natives had a grand war dance, after which the whole body moved on to the top of a hill over looking the harbour, where they halted.”
SITE OF THE MATAI_TAUA PA.
The name of this fortified place is not an unusual one, as applied to such positions. The word matai means to examine, look at; taua implies a hostile party, hence the name is somewhat equivalent to our name of Look-out, for a point of observation, and other similar terms, e.g., Sentry Hill, at Johnsonville.
As to the present appearance of Te Rangihaeata’s old pa at Paua-taha-nui, it is difficult to grasp the fact that the spot was ever occupied by semi-naked savages trying to stem the tide of advancing civilisation. The trenches, rifle pits and palisades have long been obliterated; no trace remains of the fighting days of yore, and nought does the wayfarer see of the strenuous life of the forties. On the slope above the old pa stands the village church, and the site of the stronghold of primitive man is now the village churchyard, wherein lie the pioneers of the hamlet and surrounding district, with many of their descendants.
Those accustomed to noting the position of Maori fortified places would not describe the position as a strong one, and, after allowing for the different appearance of the position when surrounded by dense bush, we can only conclude that many of the remarks made by the Imperial officers on the place and its surrounding were certainly exaggerated. Te only steep face to the redoubt was on the side overlooking the creek, where is a steep bank, which at that time was probably 30 feet high. This is on the south side. To the north the spur on which the pa stood slopes gradually down to a small rivulet. On the west the point of the spur sloped down to meet the marshy flat, and eastward the ground retains the gradual upward slope of the ridge. Had the Natives remained in this place, they could have been shelled from several positions, notably from a commanding hill to the north-east. No trace of the pa remains save a small deposit of pipi shells discernible in a scarped slope, possibly a midden of the days of the Ngati-Toa occupation, though old middens are seen in many places round the harbour, that were never occupied by Ngati-Toa. They are tokens of the sojourn of Ngati-Ira and other old time tribes in this district.
At high tide there is sufficient water in the creek to float a small boat as far as the pa site. This seems to show that there must have been ample water in the channel at high tide in 1846 to float a large boat, when we consider that in 1855 the land was elevated somewhat by the severe earthquake of that year. As M’Killop’s boat got aground he must have either missed the channel or negotiated it at low water. It is not surprising that they ran aground in a channel not remarkable for straightness, when bullets were spurting the water around them. The swampy nature of the flat land surrounding the Paua-taha-nui pa must have been most marked prior to the earthquake of 1855. The deposits of marine shells, and other proofs, show that the flat on which the recreation ground is situated must recently have been covered by the waters of the bay.
A military, officer writing of the Matai-tana pa at Paua-taha-nui, remarks : – “The real strength of this pa lay in its site and the surrounding terrain. Troops and guns could only the brought up to attack it through difficult and dangerous country. It would have been impossible to invest it, and its position was such that after inflicting much loss of life on us, and putting us to serious expenditure, the rebels could effect their escape with ease, having sustained no loss worth mentioning. After the receipt of the report from Yelverton and McKillop, Sir G. Grey prudently decided not to lay siege to this pa, but to get the rebels of it by strategy.”
THE ADVANCE FROM PAUA-TAHA-NUI
MARCH OF IMPERIAL, COLONIAL AND NATIVE TROOPS UP HOROKIRI VALLEY
THE ACTION AT BATTLE HILL.
In Major Last’s report of August 4, he gives the following particulars of the above force : – “On the morning of the 3rd instant, a combined movement was made from the pa at Paua-tahanui and Porirua, consisting of six officers and 120 men of the 58th, 65th and 99th Regiments, and 80 militia, followed by 150 Natives allies from the former, and four officers, 100 men of the Royal Artillery, 58th and 65th Regiments, with 80 Native allies, under command of Major Arney, from the latter place (Paremata Fortress), for the purpose of attacking the rebel chief and preventing his escape from the Horo-kiri Valley. We proceeded about four miles into the woods, covering our advance with the usual precautions. The enemy soon discovered our approach, and quickly retired, but, from his fires being still alight, it was evident he had fled into the bush that morning. Night coming on, and begin uncertain as to the direction of the enemy or the route they had taken, I deemed it then inadvisable to proceed further.”
These reports disagree as to the number of Natives accompanying this advance, and it is quite possible that the expedition would have been better without the Ngait-Toa contingent. These men could scarcely be expected to be strenuous in fighting a party containing many of their relatives, with whom they sympathised. They would have made good hostile enemies, but were scarcely to be trusted as friends and allies.
It will be noted that, although the Imperial soldiers arrived from Pare-mata after the pa had been occupied by the Hutt column, yet, had the place been defended by the enemy, the regulars would probably have arrived in time to take a hand. They would also probably have lost a number of men had they assaulted the pa in the gallant but reckless manner that caused so many casualties in the north. Imperial officers do not seem to have grasped the change that was introduced by the Natives in their system of fortification after the acquisition of firearms, nor the objects of such change. No longer the heavy stockade of neo-lithic days, but a light elevated screen with a palisading within and near it, and a trench to fire from. Then, be an assaulting force never so brave, yet was it put out of action while attempting to negotiate the screen. Scorn not the pa Maori; it was superior to our redoubts.
Thomson, a semi-humorous writer in patches, remarks of Matai-taua : – “It was strong, for, even without any opposition, the troops had much difficulty in climbing up the rocks, with their stocks and cross-belts.” Good night!
To continue Mr Ludlam’s account : – “Puaha’s Natives, with our allies under Mr Scott and Mr Swainson, then advanced towards the enemy’s position on the hills beyond the Horo-kiri Valley towards Pukerua (?), about three miles from Paua-tahanui. There they found a collection of about sixty huts, without any fence or enclosure, which had been lately erected by the rebels, and which they had quitted so recently that the potatoes were found cooking on the fires which were left burning. On taking possession of this spot, the friendly Natives discharged a few shots (!), on hearing which his Excellency immediately advanced a body of troops to their support under Major Last, who was accompanied by Captains Stanley and Henderson. On his arrival his Excellency praised the Natives very highly, and encouraged them to continue the pursuit. The Natives then encamped for the night, and agreed to send out scouts early the next morning to discover the enemy’s position, and requested that the militia and police might still continue to act with them, to which his Excellency consented.”
There ends Mr Ludlam’s narrative, as he left the expedition on Tuesday morning, August 4.
&bbsp; The following is taken from a newspaper article containing notes supplied by Mr George Taylor, formerly a non-com officer in the 58th Regiment during the troubled days of the Hutt and Whanganui districts : –
“Allen, the bugler of No 7 Company of the 58th, by his heroic bravery, saved the whole guard (at Boulcott’s). The Natives carried away the bugle and some of the arms of the men surprised in their sleep. This bugle was taken by the Natives to Porirua, where they sounded it by night and day. When part of the regiment was proceeding up the valley to Horo-kiri, Allen’s bugle was discovered in a hut on the track, which had only just been abandoned. With it was found a bunch of bayonets tied together. … Lieutenant Page, now General Page, who was round a few years ago visiting the scenes of the war, made inquiries about Allen’s bugle, as also did General Shipley during his late visit to the colony, owing to the historical reminiscences associated with it. … ”
Mr Taylor had the bugle and bayonets in his possession temporarily, but believes they were handed back to No. 6 Company, to which they belonged.
We must now fall back on our old friend M’Killop, Admiral-in-Chief of the Porirua Navy, for an account of the doings of the force on Tuesday, August 4, and succeeding days. He first explains that detachments of the 58th and 65th Regiments embarked on the Calliope in order to proceed to Porirua to take part in the attack on Matai-taua, but that, owing to a strong north-west gale, the vessel had to take shelter at Port Underwood. The Driver was lying at Wellington, suffering from a serious affection of the boilers. When the Calliope did manage to reach Porirua, it was too late for the troops on board to co-operate in the advance against Paua-taha-nui, but they were at once landed. Governor Grey also went ashore, as we have seen, and at once proceeded by boat to that place.
The Governor was desirous of learning the disposition of that division of Ngati-Toa living about Taupo, hence Rawiri Puaha was interviewed on the subject. Here we quote form Mr M’Killop’s narrative : – “He promised his support to our cause. His people were accordingly armed, and attached to our force, the Governor having determined to follow the retreating rebels into the bush, which we did the day after our landing, the first day’s march bringing our advanced guard so close to the enemy that they left their fires with their potatoes boiling in their hasty retreat, evidently never having expected that we should follow them.
“The friendly Natives were all supplied with blue serge frocks, with V.R. in large white letters on the breast and back, to prevent our men from mistaking them for the enemy. We had frequently to cut away the underwood with tomahawks to allow of our passing. The travelling was very bad, even the Natives slipping down in passing along the sides of some of the rivers, the wet weather making it worse than usual. Our path lay through the most dense wood it has ever been my fate to tread, begin frequently crossed by small rivers and fallen trees of such a size as to make it necessary to change the direction of the road to avoid them. It was as much as the men could do to carry one day’s provisions with their arms and ammunition (!). The militia had advanced with some of the Natives the day before we joined them and we found that they had received no rations, and expected that we had brought them up the necessary supplies. They were, however, doomed to pass another hungry day, as no Natives could be procured to bring up the provisions, and the road being to narrow and too bad to admit of any animal, however sure-footed, being used for this purpose, even if we had had them, which was not the case. We encamped the first night of our arrival in a hollow at the foot of a terrifically steep hill, on the summit of which the enemy were supposed to be located, our Native scouts having reported such to be the case. The ground was dreadfully wet, but by lighting fires and erecting huts, which we smoked-dried, we managed to pass the night more comfortably than could have been expected considering that it was the depth of winter, miserably cold, and pouring with rain. I marched out with a small party of sailors to take my post, an outlying picquet. We planted our sentries behind the trees right round our position, fearing that we might be surprised by the enemy before day light, our post not being by any means a favourable one.”
“I was not allowed to light a fire at my picquet, for fear of attracting the attention of our sharp-sighted foes, who would soon have picked off some of us if we had been discovered. The whole force was under arms an hour before daylight, and our friendly Natives again went out to ascertain if the enemy were still in the neighbourhood. Mr Servantes (Lieutenant Servantes, a Maori linguist) accompanied them and, having reached the ridge of hills on which they had been seen the night before, he was astonished to see about a dozen of the enemy start up, as it were from ground, between his party and the camp, with their guns in their hands, many of them pointing at him. A conversation now commenced between the Natives on either side. Te Rangi-haeata was himself one of the party, and luckily for Servantes, the Natives whom he had accompanied were all part of this tribe (Ngait-toa); Puaha, the chief, being a near relation of Rangi, besides being a chief much respected by his people generally. Te Rangi-haeata advised him to retreat, and to take the soldiers with him, as they would do no good by following them; he expressed his regret at a portion of his own tribe being in arms against him, and begged them to return to their pa or join him. Puaha, however, told him that he had already suffered from the misconduct of that portion of the tribe who were now with Rangi, and begged him to give up the murderers, which would at once put an end to the proceedings. This, however, was declined, and the interview ended by the two chiefs rubbing noses (which they do instead of shaking hands), Rangi expressing his regret at being a variance with his children.”
“The party now returned to us; the only information which they had gained was that the rebels were on the hill; as to whether they had a pa or not was still unknown. Our two friendly tribes now assembled for a war dance, previous to setting out to attack the enemy; for although it was the wish of the officer commanding to keep his movements as quiet as possible, he could not persuade our dark skinned allies to dispense with the noisy and usual practice, although it gave good notice of our intentions to all within hearing. Several of us joined in this exhibition, much to the delight of our Maori friends, who immediately advanced up the hill, dividing themselves into two parties, each under the command of their own chief, acting, however, under the orders of a European interpreter, who was, in fact, the captain of the party.”
“After climbing the hill with great difficulty, but without molestation, although the men were necessarily much exposed, we began to think that they did not mean to dispute our further progress; we advanced a long way without seeing any sign of them. Our Native allies, however, proceeded very cautiously after we reached the summit of the hill, crawling on their stomachs, and peering into every bush in the most searching manner, evidently expecting an ambuscade.”
“We advanced in this tedious mode for several hundred yards, until they discovered a breastwork thrown across the very top of the hill at the narrowest part, composed of several large trees, which had been felled and thrown across, with a small clearing in front, which prevented our approaching unseen.”
“Puaha’s Natives (Ngati-Toa, of Taupo) now commenced fortifying themselves, barely within musket shot; and nothing would induce them or the Port Nicholson Natives (Ngati-Awa) to join in a proposed assault. Here we remained for about an hour, our Maoris crawling about in the thick underwood, trying to get a shot at any straggler who might show himself. Mr Page, of the 58th, discovering one of them prowling about, aimed at him, but the rifle missed fire; the cape making sufficient noise to alarm him, he soon returned the intended compliment, and fired at his adversary, without, however, doing any harm. The first shot once fired, we had not to wait long for a commencement of the morning’s work. The Maoris on our side kept perpetually firing on the pa from which a brisk return was made; our people getting excited, commenced shooting away right and left amongst the trees, not half of them having seen a moving creature to fire at. At this time we had two or three men wounded in front belonging to the road party, employed as pioneers, under the command of Lieutenant Elliott, of the 99th, who were cutting down trees and clearing away the bush, to enable us to get a better sight of the rebels, as well as to allow the men moving two or three abreast (!), instead of crawling along in single file.”
“We saw a number of the enemy jumping over some felled trees and running to the right; on our giving notice of which, several volleys were fired in that direction, rather prematurely, as I do not think any of them had time to get round when the firing commenced. It was proposed to make a rush at the place, as the Maoris were seen leaping over the fence, which clearly proved it was not a very formidable fortification. The bugles sounded the advance, and a demonstration was made, which ended in a retreat. Our position was a bad one, the enemy having the advantage of the rising ground, and the open space in front giving them a clear view of all our movements.”
“We sheltered ourselves behind the trees as we best could, and carried on an irregular fire for some hours, our people throwing away several thousand rounds of ball cartridge. The rebels were more successful and picked off several of our men. Poor Blackburn, the acting brigade-major, was the first who fell; he received his death wound from a Maori who was concealed in a tree, he turned round to speak to me about the sailors being so much exposed, when he was shot, one of my own men was shot in the breast almost at the same time. I assisted to carry him to where the doctors were performing their sad office; I cannot call it the rear as it was almost as much exposed as any other part of our position. Here I learnt that Blackburn was quite dead, never having spoken a word since he received his wound. He was a gallant young officer, and had been in every skirmish which had taken place between the natives and the troops in the north. … The man who shot him was picked off by an artillery man, and was seen to fall from his elevated position.”
“It required a good deal of moral courage on the part of the commanding officer to refuse the repeated requests to allow the men to attempt to carry the place by assault; however, he would not accede this, being in total ignorance as to the strength of it, and not thinking the object worth the sacrifice which must have necessarily attended such a proceeding. The enemy, upon seeing two or three wounded men on our side being removed treated us to a short war dance, which was, of course, meant to frighten us, as well as to inspire their own party. … Our advance was within forty or fifty yards of them. We soon after this found it prudent to retreat a few yards for the shelter afforded by a large tree felled by the pioneers who were hard at work throwing up a little breastwork, as it was probable we should spend the night in this position. Finding that we could not dislodge the enemy without the assistance of artillery, the bluejackets were ordered to assemble and march back to the boats, and return to Porirua for two small mortars, which were to be carried up, with a few rounds of shell.”
“We started just before dark. … We met the Governor coming up as we left the camp, and soon after Dr Ross, the assistant surgeon of the Calliope, who had marched up alone, with his blanket and case of instruments on his back. We heard the firing on the hill for an hour after we had left it, (Here follows an account of the discomforts and humours of a night march through the bush). … We mustered our party on reaching the boats, and found there were many absentees, but leaving one boat for the stragglers, we pushed on and reached the camp, half famished and caked with mud, when I discovered I had had a musketball through my cap. … Having refreshed ourselves with a good meal and four hour’s sleep, we again started for the camp, taking with us the two small mortars, every man carrying three shells and a fifteen pound bag of powder; our men taking turn and turn about with the artillerymen to carry the heavy parts of the apparatus; the officers themselves each having a bag of powder to carry, and frequently a musket or two belonging to the men. We had the greatest difficulty in ascending some of the steep and slippery hills. … We had a few shot boxes of shells, some of which went to pieces from the repeated tumbles. … We reached the camp, where we were greeted with cheers from the combined forces, our little iron friends making us a very welcome reinforcement. The artillerymen immediately set to work planting the mortars, and making such other preparations as were necessary, whilst we joined in the skirmishing, which was still going on. I was anxious to see the effect of the shell, and crawled on through the bush as near the enemy’s stockade as possible, and had not to wait long before I heard the report of the first mortar; the shell pitched rather short, of which I immediately gave notice, after which they fell very well, most of them going into what we supposed to be the centre of the pa. Several of the natives were driven from their ambush, and retreated in great haste, I got a shot at one or two of them, but after the first six or seven shells I did not see a soul move. We, however, continued shelling the place for several hours, the result of which will be seen in the following description from Major Last to the Governor : –
“Porirua, 10th August, 1846.
“Sir – At daylight on the morning of the 5th instant I proceeded in the boats for her Majesty’s ships Calliope and Driver up the harbour of Porirua, landed about a mile and a half distant, and pressed forward into the Horokiri Valley five or six miles, over a road almost impassable to troops. … We passed encampments the enemy had recently left, leaving behind them the bugle taken from the troops in the attack on Boulcott’s Farm. At half-past two p.m., we came up with our Native allies and a party of militia under the command of Captain M’Donough, who were lying at the foot of a precipitous hill covered with wood, near the summit of which the enemy were supposed to be posted. The troops then commenced hutting themselves for the night.
“On the following morning I gave orders for the advance, directing the Native allies to proceed on to cover it. The first division, consisting of seven officers and 127 men of the force, made up of seamen, soldiers, militia and armed police, was under the command of Major Arney, 58th Regiment. The second division, of five officers and 117 men of similar detail was under the command of Captain Armstrong, 99th Regiment. At about 9 a.m. we ascended the hill, preceded by an officer and a party of men with tools to cut away the wood. … After ascending with great difficulty about a mile, we suddenly discovered that the enemy had established himself in a stockade on the spur of a hill, which was not only excessively steep and precipitous upon each side, but so narrow in places that only a few men could proceed abreast.
“The stockade that was visible appeared very strong, composed of heavy logs of timber placed horizontally one over another, with loopholes to fire through. Some of the enemy having appeared in front, a heavy fire was opened on both sides; they made repeated attempts to turn our left flank, but were driven back with great loss (!) to their position. … Our loss was severe, having two killed and nine wounded, as will be seen by the annexed return : –
“Killed –– Ensign H.M. Blackburn, 99th Regiment; Private Thomas Tuite, 99th Regiment.
“Wounded –– W. Roberts, captain of missen-top H.M.S. Calliope, mortally, since dead; Private John Carr, 58th Regiment, slightly; Private Robert Miller, 65th Regiment, severely; Private Patrick Darcey, T. Woodfield, F. O’Reilly, J. Henchcliff and J. Booth, 99th Regiment; Private George Farmer, militia, severely.
“All these casualties occurred in the action of August 6.
“The firing lasted till dark, when, finding my position unfavourable to occupy at night, I left two officers and 120 men to assist our Native allies to watch the enemy, and again took up the post I had left in the morning. The enemy admitted to have lost five killed and two wounded; among the number one chief named Te Oro, and Tapuke, the murderer of Richard Rush at the Hutt.”
The Major then states that the shelling of the position was carried out on the 8th, “having been reinforced by a captain, subaltern and eleven men of the Royal Artillery, with two small mortars, under Captain Henderson of that corps,” but that the trees interfered with the operations. However, they succeeded in throwing a number of shells into the stockade, and so continued to harass them during the day. There is nothing in any of the accounts of these proceedings that tends to show the position of the mortars, when brought into action.
The Major now seems to have thought further operations unnecessary or inadvisable. Bush fighting has never been much of a picnic in this country. In the case of Native contingents, the lack of discipline and proper control, as also vexatious Native customs and superstition, made such commands exceedingly trying, and Imperial troops were not suitable for rough bush work. In later days, when white bushmen, trained to bush travelling and expedients, with good initiative powers, took up the work, the results were more satisfactory, but the life was rough and hard.
Major Last remarks in his report that strong entrenchments were thrown across the steep and narrow ridge, and, the enemy being in retreat, it was believed that their intention was to wait until the force advanced, then pour a few volleys into them as they advanced up the narrow ridge top, and then fly into the woods in the rear. It is of interest to note that no other mode of advance than keeping along the extremely narrow apex of the ridge seems to have suggested itself to those in command of the force. It is probable that many of the Native auxiliaries, who were capable of advancing from, or in, any direction, were half-hearted participants in the attack, more especially those of Ngati-Toa.
Major Last reckoned that the enemy, being short of supplies, could not possibly hold out for long in their position, and that it was not advisable to assault the place, as many lives would probably be lost in taking. Moreover, but little loss would probably be inflicted upon the enemy, and his own loss might have produced a bad impression on the country, “and have destroyed the effect of our previous successes.” We fail to see that those previous successes were very numerous.
He continues : – “Taking into consideration also the want of facilities for provisioning so large a force, I at last accepted the offers made by the friendly chiefs, to permit them to remain on the ground, and locate themselves in temporary pas, whilst they cleared the scrub and erected round the enemy a palisade after the Maori system of warfare, so as to cut off his means of obtaining either water or provisions, and thus either capture him or force him to fly from his position. In addition to the before mentioned obstacles opposed to me, the rear of my position was subject to constant floods: I therefore deemed it right to make arrangements for withdrawing my forces from the Horo-kiri Valley to the pa at Paua-tahanui, and Porirua Point (Paremata), leaving the Native allies to carry out their own plans, and reserving the troops for further operations when required.”
W. Tyrone Power, in his “Sketches in New Zealand,” 1849, remarks: “A party of friendly Natives, under Lieutenants Servantes and Messrs Scott and Swainson, were left to watch the movements of the enemy, and the troops returned to Paua-tahanui and Porirua (Paremata), half starved, more than half naked, and worn out with exposure and the harassing duties they had had to perform.”
M’Killop states that, when it was decided to withdraw the troops, they returned to the encampment occupied on the night of their arrival, and were agreeably surprised to find that a day’s rations had been issued, some of the force having been three days on very short allowance, the wet, cold and fatigue making the allowance of a gill of spirits most acceptable. However, they seem to have enjoyed a square meal that night within the sylvan glades of Horo-kiri. Says M’Killop : – “There were many extraordinary modes of cooking invented this night, such as frying pork in a tin drinking cup, grilling pigeons on ramrods, boiling water in a glass bottle, and such like. … Early in the morning we retraced our steps over the vile roads of which I have already spoken, taking back with us the mortars which had cost us so much labour to bring up.”
The troops gave the name of “Gibraltar” to the position taken up by the hostiles at Horo-kiri. The strength of the enemy was not known; one estimate gave it as 250, but it may have been much less, and probably was.
An account of the above affair published in the Wellington “Spectator”, states that, when the slayer of Blackburn was shot, and fell from his perch in a tree, three of the enemy rushed forward to recover his body, but all three were killed. Another account has it that two were so killed. One Native was taken prisoner; both he and Whare-aitu, the man captured during the advance on Matai-taua, were sent to Paremata post for trial, where the latter was hanged.
The commissariat seems to have been very badly managed during this little expedition, as the troops before the enemy’s position received but few supplies, and a quantity of rations sent up from Ration Point, on the waterfront, were appropriated by parties in the rear. A three or four mile swag up a level valley was to much for the B.A. Verily these things make us tired!
Tyrone Power wrote : – “The soldiers were exposed for days to the pelting rain and bitter winds, lying at night on the wet ground, and during the day wading through mud and water, struggling through mountain torrents, among fallen timber and the all but impenetrable forest; their clothes in rags, their boots torn to pieces by the sharp stones. From the want of roads and transport, they were harassed by fatigue parties; rations went astray, or became the prize of those who could seize them first, so that often, while the parties in the rear were wasting food, the advanced guards and picquets were almost starved.”
Of a truth there must have been amazing incapacity shown by the leaders of these helpless folk. Another statement that the men were able to carry only one day’s rations with their arms and ammunition on such a curiously slow march up three miles of the valley, reads like a fairy tale to folk who know things; and what kind of boots had they? Heavens! What would our bush folk think of these harrowing adventures, swagging rations a whole three miles, with no metalled roads, no carts and no pub! Those rivers and mountain torrents encountered between Paua-tahanui and Horokiri must also have been truly alarming.
The Rev R. Taylor states that the position occupied by the hostiles at Horo-kiri was called Reumu-taka, but we cannot obtain any corroboration of this from Natives. Possibly he confused the Poawha Range with that of Remu-taka to the eastward of the Hutt River.
The vicinity of Mr Abbott’s homestead, at the base of the spur on which the hostiles were entrenched, is known as Wai-kotere to the local Natives, who gave it that name after the fighting, because, as they say, the dead and wounded of the attacking force were taken down the hill and placed in the creek at its base. This act they compared to the Native custom of placing potatoes in water until quite decomposed, in which condition they emit a fiendish odour and are deemed a desirable food, being known as kotero, while any pool or stream in which this vile food is prepared is known as a wai kotero.
A Wellington paper of 1851 contains the following item : – “We have recently had an opportunity of seeing a picture of Mr Barraud representing the encampment in the Horokiwi (Horo-kiri) of the advanced picket of the force, composed of militia, armed police, and friendly Natives of Wellington and Pito-one, which, under the command of Mr M’Donough, crossed from the Hutt in 1846 and took Rangi-haeata’s pa at Paua-tahanui. The scene represents a turning in the road, down which a party of stragglers is observed advancing. The figures in the foreground are divided into two principal groups. On the right, Mr M;Donough and Mr D. Scott, the leaders of the party, are conversing with Wi Tako, who is dressed in a Native cloak, and holds a mere in his hand. In the opposite corner of the picture a bivouac is seen, round which are collected militia and Native police, some seated, some cooking; Native sentinels being posted as a precaution. On the hills in the distance is introduced the spot where Rangi-haeata made his last stand against the troops under Major Last. The picture was a commission from Sir George Grey.”
One cannot help wishing that this picture could be traced; it would now be of much interest.
Mr Rochfort, in his little work, “Adventures of a Surveyor in New Zealand” (1853), states, in mentioning the skirmish at Horo-kiri, that : – “A company of the regiment which was stationed in Wellington at the time, were marching through with their bright red coats and arms glistening in the sun (!), when an ambuscade of Natives fired into them and completely cut them up, while, from the nature of the ground, scarcely a Maori was killed. … Only four or five of the soldiers escaped to tell the tale.”
We sadly fear that John R. was somewhat of a romancer, or that some wag had been whispering little fairy tales in his ear. Had he stated that all but three of the men escaped to tell the tale we might have grasped it. Another point that worries us is, how the sun managed to glisten on the red coats, or on anything else, in the dense bush that then covered the Horokiri Valley. We have passed over Tyrone Power’s plaint about the soldiers being “exposed to bitter winds” at the bottom of a bush gully, but we must draw the line somewhere, and we hereby draw it, good and hard, at this sun-gleaming business within the shades of the primeval forest. Poetic license is all very well, but we know that Porirua forest.
The scene of Te Rangi-haeata’s stand at Horokiri is a narrow-topped, in parts razor backed, ridge on Mr Abbott’s property. We are indebted to that gentleman for assistance given in locating various places of interest in connection with affairs in 1846. The spur known locally as Battle Hill, runs northward, or west of north from Mr Abbott’s homestead , rising steeply from the flat on section 22, just east of the main road, on the left bank of the creek. Its trend is nearly at right angles across sections 25,26, 29, etc., and so on to a point about one mile from Pae-kakariki.
In ascending the ride from the flat, the first part of the ridge is emphatically steep, to become much easier higher up, where, however, the ridge top is extremely narrow, describing many turns and angles. At a point, about 250 yards from the foot of the ridge a trench has been cut across the narrow summit. This may be the place where the Native auxiliaries are said to have entrenched themselves. The trenches made by the hostiles are situated on a somewhat sharp and commanding peak about half a mile up the ridge from the flat, and just about halfway between the northern and southern lines of section 26. A curved line of trench and log breastwork was made on this knoll, the concave side facing the ascent, a steep slope, by which any one ascending the spur would advance. The breastwork was constructed outside the ditch, of timber, trunks of tree ferns and earth. Some of these tree fern trunks were in evidence for many years; they were arranged in a horizontal position, and the earth from the trench piled over them. The position was an admirable one for defence, and a difficult one to assault, so long as the assailants did what was required of them, viz, advance along the narrow top of the spur, and did not develop sufficient intelligence and activity to make a flank attack or work round to its rear, in which case those in the rifle pit would be forced to retire. But the good old B.A. is obliging, whatever else may be said of it. Not only did they keep to the narrow ridge summit, but it destroyed its own cover as it advanced, felling trees and clearing the ground so that the men might advance abreast, and thus give the enemy a decent chance to put the aforesaid B.A. out of action!
The only members of the force who appear to have shown a fine discretion were those of the Native contingent, who took cover, amused themselves by firing at the surrounding scenery, and let the world wag as it listed.
About a hundred yards below the peak on which the entrenchment of the hostiles is situated is the trench made across the ridge by the Pioneers. (The first trench mentioned is much lower down the spur.) This trench, like the others showed much deeper prior to the bush being felled by settlers. The barricade of logs on the upper side of the Pioneer’s trench was covered or backed with the earth taken from the ditch. This breastwork of horizontal logs was still in existence about 1864.
The advanced party of the troops seems to have ascended the spur as far as a small knoll, a little distance above the trench just described, which knoll is within a short distance of the enemy’s trench. Between the advanced party and the hostiles was a steep ascent cleared by the latter. The casualties on our side seem to have occurred about this knoll, and Lieutenant Elliott’s party busied itself in destroying good cover by felling trees and clearing away bush.
The party of the enemy spoken of as running to the right probably took up a position on a blind spur in the vicinity, in order to open a cross fire on the attacking force. This party would thus be on the right front of the British advance. The enemy could gain no coign of vantage by proceeding far in that direction, inasmuch as the blind spur falls away steeply to the valley below.
M’Killop says: “Our advance was within forty or fifty yards of them”; hence this party must have reached the knoll, which is about that distance below the enemy’s trench. The felled tree and breastwork that M’Killop mentions as the shelter to which they retired, is the place we have just described. It is about forty yards below the knoll that the advanced party retired from, and is situated in a slight dip of the spur.
The position of the mortars when the place was shelled is not known. All we know is that they threw a shell about 4½ inches in diameter, a good many unexploded ones having been found since the land was cleared.
Immediately behind the enemy’s trench is an artificial pit, now much filled with debris, but which was much deeper prior to the destruction of the forest. This was probably a retreat, or bomb-proof pit, to shelter the defenders during shelling operations. Such pits were a common feature in Native fortified positions during the trouble in the sixties.
About a hundred yards to the rear of the enemy’s trench is situated a sheltered hollow, wherein persons would be secure from the rifle fire of the English force, but would be untenable, probably, when the mortars began to lob shells into the bush. This is the place mentioned as having been partially surrounded by a railing. Evidently the non-combatants were camped in the hollow. At this place Mr M’Killop found several pieces of slate (school or roofing), nails and part of a bayonet, with a few other items. He also found here live unexploded shells, piled together, evidently collected by the natives prior to their retreat. On a spur near by a human thigh bone was found. Many more shells have been found in the vicinity, by bushfellers and others, some of which are in the possession of local settlers, while doubtless others are buried in the soil of Battle Hill.
It is highly probable that, when the shells began to drop into this camp, the non-combatants were moved along the ridge summit to the other camp, afterwards seen by the pursuing force. The first camp was undoubtedly the spot where cooking operations were carried on for some time, and where the “umu mamaku” where prepared, cooking the soft interior part of the upper part of the trunk of the black tree fern as food.
After the fight, and indeed until recent years, a big tree that stood near the top of the ridge, fifty years or more below the enemy’s position, showed deep scores on its truck, where shells had struck it.
Such is the aspect of the ridge known as Battle Hill. The forest has been hewn off this and surrounding lands, the flocks of the intrusive pakeha graze over the retreat of neolithic man. In place of the carols of the children of Tane, or the sounds of war, one hears, on the valley road below, the whirring rush of the motor car, and the petulant popping of the motorised coffee pot.
Of the three men killed on our side in the action, Roberts and Tuite were buried on the flat at the foot of the ridge. The grave in which the twain were buried is marked only by a small mound, it is situated near the southern boundary of Section 22.
The body of Lieutenant Blackburn was conveyed to Wellington and buried in the English cemetery, near and above the Bolton Street entrance. The headstone bears the following inscription : –
“Sacred to the memory of Henry Middleton Blackburn, Esq., Ensign in H.M. 99th Regiment, who was killed in action in the valley of Horokiwi, August the 6th, 1846, aged twenty-two years.”
On the foot stone appears : –
“August 6, 1846.”
While at head and foot of the grave of the gallant lad stands a glass bottle, each of which contains a few sprigs of box and geranium, with seed stalks of cocksfoot grass. Now, who makes these simple offerings to the memory of the dead, after sixty-six years have passed away since the fight of Battle Hill?
When in Sydney some years ago, Mr Abbott came across a memorial tablet to Lieutenant Blackburn in a small church on King Street. The inscription thereon is as follows : –
“In memory of Ensign Henry Middleton Blackburn, 99th Regiment, who was killed in action with the rebel Natives in the valley of the Horokiwi, New Zealand, August 6, 1846; aged twenty-three years. … This monument is erected by his brother officers in testimony of their esteem and regard.”
For some time we were unable to ascertain the burial place of this officer, and hence applied to Major-General Robly for information, who forwarded a reply received from the Colonel in Charge of Records at Exeter, which runs as follows : –
“Sir, - - I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 10th inst. relative to the burial place of Ensign H.M. Blackburn, 99th Foot, who was killed in action at Horokiwi, N.Z., on 5th August, 1846, and to inform you that there is no record of his burial in the digest of Services of the Regiment. The private killed was Thomas Tuite, of No. 3 Company. Exeter, 12th June, 1911.”
As other recorders give the date as August 6, we have kept to that in our narrative.
In walking over the scene of this engagement we picked up a piece of a shell on the site of the camp of the hostiles behind the trenches.
Mr Farmer, of the Hutt Militia, who was wounded and lost a thumb in this action, is now living in the Rangitikei district.
We must now return to our hostiles. Mr Servantes, a Maori linguist, who had remained with the Native force before the enemy’s positon at Horokiri, sent in the following report on August 13 : –
“Puaha’s Camp, August 13, 1846.
“… Some of the rebel Natives began to fire upon our camp this morning. Puaha rushed out to meet them with his followers, and, finding them retire, proceeded up to the pa, which they entered as the others went out by the rear. It appears that they had sent the women to the rear some time ago, together with their baggage. The men only retired a short time before we entered. They had no stock of provisions, as they had been eating the mamaku, which is a species of fern tree. The place from whence they fired upon us the other day (August 6) is only an entrenchment. The pa was about one hundred yards in the rear, but had no regular entrenchment round it, simply a rail in some places, and in others nothing at all. Puaha sends back his women to-day, and intends to follow them (the hostiles) up to-morrow morning.
“(Signed) W.F.G. Servantes.”
It is not made clear as to what date it was that the European troops ventured to Porirua, or as to what was done at the front between the date of the shelling of the enemy (August 8) and the 13th. Anyhow, there is no mention of any hostilities on August 9, 10, 11 and 12.
A report from Ensign Sevantes, dated August 24, gives the following information : –
“The extremely bad state of the weather prevented our following in the pursuit until Monday, August 17, when we moved off, the Port Nicholson Natives (Ngati-Awa) by their own request taking the lead.
“The track of the revels lay along the ridge of the hills; this we followed, and at about half a mile from their late pa we found a deserted encampment. Having advanced for about another half-mile, the Port Nicholson Natives, who had a distrust of the Ngait-Toa, upon hearing two muskets which were accidentally fired in our rear, and which they thought to be a signal to the rebels that we were advancing, suddenly turned off to the left, with the intention, as they stated, of proceeding to Te Paripari (a place on the coast between Pukerua and Paekakariki). This proceeding, which to Puaha’s people was inexplicable, brought them to a halt, and all that was done by them this day was to send out a party to reconnoitre, who came back with the information that at a short distance in our front there was another pa fortified with an entrenchment.
“The following morning, at daylight Puaha with his people advanced towards the pa which we had seen the previous evening, and which we entered by the front as Ngati-Awa did by the left flank. We found that it had been deserted some time, as the fires were wet from the rain which had fallen on the 14th and 15th, and the houses had been pulled down. It was not fortified except by the entrenchment in its front. Still pursuing the Native track the Ngati-Awa tribe in front, we passed by several encampments of the rebels, and from the circumstances of their having left boxes, pillows, iron pots and other unportable articles behind them, as well as the handles of their axes, we were induced to believe that they were in full retreat.
“At the bottom of this ridge of hills, along which the path ran from one extremity to the other, we found the place where they had slept two nights before. The rack here branched off to the left, and ran up the course of a small river for about a mile, when suddenly it turned to the right and ascended the precipitous side of the Po-awha Mountain, along the top of which it ran fro nearly half a mile. Here our path turned to the left, the other still following the ridge. The Ngati-Awa Natives, who believed the rebels to be well on their way to Whanganui, descended the former track with the intention of proceeding to the coast. When about three hundred yards down it, they suddenly fell in with the rebels, who were lying in ambush in a place in which a few determined men might keep at bay a much superior force. The rebels fired, and in the first volley killed three and wounded one of Ngati-Awa. The Ngati-Toa Natives, who were behind on the top of the hill, immediately came to their assistance, and finding them drawn up under the shelter of the ridge, opened out to the left in order to protect their rear. They drove back the enemy a considerable distance, and killed Te Pau, the murderer of Mr Gillespie.* The firing continued on both sides till dark, our casualties, besides those above mentioned, were one of Ngati-Awa wounded in the neck, and one of Ngati-Toa wounded in the hip. During the night the rebels robbed one of our dead bodies, which we had not been able to recover, of his musket and two pouches.
“The ground over which we passed today was such that it would be impassable to any armed body except Natives – thick bush the entire way, the road a mere track, with almost precipices to ascend and descend.
“On the following day we discovered that the position of the rebels was on a spur of Po-awha, which ran parallel to that on which we were. Occasional shots were exchanged across the gully which separated us, but nothing else was undertaken against them, as the friendly Natives entertained the idea that the Wai-kanae tribe (another section of Ngati-Awa) would advance in their rear, and cut off their retreat, when we would attack them in front.
“On the Thursday we anxiously awaited the arrival of Wiremu-Kingi (Ngati-Awa chief of Wai-kanae) with the above mentioned party, but finding that there was no sign of his approach at three o’clock in the afternoon (all our provisions being expended, and no possibility of getting any supply up to our position), we descended the hill to a potato plantation, and sent to Wai-nui for rations, which had been forwarded there for us.
“Nothing more was done until Saturday morning, when we re-ascended the hill to the enemy’s position, and found that they had left that morning, as the fires were still burning.
“At one end of the pa we discovered the body of Te Pau, which was immediately recognised. We also found blood in several places, which led us to believe that they had suffered severely in the skirmish which took place on the previous Tuesday.”
“Our allies thought that Rangi-haeata had retreated along the hills, and that they would continue to do so. They were disappointed that Ngati-Awa of Wai-kanae did not come to their assistance, and, if they do not do so, our allies will give up the pursuit.
“This party was out of touch with the Pori-rua base since leaving Horo-kiri, hence the lack of rations. Tyrone Power says that “Pori-rua itself is very inefficiently supplied, from there being no practicable road from Wellington. What there is, is a mere foot-track, and that so bad as to be scarcely passable. The consequence is that we are obliged to depend on our supplies being sent round by sea, and very lately a store vessel was six weeks on the way, though, with a good road by land, the supplies might have been forwarded in six hours.”
The same author (W. Tyrone Power, D.A.C.G.) gives us his opinion of Porirua and its vicinity, as it appeared to him : –
“This is the worst country I ever saw for field operations. The forest is so thick as to be almost impenetrable. It is everywhere a mass of evergreen trees and shrubs matted and twined together with supplejacks, creepers and wild vines. In the whole district there is not a single road, and the tracks by which communication is kept up between the different posts are scarcely broad enough for one man to pass; they are everywhere obstructed by roots, fallen trees and gullies, and are generally knee deep in mud. The whole of the county in this neighbourhood appears to be a succession of precipitous hills and deep, dark, boggy ravines, covered everywhere with a vegetation more dense even than a tropical jungle. The climate at this time of year is cold and wet, with furious gales of wind, so that the soldier becomes dispirited and loses all heart when exposed to such continuous misery and discomfort. The commanding officers become disheartened for the same causes, and from the many natural obstacles that hamper them on all sides; without roads, communication, or information, and with a dispirited force, they lose all energy, and finding that they can do comparatively little, do nothing at all.”
This writer walked from the stockade at Pare-mata to Wai-nui in order to arrange for rations, etc., for the force that followed the hostiles from Horo-kiri. He arrived at Wai-nui the day that the force descended from the ranges. “At Wai-nui I found Captain Stanley, with a detachment of seamen from the Calliope frigate, which was at anchor under Kapiti. He intended, with Major Durie, the seamen and armed police, to join the friendlies next day. Both his good intentions and mine, however, were knocked on the head, by the arrival of a party of the Wai-nui people from the scene of action, who told us that the whole force would be down in the course of the evening. Presently the main body made its appearance, all of them apparently in high glee, shouting, laughing and firing their muskets as they came along, till the arrival of the parties bearing the bodies of the dead and wounded changed the laughing shouts into lamentation, and the loud wailing tangi (lament) rose from all sides.”
Power states that it was a pity the force left the range, as the hostiles were at bay, and as the seamen and armed police were to have gone up to join the friendlies next morning, they might have got rid of the greatest collection of robbers, murderers and vagabonds that had ever been brought together in New Zealand! Servante’s report, however, states that the robber gentry were not at bay, but had broken away again.
Power continues : – “I heard from Scott and Servantes fearful accounts of the miseries they had endured in the pursuit, and which were, of course, still harder on the enemy, who, in addition to all other sufferings, were nearly in a state of starvation, and almost naked. Ever since the commencement of the retreat from Horo-kiri they had been exposed to the bitterest weather on the tops of the mountains, in the midst of gales of wind, rain and snow. It was supposed that many of Te Rangi-haeata’s people must have perished from cold and hunger, and this was confirmed by three of his women, who surrendered themselves at Wai-nui in the last stage of misery and want.
“I made arrangements with Urumutu, the chief of Wai-nui, to furnish the friendly Natives with 3000lb of pork, and, 300 baskets of kumara, and he provided some flour and tobacco from Kapiti. The whole of today (August 21, 1846) has been spent in wailing over the dead. To-morrow the bodies will be carried to Wai-kanae, where another tangi (mourning for dead) will take place. Until this is all over there is no chance of getting the Maori to stir, though we have been reinforced by the arrival of Captain M’Donough with a strong body of militia.
“The Government brig made her appearance on August 22, bringing a supply of salt provisions and biscuits to form a small depot here. The friendly Natives were encamped outside Wai-nui pa in two long huts, open in front, and not less than 100 feet in length. They were cleaning their arms, singing hakas and making speeches, waiting for the ovens to be opened. After the feast, they had a grand war dance, in which the Wai-nui people joined, so that there was not less than 600 performers. It was the most barbarous sight I ever witnessed, and one that utterly defies description. One must suppose hell to have broken loose to imagine such yells, screams, hideous contortions of face and body, firing guns, clashing tomahawks, and frightful sights and sounds. Many of the women joined in the dance, nearly naked. … every muscle convulsed like so many frenzied Hecates. The next day they were as mild as lambs, and one could scarcely imagine that the placid, good-humoured, indolent fellows of today ware the jumping demons of yesterday.
“As no entreaties would move them, Captain Stanley, the seamen and the armed police and militia started this morning for Wai-kanae to see if example would have any effect. Four days have been spent in ineffectual efforts to induce the Maoris to move, and Captain Stanley has tried every argument, but to no purpose. The change from Wainui to this place (Wai-kanae) has been for the worse in every respect, and the Natives are exceedingly sulky, and unwilling to assist us in any way, notwithstanding their promises to the Governor. The friendly Natives arrived this morning from Te Uruhi (the larger of the two Ngati-Awa pa at Wai-kanaue). Each sept divided itself from the main body, under its own particular chief, as they approached the pa, alternately rushing forward, yelling, and firing their guns.”
It was now clear that both Ngati-Toa and Ngati-Awa had had all the bush campaigning that was coming to them. Captain Stanley attended a meeting at Otaki on August 29, 1846, to make another attempt to induce the Native allies to follow up and attack Te Rangi-haeata, but in vain. They spent the time, day after day, in feasting and boastful speeches. Power says that a sister (?) of Te Rangi-haeata was present, and made scathing remarks to the friendly Natives on account of them assisting the aggressive whites, instead of fighting them, as they should have done. An old man was applauded when he replied : – “Are not pigs and potatoes, warm fires and plenty of tobacco, better than bullets, snow, rain and empty bellies. We have had experience of the two, can we be such fools as to hesitate?” The applause that greeted the old chief’s rhetoric was unanimous.
Power writes : – “Otaki is a most savage place (Peace, ye Otakians!), and gives one a better idea of the Natives in a state of unmitigated barbarism than anything else I have yet seen.”
Arrangements were now made for a move, it being found impossible to get the friendly Natives to advance, and without them the small force, many members of which were quite unaccustomed to bush travelling, could do little. The militia, after receiving their rations, marched back from Wai-kanae to Porirua.
The Porirua district, and adjacent regions, were now free from actively hostile Natives, who had experienced such a rough time from exposure to bad weather, and want of food, that they were glad to retire up the coast and rest in peace amid the swamps of Poro-tawhao. Peace now prevailed in the sylvan vales of Porirua and Heretaunga, and the Porirua navy found its occupation gone. We know not what became of the historic long boat of the Tyne (wrecked near Island Bay, July 4, 1845), and the rest of the mosquitoe fleet, but they did right good service, and the men were much safer on board them, with bedding for armour, than they would have been in lifting the war trail in the dense forest that, in those days, covered hill and vale of the Porirua lands.
Before the pursuing force left Horokiri to follow up the retreating hostiles, the Ngati-Awa Natives, at Wai-kanae had been asked by the authorities to locate a party at Te Paripari, at the base of the steep range near Paekakariki, and between that place and Wai-mapihi, at Puke-rua, in order to head off the hostiles if they retreated in that direction, or attempted to get supplies from the potatoe cultivations in that vicinity. Ngati-Awa accordingly posted a party at Te Paripari.
The date of this occupation is not given, but Captain Durie, of the armed police force, in his report of August 31 says : – “On the 10th inst I received orders from Major Last to march my detachment of Police to reinforce Lieutenant De Winton at Paua-taha-nui, and leaving Sub-Inspector Strode in command, I proceeded to visit the police station at Wai-kanae, and found our ally William King, with about 150 men, near Te Paripari, where he had taken up a position to prevent the enemy from making a descent towards the beach. Next day, having received intelligence from Major Last that the enemy were in full retreat towards the north, I immediately communicated with King, who, being on the alert, was fortunate enough in capturing eight prisoners, with their arms and accoutrements, who came down from the hills for the purpose of obtaining food. They were conducted to the police station (Wai-kanae) the same day, where they remained until the 17th, when they were embarked on board H.M.S. Calliope. The information derived from the captives was of little or no importance. They were in a miserable half-starved state, having subsisted principally on the mamaku, or tree fern.”
The names of the above prisoners captured at Te Paripari were : – Matiu Tiki-ahi, Kumete, Hohepa Te Umu-roa, Te Were-titi, Te Rahui, Te Korohunga, Topi, Matai-umu. These men were tried at Pori-rua at the same time as Whare-aitu, of which more anon. Kumete had been in trouble before at Wellington, and had been two months in gaol.
Seven of these prisoners seem to have been sent to Hobart Town, there to serve terms of imprisonment, but the account seen by us is not very explicit.
Thus the Wai-kanae section of Ngati-Awa had done a little service, though they soon reformed and become more than useless as against Te Rangi-haeata and his followers. Wiremu Kingi and two other chiefs of Wai-kanae had, as early as July 15, applied to Governor Grey for arms and ammunition. This was not, however, for the purpose of attacking Te Rangi-haeata and his party, but, as they carefully explained, to defend themselves against the party of hostiles from Whanganui, who were marching down the coast in order to join Te Rangi-haeata in massacring all Europeans in the district, and to join in the sack of Wellington. Ngati-Awa expressed their belief that the invaders meant to attack them and all other Maoris who had accepted Christianity, equally with the Europeans. Hence a body of them marched to Otaki to meet and attack the invaders, who, however, never reached there, having been prevented by the attitude of Ngati-Raukawa, who refused to allow them to march south from a point north of Ohau.
Ngati-Awa made a plain statement in the above letter : – “Ngati-Toa are aiding Te Rangi-haeata (as they certainly were). Now listen to the reason of our regard for you: It is because the white people are free from any charge of oppressing or first injuring the Natives: hence our regard for you. The guns we ask for are not for the purpose of assaulting Rangi-haeata’s pa. No: we want them here to lay in wait for those hostile Natives who may come down upon us.”
These Wai-kanae Natives showed plainly that hey would not attack Te Rangi-haeata and his party, or molest him in any way as he passed through their territory. These fugitives from Horo-kiri were camped for several days about two miles from the Ngati-Awa pa at Wai-kanae, near the base of the ranges. From the pa the smoke of the fires of Rangi-haeata’s party was plainly seen during this period, as stated by Mr Nixon, who saw it while staying at Wai-kanae on his way to Whanganui. Also Te Rangi-haeata must have been well aware that Ngati-Awa would not attack him in his defenceless camp, otherwise he would not have been so foolish as to encamp there. It was evidently an arranged matter. Captain Stanley tried for days to get Wiremu Kingi and his party to make such an attack, but they steadfastly refused, making the excuse that they wanted to strengthen the defences of their pa. When the Wellington Ngati-Awa and the quasi-friendly Ngati-Toa eventually reached Wai-kanae from Horo-kiri (taking a day and a half to march from Wai-nui) they were informed by Wiremu Kingi and other resident chiefs that the latter had performed the promises made to the Governor, and that they did not intend to undertake any active measures against Te Rangi-haeata.
Heywood, in his “Vacation Tour at the Antipodes”, states that Wiremu Kingi was mainly instrumental in driving Te Rangi-haeata from the bush near Pori-rua! In this statement the writer was entirely wrong, for that chief had nothing to do with the movement. It was Te Puni, of Pito-one, and his followers who moved against Te Rangi-haeata; after Wiremu had distinctly declined to do so.
Captain Stanley, owing to the small force of Europeans under his command, did not consider it advisable to attack the hostiles without assistance from the Natives. As the latter excused themselves on the score of leaving their pa in a weakened state, he offered to garrison and defend it with his sailors if Ngati-Awa would attack Te Rangi-haeata. This being declined, no attempt whatever was made to molest the hostiles in their retreat to Poro-tawhao.
The “Straits Times” states that Captain Stanley had at Wai-kanae at this time twenty armed police under Mr Strode, forty sailors of the Calliope, some militia, and some more police under Major Durie. The police and some Natives chased a party of hostiles from the cultivation near the Wai-kanae pa, form whence they obtained their supplies.
The three women and child caught at Wai-nui were, by the Governor’s orders, given food for their journey and released.
Mr Nixon who, with the Rev. R. Taylor and Te Heuheu (Iwa-Uau) of Taupo Lake, was staying at Wai-kanae on his way to Whanga-nui, wrote on August 30 that he saw the fires of the hostiles that day. They were numerous, and not more than two miles from the inland pa, and about three miles from Te Uruhi pa, being at the base of the range.
Te Mamaku, a Whanga-nui chief who took part, with others of his tribe, in the attack on Boulcott’s Farm, was a turbulent character and, like most of the Upper Whanga-nui and Taupo Natives of that period, a “devil”, as the “heathen” or non-Christian Natives were often termed by their sanctified fellow countrymen. Governor Grey obtained possession of a letter sent by Te Mamaku to certain Whanga-nui chiefs, asking them to come and join Te Rangi-haeata (whose other name was Mokau), and stating that Te Rau-paraha had consented. A letter from Maketu, a hostile Whanga-nui chief, to Te Rau-paraha, also fell into the Governor’s hands. It was a request to the latter chief to use his influence to get Ngati-Awa and Ngati-Raukawa to allow the Whanga-nui force to pass unmolested through their districts. These were two of the numerous items that led to the arrest of Te Rau-paraha.
The number of enemy killed in the skirmishes around Porirua is absolutely unknown, and it as probably small. The only body of a dead enemy that was actually seen by Europeans seems to have been that of Te Pau, killed in the last skirmish on the Pow-aha range. Possibly he was the only one slain. The reports of others slain seem to rest on Native report only, or in the somewhat highly coloured despatches of the officer in charge of the district.
The women who surrendered to the police because they could no longer travel without food, stated that, in the skirmish between the friendlies and hostiles on Po-awha, four of the latter were killed and several wounded. One of the woundedwas a woman, whom the party carried along with it, though much impeded in their progress thereby. These women also stated that, in the skirmish at Horo-Kiri, not a single hostile was killed. One Te Oro was slightly wounded, but soon recovered.
Several rumours were in circulation to the effect that the hostile party from Whanganui had crossed the forest ranges to the Wai-rarapa Valley, and were marching on the Hutt to deliver an attack there. Some preparations seem to have been made to receive them with military honours by strengthening the militia post at Taita. Some help was also arranged for from the Pori-rua militia, twenty of whom were to join the Hutt force. However, this invading force does not seem to have materialised. Perchance it existed only in the imagination of alarmists.
The Wellington “Spectator” of September 26, 1846, remarks that it was intended to withdraw a portion of the troops from Pori-rua, and Paua-taha-nui, and that a party of the 65th Regiment, under Captain O’Connell, with another of the 58th, under Lieutenant Pedder, had already returned to town.
On September 23 the militia was disbanded, and the usual encomium passed on the corps.
In regard to the activities of the Ngati-Toa “friendly” contingent at the Horo-Kiri engagement, it was stated publicly, apparently from Native information, that Ngati-Toa not only fired blank cartridges in that skirmish, but actually supplied the hostiles with ammunition during the night. Te Mamaku was one of these informants, and indeed it might well be true. It was certainly a very dangerous experiment to put Ngati-Toa in the field against their own chief and fellow tribesmen.
Te Rangi-haeata stayed about Wai-kane and Otaki for some time, then moved on to Ohau, where again he stayed for some time, moving on to Porotawhao on September 24, 1846, where he settled with some of his malcontents. Some of the Natives of that place were in sympathy with him, while others of Ngati-Raukawa in that district were by no means pleased to have him for a neighbour.
For some time many rumours circulated as to the hostile intentions of Te Rangi-haeata, and he certainly did a good deal of loud-mouth blustering, but never again did he venture to attack the hated whites. The experiences at Pori-rua and the hardship of his retreat had cured him of much of the war fever.
 * Some time afterwards the bones of Te Pau (for Te Pou) were taken down to Wainui and buried
CAPTAIN COLLINSON’S REPORT.
The following account of military operations in the Wellington district is taken from a report by Captain Collinson, R.E., which appeared in the papers of the Corps of Royal Engineers, 1855 : –
“Between 1841 and 1846 the settlers had penetrated a little into the interior, notwithstanding the opposition of the Natives, and had located themselves on the lands assigned to them by the New Zealand Company, some at the Hutt, some at Porirua, and had cleared little spaces in the woods and built wooden huts.”
“The New Zealand Company had made a cart road from Wellington, extending into the Hutt Valley for a few miles, but it was necessarily difficult of passage even for the rough carts of the settlers, and there was a bridle path to Porirua (following nearly the line of the present road), and thence on to the north-west coast by Pukerua, but it was almost impracticable even for the well appointed settler. With these exceptions, the only way of crossing the country was by the narrow footpaths of the Natives, and beyond these paths it was dangerous and indeed nearly impossible to stray into the thick forest, the underwood of which is choked with creepers thickly interwoven. It was difficult to move regular troops over the fern plateaux of the north; it was quite impracticable to do so among these wooded hills; added to which, from its very character, still less was known of the country than of the neighbourhood of the Wai-mate (Bay of Islands); settlers had been lost in the forest ravines within a mile or two of Wellington.
“After the Wairau massacre in 1843 there was great alarm throughout all the southern settlements. At that time there were no troops or organised defences of any kind against the Natives, and the settlers began to fear that this evident want of power would encourage the Natives to proceed to open hostilities in their opposition to the claims of the New Zealand Company. They petitioned the Government for protection, and even discussed the propriety of abandoning the colony altogether.
“It is not intended there to discuss the question of the purchase of lands from the Natives by the New Zealand Company. There are, however, two great facts connected with the question, which appears to me most apparent from the records of those events, and which may be mentioned here, as they bear upon the military operations, and these are : – (1) The want of due consideration towards the Native chiefs and concerning the reserves of lands for the Natives, on the part of the New Zealand Company’s agent. (2) The want of power in the local Government to control the excited avarice of the Natives, when the question of the purchase of land was re-opened before the Crown Commission.
“With respect to the first, the chiefs Te Rau-paraha and Te Rangi-haeata do not appear to have been treated by the New Zealand Company’s agent on his first arrival with the consideration due to their influence in the country. They both almost immediately repudiated the sort of bargain they had made with the agent for the sale of Hutt, Porirua and Wairau districts, now, considering their powerful influence and the existence of the doubt about their claims, it would, doubtless, have been better that the company’s agent should have come to terms with them, which at that time he could have done at one-fourth of the cost at which it was finally obliged to be concluded in about 1848.
“With respect to the second, the discussions before the Crown Lands Commissioners, fanned by the Wairau affair, and encouraged by the absence of force in the Government, had excited the opposition of Natives from all the neighbouring tribes to an imminent height. The settlers, indeed, organised themselves into a militia, but the acting Governor, Mr Shortland, disbanded them, and contented himself with sending a police magistrate (Major Richmond, late of the 80th Regiment, and afterwards Superintendent of Nelson, and fifty-three men of the 96th under Captain Eyton. There is little doubt that the organisation of a militia at this time, backed by two or three companies of troops, and accompanied by concessions to the principal chiefs, would have saved the expense of the hundreds of soldiers that were afterwards required; and would, at the same time, have left a better impression of British power on the Natives. As it was, the Natives continued from 1843 to 1846 to make more and more violent opposition to the settlers. Parties of Natives belonging to the Nga-ti-Toa tribe, and to Whanga-nui, acting with the open support of Te Rangi-haeata, and the secret support of Te Rau-paraha, located themselves in the Hutt valley, and occupied and planted patches which the Company’s settlers were just beginning to cultivate, by way of preserving what they considered their title to those particular patches of land. Just at this time Governor Grey arrived in H.M.S. Castor (Captain Graham, C.B.) from the successful campaign of Rua-peka-peka; he was accompanied by H.M.S. Calliope, Captain Stanley, and H.M. steamer Driver, Commander Hayes, and a transport, and having with him altogether about 500 men of the 58th, 96th, and 99th Regiments, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hulme, 96th, and the detachment of Royal Artillery just arrived from England under Captain Henderson, with two six-pounder field guns, two 4 2-5in mountain howitzers, and some 6 pounder and 3 pounder rockets. There were previously in Wellington about 180 men of the 58th and 96th. As there were then no barracks in Wellington, the troops were put into hired houses in the town.
“The appearance of the Governor with this large force produced an effect upon the Natives; several influential chiefs wrote to him in terms full of peace, and (like Natives) throwing the blame on another tribe, a party from Whanga-nui under a chief called Ma-maku, who had come down to assist their relatives. This apparent support from the Natives perhaps deceived the Governor, and, roused by the urgent appeals of the settlers, he thought he could frighten the intruding Natives out of the Hutt Valley by a demonstration; forgetting all the difficulties that had occurred in the north from marching troops into the interior, and even at this time so little expecting resistance that the force marched from Wellington without equipage of any kind, even without greatcoats or provisions.
“The flat part of the Hutt Valley is about eight miles long and two broad, covered, as before said, with forest. About two miles up it, the New Zealand Company’s road crosses the river; here a small stockade, called Fort Richmond, had been erected some time before, and was occupied by a party of the 58th under Lieutenant Rush. Two miles further on was a settler’s house, called Boulcott’s, in a clearing of some twenty acres, and two miles further was another house, called the Taita.
“The Natives coming form Porirua used the Pare-raho track from the head of Porirua Harbour, coming out near Boulcott’s.
“In pursuance of the Governor’s aims, on February 24, 400 men of the 58th, 96th and 99th marched from Wellington into the Hutt Valley, to Boulcott’s farm, and occupied it. In the evening the artillery were landed from the Driver, at the head of Port Nicholson, and joined the troops. They had been left behind in consequence of there not being any opposition expected; but the Natives showed no symptoms of being intimidated into leaving the Hutt, and no desire to come to terms in the several unsuccessful conferences the Governor held with them, so the troops bivouacked on the ground, and, in short, it was two months before they finally quitted that post again.
“The Natives appeared disinclined to make the first attack, but they continued ill-treating the settlers and their cultivation as much as before, so the Governor had to make another step forward. He proclaimed martial law, and (under the usual fiction of considering the Natives as rebels) he sent a herald to inform them of it, and at the same time ordered the Taita farm to be occupied by a company of the 99th. In pursuance of his orders, the troops fired on the Natives the next time they appeared, and thus opened the campaign.”
“In March, 1846, there were three detachments occupying this little valley, fifty men at Fort Richmond, fifty men at Boulcotts, and about a dozen militia at the Taita, and yet all they effected was to keep their posts and the communication between, and that was principally owing to the fears of the Natives; for, surrounded as these posts were, within one hundred yards by thick forest, and defended only by slight stockades, it would have been easy for the Natives to have picked of the soldiers almost man by man without an enemy being seen. So with the exception of the posts, and the road between them, the hostile Natives, who were about two hundred to three hundred strong, according to Mr Servantes, had free access all over the Hutt Valley; and thus the Governor instead of producing an effect by his show of force, perhaps taught the southern Natives for the first time the uselessness of regular troops in such a country. It seems surprising that the Governor, who must even then have determined on the admirable system of tactics which he afterwards laid down, seemed almost a parallel to that of Wairau. His reason was, probably, the expectation of support from the friendly Natives, and the incessant appeals of the settlers. They, indeed, tried to persuade him to attack a stronghold that the Natives had made at the end of the Pareraho track, next to the Hutt River, on a steep spur, with trunks of trees laid horizontally, and to which they retreated every night. This stronghold might have been commanded from the neighbouring spurs, and assaulted in front, by a specially trained body of men. The mistake was in expecting such a system of warfare to be carried on by troops trained to a certain system of discipline and movement, very necessary in civilised war, but worse than useless against savages. The Governor, in answering this proposition, showed he was fully aware of the difficulty he had got into, for he says: “The generality of persons of New Zealand, discussing the operations against the Natives, forget that there is no analogy between them and the military operations in Europe; if our enemy retire into the dense and almost boundless forest, and our troops pursue them, the simple result is that the enemy are driven further and further into the forest, and the troops, ultimately, after heavy loss, are compelled to retire upon the open country and their supplies; the troops are forced to fight at the greatest disadvantage, whilst the enemy act at the greatest advantage. I determined, if it was necessary to inflict punishment, to choose my own time and opportunity to strike the blow.” The system he recommended, but which he did not fully carry out, will be mentioned hereafter.
“The Natives did not show themselves in the Hutt Valley, and had apparently deserted it, until April 3, when a party of them came from Porirua and murdered a settler named Gillespie, who had settled n a piece of land under dispute. This roused the Governor to active measures again. He went round to Porirua in the Driver, with three hundred men, with some idea of intercepting the murderers; he saw Te Rau-paraha, who seemed half inclined to assist in catching them. Te Rangi-haeata would not appear, and although he had nothing to do with the murder (?), yet he protected the murderers, and now for the first time took an active part in the campaign, by leaving Taupo pa, where he and Te Rau-paraha had been living together, and going with his followers to Paua-taha-nui, at the head of Porirua water, where he commenced a strong war pa. Te Rau-paraha, with his proverbial subtlety, kept on good terms with the British, and consented to give up Paremata Point in Porirua Harbour for a military station.
“About this time Lt.-Col. Hulme returned to Auckland, and Major Last, 99th, took command of the troops in the south.
“On April 8, 220 men, under Major Last, were sent round to Porirua, and after lying a week under Mana Island from stress of weather, they landed and pitched their tents on Paremata Point. The Governor’s object in establishing this post was to cut off the communication of the Natives by the Pareraho track with the Hutt Valley, and thereby he hoped to reduce them to want of food, as they had eaten up all their supplies in the Hutt Valley; and also to keep up his own communication with the neutral Natives up the coast. He would never have succeeded in capturing any Natives by forming such posts, because, although the Pareraho path was the ordinary line of communication with the Hutt, still the mountains at the back were passable to Natives; and although the Natives up the coast seemed disposed at the least to be neutral, still they were too much afraid of Te Rangi-haeata to intercept him if he retreated; and the troops would have been of no more use half a mile from their posts than they were in the middle of the Hutt. Nevertheless, it was an excellent move as a base for further operations, and it had some effect on the Natives, as was shown by an intercepted letter of Te Mamaku to his friends at Whanganui, stating that he could not retreat (he was then at Ohariu, on the coast west of Wellington) because the Natives on the coast would not let them pass by land, and the Europeans had blocked up the way by sea.
“The actual site of the Porirua post was well chosen; it was an old whaling station on a low sandy point near the mouth of the Bay, accessible to small craft by sea, and from it by boats to the head of the harbour; the ferry for the path to the north-west coast was here also. But the stockade should have been placed on a small hill at the back, commanding the low point. There was, however, a want of prearrangement in the formation of the post; the following extract from Mr Powers’ “Sketches in New Zealand” will best explain this, he was the commissariat officer in charge : – “When the first soldiers came to Porirua, there was no accommodation whatever for them. They were landed on the beach in winter, and were for some time exposed to unparalleled privation and misery. They built huts for themselves of fern, flax or reeds, as soon as they could, and were for some weeks engaged from morning till night in felling timber and dragging it through the bush to the water’s edge, and rafting it to the camp. Often, after toiling from dawn till dark, they would have to turn out and get under arms several times in the night, on an alarm form the sentries. For several weeks there were few men who ever had dry clothing on by day or night. The only land communication with Wellington was by a forest path, so bad that all supplies had to be sent by sea.
“There was considerable labour and difficulty in stockading the Paremata post. They had to cross the water to get timber; they had few tools of any description, and what they had were borrowed from the colonial road parties, as the officer commanding would not incur the responsibility of purchasing them; and the only artificers were such as could be procured out of the regiments. Major Marlow, R.E., was in the south for a short while about this time, but he was obliged to return to Auckland, and during this campaign there was no Engineer Department to carry on any of the works. And yet, if ever an Engineer Department, with a force of well organised and well equipped sappers was required, it was certainly in such a country and on such an occasion as this. The consequence of this want of men and tools was, that all the stockades, though displaying great ingenuity, were built of small, low timbers hardly bullet proof, very irregular in shape and very small in size.
“The communication also between the Paremata post and Wellington was very bad. Although only fifteen miles, it was a very hard day’s labour to march it, and it was a matter of surprise to all engaged that the Natives did not take advantage of the forest path to cut off the small parties of men that used to go between the stations; they might have cut of the communication with the greatest ease. And this shows the immense advantage of having steam communication by sea, in campaigning in such a country.
“In order to protect the communication as far as possible, a party of militia were established in Clifford’s stockade, half way on the path from Wellington to Porirua. (This was the stockade at Johnsonville).
“During April and May the troops were employed stockading their various positions in the Hutt and at Porirua, and Te Rangi-haeata, it appears, also took advantage of this period of inactivity to construct his pa at Paua-taha-nui. It was only four miles form the military post of Paremata, and three officers made a very daring reconnaissance of it early in May. Captain Laye, 58th Lieutenant Yelverton, R.A., and Mr M’Killop, of H.M.S. Calliope, went in a small boat to the head of the harbour a little before daylight, and landing, actually got up to the very palisades of the pa before they were discovered, and then they had to escape under close fire. The reconnaissance, however bold, brought no advantageous result; it merely showed that if a suitable force had been at hand, it would have been perfectly practicable to have surprised Te Rangi-haeata in his pa.
“About this time Governor Grey, having resolved to remain passive during the winter, returned to Auckland. He left with the officer commanding a memorandum describing the line of policy he wished to be observed towards the Natives during the winter, which contain maxims for all wars with savages so excellent, and so completely in accordance with those I have endeavoured to deduce from the northern campaigns, that the following extracts from it are here given.
“The first describes the previous state of the country about Wellington, and says : – “That British authority was impotent a few miles from the town; that the Natives were robbing and murdering and driving off settlers, insulting the authorities and resisting by force, that the events in the north had rendered them still more confident in their own powers and resources. But that since the arrival of the troops, the hostile Natives had been compelled to fall back a little; that wherever the troops had planted themselves, they held their ground; still in their immediate vicinity the Natives were robbing and plundering where they pleased, and owing to the impracticable nature of the country, and the want of allies, of information, and of a properly organised police force, not one of them had been taken.
“Evidently, therefore, if this is a country to be occupied by British settlers, it is not sufficient that Government should conquer and remain in military possession of a certain portion. The aboriginal inhabitants are so numerous and well armed that no force could efficiently protect shepherds and agriculturalists scattered through the country.”
“The civil government must, therefore, support the military with a police, to obtain information, to explore and open up lines of communication, and to assist in the transport of military stores. At present the civil government only possess a few constables to watch a hundred miles of country … hence the great object is to delay hostilities to obtain time to establish them.
“Therefore we should have no military operations with small detachments but simply hold possession of our posts at Porirua and the Hutt; organise the police establishments required, and open lines of road to the coast, and then in the summer act along the coast with the allied Natives.”
“This system of tactics, to employ the local police force on the active service in the interior, supported by the regular troops moving on lines of well connected posts is, in my opinion, the one true efficient system to be employed against all savages. The misfortune in New Zealand was that it was never fully carried out. The police force was organised, and found to answer exceedingly well, but it was far too small to perform the services required under the above system. There were only about 100 police and militia together. The police consisted of half English, and half Natives, and were armed with muskets and bayonets, and dressed in an appropriate rough blue dress; they were under two English colonists, Major Durie (who had served in Spain) and Mr Strode. The militia were armed, but they were too undisciplined to be of service in the field; a militia in such a country would only be serviceable to hold certain posts. … There was no fear then as there had been before, of exciting the Natives; the Natives were already excited. The settlers were willing, for besides the paid militia, there were two corps of volunteers in Wellington, who kept regular guard, and there were arms, for the Native allies were supplied with them.”
In May the roads mentioned by the Governor in his memorandum were commenced; the parties of soldiers employed on that from Wellington to Porirua lived in stockades along the line, and worked under arms, both they were never molested by the hostile Natives.
The Natives, however, did not allow troops to remain passive during the winter, as Governor Grey proposed. They found that the troops were less powerful than they expected, and they began to return to the Hutt, and worked up their courage sufficiently to attack the post at Boulcott’s farm, which was quite unprotected. This post consisted of two wooden houses, about one hundred yards apart, in a clearing near the river. The troops (fifty men of the 58th under Lieutenant Page) were placed in these houses, and in a tent between them, with hardly any protection. On May 16, half an hour before daylight, a party of about seventy, under the Whanga-nui chief Mamaku, stole across the river, fired a volley into the tent, and then rushed in. At the first surprise the soldiers fell back upon the principal wooden building, which had a sort of stockade round it, and then sallied out and commenced a skirmishing fire, driving the Natives back a short distance. On the arrival of a reinforcement of fifty men from Fort Richmond, the Natives retreated altogether. There were four soldiers killed and five wounded, and only one enemy wounded. It was there that a bugler of the 58th, sounding the alarm, had his arm broken by a tomahawk. He took his bugle in the other hand and sounded again; he was then killed.
It was the evident weakness of this post that invited this attack and made it so successful. The men at the post did what they could to make it defensible, but there was no regular system observed for making all these posts defensible; they were not even allowed entrenching tools. Though the posts were in the middle of a forest supposed to be occupied by the enemy, and, moreover, as Maoris never can carry out an operation without previous discussion, it had been reported several times before that some such attack was going to be made.
The sudden and successful outbreak gave more confidence to the Natives than anything during the war; Mamaku boasted of it as a victory. The settlers were proportionately alarmed; those who had hitherto stuck to their lands now crowded into Wellington and such was the fear and ignorance concerning the Natives, that an attack on Wellington was daily expected. Major Richmond raised about 200 volunteers and militia, and some houses were put into a sort of defensible state as places of refuge. The militia and volunteers were too hastily organised, and the defences far too slight, to have been of much use if the place had been attacked; but if Captain Fitzroy had embodied the militia of the whole country in his time, they would have been sufficiently trained by this time to have assisted materially in the defence of Wellington.
Major Richmond also issued 200 muskets to the Native allies under Te Puni of Ngati-Awa. This, Governor Grey observe, was a dangerous precedent; he had before declined the offer of the Natives up the coast to rise in support of the Government. The Natives (as he says) cannot be sufficiently depended on to be armed, and the excitement caused by raising one tribe against another would be more difficult to allay than the original disturbance.
After the affair at Boulcott’s, the Natives began to show themselves in the Hutt again, and in June they murdered another settler named Rush. About this time Captain Reed, of the 99th, who then commanded at Boulcott’s farm, had a skirmish with them. Hearing that there was a party of Natives in his neighbourhood, he went out one afternoon with forty men along the rough cart road towards the Taita; in a small clearing they encountered a party of about sixty Natives. There was thick wood on all sides and after some skirmishing, Captain Reed found that the Natives began to surround him, so he fell back, and met a reinforcement from Port Richmond under Lieutenant Page, of the 58th. The Natives did not follow them up; and in fact disappeared again. A party of militia from the Taita, under Mr White, a settler, turned out on this occasion, and a party of the Native allies, the Ngati-Awa, coming up at the time from the opposite direction, were mistaken by the militia for the enemy. An officer and some men were wounded this day.
These successes gave them further encouragement; they returned in greater numbers to the Hutt. Te Rangi-haeata prepared his pa for a siege, and to crown the climax, a settler brought in word from the north-west that a reinforcement from Whanganui was coming to join Te Mamaku; and that Te Rau-paraha, who had hitherto been nominally neutral, had consented to let them pass through his territory. At this crisis Governor Grey reappeared, having been brought back by the news of the fresh outbreaks; and he being roused by these affairs, determined to recommence hostilities, though it was midwinter. He proposed to intercept the reinforcement on its way down the coast, and then to seize Te Rau-paraha secretly, and finally he had some idea of attacking Te Rangi-haeata at Paua-taha-nui. These measures were perfectly practicable and quite in accordance with his line of policy, for they might have been effected without taking the men into the bush.
On July 20, the Governor, with Major Last and 200 men, went up the north-west coast as far as Kaputi (Kapiti) Island, and landed at Wai-kanae, Otaki and Ohau, and communicated with the chiefs of Ngati-Awa and Ngati-Raukawa, these chiefs, who had always remained neutral , now promised to support the Government, by preventing the passage of the Whanganui reinforcement through their territory. This plan of opposing passive resistance to the passage of a force is a favourite resort of a neutral tribe desirous of keeping on good terms with one party without coming to a fight with the other. It was proposed to establish a force at Ohau, the reinforcement being then seven miles from that place, but he Governor contented himself with forming a police station at Wai-kanae, and then returned to Porirua, leaving it to the friendly Natives to oppose the reinforcement, which they did so effectually, without coming to blows, that it was obliged to return to Whanganui.
On his return to Porirua, he carried out the scheme of seizing Te Rau-paraha, and very successfully. At daylight on July 23, a strong force of troops, semen, and police, landed from the Driver at the Ngati-Toa pa of Taupo, near the mouth of Porirua harbour, where Te Rau-paraha was living, and seized him in his hut, together with two other chiefs of Ngati-Toa, Kanae and Joseph, and took them on board the Driver.
This seizure of an allied chief without warning has at first sight the appearance of treachery, and there is no doubt it produced a bad effect on the Natives generally, and is not forgotten to this day. But perhaps it was the only way of meeting their systematic treachery; and that Te Rau-paraha was treacherous was proved beyond all doubt. Not only the Ngati-Awa, but his own relatives, the Ngati-Raukawa, warned the Governor of it. He had secretly given his consent to the Whanganui reinforcement, he had connived at a tapu of the path up the coast by Te Rangi-haeata, which stopped that path for a long time. It is true that, in doing all this, he did little more than the Maori customs permitted between relatives on different sides; but it is impossible to counteract such customs with the strict rules of civilised warfare; and this chief was one whose cunning had become a proverb throughout the land; and his capture fully produced the expected effect upon the enemy. Moreover, the subsequent treatment of him proved to the Natives that no personal injury was intended. These men were kept in H.M.S. Calliope for about a year, with an interpreter to look after them, and were realised at the very strong entreaty of their tribe. But the shame, and perhaps the life on board ship, brought the old chief to his death shortly afterwards; and thus died a very dangerous enemy to the advance of the settlers; for the craft of this Ulysses of savages was more to be feared than the reckless boldness of that Maori Ajax, Te Rangi-haeata.
Te Rangi-haeata might now have been attacked in his pa, now that the locality was tolerably well known. The same officers who had been up before, made another reconnaissance, and found a hill accessible for artillery and close to the water, and commanding the pa within a few hundred yards. There were two 12 pounder guns, and a 6 pounder at Porirua, and the boats and guns of two frigates, thus it could have been attacked without having to march one hundred yards from the water; but Te Rangi-haeata, alarmed by the seizure of Te Rau-paraha, and disappointed in the reinforcement from Whanga-nui, and also being short of provisions, and probably tired of a campaign that had lasted a long time for Maoris, left his new pa, and retreated towards the coast up the Harokiri Valley, where he had taken the usual Maori precaution of preparing a fortified position to cover his retreat. He had then with him about 200 men, all well armed, including the Whanganui subsidy under Te Manaku. Puaha the Ngati-Toa chief of Porirua, now roused himself to help the British, and followed up Te Rangi-haeata, and tried to persuade him to give up the murderers of the Hutt settlers, who were looked upon by them as the first aggressors in this campaign. Mr Servantes, the interpreter who accompanied them, reported the desertion of Paua-taha-nui, and then the Governor ordered an advance upon it. On July 30, a party of about fifty police and militia, accompanied by 150 of the Ngati-Awa allies, advanced from the Hutt by the now open Pareraho path (which passed over the Belmont hills). The Native allies, not being over hot in the pursuit, insisted on sleeping one night on the road, although they had only to march about twelve miles altogether. On the following morning they entered the deserted pa, and on the day after a detachment of troops came from Paremata and occupied the pa. It was in a well chosen position, being on a small hill close to the water’s edge, and nearly surrounded by a creek, but with the thick forest within one hundred yards of it. The pa was about eighty yards by eighty-five, broken into flanks, and having a double row of palisades about two feet apart, the inner one being formed of trees one foot in diameter, with ditch inside of all about four feet wide and deep, and crossed by numerous traverses; in fact similar to those in the north, only not quite so strong. It was occupied as a military post from that time until the road to the north-west coast was completed in 1850, which road passes close underneath it.
Two chiefs were taken here, one of whom, called Martin Luther, was afterwards tried by court-martial and hanged as a rebel.
It was now discussed whether or not Te Rangi-haeata should be followed up to his retreat in the Horokiri. This was a large ravine rather than a valley, with steep hills, several hundred feet high, on each side, and all covered with thick forest, and the retreat was seven miles up it. The Governor was opposed, as before, to taking troops further into the forest, but if the enemy were left alone they would get supplies and return with fresh courage. The Native allies were, therefore, persuaded to continue the pursuit. If now there had been a military post at Wai-kanae, it might have encouraged the friendly Natives there to attack him on that side; as it was, there was naturally some difficulty in persuading the Natives to advance alone, especially as the Ngati-Toa allies were distrustful of each other.
On August 3 a force of troops having been stationed at the mouth of the Horokiri, to support the Native allies in case they required it, they commenced their advance with the two tribes, together about 250 men, and after advancing three miles, came to a deserted camp of the enemy, on which they halted for the night, firing their guns in triumph.
On hearing this firing Governor Grey came on himself with one hundred men and on the following morning ordered up the militia to support the Natives, and finally persuaded Major Last, the officer commanding the troops, to advance a strong force to the assistance of the Natives. These encouraged by the appearance of the militia, had proceeded on August 4 to the foot of the enemy’s position.
On August 6 Major Last, with a detachment of the 58th, 65th (recently arrived from England), and 99th, and some seamen and marines from H.M.S. Castor and H.M.S. Calliope, and the militia and police, in all about 500 men, advanced up to the foot of the enemy’s position. The time and toil of this one day’s march were perhaps as great as those of any in the previous campaigns. The intricate path led through continuous forest, so thick even after it had been well used, a year afterward it was almost impossible to get a horse through, and it was now covered by the swollen stream. The troops arrived late and bivouacked in small huts; but detachments were employed throughout the night, during heavy rain, in bringing up provisions and ammunition, extending all along the muddy forest in straggling lines.
On August 7 (? 6) Major Last, who had been prevented from attacking the evening before from ignorance of the locality, advanced with 250 men up to within 200 yards of the position; but he found it was so difficult to approach, and so covered with wood, that it would have been only waste of life to storm the position, from which the Natives could and would have retreated with ease, therefore he would not attack it. There was, however, a good deal of skirmishing, in which unfortunately the life of a good officer was lost, Ensign Blackburn, of the 99th.
The troops were now in a dangerous position; they had been brought up for the purpose of supporting the Natives in an attack on the enemy’ position; they could not do that; they could not wait where they were, for the valley was becoming more flooded, and the carriage of provisions was almost impossible, and it was dangerous and impolitic to retreat, as it perhaps would have been the signal for the allies to join the enemy. The Governor (who was present) was, however, now as anxious to retire as he had been to advance, so with some difficulty he persuaded the Native allies to continue the blockade of the enemy, while the troops fell back to Paua-taha-nui. Accordingly, on August 10 the troops retired, leaving only three Englishmen with the allies, Mr Servantes, the interpreter, and Mr Scott and Mr Swainson. The two latter were settlers attached to the militia. Before they retired, the 4 2-5 inch mortars were tried, two of them having been brought with some difficulty from Porirua by Captain Henderson, R.A. They fired eighty shells into the position, which must have produced some effect, as the enemy ceased firing. Several such mortars might have driven them out, but the labour of bringing up the ammunition was too great and the height of the trees made their fire very uncertain.
There were three men and one officer killed in this valley. Not one of the enemy was killed.
It is perfectly true that it was impossible to do anything with regular troops in such a position. The soldiers were at the foot of a deep narrow spur in the middle of a forest, with a deep ravine on each side, ignorant of what was in their front, except that it was a boundless extent of mountain forest, into which the enemy was certain to retreat, and could retreat for one hundred miles, and they had on either flank the very doubtful support of the allied Natives. To what good purpose could they have followed up the enemy?
The Whanga-nui Natives carried away from this campaign such an impression of the powerlessness of the troops that in the subsequent campaign in their own country a great number of Natives came down from the interior merely from the desire of having a brush with the Queen’s forces.
It would have evidently have been of greater advantage than ever to have now sent troops up the coast to Wai-kanae, but, instead of a strong force thirty policemen only were sent (under Major Durie) and thirty militia (under Mr Macdonough). About August 16 a party of eight stragglers from the enemy, who had come down to Te Pari-pari, on the coast, in search of food, were seized by the inhabitants of that place, and afterwards put on board H.M.S. Calliope. Captain Stanley took the Calliope to Porirua to ask for some troops for Wai-kanae, but none were sent, and about August 22 he landed forty sailors there, as a support to the Ngati-Awa of that place, the Calliope lying at Kaputi (Kapiti) Island during the time.
In the meantime Te Rangi-haeata had retreated from his position in the Horokiri, followed by the Native allies, and after some skirmishing, in which several Natives were killed, he retired up the coast altogether, and the peace of the neighbourhood of Wellington has never since been seriously disturbed, the whole of this long-pending land question, having been amicably settled in 1847-8 by the payment to the Natives of about three times as much money as had been offered and almost accepted by them in 1844.
In considering over these first operations in the south of New Zealand, there is one great fact which I think cannot be denied, viz., that on the whole they succeeded. In the beginning of 1846 the hostile Natives were on the outskirts of Wellington committing all sorts of injuries against the settlers and threatening the whole settlement with annihilation; at the end of 1846 they had disappeared to fifty miles distance, and there as not only no appearance of any renewal of the war; but the settlers were more active in commerce and agriculture than they had been since the first commencement of the colony; and further, it must be allowed that this was effected with comparatively small distress to the setters, and with little bloodshed to the troops engaged, and even that this was caused by breaking through the line of policy determined on, and I think that most military men who were present will allow on reflection that if better use might have been made of the materials at hand it would only have produced the same result, with a more lasting impression on the Natives.
In October, 1846, the troops stationed in the Pori-rua district were as follows : –
At Pare-mata –– Royal Artillery, 1 officer and 9 men; 58th Regiment, 3 officers and 26 men; 65th Regiment, 2 officers and 44 men; 99th Regiment, 2 officers and 83 men.
At Paua-taha-nui –– 65th Regiment, 3 officers and 100 men.
At Jackson’s Ferry –– 58th Regiment, 2 officers and 24 men; 99th Regiment, 2 N.C.O. and 34 men.
At Clifford’s Stockade –– 99th Regiment, 1 officer.
With one exception the N.C.O. are included with the men in above return. The names of the above officers were – R.A. Lieutenant the Hon. W. Yelverton (Pare-mata), 58th, Captain A.H. Russell (Jackson’s Ferry), 58th, Ensign H. Middleton (Jackson’s Ferry), 58th, Ensign E.O. Barker (Pare-mata), 58th, Assistant-Surgeon Alleyne (Pare-mata), 65th, Captain R. O’Connell (Pare-mata), 65th, Captain R. Newenham (Paua-taha-nui), 65th, Lieutenant F.R. M’Coy (Pare-mata), 65th, Lieutenant T.F. Turner (Paua-taha-nui), 65th, Assistant-Surgeon T.E. White (Paua-taha-nui), 99th, Captain J. Armstrong (Pare-mata), 99th, Lieutenant C.E. Leigh (Pare-mata), 99th, Lieutenant L.R. Elliott (Clifford’s Stockade).
At this time the officer in command of the district was Lieutenant Colonel M’Cleverty, after whom Mount M’Cleverty, the high peak of the Tinakore range, was named.
Thus, at that period, it took 336 units of the British Army to hold Pori-rua down in its place, and to preserve the peace, not to mention divers armed police etc. We believe that it now takes one policeman to perform this task, and he does not look overworked. So much for Pax Brittanica.
In regard to the hapless officer who appears to have garrisoned Clifford’s Stockade, at Johnsonville, all by his lonesome self, we hasten to assure our readers that he appears to have been sustained in his vigil by the might of the local militia and the workmen engaged in making the road to Pori-rua. There seems to have been some difficulty about getting M’Killop’s Royal Blanket Armoured Pori-rua Navy to ascend the raging Kenepuru stream to act against any possible rebellion at, or attack on, Johnsonville, hence one lone unit of the British Army was stationed at the impregnable chicken corral known as Clifford’s stockade, in order to lend an air of official sanction to any scene of wild carnage that might occur at that sylvan spot.
Lieutenant Colonel Mundy, who visited the Pori-rua district in 1847, makes a few remarks of interest in his work, “Our Antipodes”. Of the Pare-mata military post, and its out posts, he says : – “Pori-rua was an important post during the war, a major’s command, with 300 men, including the posts of Paua-taha-nui (after its capture) and Jackson’s Ferry. The officers’ mess at one period numbered ten or twelve members, who daily sat down to a dinner of salt beef, biscuit and rum, with neither table nor chair nor bed to turn into when satiated with such delicate viands. With the usual fate of English barracks, those of Pori-rua are situated on the very dreariest, the only dreary spot in the circuit of the harbour – a sandy flat commanding its entrance. The present building is of stone, with turrets for guns, which, however, to use a horseman’s phrase, were never up to their weight.”
Of the Paua-taha-nui pa he remarks the ‘’position and construction of the pa are remarkably strong’, and that there would have been ‘wigs on the green’ if the hostiles had remained in it and fought well. “At Sydney, 1500 miles from the scene, I had heard nothing but complaints of the military occupancy of Paua-taha-nui. Standing within that stockade, I heard of nothing but its productive garden, its fine climate, the shooting, fishing, and bathing, the eels, the ducks and the pigeons; and certainly I never set eyes on more well fed and wholesome ‘food for powder’ than the officers and men of this distant detachment of Her Majesty’s army.
“As we approached Paua-taha-nui, we were much struck by its picturesque as well as defensible position. Even in a light boat we found it difficult to get near it, owing to the shallowness of the water, a feature protecting the place from bombardment by gunboats. Even unopposed it was not easy to climb up to the pa, which is perched on a bluff facing down the harbour, its flanks defended by ravines, swamp and a difficult creek. In the construction of the work some pains had been taken; for there is a double line of strong palisades with trenches and traverses, and flanking defences. On the occasion of my pacific visit to the late stronghold of Te Rangi-haeata I found it garrisoned by a captain of the 65th, with a fine detachment of young fellows fresh from England. They are now employed in pushing forward the great road which is being gradually extended northwards along the coast, and which will one day connect Wellington with Auckland.”
THE PAUA-TAHA-NUI MILITARY POST ABANDONED.
The following note concerning the evacuation of the Matai-taua stockade at Paua-taha-nui appeared in the Wellington “Independent” and reappeared in the Australian and New Zealand “Gazette” of June 14, 1851.
The “Gazette” was published in London and the above issue contained Wellington news up to February 8, 1851. Collinson states that the post was abandoned in 1850; hence it probably occurred in the latter part of that year.
“The part of the Grenadier Company of the 65th Regiment, stationed at Paua-taha-nui, Rangi-haeata’s former stronghold, marched into Wellington to the barracks on Cook’s Mount, this station having been abandoned as a military outpost. The only military outpost now maintained in the neighbourhood of Wellington is that at Pare-mata Point.”
Captain Collinson, writing in 1851 on Military Operations in New Zealand, reported : – “At Wellington there are 400 men (soldiers). They live in wooden barracks on Mount Cook. … There are some detachments at Porirua and in the Hutt Valley, left there since the war, but they are only temporary, and not now in defensible positions.”
In a sketch of the life of Major S. Neill, given in “The Defenders of New Zealand,” it is shown that he was a colour-sergeant in the 65th Regiment, and an extract from his diary reads as follows : – “In September 1853 I was sent on detachment to Porirua until that post was broken up, when I returned to Wellington.”
It must have been soon after this last date that the Paremata post was evacuated, though we have not ascertained the date. It had been abandoned prior to the earthquake of 1855.
TRIAL OF MAORI PRISONERS AND EXECUTION OF WHARE-AITU AT PARE-MATA, PORI-RUA: (SEPTEMBER 1846).
(From the “New Zealand Journal”)
The court-martial appointed to try the rebels who were made prisoners during the late military operations commenced its sittings at the camp at Pare-mata Point, Pori-rua, on Monday morning. The court was composed of the following members : – Major Arney, 58th Regiment, President; Captain Armstrong, Captain Reid, 99th; Captain Large, 58th; and the Hon W. Yelverton, R.A. Mr Servantes acted as interpreter. The prisoners, who were confined on board the Calliope, were landed early on Monday morning, and were delivered over to the custody of the military. The first prisoner was Rangi-aitea (?) … who is, or affects to be, insane, and … has escaped the extreme penalty of the law, but has been sentenced to be imprisoned for life. Martin Luther, whose native name is Whare-aitu, and who was taken prisoner on the march by the militia (by Ngati-awa), was tried the following day. … He was tried on two counts, the first charging him with having been engaged in the attack on the troops on June 16; and the second count, with having been taken in arms against the peace of the Queen, and with having joined the rebels under Te Rangi-haeata. To the latter count he pleaded guilty. The forms of the court were extremely simple, and appeared to be perfectly understood by the natives. The principal evidence brought forward was that of the two natives who took him prisoner, and that of two native women, who proved that they saw the prisoner in Rangi-haeata’s pa, and that he had acted with Rangi-haeata’s party. The prisoner admitted the correctness of the evidence, was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged.
The prisoner throughout the proceedings has manifested the utmost coolness and self-possession. … He said he was not afraid to die, and only regretted he was not shot or tomahawked instead of having been taken prisoner. The Rev H. Govett … remained with the prisoner during his last moments. The gallows was erected about 300 yards from the stockade enclosing the camp, near a long conical sandhill, and it was about sixteen feet high, with a platform raised about ten feet from the ground, and with one end resting on the sandhill. At eight o’clock the prisoner was led out guarded by the armed police and followed by a detachment of soldiers who formed three sides of a square in front of the place of execution, the fourth side being occupied by the police and the scaffold, which was in the centre. Sentries were posted along the ditch of the camp, who kept the spectators (about twenty Europeans and fifteen natives) off about 150 yards from the place of execution. After the handcuffs were removed the prisoner was pinioned and was led along the sandhill to the scaffold. He walked with a firm step and showed no symptom of fear at his approaching end, and stood perfectly erect while the fatal rope was adjusted round his neck. Everything being in readiness, the drop fell, and the prisoner was launched into eternity.”
The prisoner Rangi-atea died soon after in the Wellington Gaol.
Several writers have spoken some what strongly against this execution, as some people do against any execution, but it certainly had a most excellent effect on the turbulent Ngati-Toa, as also did the capture of Te Rau-paraha. These people had a keen hatred for Europeans, and were at that time a lawless, turbulent lot whom nothing but the strong hand could control. After this occurrence they calmed down greatly, and never again ventured to murder settlers, save in the case of the Brank’s family, which dreadful act was confined to a single perpetrator, who it is comforting to know, was also hanged.
Regarding the execution of Te Whare-aitu, Thomson says that one of the soldiers acted as hangman, that the Rev Mr Govett accompanied the condemned man to the scaffold, and that the latter “was launched into eternity with the word of God on his lips,” a statement that may be taken for what it is worth, which is very little. The soldier hangman was drowned some eighteen months after the execution, which fact is quoted by Thomson as “an instance of retribution of Providence in this world and a testimony that God was against him for the part he took in the murder.” Of a verity some folks have curious notions, and one cannot help wondering if Providence took eighteen months to make up its mind to murder the soldier.
OLD FORT AND BARRACKS AT PARE-MATA.
In this year of 1911 the outer walls and interior dividing wall are still standing to a height of seven to eight feet as a rule, and one part of the east wall is about ten feet high. The two flanking angles have disappeared, save a small part of the wall of that facing the east. Against this part rests the last relic of old Geordie Bolts the whaler, in the form of an old try-pot, a last sign of the roaring days of the thirties and forties of the last century, when stalwart men chased the monsters of the deep on the wild waters of Raukawa and towed them to the trying out works at Pare-mata; and Pare-mata was a primitive and rough camp in those days.
The walls of these fortified barracks were constructed of stones and boulders, principally water-worn, obtained apparently from a pit near the fort, but some are rough, sharply fractured stones. They are laid in cement, showing sand and numerous marine shells, and all the walls have had smoothly dressed surfaces of cement plaster, which still adheres to some parts thereof. In some places bricks have been inserted in the body of the walls and also at the various apertures, as a facing in the latter cases. In one case, a doorpost remains undecayed, which on examination proved to be a piece of heart of black kinau, one of our most durable timbers. The parts of the walls still standing are about 30 in thick. Holes in the walls still show where the floor joists were built in, and stalwart ones they must have been. Mr Walker informs us that the ceiling joists, which acted as floor joists for the men’s barrack room on the upper storey, were also of remarkable size. A longitudinal aperture in the eastern wall, where, apparently, a beam has decayed, is somewhat puzzling to the non-professional eye, as also is a series of beam holes about 5ft from the floor.
A stone wall divides the fort into two rooms of about equal size. The inside measurement of the whole place is about 36ft by 60ft. Both rooms have doorways and windows. Apparently the place had a wooden floor. The fort is situated about 35yrds from the present high-water mark.
The upper storey of the fort was utilised as a barrack room for the men, and was approached by an outside stairway. The earthquake of 1848 damaged the fort considerably, and badly scared its inmates. The soldiers hastily evacuated their barrack room and rushed down the external stairway. One man was in such a hurry that he jumped down, and sustained such injuries that he shortly afterwards died. So much were the walls injured by the earthquake that the place was abandoned and new quarters built. These consisted of several wooden buildings, and barrack rooms of toetoe thatch.
In the earthquake of 1855, the upper part of the fort was thrown down and fell, with its shingled roof, into the lower storey. That night there happened to be an old Maori and his wife camped in one room of the lower storey, while the other was occupied by a mob of pigs. The worthy couple had a marvellous escape, and came forth scatheless, though doubtless “some scared”. Surely this was only equalled by Panapa’s adventure with the turkeys, as described by Moses in “Mahse Leaves.”
Near the old fort may still be traced the earthworks thrown up by the troops when they first encamped here in 1846.
The guns which were placed in position on the fort were not of much service, the building not being strong enough to stand the shock of gun fire. While Te Rangihaeata was at is pa at Motu-karaka, a canoe came from that place and the garrison had a shot at it with one of their cannon, but the shock was too much for the gun foundations or surroundings, and hence the guns were not again used.
R.E. Malone, of H.M.S. Fantome, who was at Pori-rua in November, 1852, remarks : – “When inside, Pori-rua is a lovely harbour. Fifty of the 65th regiment had been quartered there, but earthquakes had so shattered their barracks that it was deemed prudent to leave. The farms about it are very pretty and English like.”
It appears that the earthquake of 1848 so damaged the stone fort or barrack at Paremata that it was no longer deemed safe to live therein, and cottages were therefore built in the vicinity for the housing of the soldiers. The following is one of the latest movements of troops in connection with this post that we have come across : –
The “Australian and New Zealand Gazette” of October 30, 1852 (containing Wellington news to May 29), remarks : – “Military – Captain Barry’s company returns form Pori-rua, being relieved by O Company of the 65th Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Trafford.”
Mr John Rochfort, in his little work “The Adventures of a Surveyor in New Zealand”, published in 1853, gives a few notes on Pori-rua, which place he passed through when making a trip to Whanga-nui. “Ascending the steep range on the Pori-rua Road (above Kai-wharawhara) we had some splendid views of the bay. The little farms and clearings which are scattered here and there on each side add much to the beauty of the country. Arrived at Pori-rua harbour, we followed the shore up to the barracks, where a singular occurrence is said to have taken place during the late heavy earthquake. The ground on which the building (which is of brick) stands opened, dividing it into two parts, and immediately re-closed, leaving the line of fracture scarcely visible; the building remains to this day.”
The “Wellington Spectator” of August 14, 1847, contains the following : – “Last Saturday (7th) the new stone barracks at Porirua were handed over by Mr Wilson, the contractor, to the Ordnance Department.”
In “Frazer’s Magazine” of August, 1861, were published some “Reminiscences of New Zealand” by a person who traversed the Pori-rua district twice in (apparently) 1848. He walked from Wellington to Otaki via Pukerua, and returned on horseback by the new road : – “
“I left Wellington on June 5, Captain C. (probably Captain Collinson), of the Engineers, having to go to the barracks at Pori-rua, accompanied me. A good road has been made through the bush from Wellington to Pori-rua harbour. But few houses are seen along this line, in general the forest hems in the road on both sides, and the eye wanders among the boles of white pines, the gnarled trunks of huge rata and the drooping foliage of the rimu, without piercing in any direction through the dense screen. A rough track from Jackson’s Ferry brought us to a farm belonging to a Scotchman who had made a great deal of money by contracting to supply meat to the troops at Pori-rua and Paua-taha-nui. Here we stopped. On June 7 I set out, with a little Maori boy for a guide, was ferried across the mouth (?) of Pori-rua harbour, passed through the barracks at Pare-mata Point, eyeing and eyed by a listless officer or two sauntering about in a shell jacket; thence for a mile along the beach to Taupo pa, and then we plunged into the Puke-rua bush … until the path again came out on the beach. … It was dark before I reached Hurui (Te Uruhi pa at Waikanae). When I entered a fisherman’s hut to which I had been directed. …’Hullo!’ said an old man, starting up from his seat by the fire. ‘Why, it that ben‘t Mr _____!’ ‘What! Jenkins, is that you?’ I recognised a passenger on the John Wycliffe who, with his wife and daughter, had settled here in the home of his son.”
Our worthy traveller, on reaching the Otaki River, accepted an offer from a Maori to carry him across for two shillings. Landing on the further side, he found that the intelligent aboriginal had dumped him on an island, and that there was another channel of the river to be crossed, for the passage of which his Tenakoe companion demanded another florin, which he did not get, as our traveller braced up and waded in, leaving John Dago mourning for the two shillings he didn’t get.
The writer gives some account of the building of the Otaki Maori church which was in progress at the time of his visit.
“On my return I rode, not through the Puke-rua bush, but along the new military road which, turning up from the beach close to a hut known as Scotch Jock’s (Pae-kakariki) ascended the range by a well conducted zig-zag, and, striking the head of the Horo-kiri valley, descended to the corner of Pori-rua harbour at Paua-taha-nui. The view from the top of the ascent was very fine. At the head of the valley I passed the spot where Lieutenant Blackburn was shot in a skirmish with the Natives.
“The strong pa at Paua-taha-nui, belonging to Te Rangihaeata, had been seized by our forces, and was now occupied by a detachment of the 58th. I stopped at the blacksmith’s shop outside the pa to get my horse shod, and, during the process, Captain R., in command of the detachment, appeared and invited me to pass the night at the pa. Mounting the hill on which it stood, we entered the gate.
“The strong palisade, about fifteen feet high, which surrounded the original pa, remained undisturbed, but nearly the entire space within was now occupied by neat wooden huts, painted blue, and shingled. Captain R_ [Russell] with his wife, a lieutenant, and assistant surgeon, with their wives, and an ensign, formed the society of the pa, and a very lively and agreeable society it was. The ladies were all young and pretty, and on the best terms with each other. As for the officers, they did not get through their time so easily – in fact, they were mortally bored. What, indeed, had they to do? The doctor, in that provokingly salubrious climate, had no patients to cure, and the subaltern, since the Maori war was over, had none but routine duties to perform. There was no hunting, and nothing to shoot but parrots, pigeons, and tui. However, they did what they could, they fished and boated, and pulled down almost daily to Pare-mata Point, where there was a detachment of the 65th, to compare notes with the major and the ensign (the latter of whom contrived to kill time while occupied in the education of a talking tui), and laid schemes for obtaining leave to go to Wellington, which was another London or Paris to an unfortunate subaltern buried in the bush at Paua-taha-nui.”
It is passing painful to reflect upon the sufferings of the British Army at the Maitai-taua post, where they had nothing to do but enjoy themselves, and nothing to eat but food.
It is somewhat curious that many early writers speak of the ferry at Pare-mata as being at the mouth of the harbour; possibly they meant the inner harbour, the Takapu-wa-hia arm.
Mr Heywood, in his work, “A Vacation Tour at the Antipodes” (1863), makes a curious remark anent the obtaining of ammunition by the Natives : – “During the late war, a French transport was for some months in Wellington Harbour. No shore boats were allowed to approach it; but very early in the morning (as I learned from a resident in the place), frequently Maori canoes were seen leaving its side, very probably with supplies of powder and ammunition.”
Aperahama Mira, of Ngati-Toa, stated that Rangihaeata and his party kept to the bush in their march north, until they reached Poro-tauhao, where they erected a pa on a point of land running out into a swamp.
On April 18, 1847, Te Rangi-haeata raided the home of a settler named Andrew Brown, on Kapiti Island. He had thirty or forty armed Natives in his party. These ruffians looted Brown’s store, then broke into his house and stole everything that took their fancy. They loaded their canoe and one of Brown’s boats with the stolen goods, destroyed another boat and then returned to the mainland. Brown had then been a resident of Kapiti for over seven years.
The Rev. R. Taylor interviewed Te Rangi-haeata before the latter retreated from Paua-taha-nui, and stated that he was very bitter against the Europeans.
The “Wellington Independent” of September 23, 1848, records the meeting of the Governor and Te Rangi-haeata at Otaki, when one thousand Natives were present. When the old chief appeared he wore a dogskin cloak, carried a mere in his hand, and had his hair ornamented with feathers. He remarked that he had given up fighting, as the Natives were adopting European habits, and it was useless to contend further against such innovations. He opposed further land selling in the district.
The Rev. R. Taylor tells us that Te Rangi-haeata’s pa at Poroutawhoa was situated on a mound in a swamp, a long narrow strip of land leading to it through deep swamps.
“The pa was on a mound, the only one in the vicinity, and strongly fortified in the Native style with thick lofty posts deeply sunk in the ground and bound together with a connecting pole at a height of about 10ft from the ground. Inside the outer fence there was another, behind which the defenders could post themselves and take aim through the outer one. The pa was divided into a number of small courts, each equally well defended, and connected by very narrow passages.”
In February, 1849, a mob of cattle was being driven from Mr Rhode’s place at Manawatu to Wellington. In crossing the Ohau River many of the cattle swam out to sea. The drivers appealed for assistance to Te Rangi-haeata, who was present, and he ordered a lot of his followers to swim out and get them ashore again, which they did after much trouble. A cheque for £20 was handed to them for their services. This incident shows that the bitter resentment long shown by the chief towards Europeans and white settlement had been much softened by time.
In May, 1849, Te Rangi-haeata visited Porirua, where he remained for some time. But he was no longer feared. The old savage’s fighting days were over. He died in [Nov] 1856.
At a meeting of the New Zealand Society held on January 24, 1852, at Government House, Sir G. Grey exhibited a very fine carved box, about 3ft long, that had been presented to him by Te Rangi-haeata. It was a fine specimen of carved work, and is said to have been very old. Apparently the hatred of the old savage for the pakeha had somewhat lessend.
We here insets a few notes concerning Te Rau-pa-rhah : –
In one of his despatches Colonel Wakefield says : – “Saturday, October 26, 1839. I visited to-day the small island (at Kapiti) on which Rau-paraha lives. It partly belongs to Captain Mayhew, an American. The habits of the old chief are conspicuous in this place. A miserable house, tapu to himself and wife, offers no temptation to his enemies. Near it are piled up cases of tobacco, cotton goods, and of the various objects which he has begged or extorted from the masters of vessels anchoring here. These are covered with dead brushwood, and are narrowly watched by his slaves. He seldom stays long in one place, but goes from settlement to settlement, often in the night, to avoid any design against his life from his fees on the main.”
When Te Rau-paraha was released from custody at Otaki he had the impudence to ask for a salute from the steamer. He came on deck rigged out in full uniform, cocked hat and epaulets, and was much offended on noting that the Governor and his companions were in plain clothes. When he landed he squatted down not far from the old pa, and, covering his head, the old cannibal so remained, it is said, for hours, his people keeping aloof from him. The sight of the old deserted pa told him that the old order of things was passing away forever.
The “New Zealand Journal” of April 20, 1850, contains an announcement of the death of Te Rauparaha : – “Te Rauparaha, chief of the Ngati-Toa tribe, died at Otaki, November 27, 1849, in his seventy-fifth year.” He is said to have been buried on Kapiti Island, a place famed for the number of burials of chiefs that had taken place there.
In 1855 a party composed principally of Ngati-Awa, most of them hailing from Queen Charlotte Sound, proceeded to Waikanae under Wi Tako, Te Tupe and Rawiri Puaha. All these men were armed and well supplied with ammunition, their intention being to go on to Taranaki and take a hand in the Native disturbances at that place in order to avenge the death of Rawiri Waiana. However, the chiefs of the Waikanae and Otaki districts induced the warlike party to return home, the Rev Hadfield using his influences in the same direction.
THE TURBULENT SIXTIES.
The Pori-rua district was not seriously disturbed by war’s alarms during the fighting days of the sixties, and has had a peaceful time since 1846. Matters were much more doubtful in the Otaki district, where many Natives were hostile to the settlers, but at Porirua no cause for uneasiness existed. A few ardent spirits among local Natives, notably Wi Hapi, of Ngati-Awa, at Wai-whetu, who wished to assist in the work of driving the Europeans into the sea, went north and joined the hostiles, but the Wellington district was free from any Native disturbances during the troublous years 1860-70. The local Natives naturally sympathised with their countrymen, and some of our old settlers can call to mind how the Ngati-Toa folk expressed their intention of occupying the farms of Tawa Flat when the Europeans were expelled from the island. They have not occupied them yet.
There was a certain amount of uneasiness felt by settlers in some places and militia and volunteer corps were in evidence, but no disturbance occurred, unless the escape of the hulk prisoners can be so termed.
The “Wellington Spectator” of March 21, 1860, gives an account of the calling out of the local militia in consequence of the disturbed state of the Natives owing to the outbreak of war at Taranaki. Ngati-awa of Wellington and Heretaunga (the Hutt) gave no trouble, and the Wai-rarapa Natives also behaved well, but there was much hostility to Europeans up the coast, especially in the Otaki district, where the so-called King flag of the hostiles was hoisted in the Roman Catholic Native settlement, an appropriate place for it, and which calls to our mind a few little incidents that occurred in this isle during the Boer war.
The cause of this calling out of the militia was the removal of the Imperial troops from Wellington, upwards of 100 men of the 65th Regiment, under Captain Turner, having left by the Airedale for Taranaki. Hence the militia were called upon to do garrison duty. This first call was for 200 men, many of whom had to proceed to town every few days from country districts, as the Hutt, Pori-rua, Kaoroi, etc. They were supplied with the old Brown Bess muskets, in a very defective condition. This force mounted guard at Wellington and the Hutt, but poor little old Pori-rua seems to have been somewhat neglected. In addition to the militia, about 100 men joined the Rifle and Cavalry Corps, and a volunteer company was enrolled at Carteron. Otherwise the settlers did not seem to be worrying about Native invasions.
The list of officers of the Wellington battalion of the militia includes names of well-known early settlers – Trafford, Bannatyne, Levin, G. Hunter, Bethune, Borlase, Kebbell, De Castro, Knowles, France, etc., while the Hutt battalion included Ludlow, Braithwaite, Fitzherbert, Riddiford, Mills, etc.
During this disturbed period two stockades were erected in the Hutt district, one of which is shown on some of the old maps as being situated above the upper gorge. One was erected on Plowman’s land, opposite Jillet’s Hotel, under the superintendence of Corporal Tapp, of the Royal Engineers. The plan called for a stockade 95ft square, with walls nine feet high, rendered bullet proof to six feet by the interstice between the outside and inside planking being filled with shingle. The blockhouse on the S.W. corner, that nearest the bridge, to be two storeys high, bullet proof, and roofed with corrugated iron, size 30ft x 30ft, with outside planks of 15ft, with loopholes on all sides in both storeys. In the N.E. corner corresponding planks with hoop holes. Magazine 8ft x 4ft x 7ft. This blockhouse was to protect the Wairarapa and Wai-whetu roads, bridge and ferry. Experiments made showed that bullets flattened on coming into contact with the gravel.
During these troubled times Ngati-Toa of Porirua remained quiet, because they had to, not out of any love for the pakeha (Europeans). The blustering attitude of a section of the Natives of the Otaki district also came to a peaceful end, and the rack and thumbscrew gentry of the “true faith” were sat upon. Some of the Pori-rua Natives had already apportioned our farms among themselves and only waited for us whites to be driven in to the sea, when they were to take possession. They are still waiting.
About this time local Natives were keenly desirous of obtaining firearms and ammunition, and often offered settlers considerable sums of money for such items. Some curious stories on this subject are related by old settlers. Any munitions so obtained were probably sent on to friends in the firing line.
Many Natives of the Otaki and other districts sympathised with the Maori King movement, among them being Wi Tako, who collected and drilled many of the Natives at Rangitikei, but soon left the district. This was in 1861, the year that General Cameron visited Wellington, where he inspected the troops and volunteers at the Thorndon and Te Aro barracks and rode out as far Johnsonville, returning by the Nga Uranga Line Road. During this year meetings were held at Pori-rua and the Hutt to discuss the Native difficulty and urging the necessity for further military protection, as so large a number of the male population had gone to the Otago diggings.
The King flag seems to have been hoisted at Otaki in 1862, when the niu pole was erected at Puke-karaka. On March 16 a brig arrived at Wellington from Sydeny bringing the melancholy news of the death of the Prince Consort, says Heywood, in his “Vacation Tour at the Antipodes”. On the following day this writer rode to Deighton’s accommodation house at Pae-kakaraki. On his way to Otaki next day he met a large number of Maoris on horseback, both men and women, who were returning from the ceremony of hoisting the King flat at Otaki. Later on he says : – “In the course of the day I paid a visit to the King flag staff. It was nothing remarkable, being an ordinary pole within an enclosure, with a carved tattooed figure below it, which I offered to buy, but the Maoris were unwilling to sell it. A curious circumstance is that it is situated at the Roman Catholic end of the village and not far from their chapel. An innkeeper who was present at the ceremony of the hoisting of the flag said that Roman Catholic prayers were offered on the occasion.”
After the rumours of Native disturbances had continued for some time a considerable number of volunteer corps were formed in the country districts. Thus it was that the Pori-rua Company came into existence in the early sixties, about 1861. Settlers had heard rumours of a force of hostile Natives that intended to come down from the West Coast to drive all settlers from their lands. Hence they applied to the officer commanding the district for permission to form a Volunteer Rifle Corps. The official, however, informed them that they might only become a volunteer militia. As the settlers wanted to elect their own officers, they applied to Governor Grey, who allowed them to form a Volunteer Rifle Corps. This company was about forty strong at the time of its initiation, but afterwards became nearly one hundred strong, prior to the time when another corps was formed at Paua-tahanui. This latter company was instituted by local settlers on account of the distance they had to go in order to attend parades. This occurred about seven years after the formation of the first mentioned corps. The Paua-taha-nui Corps was about forty strong when organised. In 1877 Mr Frederick Brady became captain of the latter corps.
The first officers of the Pori-rua Volunteers were : – Captain, Dr Taylor; lieutenant, James Taylor (afterwards captain of the Paua-tahanui Corps); ensign, William Broderick. The corps existed for about fourteen years.
The Pori-rua Volunteers rejoiced in a blue uniform, their headgear being a weird form of shake, with a knob on the top, but as much delay ensued in the issued of their apparel many men paraded in civilian dress for some time. In order to assume a more martial aspect, on one occasion Rifleman Morgan fell in wearing a shake of his own invention – namely, a hard glazed hat surmounted by a potato struck on the end of a stick!
The rifle served out to the above corps was the old muzzle-loading Enfield.
Lieutenant James Taylor was one of the best marksmen. In 1864 he won the first prize, of £10, as marksman, and, in 1865, he won the provincial silver cup, valued at £50, as the best shot in the Wellington province.
The nearest approach to a war scare in the district was the escape of a number of Maori prisoners of war from a hulk in which they had been confined, and which was anchored in Wellington Harbour, off Kai-wharawhara. These men escaped on January 20, 1866.
Major-General Alexander, in his “Bush Fighting”, gives the following account of the above incident : –
“The escape of fifty Maori prisoners, on the 20th January, 1866, showed great daring and astuteness. They had been taken when the Wera-roa pa fell, and were placed on board a timber ship called the Manukau. The vessel had large bow ports, as is usual with timber ships, by which to pass in their freight. The ports had not been used for some time, and were supposed to be securely fastened.
By order of the Governor, the escort (50th Regiment) placed the prisoners on board the Manukau, and remained to guard them … the prisoners were always kept below at night, a sentry being on deck over the hatch.
On January 20, 1866, when it was blowing a gale of wind, a heavy sea running, and the night pitch dark, the Maoris managed, with the assistance of a screw key, which they to hold of (among a lot of miscellaneous articles that had been thrown into the hold), to open one of the bow ports, and before daylight the following morning all but three had gone.
The darkness of the night and the noise of the wind and sea, prevented the sentry on deck observing or hearing anything, and so cunningly did they effect their object that, while the whole arrangement was going on down below, a single Maori occasionally came up during the night (as they were permitted to do, “to go to the head”) to diver the sentry’s attention.
Three or four were drowned in trying to swim ashore, about three-fourths of a mile; two or three, when pressed by hunger, came back; one or two were shot by parties sent out in pursuit; but the great majority were not again seen.
A court of inquiry assembled to investigate the case, and the major-general (Chute) was satisfied that no blame rested on the detachment, as the escape was made under circumstances beyond their control.
The late Colonel MacDonnell gave an account of the above affair in “The Monthly Review,” vol. 2, 1890, form which we extract the following : –
“A curious incident happened to me while in Wellington, in this wise : – Among the prisoners aboard the hulk in Wellington Harbour were those I had captured at Arei-ahi, below the Wera-roa pa, including old Tatarai-maka, in whom I felt interested. So I thought I would go and see them, but, on inquiry, I was told that they were so strictly guarded by the Imperial authorities that no one was allowed to go on board without a permit. … I went first to one office, then to another, until I was sick of it. … I went down to the boat wharf and hailed a boatman … to put me aboard. … I went up the rope ladder … seeing no life about. … I began a tour of the deck, when I noticed a rifle , with bayonet fixed, leaning up close by the cuddy door. … I opened the door, when some ten or twelve men jumped up from the cuddy table, where they had been playing cards, and the sentry to whom the rifle belonged dodged past me, and commenced to march up and down his beat, stiff as a poker. Nice guard, I thought. If that’s the way it’s done, the Natives won’t be prisoners long. … I asked for the officer in command, and was informed that he had gone ashore to a party. … I descended, and found my old prisoners, and renewed my acquaintance with Tataraimaka. … I told them they would get out by and bye. Tataraimaka assumed a despondent look, then laughed faintly, and said : – ‘Ae pea.’ (Yes, perhaps). (It turned out that they had already discovered the port hold and had begun to pick out the caulking, in order to escape). … When I heard, shortly afterwards, that the prisoners escaped through the bow porthole, one fearfully stormy night, I was not surprised. … Many were drowned, for it blew a gale, but the plucky and devoted band exerted themselves to save their chief, Tataraimaka, who was old and feeble. Strong men supported him in the water till their strength failed them, when their places were supplied by others, and at length some of them gained the shore with their chief, and sought shelter where they could. Many perished in the waters, and were washed up on the beach a short distance from Wellington, being found there in the morning. Some of the escapees were caught, but were treated kindly, and afterwards permitted to return to their homes. Their escape had been planned by Tataraimaka, who, years after, told me all about it. He did not wish to kill the soldiers (the guard), as had been suggested by some of Nga-Rauru on board, who wished to seize the boat lest, if that were done, and they were not successful in getting clear away, and were retaken, he thought they would be hanged; but that, if their escape had been certain, he would have assented to what he had forbidden. ‘Katahi te iwi kuare he hoia’ (soldiers are a very ignorant people), said Tataraimaka. He told me they had been working out the porthole a few days before I visited them and thought at first I had found it out. I brought him a blanket and some clothes, for which he elevated his eyebrows, expressive of thanks and contentment.”
Buller’s “Forty Years in New Zealand” has the following : – “In 1866 the Governor confined sixty prisoners on board a vessel in Wellington harbour. One stormy night … the Maoris opened one of the bow ports and before daylight all but three had gone. Four were drowned in trying to swim ashore, three came back pressed by hunger, two were shot by parties sent out in pursuit, but the greater number were not seen again.”
The late Sir Walter Buller, with a party of Maori volunteers, assisted in the search for the escaped prisoners, but this was further up the coast, we believe, somewhere about the Manawatu.
Mr T. Bevan, senior, of Manakau, states that the survivors of the escaped prisoners from the hulk stayed for some time with the Ngati-Wehiwehi clan at Kete-maringi, near Manakau, to recruit ere continuing their journey northward. When traversing the forest ranges between Wellington and Otaki some of the escapees made and wore sandals made of plaited nikau leaves. An old Pori-rua settler who took part in the pursuit sends us the following notes : –
“When the officer commanding the Pori-rua Volunteers (Captain Taylor) got instructions from Wellington, he got together a party of about twenty of the company and proceeded to the Ferry, whence they marched up Cameron’s Creek and over the hill to the head of the Takapu Valley, in order to protect the Thompson family which was living in a clearing at that place. This place was reached after dark and sentries were posted throughout the night. These sentries had orders to challenge anyone approaching and to fire if no answer was received, and that was how old man Bartlett, of Tawa Flat, nearly became a target for one of the sentries. On his approaching the post, he did not answer the sentry’s challenge and the latter prepared to turn his Gattling loose, when Bartlett called out just in time. He had probably heard the click of the lock. The next day, in heavy rain, the party went down the Takapu valley, wherein they cut the trail of a barefooted Maori, and followed it for some distance. Not being experienced man-hunters or trailers, they overran the tracks, but the last seen were very fresh, inasmuch as the water was still running into them. Rifleman Morgan was in the lead, and he brought the party out to the Flat Section 48. The Native escapee who had eluded them was afterwards captured and stated that he had heard the party following him, hence he had concealed himself within a dense growth of kiekie, so close to the track that as he put it, he might have stretched forth his arm and touched each one as he passed. His remarks anent the astuteness of the man-hunters were not complimentary.
After the above party had returned, Lieutenant James Taylor, with Edwards as guide, took a party of the Volunteers up Takapu Valley, where they found that the escaped prisoners had occupied a deserted house and regaled themselves on the fowls, that had been left there. They had also torn the paper and scrim off the walls, presumably to serve as bed clothing. Here the pursuing force divided, one party, under the guidance of Edwards, lifted a trail that was marked by numerous signs, the feathers of snared birds, and the refuse of the heart of the nikau palm. No Natives were seen and the party came out at Duck Creek in the evening.
The other party struck a warm trail and followed it. The pursued Natives heard them coming and left the ridge top, going down the hillside to wait until their pursuers had passed by. They them returned to te ridge-top but did so a little too soon, for some stragglers of the Volunteers had not yet passed by. These caught sight of the Natives and opened fire on them, killing one and mortally wounding two others, whose bodies were fund afterwards. It is said that Harry Pitt, the half-caste so long an employee of the Customs Department, was one of the party of pursuers, and that he called out to the Natives to surrender, which they declined to do. A party was sent out from Wellington, with a few local men, to carry the bodies of the dead out, but the party came to the conclusion that they were not looking for any contract to carry dead niggers out of bush canyons, wherein they assuredly showed much more common sense.
A party of Volunteers from the Hutt was also sent out to assist in pursuing the escaped prisoners, and it is said that the party came across the bodies of eight of the Natives who had died from exposure and hunger. During this pursuit the weather was abominable, a howling south-easter with heavy rain, and bitter cold. Several other scattered bodies were found, and a few were captured or gave themselves up.
Our informant who gave us these notes states that there were fifty-six prisoners on the hulk, of whom three remained there; some were drowned in trying to swim ashore, and of the balance only about twenty got clear away, the others being killed, captured, or dying from exposure and want of food. He also states that the prisoners had one small boat in coming ashore, but that it would not hold many; hence that rest had to swim. Those who got clear away stayed some time at Wai-kaioa in order to recruit, being entertained by Ngati-Raukawa at that place.
A member of the party that came upon the escapees states that the remains of fires were seen and that on the range near the head of the Korokoro Creek, the Natives were surprised in a camp and at once fled. Some members of the party fired upon them without orders. Those who escaped procured some food from a settler’s place at Puke-rua. One of those captured was seen, some years later, living at Nukumaru.