With the Lost Legion in New Zealand
Chapter I — War on The East Coast of New Zealand—Yarn of The Gate Pah
War on The East Coast of New Zealand—Yarn of The Gate Pah
After a voyage during which nothing happened worth recounting We landed at Tauranga, a pretty little township with a good harbour situated on the Bay of Plenty; but before I proceed with my own personal yarn I think I might give you some idea of the righting that had taken place on the east coast previous to our arrival there, and also a brief account of the extraordinary ruffian, Te Kooti, we were about to encounter.
It is very difficult to write an account of New Zealand warfare, as it was mainly a jumble of innumerable skirmishes dotted here and there with an engagement that by stretching a point might be termed a battle. Again so many different tribes took part in the twelve years' continuous fighting, while the various campaigns would often partially die away only to flare up again, and so many separate expeditions took place at one and the same time as to render it almost impossible to write an account of the long war so that it could be understood, much less be made interesting to an ordinary reader, who would quickly become confused and bored by a superfluity of dates and of the Maori names of trivial combats, although page 252each of them was necessary and cost the men engaged therein much hardship and bloodshed.
When the war originally broke out in 1860 the east coast tribes sat tight and did not join the Taranaki and Waikato natives, but at the end of 1863 they had in a great measure joined the coalition of the tribes under the newly elected Maori king, and in 1864 a large percentage of them, abandoning Christianity, adopted the crazy Hau Hau faith.
At this period, many settlers having been murdered, General Sir Duncan Cameron proceeded to Tauranga in April 1864, with a field force of two thousand men well supplied with artillery, having moreover at his disposal a splendid naval brigade drawn from five ships, and with this fine body of men attempted to overawe and subdue the rebellious district.
Two considerable tribes, however, the Arawa and the greater part of the Ngatiporou, had refused to join the Hau Haus, and threw in their lot with the Europeans. The former of these proved themselves to be the most useless allies, being the only New Zealand native tribe of a cowardly disposition; they were also prone to overvalue themselves and give trouble to the white officers sent to command them, for which reason I suppose the Government pampered them to an inordinate extent, thereby making them more useless and insolent than ever Providence intended them to be. The Ngatiporou, however, were a splendid fighting race, who, under their glorious war chief Rapata-te-Waha-waha, rendered most valuable services.
The New Zealand wars brought to the front many page 253colonial officers, some of whom had previously served in the regular army, while others had acquired their training and experience through long years of active service, making up for any lack of theory and barrack-square knowledge by their sterling common-sense, their acquaintanceship with Maori customs and the ready way they adapted themselves to the exigencies of bush fighting.
Names such as Whitmore, Tuke, McDonnell, St John, Von Tempsky and many others, men never heard of in England, should be treasured in New Zealand, and with these every colonial boy should be taught the names of the two gallant Maori chiefs, Rapata-te-Waha-waha and Meiha-Kepa-Te-Rangi-Hiwinui, whose splendid courage and devout loyalty did so much to bring the long, weary war to a successful termination.
General Cameron with his forces arrived at Tauranga in April 1864, and at once took the field, commencing operations by an attack on the Gate Pah, at which place he was badly beaten. Many and varied are the accounts I have heard about this disastrous action, both from old soldiers who took part in it, and also from natives who fought there against them, and after weighing the pros and cons the only conclusion that I can come to is that the defeat was due to the crass stupidity and folly of the General and his staff, who had neglected to scout or make any reconnaissance of the so-called pah.
If you care to read an account of how two thousand seasoned British troops plus a strong naval brigade amply supplied with artillery and page 254supported by the broadsides of three ships of war were defeated by one hundred and thirty Maoris, the majority of these being youths, badly armed with old muskets, double-barrelled guns and tomahawks, I will give you a native version of the affair as recounted to me by one of the few seasoned warriors who defended the place.
Tourists proceeding in the mail-coach from Tauranga to Ohinemutu may be shown close to the road an old earthwork, and the coachdriver will gravely inform them this is the remains of the Gate Pah; but this is not a fact as they are the ruins of a redoubt built by the troops subsequent to the disaster. The spot where the fight actually took place lies close to the sea-beach on the Tauranga side of the swamp, where the ground is comparatively level and is commanded by hills on two sides, being bordered by the waters of the harbour and the aforementioned swamp. And now let me try to spin you the yarn as I was told it by my old Maori friend and quondam enemy.
I had been out ka ka and pigeon shooting in the big bush that lies between Tauranga and Ohinemutu, my companions consisting of three rangatera and some half-a-dozen lads to carry our swags, game, stores etc., and at nightfall after a most successful day's sport we had formed a snug camp in a small open glade through which ran a clear rippling creek. The mi-mis had been made down, we had enjoyed a scrumptious repast, and the eyes of the whilom warriors glistened when I produced from my swag a big bottle of rum, together with a liberal supply of tobacco.
A tot of the former having been disposed of, the page 255pipes being lighted, and each old sportsman having emitted a heartfelt grunt of beatitude and satisfaction, I turned to the senior of the party and said: "Tell me about the fights you had with the Queen's soldiers at Tauranga."
"Augh! augh!" grunted the ancient, allowing a dense column of smoke to escape through his nostrils. "The flesh of the pigeon and ka ka is sweet, the warmth of the burning log is good, the taste of waiperou (rum—lit. stinking water) and tobacco are very good, but better than all these is war, and the next best thing is talking about it. Yes, I will tell you of our victory and of our defeat by the soldiers of the Great White Queen. Draw near, you boys, listen and learn, so that when your turn comes you will know how to fight so as to sustain the honour of the Ngaiterangi.
"More than ten years are now dead since we joined the coalition of tribes who had lately elected the new Maori king, we doing so not that we were so hungry to fight against the soldiers, but had we not done so we could not have withstood the anger of the Waikato and the other tribes who had elected him. About this time also we were visited by prophets who preached the new Pai Marire faith, and we who had discovered that the white missionaries were humbugs gave ear to them, and many of us joined the Hau Haus, as they promised that we should acquire much mana through their incantations, they also promising us immunity from wounds and death in battle; but we soon found out that they also were humbugs. Yes, friend, the white missionaries are humbugs and the Hau Hau prophets are humbugs, all of them page 256talking about matters not to be understood even by themselves, as no two missionaries or prophets agree on the matters they talk about. Let these men pass you by, oh children! The best things in life are war, rum and tobacco, these a warrior can understand.
"Pass me, my white friend, the bottle, and now I have moistened my throat I will tell you first of all about our victory, and it is right that I should do so, because it happened to take place before our defeat, and it is well to speak of events in their due and proper order, also in recounting our glory I may perchance gain courage to tell you better about the way the soldiers took utu on the Ngaiterangi for their brothers we had killed.
"Now it fell out in this way. News had come to us of the fighting at Orakau and how the Taupo and Uriwera Maoris had cloaked themselves with glory defending that pah, and we all determined to do likewise provided the big white chief saw fit to honour us with war. Yes; true there had been plenty of soldiers in Tauranga for a long time, but up to this time they had remained quietly in their forts, and had not come out to molest us, we therefore took no notice of them, but proceeded with our peaceful avocations which at that time of the year was for the young men fishing, and as the soldiers occupied Tauranga, our usual fishing ground, we occupied the kainga near the sea-beach, close to the spot you white men now call the Gate Pah. No; it was not a fighting pah. It had no defences, nor was the position a fit one on which to build a fighting pah. It was simply a few raupo huts surrounded by a light fence, just strong enough to page 257keep the pigs out from destroying the fish we were drying on low stages, for, as you know well, friend, there is no timber suitable for building a pah or anything else within a long distance of the place. Besides, the nature of the ground was such that had we built a pah there the soldiers and ships with their big guns could have destroyed it at once.
"Now there were in the kainga one hundred and thirty Maoris, but out of that number there were only four of us who were real warriors—i.e. who knew from personal experience the joys and the responsibilities of war, the remainder were young men who had been entrusted to us to be taught all the arts becoming to a Maori warrior, and who were at that period learning to cure and catch fish. These young men, however, were all rangatera (well-born gentlemen). There were no slaves with us for it is not seemly to train rangatera with slave boys, and it so chanced that on this occasion these youths were to be called upon to do warriors' work before they had received their full instructions.
"Well, my friend, the fishing was progressing, and we had already caught, cured and sent to our homes very many loads of dried fish, and in a few days more we should have returned to our tribe. One day, however, we received news that some big ships with many soldiers had reached Tauranga and that the great chief himself was coming to attack us. This was a great honour, but we could not understand it, for the white men must have known that where we were fishing was not a suitable place for us to fight in, that it was only an open kainga, the taking of which would gain the soldiers no credit. Also the big white chief must have page 258heard that the bulk of our tribe were at that very time building large entrenchments at Te Ranga, which when complete would be suitable for him to test the courage of his warriors by attacking. Messages, however, we at once sent to our allies the Ngatiporou and Whakatohea to come to our assistance, and they did so, but were met and defeated at Maketu by the wild soldiers (the colonial irregulars) who killed very many of them; but of this we knew nothing as that fight took place on the same day as the one on which we were attacked by the real soldiers and the Ngati Jacks (naval brigade).
"These Ngati Jacks you must understand, boys, do not belong to the same tribes as the soldier, though they likewise fight for the Great White Queen. They are a strange people. I who have seen them know them well, and fell you youths to beware should you ever have the honour to fight against them. Great is the courage of the soldiers, but also very great is their folly, for they will walk up to an entrenchment in a body and suffer themselves to be shot down by our fire from under the pekerangi (outer fence of a pah), but the Ngati Jacks rush at the fence tumultuously, leap on one another's backs and in a breath are among you. Then, oh my sons, your hearts must be very strong should you want to stay and fight to the end. All the warriors of the Great White Queen swear very much when they are fighting, but the Ngati Jacks swear the most. Yes, my sons, they are a strange people. They have no villages, nor do they plant nor keep cattle, but live in the bowels of the ships in which they store much rum, salt page 259pork and tobacco. Neither do these men possess wives nor women, though when they come ashore it is well to send all women and girls far away as the Ngati Jacks are very prone to make love in a very unceremonious manner. They also roll from side to side as they Walk, drink much rum and eat tobacco.
"After we had despatched the messengers, we four warriors held a council to decide what we should do under the circumstances. It was plain we could offer no prolonged resistance in the kainga, yet we must fire at least one volley in honour of it, should the great white chief deem it worthy of attacking. Again, although its occupants were nearly all young men and boys, still they were born rangatera, and their honour and future reputation must not be jeopardised by retreating without making a show of resistance, moreover we could not insult the soldiers who had come so far to fight us by allowing them to occupy the place without being fired at. We had, however, heard it was the custom of the great white chief to fire many shots with his big guns before he ordered his storming party to charge, and if he did so on this occasion we, who were without entrenchments, must all be killed before we could fire one volley in honour of the kainga, ourselves or the soldiers, and our hearts grew dark with perplexity. It was then that our chief man spoke. He had fought against the soldiers in the Waikato and his war craft was great.
"These were his words: 'It is true, friends, we cannot defend the kainga against the soldiers, nor can we withstand the fire of their big guns, page 260but it is also necessary for the sake of our honour to remain in the kainga and fire one volley. Come, let us do this. We can cut much raupo and fern, and tie it to the fence so as to make it look solid and big. The ground is soft. We will dig trenches and pits in which we can hide from the fire of the big guns, and on that small hill we will erect a high flagstaff. Perchance the men who fire the big guns will mistake it for the pah, as may also the Ngati Jacks on the ships, and by firing at it instead of at the kainga we shall escape the anger of the big guns. Should this plan succeed enough of us may remain alive to fire a volley at the taua and so save the honour of all concerned.'
"We saw his words were very good so we acted on them, and by working hard all night we completed our preparations. Next day (29th April 1864) our scouts came in with the information that the soldiers were marching out of Tauranga to attack us, and that the ships were coming up the bay, so at once we ran and concealed ourselves in the pits and trenches we had dug.
"Presently we saw the soldiers arrive on the high ground and in a short time their big guns began to fire, when to our joy we at once saw that misled by the flagstaff and flag they were aiming at the hill on which it was erected some hundred fathoms away from the kainga. At this our hearts grew light, for the noise of the big guns, especially those belonging to the ships, sounded like thunder, while the hill on which the flagstaff stood was shrouded in flame and smoke, and groaned with the bursting of the big power-filled balls which, had they been directed at us, must have quickly destroyed every page 261man, so we thanked Wai Mati for his crafty foresight. For a long time the big guns thundered in their wrath while we lay hidden in our trenches, then they ceased, and Wai Mati, peeping out, called to us: 'Arise, children, the taua is advancing, line the fence and when I give the word fire one volley, then break and retreat through the swamp to Te Ranga.'
"We obeyed his order and when we had lined the fence we also peeped through it and saw a long line of soldiers with a line of Ngati Jacks in rear of them advancing to the attack. When they had reached within twenty fathoms Wai Mati gave the word and our fire darted out through the fence to meet them, then waiting no longer we ran to the rear of the kainga and broke through the back fence meaning to disperse in the raupo swamp, and each man make his way as best he might to Te Ranga.
"But as we broke through the fence for a breath we stood still with amazement, for there drawn up in line was another strong taua of soldiers whom the big white chief had sent round to intercept our retreat. What were we to do? We were all rangatera and it was not befitting to our rank to be taken prisoners, as that misfortune would reduce us to the level of slaves. No, we must conquer, escape, or die, and we felt justly angry with the want of consideration on the part of the great white chief for placing us in this dilemma. There was no time to delay, the loud shouts of the charging taua as they crashed through the fence and entered the kainga rang in our ears, while the intercepting soldiers were making ready to fire a volley page 262that would destroy us should we try to break through them. We must surrender or die. Then out cried Wai Mati and his voice sounded clear above the noise: 'Back into the kainga, my children. Let us die there fighting like rangatera with our tomahawks.'
"In a breath we turned, and every man, tomahawk in hand, rushed back into the village, and threw himself on to the astonished soldiers who had already occupied the place. Now happened a strange thing. Those soldiers who had been sent to cut us off commenced firing into the kainga, and the men working the big guns, seeing they had been misled by the flagstaff, recommenced their fire, this time aiming at the right spot, the ships likewise doing the same. Then truly was the mana of the soldiers inside the kainga very evil. They had charged like brave warriors, and having broken through the fence and having occupied the place, they had a perfect right to think they were entitled to the consideration of the big chief and his other tribes (regiments).
"But just at the time when they thought they had finished their work they found themselves not only called upon to resist the desperate charge of enemies whose sole longing was to kill and die, but also they were subjected to the fire of their own allies and the big ships with whom they were unaware they had any quarrel whatever. Nor had they any time to make inquiries as to why they were subjected to such treatment. They were falling fast by the bullets and shell of their allies and among them raged the Maoris, who, although most of them were boys, yet regardless page 263of death, only tried to kill. Is it to be wondered at that their courage turned to water and their hearts grew dark?
"The soldier is a brave man, none braver, but astonished and confused as these warriors were after a feeble resistance they broke and fled from the place, rushing in their flight against the Ngati Jacks, whose formation they broke and who they carried away with them in their race for safety. No, we did not pursue them, but jumped into our pits to save ourselves from the fire of the big guns and the other soldiers. The big guns and the soldiers, however, did not continue firing, many bugles were blown, the fire ceased and to our astonishment on jumping out of our trenches expecting another attack, we saw all the soldiers retreating, which they continued to do although we danced a war dance, so as to show them we were not all killed but ready to furnish them with another fight should their big chief deem us worthy to be attacked again. This he did not do as perchance he had by this time been informed that ours was only a fishing kainga and not a pah worthy of being attacked by such a redoubtable warrior, so he with all his men returned to Tauranga, and that evening we retreated through the swamps to Te Ranga.
"Be still, oh boy, and ask not foolish questions. It befits youth to listen attentively to the discourse of warriors so as to acquire wisdom and knowledge without interrupting, but I answer you this one. No; the white rangatera did not run away when their soldiers fled. It is not their custom to do so. Like as it is with us, a white rangatera must page 264conquer or die, or, if it be necessary to retreat, he must do so in a manner befitting his own honour and the authority he holds from the Great White Queen.
"On this occasion they did all that brave men could do to prevent their men from running away, and when this took place those who were left alive and unwounded faced us still, some were quickly killed or wounded by our young men whose wakahihi (fighting madness) was roused, before we, the trained warriors, could stop them. It is not right for rangatera to kill rangatera. When unable to resist they remain on the field of battle, restrained as they are by their sense of honour, nor can you take them prisoners, so that when we forced the young men to cease from killing, those white rangatera, who remained unwounded, retired slowly from the kainga, some of them saluting with their swords, which salute we returned, for this is a befitting thing to do between rangatera, be they Maoris or white men, all brave men should respect one another.
"Nor did we torture, nor even kill the wounded men left in the kainga, as although we had given up the missionaries and most of us had become Hau Haus, yet we had not adopted their ferocity. No, we made fern mi-mis for the wounded and brought them water to drink, one of their own officers, a Tohunga (medicine man) who was unwounded, remained with them and attended their hurts; him also we did not molest, but when the evening came we departed for Te Ranga much elated by our success.
"My throat is dry and my pannikin is empty, page 265pass therefore the bottle, my friend, and let me moisten my tongue before I tell you how we met the soldiers again at Te Ranga, and of how they took utu from us for their defeat.
"I have told you, my friend, that our allies were driven back at Maketu, so we for a time worked hard to complete the very strong entrenchments we were building at Te Ranga, and it would have been well for us had we finished them during the time the soldiers allowed us to do so; but on hearing the big white chief had left Tauranga we relaxed our efforts thereby earning our punishment. For remember this, you boys, that those tribes that during the time of peace do not prepare for war will soon be exterminated and their home fires extinguished. Repair therefore during the time of peace the fences of your pah, furbish up your guns, make cartridges and sharpen your tomahawks, for these are the suitable pursuits for a warrior to indulge in during his days of relaxation from war. We, the Tauranga Maoris, neglected to finish our entrenchments although they were far advanced towards completion, and the soldiers in their courtesy allowed us ample time to do so, but when two moons were nearly dead they lost patience with our dilatoriness and marched out of Tauranga to attack us.
"Now the construction of our entrenchments was in this manner. Te Ranga, oh friend, is a long ridge of a hill both sides of which are defended by impassable swamps, so that the soldiers could not outflank or surround us, and our retreat was open. For our defences we had dug high up and across the ridge long lines of rifle pits. This was page 266done in a very crafty way. Each pit would hold ten men, or perhaps twelve, they were dug deep though narrow, so that if the soldiers saw fit to bring their big guns, by crouching down we should be safe from their fire; also the rear lines of pits commanded those in front of it, so that, if driven out of one line, we could still hold the others.
"Now it had been our intention to erect fences in front of each line of rifle pits, so as to delay the rush of the soldiers should they charge us, and also to construct covered ways through which we could retreat with safety from one line to another; but this part of the work had not been done, although the lines of pits themselves were all completed. Two moons were nearly dead since our victory, when we heard that the soldiers under another war chief (Colonel Greer) were marching to attack us, and at the council held on receipt of this news each man blamed the other for our dilatoriness in not finishing our defences, but the time to do so was past. Nor could we blame the soldiers, the fault was ours, and we had to make the best of it. Wrangling amongst ourselves was no good, the soldiers were here, we must man the rifle pits and fight as best we could; even without the fences our position was a very strong one.
"Having plenty of time before us, as from our elevated position we could see the approaching soldiers still a long way off, we danced a war dance suitable for the occasion, and the Hau Hau prophets performed their incantations promising us victory with immunity from wounds and death, which promise made our hearts light, for, although page 267no warrior fears death, yet it is as well to live as long as possible, as perchance some portion of the missionaries' talk may be true and no man wishes to be burnt for ever. No, it is too long a time to be passed in that manner.
"But oh, my white friend, the Hau Hau prophets were humbugs and liars, or knew not their art perfectly, as wounds and death were the lot of the Maoris that day. Give me the bottle, oh friend, it makes me athirst with anger to think of the lies of those Hau Hau prophets, and my old wounds ache and burn again wlien I talk of them. Augh! I feel better, I will continue. Our war dance and incantations being over it was time to man the rifle pits, which we did full of confidence and hope. I myself was placed in one of the advanced pits, that the soldiers must first attack, and in the same pit were ten other Ngaiterangi, all of us being tried warriors of acknowledged courage and repute.
"Our orders were not to fire a shot until the senior war chief gave the word, and then to fire all together, those of us having tuparas (double-barrelled guns) being ordered not to fire the second shot until the smoke cleared away and then only to do so on receipt of the order, by doing this we thought that the men armed with muskets would gain time to cast about and reload, and this order was impressed on every man.
"Situated where I was I had a good sight of the advancing soldiers who came in the order of two fish [Maori term for two columns of fours], but as they drew nearer they deployed into line, when for a brief space of time they halted, then page 268with a rattle and flash they drew their long thin knives and fixed them on their muskets. This was done by all of them at the same breath, and the sight was a very fine one, but somehow my heart darkened, and for the space of three breaths my blood seemed to turn to icy cold water. They did not remain halted long, their chief spoke a few words to them and they uttered three loud shouts, then raising their rifles from the ground they moved on towards us, the sun flashing and playing on their long knives like it does on rippling waters.
"As they approached closer I could see their faces and the faces of the rangatera who led them, and I could see that each face carried on it a look of fierce determination quite different from the usual look of joyous excitement that is so becoming to a brave warrior when he advances to earn honour and renown in the glorious game of war.
"No, they had danced no war dance to excite their courage, nor had they indulged in incantations to save themselves from wounds or death, but they looked like men who, having a hard task before them, meant to see it through. They had come to exact utu and they received it.
"Well, friend, the soldiers advanced in the most perfect order, and, when about fifty fathoms or less from us, at the sound of a bugle, began to run, not tumultously, but each man in his place, while we looked along the barrels of our muskets, and with beating hearts awaited the order to fire. This at last came and the thunder of our volley rumbled among the hills, but it was at that same moment the Atua (God or spirit) of the soldiers page 269stood by and protected them. It happened in this way: about ten fathoms in front of our advanced line of rifle pits there was a natural declivity in the ground, the sides of which sloped gently, though the depth of it was perhaps four feet, and just as we received the order and fired the volley, the soldiers stepped into this declivity, so that our storm of bullets, instead of strewing the ground with dead and wounded men, went howling over their heads and injured not one of them. Oh, but the mana of the soldiers was very strong that day. We had no time to reload, nor even had the men with tuparas time to fire their second shot, for with the roar of a mighty wave bursting over a sunken reef, a long line of soldiers rushed through the smoke and flung themselves on us.
"Oh, ye boys, whose fathers all fell at Te Ranga, and who, with us few who survived, had among ourselves derided the fighting power of the soldiers, take heed and remember my word to you. If at war with the soldiers fight them in the bush or keep behind the strong fences of your pahs, but never, my children, let the soldiers of the Great White Queen, when they have fixed their long knives on their muskets, get so near to you as to fight chest to chest, for if you do so, your wives will soon become widows and your children orphans.
"Yes, oh friend, without a pause those white soldiers flung themselves upon us, their long knives stabbing deep, so that we fell like children before the fire of their wrath. I, as I have before related, had been posted in the advance line of page 270pits, and having fired my musket was trying to reload it when the soldiers burst through the smoke, but before I could handle a cartridge, a white rangatera sprang on me, nor did he come ceremoniously, for he came head first, which may be the custom of the white rangatera so to do when charging an enemy, for in the act of coming he ran me through the shoulder with his sword and we both fell to the bottom of the trench.
"Here I might have gained the mastery, for he was quite a youth, but before my strength could prevail or my friends help me, his men poured in on us, they likewise coming unceremoniously, for with many curses one drove his long knife through my breast while another struck me on the head with the butt of his musket, which made me see many stars, and I fell in a corner of the trench with my head swimming and unable to move hand or foot but still conscious, though the soldiers thinking I was dead left me alone, and turned to kill my friends in the pit. This they did very expeditiously, for although the Maoris fought with the greatest courage still they could not withstand the anger of the soldiers who had come to take utu for their past defeat. Again, circumstanced as we were, we could not retreat, for as our men tried to scramble out of the pits, which were deep, those soldiers who had not jumped in on top of us slew them, and the slaughter was very great, while those soldiers, being placed opposite to the open spaces between the pits, finding no Maoris to kill there, rushed on without a pause and threw themselves into the second line of trenches, where they slew and slew, page 271for, although the Maoris who held the trenches did all that brave warriors could do, still none of us on that day could withstand the impetuous rush of the white men, who did not pause to fire but just charged on with their long knives.
"Augh! I grow thirsty again talking of that disastrous day. The bottle, friend; perchance the rum may lighten my heart. Now I will finish my long story.
"Soon the fight was over and the few Maoris who escaped the fury of the soldiers had fled away into the swamp and bush. Now the white men had time to come back to examine the dead and assist the wounded Maoris, for it is the custom of the soldiers, fighting being over, to try and cure the men whom just previously they had been doing their best to kill. This, my sons, is a right and wise thing for them to do, for the Great White Queen has so many soldiers that should all of them fighting in this country be killed, still she has plenty more to send, whereas we Maoris are so few that we miss sadly every man lost, so that unless the wounded be made whole and the women and children protected it would soon come to pass that there would be no more Maoris left to fight, nor anyone to take their place to test the soldiers' courage and train them for war. This being so the white officers are very careful to repair the hurts of wounded Maoris.
"Presently a party of soldiers came to the trench in which I lay, and finding that I was the only one there to whom life still clung they lifted me carefully out and bore me on a blanket to their medicine-man, who bandaged my wounds, page 272and after many weeks I was made whole. This was the last fight I had with the white man. No, I did not join Te Kooti, nor did I fight against you, my friend, up at Taupo, for I remained in my kainga, my wounds giving me much trouble. And now, my friend, I have told you all things and will again moisten my throat with the good rum.
"And oh, you boys, this is my word to you: think not of utu against the white men for the slaying of your fathers; the war is past, the soldiers have gone, and we now are all children of the Great White Queen. We must be friends with the white settlers, and, like them, obedient to the Queen's law, and perchance when you boys are full-grown she, when she sends her soldiers to war, may in her great kindness remember that she has brown children as well as white, and she may send and say: 'Come, ye Maoris, and fight my battles for me beside my white soldiers' Augh! that will be great honour, for perchance in those days many descendants of Maori warriors will charge side by side with the White Queen's soldiers. Yes, and perchance the spirits of your ancestors may be permitted to see those of their blood cut their way deeper into the ranks of the White Queen's enemies than even the soldiers can go. Stand up, you boys, raise your tomahawks on high and cry with loud voices: 'Hip, hip, hip, hurrah for Queen Wikitoria.' No, hold not out your pannikins; rum befits old warriors, not boys. You shall shout for her and perchance may fight for her; I who am old will drink her health. But what is this? Lo, I can see two bottles, two white page 273friends and many Maori boys. Surely this is caused by eating too freely the flesh of pigeons, or talking of my old wounds makes my head go round, or perchance it is witchcraft. It is meet for me to retire to rest, as the whole earth and stars spin round. I spin also. God bless Queen Wikitoria. The bottle is empty, but Kiora, Kiora, Kiora."
And the old warrior, chock-full of rum and loyalty, tried to get up, but pitched head first on his soft bed of fern, where the rising generation of Ngaiterangi carefully covered him up with blankets and he slept the sleep of the brave and just.
Now the trouble caused by the defeat at the Gate Pah did not end when the troops retreated to Tauranga, for recriminations, charges and countercharges flew like hail, while the New Zealand press wrote the usual twaddle that ignorant editors generally do write on matters of war; but there was one paper in Auckland that went too far, as it accused the Naval Brigade of cowardice, an accusation as untrue as it was unjust, and the gallant Ngati Jacks swore they would take utu.
Now the Ngati Jacks were not given to writing to the newspapers or any tommy-rot of that sort. They were men of action; they would right their own wrongs and teach the miserable ink-slinging stool-polisher decorum in their own way. They had lost a number of officers and shipmates, and it was through no fault of theirs that, after the Tommies had fallen back, they had not been allowed to take the place and finish up the job ship-shape and Bristol fashion.page 274
Weil, a, short time after the disaster the ships anchored in Auckland Harbour, and in due course of time liberty was given to one watch from each ship to go on shore; and no sooner had they landed than some five hundred of them paraded of their own accord, and marched quietly through the streets of Auckland until they came to the one in which the newspaper office was located. Nor had they come without suitable arguments, for they had brought with them a huge hawser and two gigantic snatch-blocks. Now the editor's house and office were, like all the other buildings in Auckland, constructed of wood. It was an imposing two-storeyed edifice, and on the blue-jackets reaching it they quietly placed strong pickets at both ends of the street, made fast the blocks to old cannons sunk into the ground, passed the hawser through the editor's upper windows, and then, with one hundred men tailing on at each end of the bit of string, delivered their protest and ultimatum. The latter was short, sweet and significant. Either the editor must print at once an ample apology and own up he had lied, or down would come his whole bag of tricks.