A history and personal experience of the conflicts against the Maoris
This special Leonaur edition brings together two smaller works on the Maori Wars for interest and good value. The first account deals with the history of one of the final wars between the colonial forces and the Maoris in the 19th century which has been called, ‘Te Kooti’s War’. It was fought on the mountainous and heavily forested east coast and central regions of the North Island between 1868-72 and is related by George Whitmore, the officer commanding the imperial force. The second book is the personal account of a British Army surgeon who arrived in New Zealand in 1860 and became immediately involved in the Taranaki Campaign. This is a lively account full of incident and riveting anecdotes covering almost a decade of service.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
We marched then with all our Patea A. C. and part of Captain Hawes’ militia volunteers from Wairoa towards Okotuku at midnight. Night marches are always dreary and more or less dispiriting, but the Europeans showed no lack of willingness. At daylight, or near it, I halted outside of the bush and directed Captain Hawes to employ his militia—who being all actual settlers in the district, and mostly married, I did not wish to use in the bush—in throwing up a small earthwork as a protection if we had to retire, and to form a reserve to guard the ammunition.
No. 6, Roberts’ Division, and about fifty Wanganui natives under Te Keepa joined me as day broke. We unloaded our men, leaving their blankets and haversacks at the earthwork Captain Hawes was erecting, and then moved on. The road entered the bush by a cleared path some twelve feet broad and led up to a pah which had been erected during the last two days and nights on an open clearing of about 150 yards square. As soon as I came in sight of this work I halted and concealed my men. I then detached No. 1 Division and Kemp’s (Te Keepa’s) natives to move round by our right, directing them to get close to the pah and assail it on that flank while I assaulted it in front. No. 6 I extended on my left. Up to that moment we believed that the work, though apparently complete in the front, could not have been finished in rear, and that our men dashing at the open gorge must be able to penetrate the pah. A signal was duly arranged when Kemp and No. 1 should be ready in the bush.
Behind us fifty more natives under Wirihana reached the edge of the bush. The rest, graduated according to their courage or loyalty, were at certain distances along the road sitting down. The great “General Mete Kingi,” who was the worst disposed of them all, having got no further than a pistol shot from the Wairoa redoubt where he and the largest section of his tribe squatted to await events.
We in the centre shivering in the raw damp of the morning noticed that no dogs barked, no natives seemed moving to collect wood to light fires which at that hour in the vicinity of any kainga or resting-place of Maoris might have been expected, and we called to mind Kemp’s remark that he feared they had had warning of our coming. That treachery was afoot among our native allies I have no doubt. They were impressed by Titokowaru’s remarkable successes, by the comparative ease with which he had gained possession of so large a district, and by the defection of their relatives the Ngarauru. The sequel shows, that even if not warned the previous evening by the Wanganuis, at least Titokowaru was aware of our approach and fully prepared.
At length the signal was given from our right front, and the storming party under Major Hunter sprang from its concealment and moved rapidly towards the left flank of the pah at a double, No. 1 and Kemp’s party opening a hot fire on the enemy. Nothing could have been finer than the way in which Major Hunter led his select body of old soldiers. He had his brother killed two months before at Te Ngutu to avenge, he had to vindicate himself from a wanton and most untrue charge of dilatoriness in going to the rescue of the Turu-Turu-Mokai garrison when it was surprised, and no one who saw him that morning could doubt that he would do and dare anything to achieve these objects.
I went with the stormers but, my mind being fully occupied, I forgot in doing so to leave behind a long mackintosh coat I had been wearing. We got close to the angle of the work and Hunter passed on to the rear of it. I stumbled over my coat and fell, and Kemp, thinking me shot, sprang up from behind a log close by to help me. Though within a few yards of the pah, however, I was unhurt, and I pushed on to find a weak spot in the palisade. Simultaneously with the advance of the stormers, the enemy had opened fire, the first shot wounding one of our men in the roadway before a single man gained the open clearing. The fire was hotly kept up and replied to by Kemp and No. 1 Division from our right advance. Major Hunter and most of his men got safely past the front of the work, and they were searching for a gate or unfinished spot, when he and two others were hit.
Poor Hunter was shot in the thigh through the femoral artery, and though I tried to staunch the bleeding, the effect of such a wound is so swift, that in less than two minutes he was speechless and beyond human aid. Nevertheless, the three men who supported him stood by him, and though one, if not two, were shot in bearing him out, their places were at once taken by others, and he was eventually carried from the field. I now satisfied myself that short as had been the time, and incredible though it seemed, the pah at Moturoa, unlike that at Te Ngutu, was completely closed in and entrance only obtainable by small underground passages.
The palisade, which did not look a formidable one from outside, some months later I was able to examine at my leisure and found to be a double row of stout green timber, with a ditch and bank behind, from which the defenders fired from loopholes or interstices in the palisade almost on the level of the ground. It had by this time become clear, too, that the force and appliances at my command were not sufficient to take a closed-in fortification so strongly held, and that to persevere would only cause a useless waste of life. I therefore directed a deliberate and orderly retreat to cover the removal of such wounded as we already had lost.