The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume II: The Hauhau Wars, (1864–72)
Chapter 5: CAMERON'S WEST COAST CAMPAIGN
Chapter 5: CAMERON'S WEST COAST CAMPAIGN
THE WESTERN SIDE of the Island, from Wanganui to the White Cliffs in North Taranaki, was the spacious scene in 1865 of an indecisive campaign and a number of small expeditionary operations. Immediately after the New Year Lieut.-General Cameron took the field in the Wanganui district, under instructions to take possession of the Waitotara Block, which had been purchased by the Crown but reoccupied by the natives, and to operate against the hostile tribes from the Kai-iwi to Taranaki. The campaign was chiefly remarkable for the slowness and caution of Cameron's advance, and for the acrimonious correspondence betwen the General and Governor Grey on the conduct of operations. The West Coast tribes had concentrated their forces on the south side of the Waitotara River, and built a strong fortification on the summit of Weraroa Hill, a bold flat-topped height overlooking the river and the surrounding country for many miles. The position can be seen from the present bridge at Waitotara Township, looking up the river. Here at the large village of Perekama, on the river-side flat below, several hundreds of Hauhaus from the Wanganui to the Waitara had assembled, inspired by the presence of their prophet Te Ua Haumene; and when it became known that the General was about to open a war for the possession of the coast and for the occupation of the newly confiscated lands in Taranaki a formidable effort was made to bar his progress northward from the Kai-iwi, which was then Wanganui's frontier. The Hauhaus had carried their forays to within a few miles of Wanganui, and had lately murdered Captain James Duff Hewett, a settler who lived near the Kai-iwi, about eight miles from the town. He was the son of Lieut.-Colonel W. Hewett, of the Rifle Brigade, the last English officer who fought at Waterloo. Hewett's body was decapitated, and the head was carried about the Hauhau settlements on a pole. His heart was also cut out and taken away.
Cameron, marching from Wanganui with about two thousand Imperial troops and two field-guns, pitched his first camp (24th page 47 January, 1865) at Nukumaru, in the South Waitotara district, a short distance inland of the coastal sandhills. The position, on a practically open plain, dotted with small lakes, was fifteen miles from Wanganui; to the north-west was Weraroa pa. High toetoe reeds, with flax and tutu bushes, clothed the level land; near at hand on the right flank of the march was the bush. The camp was suddenly attacked, in daylight, by a strong force of Maoris, supported by a large body in cover. The first volley from the toetoe and flax laid low about a dozen men, and the warriors charged right into the camp with gun and tomahawk. Lieutenant Johnston, A.A.G., and fifteen men were killed and thirty-two wounded in this sharp encounter. Major Witchell and his mounted men (Military Train) charged with the sword and forced the Maoris back into cover. The native loss was rather more than the British, but the Hauhaus had the satisfaction of surprising a British camp in broad daylight, and, as the sequel proved, of giving General Cameron such a dislike to the neighbourhood of the bush that for the rest of the campaign he kept as close as possible to the sea-coast.
On the following day the West Coast native army made an even more determined attack upon the General's forces, and drove in the pickets, killing several men. There was heavy skirmishing in the open, and the Maoris fought with great determination and considerable tactical skill. Their fighting leader was Patohe, a very intelligent and bold Hauhau soldier.
Among the Hauhaus who fought at Nukumaru was the late Te Kahu-pukoro, the Ariki of the Ngati-Ruanui Tribe. Te Kahu-pukoro was then only a lad of about thirteen, but he had already fought and been wounded at Sentry Hill. (See Chapter 2.) Describing the attack on Cameron's camp, the old warrior declared that it was a pakanga pai (an excellent fight), in which the opposing armies met in the open and got to close quarters. Armed with a gun, he took part in the charge into the General's camp, and fought again on the following day. It was a more satisfactory battle than the affair at Sentry Hill in the previous year, where all the odds were against the Maori braves who attempted the assault of a walled fort.
Another Maori veteran of Nukumaru, Tu-Patea te Rongo, gave an animated description of the two days' fighting. Tu-Patea, who lives at Taumaha, is the leading chief of the Pakakohi, Tribe, of the Patea district; he fought all though the West Coast War, and in 1868–69 was one of Titokowaru's picked fighting band, the Tekau-ma-rua. He is a grey-moustached old soldier, of big athletic frame and strong features, a good type of the active fellows who kept the coast in turmoil up to the beginning of the “seventies.”page 48
“Nukumaru,” said Tu-Patea, “was my first experience of battle. There were perhaps two thousand Maoris assembled on the Waitotara to bar the General's march northward. We all assembled at Weraroa pa, a few miles away, and from there marched down towards the sea to attack the troops. Among the warriors were men from the Waikato and Ngati-Maniapoto, besides a great many from Taranaki. Of our tribe, the chiefs were my father Hau-matao, Tu-mahuki Rongonui, Paraone Tutere, and Kahukura-nui. Te Ua-Haumene, the chief prophet of the Pai-marire, was the man at the head of the assemblage at Weraroa, but our fighting general was Patohe. Te Ua was an atua—a god. He remained in Weraroa pa while the army was out under Patohe engaging the soldiers. I marched with my father—I was only about thirteen years old—to get my first lesson in the art of war. I carried a short-handled tomahawk. My war-path clothing consisted only of a koka of flax, a short roughly dressed mat worn as a rapaki around the waist.
“The plain at Nukumaru was covered with fern, flax, and toetoe, and from the cover of this our men attacked the troops. In the first day's fighting my uncle Tama-kanohi was shot. I watched the fight. One of our warriors, Pita Weka, charged right into an officer's tent in the camp and shot the officer dead. (This was Adjutant-General Johnston.) Pita was killed in the battle at Te Ngaio, near Kakaramea, not long afterwards. He was a big active young man, a renowned toa taua, a bold and experienced warrior. Besides his double-barrel gun, he was armed with a whalebone patu, worn in his girdle.
“Our warriors rose from their cover and charged on the soldiers at the command ‘Kokiritia!’ from the chiefs, and then ‘Puhia’ (‘fire’), was the word. When the pakeha opened fire on us we held our right hands up on a level with the face, palm open, and cried ‘Hapa, hapa!’ (‘Pass over!’), the charm which Te Ua told us would prevent the bullets from striking us. Those who acted according to Te Ua's instructions in every respect were not hit. He had his two atua, the gods Rura and Riki; but he was also, as I have said, an atua himself.
* Some writers have wrongly credited Hone Pihama, Patohe's younger brother, with the leadership of the Hauhau forces at Nukumaru. Hone was not distinguished as a fighter. The brothers were chiefs of the Ngati-Hine and Tangahoe Tribes. Ngati-Hine, whose lands extended from Wairoa (now Waverley) to the Tangahoe River, were a particularly enterprising warrior tribe. Hone Pihama was conspicuous in the later days of the Taranaki War as a friend of the Europeans.
“The fighting on the first day at Nukumaru lasted well into the night. We had twenty-three men killed. On the second day we attacked again, when the troops were at dinner; we were all determined to prevent Cameron's advance up the coast. There were Maoris there from all along the West Coast from Otaki up to Waikato. One warrior was a near relative of Rewi Maniapoto; he fell at Te Ngaio a few weeks later. There was a British picket near the scrub in a small field-work. The Maoris crept into this with their tomahawks and disposed of the picket.”
Lieut.-General Cameron, shifting camp to a more secure position close to the sandhills, remained there until the night of the 2nd February, when he moved northward. His army had now been augmented to 2,300 of all arms. Marching at night with half the force, he crossed the Waitotara near the mouth on a raft of casks, made by the Royal Engineers, early on the morning of the 3rd. The troops camped on level ground on the right bank. A redoubt for 150 men was built on a precipitous cliff on the left bank, and two field-guns were mounted on it.
On the night of the 15th February this force marched to the mouth of the Patea River; the troops were replaced at the Waitotara by the force left at Nukumaru on the 2nd. The General remained for about a week on the left bank of the Patea, where a redoubt for 200 men was constructed. The main body then crossed to the right bank, a short distance seaward of the present Town of Patea, where a good position was selected on the high ground immediately above the river. Here an entrenched line, with a redoubt in the centre, was formed; the entrenchment enclosed a large area of ground, on which buildings were erected some time later for a large depot of provisions as well as huts for 600 men.
At the end of January a Government notice was issued proclaiming confiscated native lands in Middle Taranaki as open for settlement under the New Zealand Settlements Act, 1863, and later in the year the confiscated areas of Ngati-Ruanui and other tribal lands were proclaimed. The total area confiscated in the Taranaki-Wanganui district amounted to about 980,000 acres, of which a certain proportion was afterwards returned. The country belonging to Ngati-Ruanui and kindred tribes proclaimed was defined by outer boundaries extending from Mount Egmont to Parikino on the Wanganui River, and thence to the sea, and northward to the Waimate Stream. Including Waikato and other conquered districts, the total area at first proposed to be confiscated was about 8,000,000 acres; but even when this was reduced to 3,000,000 acres there was strong condemnation in some quarters of what was termed the Colonial Government policy of spoliation. The sharp differences of opinion between the Imperial authorities and the Colonial Government on this and other features of the war hastened the day when the people of New Zealand came to rely on their own military resources.
The Wanganui friendly natives requested the Government to permit them to attack the Weraroa pa, and, although the Imperial officers discouraged the proposal in every possible way, the Governor presently authorized the expedition and took personal command of the field. The Government also set about enlisting white volunteers for the defence of the frontier and occupation of the confiscated lands, and by the middle of July there were available, besides the Wanganui Native Contingent of about 200 men, two companies of Rangers (with Von Tempsky in command of one) and the Wanganui Yeomanry Cavalry. The Wanganui Maori Contingent was under Captain Thomas McDonnell with Ensign W. E. Gudgeon as his adjutant—officers who both attained field rank and gave their country distinguished service all through the Hauhau campaigns. The Yeomanry Cavalry was a newly formed corps of frontier horse. The troopers, mostly settlers and their sons, were armed with sword, Terry and Calisher carbine, and revolver; the uniform was Garibaldi jumper, knee-breeches, and long boots. Each man was served out with a waterproof poncho after the Mexican pattern, with an opening in the middle for it to go over his head; it covered not only the rider but his carbine and saddle from the rain. Captain Percy commanded the troop.page 52
The force camped at Maeneene, between Nukumaru and Weraroa, and negotiations, conducted chiefly by Captain McDonnell, were carried on with the Hauhau leaders in Perekama below the pa on the hill-crest. Sir George Grey himself, with the old chief Hori Kingi te Anaua, went up close to the pa to summon the garrison to surrender, and was in a position of imminent danger until some of the chiefs persuaded him to retire. The Hauhaus declared they would never surrender. Grey persevered in his preparations, and induced Major-General Waddy to send 400 Imperial troops to Maeneene as a support. On the 20th July a force of about 400 men (Yeomanry Cavalry, dismounted, Forest Rangers, and Maori Contingent), under Major Rookes, executed a skilful turning movement, in very bad weather, by marching under cover of the bush along the Karaka plateau, in rear of the Weraroa, and, in the night, taking up a position commanding the Hauhau villages of Perekama and Arei-ahi. The operation was completely successful. McDonnell and his Maoris surrounded and captured Arei-ahi with all the people, and about sixty fighting-men were taken prisoners, including some twenty warriors of the Ngati-Pukeko Tribe, who had travelled all the way overland from Whakatane, Bay of Plenty, to join in the West Coast fighting, and who were now rounded up just after their arrival. Fifty guns were taken. The prisoners were kept in a stockade hastily run up, and were then, with some others, shipped off to Wellington. There, to the number of eighty, they were placed on board a prison-hulk moored off Kai-wharawhara. Most of them escaped, with their old chief Tataraimaka (who had planned the escape), by swimming ashore one stormy night; many were drowned in the struggle for life. The swimmers devotedly helped their chief ashore; a number of the heroic men perished in the effort.
* Perekama was the headquarters of the Nga-Rauru and kindred tribes, whose warriors in 1864–65 had a military drill modelled on that of the British soldiers. They had frequent alarms, to accustom them to the emergency of sudden attack, and they had buglers who blew calls on a tetere, a long trumpet made of twisted-up green blades of flax. A veteran of the Wanganui Yeomanry Cavalry recalls the fact that on the afternoon and night march via the Karaka plateau the flanking column heard the flax-bugle calls of the Weraroa garrison across the intervening valley sounding very sweet and clear.
The bloodless capture by means of strategy—otherwise the application of brains to military problems—of a position which General Cameron had declined to attack with two thousand men was a distinct triumph for the Governor, and it tended to widen the breach between him and the Imperial commander. The relief of Pipiriki was the next operation undertaken by the colonial forces.
In the meantime General Cameron had marched in his deliberate way up the coast and had established posts at several places as far as the Wai-ngongoro River. The principal opposition he encountered was at Te Ngaio, in the open country between Patea and Kakaramea. The General, with about a thousand men of all arms, moved out from Patea camp on the 15th March for the Wai-ngongoro. At about two miles from Patea volleys were fired into the column by a body of Maoris posted under cover of a ridge parallel to the line of march, on the right, near the Patea River. The advance-guard was thrown out in skirmishing order, bringing round the left flank to attack the natives. The Hauhaus fell back in good order towards Kakaramea, fighting well in the open, with deliberation and bravery. There were about two hundred natives in action, and for all their inadequate numbers and inferior arms they opposed a manful front to the invading army. Retiring along the swampy ground toward Kakaramea they made the most of their knowledge of the terrain and their native genius in skirmishing, but nearly half of them were shot down. Eighty natives were killed. It was the heaviest blow in point of causualties that the Hauhau tribes suffered in the West Coast War.
Tu-Patea, of Taumaha, describing this engagement of Te Ngaio, which was fought over his own tribal lands, said:—
“I followed my elders into action, armed with my tomahawk. Over two hundred of our people came out to fight in the open. There were five women among them, not armed, but urging the warriors on. One of them, Tutaki's wife, was killed. The principal chiefs were Patohe, my father Hau-Matao, Te Waka-taparuru Paraone Tutere, and Te Mahuki. Our prophet was the old man Huriwaka, from Otoia, on the Patea. His god was Rura. Huriwaka, before the fight began that morning, prophesied saying, ‘To-day's battle will be good; it will be a favourable fight for us.’ But we were beaten, and eighty of our people fell on the field of Te Ngaio.”
There were many instances of native heroism and daring. An eye-witness, Dr. Grace, surgeon in the force, wrote: “The page 54 dignified and martial bearing of the Maori touched the hearts of our soldiers.” In the field hospital afterwards General Cameron asked a badly wounded warrior, “Why did you resist our advance? Could you not see we were in overwhelming force?” The Maori replied, “What would you have us do? This is our village; these are our plantations. Men are not fit to live if they are not brave enough to defend their own homes.”*
The tribes engaged in the fighting at Te Ngaio were chiefly Ngati-Hine, Pakakohi, and Ngati-Ruanui. It was the final attempt in strength to dispute the right of way with General Cameron. The British casualties were a private of the 57th shot dead and three men wounded.
That afternoon the British force encamped in the captured village of Kakaramea, where a redoubt for 150 men was at once commenced. The position was about six miles from the coast and close to the Patea River; the present Township of Kakaramea is more inland and on higher ground.
On the following day (16 March, 1865) the column moved on and camped at the Maori village Manutahi, three miles from the historic village of Manawapou, on the sea-coast. Detachments were sent to Manawapou, which was on the left bank of the Ingahape River, at the mouth; and, as it seemed practicable to beach boats on the sandy shore on the opposite side of the river, redoubts were constructed on the high ground to cover a depot of stores.
* “The soldiers,” wrote Dr. Grace in his “Sketch of the New Zealand War,” “no longer desired to kill the Maori, and disliked more than ever being killed by him.” He heard the sympathetic Irish soldiers say, after the exhibition of native bravery at Kakaramea (Te Ngaio):
“Begorra, it's a murder to shoot them. Sure they are our own people, with their potatoes and fish, and children. Who knows but they are Irishmen, with faces a little darkened by the sun, who escaped during the persecutions of Cromwell!”
Dr. Grace was in error, however, in a statement that very few of the Maoris were killed in this battle in the flax and toetoe. The report of Colonel T.R. Mould, R.E., giving twenty-three as the number killed and mortally wounded, was equally astray. Wells's “History of Taranaki” makes the loss thirty-three killed, left on the field. A list of casualties in Gudgeon's work gives the killed at fifty-six—also under the mark. It was natural that the Maori losses should have been underestimated in the official reports of this and other engagements, as most of the dead were usually carried off the field. It is clear now from the narratives given me by Tu-Patea and other natives that the Hauhaus lost eighty killed at Te Ngaio, besides having many wounded.
A veteran transport bullock-driver who witnessed the encounter at Te Ngaio says: “After the battle I saw the dead body of the biggest Maori I ever set eyes on—he must have been 7 feet high.”
A small steamer managed (8th April) to send a boat on shore at the Wai-ngongoro mouth with some provisions. Surf-boats were provided there and at the Manawapou, but there were numerous capsize and some fatalities. In a boat capsize in the surf at Manawapou seven men were drowned. These accidents, illustrating the difficulty of working this harbourless coast to land stores for the troops, and the knowledge that the land route towards New Plymouth was difficult as well as hostile, convinced the General that it would be prudent to retrace his steps. Accordingly the force marched down the coast again, leaving 150 men (57th Regiment) in each of the redoubts on the two sides of the river and a force at Manawapou. Cameron left Patea on the 29th April for Auckland to confer with the Governor on future operations. A force of 750 men was left at Patea for the winter.
In April, 1865, the officer commanding in Taranaki (Colonel Warre, 57th) extended his outposts by establishing a strong redoubt at Pukearuhe, near the White Cliffs (the Pari-ninihi, or “Steep Cliffs” of the Maoris), thirty miles along the northern coast from New Plymouth, and one at Warea, twenty-seven miles south, and another at Opunake, fifty miles from New Plymouth. At Pukearuhe Colonel Mulock was in command with 160 of the 70th Regiment and two R.A. gunners. These redoubts brought the length of Taranaki coast-line occupied to eighty-five miles; but the forts commanded practically only the country within rifle-range of their parapets.
* Mr. William B. Adamson, of Hawera, who came up the coast in 1865 as a transport driver in Cameron's army, says: “When we marched through where Hawera Town now stands, on our way to the Wai-ngongoro, we had a skirmish with the Maoris on the sandhills near the mouth of the Waihi Stream, and somewhere near Mr. John Finlay's present farm at Tokaora. We saw fifty or sixty mounted Hauhaus watching us, and as we came up they opened fire, but at long range. Our march that day had been from Kakaramea and Manutahi up through the site of this town—in fact, the troops marched past within 20 yards of where the Hawera Public School now stands. General Cameron advanced his troops in several columns so as to surround the Maoris, but the soldiers did not get up to them. He opened fire on them with his field-guns, and, the shells exploding in their midst, they soon galloped off and crossed to the other side of the Wai-ngongoro.”
General Sir H. J. Warre, K.C.B.
General Warre, as Lieut,-Colonel, served with the 57th Regiment (1st Middlesex) in the first and second Taranaki Wars. He left New Zealand in 1866.
In the early part of June a junction was effected between two small British forces in light marching order, one from the Waingongoro and one from Opunake: this was important because it temporarily reopened the coast road from New Plymouth to Wanganui, which had been barred to Europeans since the beginning of the Taranaki War in 1860. This opening of the road, however, was as yet only possible by the use of force majeure; not until a considerable time after Titokowaru's campaign, the last war in Taranaki, did the coast road become practicable for anything but an armed force.
Much of the work in Cameron's march up the coast was done by the 57th Regiment, the famous “Die-hards” of Albuera memory, under Colonel Butler. They led the advance on Kakaramea, followed by detachments of the 50th and 68th. They provided the most advanced garrisons, and a strong force of the page 57 regiment was encamped at the Manawapou Redoubt for some months. It was from Manawapou that the afterwards notorious Kimble Bent, a private in the regiment, deserted to the Hauhaus, after a military flogging for insubordination. Another private of the regiment, Hennessy, fell into the hands of the Maoris in a different way. He was out foraging for potatoes near the Ingahape, and was captured by a roving party of Hauhaus, who took him to their pa. He was kept in captivity, practically a slave like Kimble Bent, for over a year, when he contrived to escape and rejoin his regiment. A court-martial resulted in his acquittal, and he received all his back pay for the period of his involuntary desertion.
There was a good deal of skirmishing in mid-Taranaki in the latter part of 1865. At Whatino, a few miles from Opunake, on the 1st June, several men of the Mounted Corps, part of an escort to Lieut.-Colonel Colvile (43rd Regiment), came into conflict with six natives, who killed Trooper O'Neill and lost three killed themselves. On the 13th June Colonel Warre, with a column working in three divisions, attacked the Taranaki tribes in their villages inland of Warea. The troops engaged were detachments of the 43rd and the 70th Regiments, besides the Taranaki Bush Rangers under Captain Jonas. The villages of Nga-Kumikumi, Okeanui, Nekeua, and Te Puru were destroyed after a little fighting. Nekeua was an old fortified position with a deep trench round it. At Te Puru, where the Hauhaus were engaged in their Pai-marire devotions round the niu, there was a slight skirmish. A quantity of plunder from the wrecked steamer “Lord Worsley” was found in the villages burned.
On the 28th July Captain Close (43rd Regiment) and a private were mortally wounded while with a party from the Warea Redoubt gathering firewood in a clearing a short distance inland of Warea. The troops, extending, drove their attackers back. Next day a force of three hundred men left New Plymouth to operate against the Taranaki Tribe in the Warea district, and on the Taranaki Mounted Volunteers under Captain Frank Mace, marched out from Warea to engage the natives in their inland retreats. The force, divided into two columns, totalled about four hundred men, under Lieut.-Colonel Colvile and Major Russell. Marching into the bush and scrub country via Kapoaiaia, the divisions separated, and Captain Cay (70th), with a company of Russell's division, rushed a village and bayoneted eleven Maoris, besides killing and wounding many more by rifle-fire. The 70th had one man shot dead. There was some heavy skirmishing as the force retreated after burning the village. The Hauhaus followed the troops and attacked them in rear and on the flanks page 58 until they got out to the open country. Colonel Colvile's wing encountered six natives, and killed five of them. Next day Colvile revisited the scene of the fight and burned some whares. The British casualties in this sharp bush skirmishing were a lieutenant of the 70th and four men killed and six wounded.
On the 20th October, 1865, Captain Frank Mace, with a small party of the Taranaki Mounted Corps, rode into an ambush party of about seventy Hauhaus between Warea and the Hangatahua, near the mouth of the river, and had an exceedingly narrow escape. Mace was riding along with three men when a sudden volley was received at close quarters, so close that most of the bullets went over their heads. The Maoris came rushing out of the flax and fern, firing from the hip, as was often their way. One of the troopers, W. Bullot, was lying down over his horse's neck to escape the shots when a bullet partly scalped him, travelling up from the back of his neck and over the skull at the front. The man was dazed by his wound, and went riding round and round in a circle, firing his revolver aimlessly. Captain Mace galloped up and got him away; his horse had been hit and dropped soon afterwards. Mace was wounded in the leg, and several bullets went through his clothes. For this gallant rescue he received the New Zealand Cross. He had been one of the first troopers to join the corps, the Taranaki Mounted Rifles, on its formation in 1860, under Captain Des Voeux.
Lieut.-General Sir Duncan Cameron having resigned the command of the army in New Zealand, Major-General Trevor Chute was appointed to take over the command of operations, and in October of 1865 he arrived in New Plymouth to confer with Colonel Warre on a plan of operations. The self-reliant policy of the Colonial Government having been initiated, the embarkation of the Imperial forces for England commenced. At the end of 1865 the Imperial forces in the colony totalled about ten thousand men, consisting of the 12th, 14th, 18th, 40th, 43rd, 50th, 57th, 65th, and 70th Regiments, two batteries of Field Artillery, and Royal Engineers and Military Train. The first units to sail were the 70th and the 65th. By the end of March, 1866, four out of the ten Imperial regiments had left the colony, and the others, with the Artillery, were gradually concentrated at Auckland for embarkation, leaving three regiments to garrison the Australian Colonies and New Zealand. One complete regiment was, as a temporary arrangement, to remain in New Zealand, but all the outposts were withdrawn, and the towns of Auckland and Wanganui were alone to be garrisoned.
It was Sir Frederick Weld (then Mr. Weld), who had been a settler in New Zealand for twenty years, who originated the new policy in the management of the colony's defences. In page 59 1860 Mr. Weld was elected to the New Zealand Parliament as representative for Wairau; he was then engaged in pioneer work as a sheep-farmer in partnership with the Cliffords. He became Minister for Native Affairs, and in 1861 he went with the Governor to Te Arei pa, on the Waitara, to conclude peace with Wi Kingi's Maoris. In October, 1864, Governor Grey sent for him, and asked him to form a Ministry and assist him in saving the country under its overwhelming difficulties. Weld did so on the condition that he should be supported in his “self-reliant” policy. This policy he had lately outlined in these words:—
“I should propose to ask the Home Government to take away all the soldiers, and reduce our forces to about two thousand men, whom I should arm with the best rifles procurable; these I would have trained to bush-work, and employ a part of them on the roads when not required to fight. With regard to the natives, I should not disarm them—it would be equivalent to a war of extermination to insist upon doing so. Their pride would be hurt as well as their fears roused, and we should only succeed with the loyal tribes, who would thus be at the mercy of their enemies. I should pardon all offenders except those convicted of murder, and I should confiscate only enough land to show them that they lost by going to war; and, in order to secure the peace of the country, I should start armed settlements where they were required. But I should leave even the most turbulent tribes more land than they could ever require, which would then be of treble its present value. I should offer every inducement to the defeated tribes to settle down quietly, and enforce their submission by making roads through the most disturbed parts of the country—by force, if necessary. At the same time I should stop the lavish expenditure in presents and bribing the natives to keep quiet. By the policy I have sketched out I believe the expense of the colony might be reduced by one-half.”
The Governor having agreed to a new policy based on these lines, Mr. Weld formed a Ministry, in which Mr. J. E. Fitzgerald, who was in perfect accord with the new Premier's views, became Minister for Native Affairs. One of the members of the Ministry was Major Harry Atkinson. Parliament endorsed the new scheme, and gradually the employment of colonial forces succeeded the old method of relying chiefly on the British Regulars. The Imperial Government approved of the colony's intention to dispense with British regiments, and after 1865 the operations against the Hauhau tribes were conducted chiefly by New Zealand troops, white and native. General Chute conducted a vigorous Taranaki campaign in 1866 with mixed forces, Imperial and colonial, but from that year until the close of the wars the Government relied solely on its own officers and men.page 60
The erosion of the West Coast cliffs between the Wai-ngongoro and the Patea has resulted in the almost total destruction of General Cameron's redoubt at the mouth of the Wai-ngongoro, which was in 1865 the advanced field base of the West Coast Expeditionary Force. The assault of the ocean in strong westerly and south-westerly winds undermines the lofty cliffs on the coast, particularly east of the Wai-ngongoro mouth, and hedges, fences, old historic forts, and grassed land are carried away. All that is now left of the Wai-ngongoro main redoubt (east side of the river) is an indistinct section of earthwork which formed the north-west flanking bastion, with a small portion of the north parapet and ditch. The work is on the verge of the cliff, in the west corner of the Ohawe Domain, above Livingston's Beach. The old military road ran down here—the present road follows approximately this route—and the river ford was a short distance above the mouth. The scenery here is bold: high cliffs towering above the boulder-strewn beach of black ironsand, and the Wai-ngongoro coming down in sweeping curves, with the wooded west and north banks of the river rising into heights crowned by the ruins of Maori pas and British redoubts. Above the river-mouth on the east side, and somewhat lower than the redoubt at Ohawe, is the ancient Maori fort Rangatapu, a very large earthwork enclosing a flat hilltop. This was orginally the pa of the moa-hunters, the ancient race who feasted upon the moa, the bones of which were unearthed in great quantities by Sir George Grey and others in 1866 in the hollow below the pa, formerly a lagoon enclosed by the sandhills.
On the opposite (west) bank of the river the Maoris, some of whom occupied the bold cliff pa Motutapu, standing north-west of the rivermouth, were accustomed to skirmish out and snipe the troops on the flat below. The Wai-ngongoro was then the frontier line.