The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume II: The Hauhau Wars, (1864–72)
chapter 36: OPERATIONS AT WAIKARE-MOANA
chapter 36: OPERATIONS AT WAIKARE-MOANA
Major J. T. Large
Major Large began his military career as a volunteer and scout in the early operations against Te Kooti, and served with distinction in the arduous bush expeditions until the close of the fighting in the Urewera Country. Later he was for some years New Zealand Government Agent and Resident Magistrate on the Island of Mangaia, Cook Group.
One day the Hauhaus in their flotilla of canoes and the whaleboat sallied out from the beach below Matuahu pa and made for the middle of the lake. Mr. J. T. Large and a party of the best men in the Native force manned the two Government canoes and the dinghy and went out to meet the Hauhaus. As soon as the two miniature war-fleets came within range of each other sharp firing commenced. The accurate fire of Large's canoe-men and dinghy crew proved too much for the enemy, who were forced to return to their stronghold on the north side of the lake. The Government force suffered no casualties.
On the 21st May an armed party of Ngaietu volunteers, under the command of Mr. Large and accompanied by the chief Peneamine, went out scouting in a canoe around the shore of page 403 the Whanganui-a-Parua arm of the lake. They were all picked men of their tribe, practised hands with the paddle, adepts in canoe-work, and mostly good shots. Dr. Scott thus described the encounter which followed:—
“Cautiously coasting along the inequalities of the shore, with their rifles loaded and ready to hand, the canoe-men achieve the distance to the end of the bight without incident, when suddenly, near a small cultivation and a whare or two, they sight two Urewera men scouting, like themselves, in a canoe. Chase is given, but the Hauhaus paddle frantically for the shore, and the chance of drawing the first blood will be lost if they once gain the bush-clad strand. Peneamine resolves upon a long shot, and with a word, steadying the canoe, adjusts his rifle-sight and fires. One Maori drops listlessly over the side of the canoe and remains there; the other jumps overboard, reaches the shore, and seeks safety in the bush, whither it would not be prudent to follow him. A cry of triumph rises from the perpetrators of the apparently cowardly but absolutely necessary deed. As the first blood had been shed on the right side, the omens are propitious, and they exultingly shout ‘Mate rawa!’ (‘Quite dead!rsquo;) as they cautiously land and inspect the corpse and canoe, and proceed to visit the whares, carefully, however, leaving a sufficient guard on the canoes, and advancing with rifles cocked, bated breath, and that stealthy yet quick pace which was particularly noticeable in the after-skirmishing of this sub-tribe. They do not find much loot, however—some £2, with a beautifully bound English prayer-book, a gun or two, and other miscellaneous articles; only one gun, a dead man, and two paddles remain in the canoe. Rather disappointed as to the spoils, but jubilant in the first success, they return to camp, and that evening the war-dance echoes and re-echoes over the lake-waters, responded to by the firing of musketry, braying of horns, and derisive yells from the Hauhau villages.”
The next day (22nd May) two Hauhaus came off from Matuahu in a canoe under a flag of truce, and, lying off the camp at Onepoto, opened negotiations with the Government side. In response to a demand for surrender they replied that they would hold a consultation at their pa and report the result next day. All this, however, was only a ruse to gain time or to reconnoitre Hamlin's position, for shortly afterwards the outlying scouts reported the passage of eight canoes, four of them very large ones, and the whaleboat, all fully manned, from Tikitiki to Matuahu, and thence to Ohiringi, on the south side of the lake, thus menacing the rear of the Government position and the communications with Wairoa. Lieutenant Witty counted twenty-five men in one canoe, and the whole detachment was probably page 404 about one hundred and fifty. However, the Hauhaus made no attack, and quietly returned to hold their main positions at Matuahu and Tikitiki.
The principal men of the native force were very much averse to crossing the lake and attacking the Hauhau positions. However, the officers contrived by stratagem to get the better of the chiefs. “Our leaders,” writes Major Large, “gave out that on the morrow we were going foraging for food amongst the plantations on the Wairoa side of the lake; but we took care that none but the best men were of the party, which was under the command of Lieutenant Witty. Having launched our two canoes and the dinghy, we started round the east side of the lake in the direction of Whanganui-a-Parua, the north-east end. On reaching the prominent headland Matakitaki we made a dash for the opposite shore. It was a race and I and three Ngaietu men—Pine Pape, Teira Morutu, and Hirini Kereru—in the dinghy were the first to land in the enemy territory, closely followed by the others in the canoes. By great good fortune the Hauhaus did not anticipate that we would cross at that place, and were not there to oppose our landing, otherwise they might have inflicted heavy loss on us before we got to the shore. On landing we advanced in skirmishing order through the bush with which that side of the lake was covered, going in the direction of Matuahu, a well-fortified pa, on a headland. We met with no opposition till we got to an old clearing named Taumataua, when we received a rattling volley from the top of a cliff commanding it. However, it did little damage, as we had cover. Lieutenant Witty soon had the Hauhaus outflanked, and we drove them back. Here we camped, and sent the canoes and boat across to Onepoto for reinforcements and supplies, and our surgeon, Dr. Scott, arrived. The following day the Hauhaus attacked us again, but we repulsed them. Amongst their casualties was the chief Enoka, who was killed. The day following we advanced in force on Matuahu, the great stronghold of the enemy, which we found evacuated.”
The contingent spent over a month at Matuahu, where the whole force concentrated. A small party of the Waikare-moana Hauhaus, under Hona te Makarini and Hori Wharerangi, came in under a flag of truce and surrendered. They reported that some of their people had perished in the snows of Huiarau, the mountain-range between Waikare-moana and Ruatahuna, in retiring from the Government force.
Ki nga upoko-kohua
I huri atu ra
Ki te Hauhau—e!
Pehi ra waiho te Kawana
Tu ana tono atu
Kia Kite ia i nga wai-Ko pikopiko
O Waikare ra!
Toia tu ana taku haere
Ki te whakawhitianga ki Whakaari,
Te mauri aroha tiaki
Na taku pa i Tikitiki.
Ko wai ra kai roto?
Ko koe na, Hori.
E tapu ra koe.
Ka whana atu au
Ka haere ki te rapa
I taku hara ia Te Kooti,
Na te oma Te Waru,
I rere ai,
I ora ai,
Rere manga tamoe
Great is my anger at those cursed ones of Ngati-Matewai who have turned them to the Hauhaus. Leave them to the Governor standing there, waiting to see the many-armed waters of the sea of Waikare. Pull away! Here we go crossing the lake to Whakaari pa. Jealously, lovingly, this our pa is guarded at Tikitiki. Who is within? ‘Tis Hori! Thou'rt sacred now, safe from our guns. I go in chase of him who led the tribes to war, Te Kooti, with whom Te Waru fled. They're flying now, flying for life, by mountain-peak and cliff, by deep-hidden waters, and through the snowy wilderness.
The force now had abundant means of transport, and made raids to the Wairau and Marau branches of Waikare-moana. Parties visited all the settlements round the borders of the lake, destroying whares, canoes, and other property of the Hauhaus, and bringing away the food, in retaliation for the forays on the coast settlements.page 407
After this short and successful campaign, conducted under winter conditions, the native contingent returned to the Wairoa and dispersed to their homes. Later an Armed Constabulary station was garrisoned at Onepoto and remained an outpost of importance until the final flight of Te Kooti from the Urewera Mountains in 1872.
The captured Hauhau position at Matuahu was described as follows in an account written by Dr. Scott shortly after the war:—
“Matuahu, Te Kooti's so-called impregnable fortress, did not by any means sustain its formidable reputation. The bold promontory, jutting out precipitously into the lake, surmounted landward by a lofty bush-clad hill, constituted a natural defensive position of great strength, which, with a few artificial adjuncts, might have been rendered really impregnable to ordinary means of assault from the lake, while a few rifle-pits, barricades, or stockades of fallen trees on the steep of the wooded hill would have effectually protected the rear. The Hauhaus had commenced the formation of an earthwork on the crest of the hill and on each flank of the ascent, but, cowed and apparently demoralized by the certainly remarkable failure of their ambuscades and volleys at short range, together with the loss of one of their most determined leaders (Enoka), they evacuated them on our advance, without a show of resistance, as also the adjacent pa, and retreated in boats and canoes to the opposite headland and settlement, Tikitiki.
“The Matuahu Village, including Te Kooti's runanga house, a large and spacious building elaborately carved and embellished, consisted of from fifteen to twenty houses of various kinds, mostly of the wharepuni type, but in many instances of a kind peculiar to the lake denizens and the inhabitants of the cold mountainous Urewera Country. These subterranean abodes were usually built under a projective bank in the side of a declivity, or were otherwise heavily earthed over, and possessed no means of ventilation other than that afforded by a sliding door of small dimensions, impossible to enter except in a stooping position. No windows, of course, enlightened these troglodytic dwellings, to which the Urewera resort during the stormy winter months. The much-vaunted fortifications—so formidable in aspect from the other side of the lake—simply did not exist in their apparently efficient defensive completeness, resolving themselves mostly into the natural sharply defined contour of the edge of the rocky cape, or, at most, hollow-ways, banks, and rudimentary earthworks evidently thrown up by the wily Urewera more with a view to affect the vision of spectators from the other side than for actual military use.
“Snugly ensconced in one of these recesses hollowed out in the bank, and affording from the parapet formed by the excavations a wide view of the opposing pa of Tikitiki and of the neighbouring arms and inlets. I found the officers of the expedition and the Armed Constabulary orderlies. They had rigged a tent, consisting of the united oil-sheets of the party (seven in number), fastened securely to the parapet and stretching to a sapling of corresponding length secured to two stout uprights in front, thus forming a tolerably comfortable domicile and defensive earthwork combined. In front blazed a large fire of logs, while scattered over the peninsula burned numerous other fires indicating the bivouacs of the many sections of tribes and hapus of which the field force was composed. The page 408 glare of so many large fires within so circumscribed an area shone refulgently in the dark starless night clouds, and Tikitiki, Matakitaki, and Onepoto, where the enemy, our rearguard, and Sergeant Monahan's party lay respectively, all contributed their lesser blazes to the stupendous veil of billowy, vaporous crimson which floated heavily over the lake.
“Morning dawned, and with it broke upon us one of those violent winter storms for which Waikare-moana is notorious, the sleet and rainladen gusts of wind rushing down the ravines of the mountain-ranges with tremendous force and literally tearing up the surging lake-waters, hurling them against the cliffs and high into the air, while the whole surface of the moana was whitened with foam. Under such circumstances marine communication with Onepoto and Sergeant Monahan (in charge of supplies) was quite impossible, and as overland communication was equally out of the question, I speedily obtained some enlightenment as to the ways and means of our officer's mess. The fare was ample, though without much variety, and the cuisine an unvarying success, inasmuch as it was impossible for it to be otherwise. The rations consisted of potatoes (ex preterea nihil), or, as Mr. James Carroll, sen., the facetious one of the party, observed: ‘Potatoes for breakfast, spuds for dinner, and Paddy's apples for tea.’ And when it was considered that among the two or three hundred men encamped within the narrow confines of the peninsula not a grain of salt was to be had, and that they had all subsisted on the like fare since the occupation of the lake, some idea may be formed of this not very agreeable phase of our expeditionary experiences.
“But fortunately the storms of mountainous regions, though extremely violent, are usually of short duration. We were not long in relieving Sergeant Monahan and Messrs. Davis and Banks of their charge—three hundred sheep and other provisions for the force. The Maoris, after refreshing the inner man after their manner for a day or two, began to think (stimulated as usual by their European leaders) of further aggressive movements. An assault by lake and land on Tikitiki was being organized, when the display of a flag of truce on that promontory signified a desire on the part of the Urewera to treat for peace. Consequently, on the 16th June, 1870, while two heavily armed canoes were kept under the shadow of our headland, fully on the alert and prepared to dart out and across the lake if any treachery was manifested, Mr. Hamlin crossed over to Tikitiki, meeting there the three Urewera chiefs Te Makarini, Moko-nui-a Rangi, and Hori Wharerangi. After an amicable conference the chiefs departed for Ruatahuna bearing the Government ultimatum of unconditional surrender to Paerau, Te Whenuanui, and the Urewera there assembled.”
While the negotiations were going on, the Government force explored all the arms and inlets of the lake by boat and canoe, and the various overland tracks were noted for future use if necessary. Immense quantities of potatoes—one estimate was a sufficient amount to sustain a thousand men for fifteen months or more—were destroyed by the native parties. More than a hundred cultivations were destroyed by process of breaking down the fences and turning up the potatoes to the frost. The whares in all the villages were looted and burned; indeed, the whole lake-shore was devastated.
It was towards the end of June that Mr. Large's secret expedition to Mahungarerewai and Hereheretaua, at the head of the northern outlet of the lake, revealed the fact that the enemy had all gone inland to Ruatahuna, leaving their large canoes and whaleboat at the landing-place at Hereheretaua.
Colonel Herrick's futile expedition to Waikare-moana is 1869 cost £42,000. Hamlin and Witty's native force, which subjugated the Hauhaus of the lake district, incurred an expense of only £3,000.