Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

The Maori Wars

page break

The Maori Wars.

Arrival of The Maoris in New Zealand.

The Maoris have amongst themselves a generally accepted tradition that their ancestors first came to New Zealand in a canoe, named Aotea, in charge of a chief named Turi. They came from Hawaiki, an island in the Pacific, and landed in a bay in the southern part of the North Island, named Te Witakau; between Wanganui and Taranaki. Turi, it is said, named the mountains and rivers in this part of the island. Another canoe, named Tokomaru, in charge of a chief named Manaia, arrived shortly afterwards from Hawaiki. The Maoris found the country inhabited by the Moriori, a very peaceable race, whom they easily subdued, and then took possession of the country.

Mere tradition, however, is unsatisfactory in regard to a matter so important as the origin of a people so interesting as the Maoris. Happily, scientific enquiry into the subject is afoot, and there are already indications of truly valuable results. Mr Percy Smith, for many years Surveyor-General of New Zealand, has made researches which show that the main outlines of the history of the Polynesians, of whom the Maoris form the most important section, can be given as a tentative theory. According to this theory, the Polynesian race once inhabited a mainland, which is believed to be India—inland India, the plains and foot-hills of the Himalaya, with their borders touching the sea on the Persian Gulf. Ages must have passed whilst the people dwelt in those parts; they became navigators, crossed the neighbouring seas, acquired many customs from some race of a Semitic origin, together with some words of their language. This neighbouring race was probably dwelling in Arabia and on the shores of the Persian Gulf. In course of time the Aryan race made its appearance in India, and after centuries of contact and partial intermixture, the Polynesians retreated under pressure of the Aryans, southwards and seawards where they acquired increased powers of navigation and the knowledge of surrounding lands. The study of dialects, racial characteristics and other researches leads to the conclusion that the Polynesians then removed in large numbers to Indonesia, and there are grounds for thinking that in the course of centuries they voyaged far into the Pacific, and to the north, and there made their homes. Mr Percy Smith thinks it probable that the original names of Atea, Hawaiki-te-Varinga, Vavau, Herangi, and many others must be looked for in those regions, though he adds that the irruption of other races makes it difficult to trace those early Polynesian names in their first homes in the Pacific. About the first and second centuries of the Christian era, the Malay race, from the west and north-west, pressed in upon the Polynesians, who, after another long period of contest, contact and partial intermixture, again moved on, generally eastward. Some of them are supposed to have retraced their steps and to have finally reached Madagascar, but the great general movement was eastward into the Pacific. There are evidences of two migrations, the first consisting of the less warlike of the Polynesians. Even those, however, must have been men of great resource and daring in regard to navigation, for they are supposed to have reached Tahiti, Hawaii, the Marquesas and New Zealand, with which they are associated as the Moriori, of whom a remnant still inhabits the Chatham Islands. In the course of time the Polynesians, who still remained in Indonesia, also gave way to the pressure of the Malays, though their subsequent conquests in the Pacific show that centuries of contact with the Malays had made them more warlike than their countrymen of the first migration. This second set of Polynesian voyagers took possession of the greater part of the Fijian group, and they, in conjunction with the Tongans of Vavau and Haapai, afterwards practically conquered Samoa. The period of these exploits was, roughly from the tenth to the twelfth century, during which the Fiji-Polynesians, who were not only conquering warriors but successful navigators, are believed to have spread far and wide throughout the Pacific. Many places, including Tahiti, Rarotonga, and eventually New Zealand, were settled by them. These are the people who are generally termed Maoris, who, about the year 1350, reached New Zealand in a fleet of canoes. Though the Moriori, who had arrived before them, were of the same stock, the Maoris proved to be the more masterful branch, and eventually became conquerors of the Moriori and owners of New Zealand.

Such are the conclusions which are at least tentatively justified by the researches of Mr Percy Smith and others. As to two important points, there is a general agreement; namely, that about 500 years ago a large number of Maoris reached New Zealand in canoes from the Polynesian islands; and that, on landing, they drove the Moriori into the interior, and took possession of the country round the coast. It is also generally held that the Aotea brought to New Zealand the ancestors of the Taranaki, Wanganui, Ngatiruanui, Ngaraura and Ngatiapa tribes, and if this was the case, then, to judge by the later history of those tribes, the Aotea must have carried men of indomitable daring and women of splendid endurance. Maori tradition has it that as the newcomers increased in numbers, they developed into independent tribes, spread into various parts of the country, and even became hostile to each other. In consequence of this state of things it came to pass that a tribe's right of occupation was always liable to be superseded by force, and all the tribes recognised the acquisition of territory by conquest as just and right. The Toas, or great fighting men of each tribe, were held in almost as much esteem as the hereditary chiefs who, in fact, were in some cases looked upon with less respect than the Toas. Authority was purely tribal, and there was no intertribal polity or anything approaching coordination into a nation among the Maori race. This was the state of affairs when the British took possession of New Zealand in 1840.

The Northern War.

In the latter part of 1844 trouble commenced with the Maoris in the district north of Auckland, and the settlers were threatened, and asked the Government for assistance. Hone Heke, a powerful chief, page 149 whose grandson of the same name was afterwards a member of the Parliament of New Zealand, cut down the flagstaff at Kororareka, on the 10th of January, 1845. This was considered equal to a declaration of war, and a reward of £100 was offered for his apprehension. Heke bitterly resented this; he considered that it was likening him to a pig, which could be bought, and he threatened that, within four months, he would bring 2,000 men to Auckland and cut down the flagstaff there. Fifty soldiers were immediately despatched to Kororareka, and the flagstaff was re-erected. Nevertheless, on the 11th of March, 1845, the town of Kororareka was sacked and destroyed by the Maoris. The property thus destroyed was estimated to be worth about £50,000. Heke, however, not only protected the churches of the Church of England and Roman Catholic, but fought solely against the soldiers and sailors, and even allowed the settlers to escape to the ships without molestation.

A second time Heke cut down the flag-staff at Kororareka, when the settlers joined Nene's war party against Heke. Prominent among them was Mr John Webster, of Opononi. Mr Francis White, a blacksmith, became armourer; Mr William Webster manufactured cartridge boxes; and Judge Maning and Mr G. F. Russell supplied the powder. This war party started from the Upper Hokianga and met Heke at Lake Omapere. Each party built a pa, and fighting was daily carried on for two months, during which time Waka Nene held Heke in check while he awaited the arrival of troops.

The Attack at Okaihau.

Martial law was proclaimed on the 26th of April, 1845, and two days later the British troops, under Colonel Hulme, arrived at the Bay of Islands. Next day they went on to Paihia, and Nene went on board to arrange measures for the campaign. The troops disembarked at Onewara beach on the 3rd of May, where they were joined by 108 men from the ships of war. Joining with Nene's party they advanced along the banks of the Kerikeri, and went through the dense forest by a track previously cut by Nene's men, until they reached Heke's pa at Okaihau. They found the pa strongly defended. The attack commenced on the 8th of May, and when the troops took up their position on three sides of the pa, they met a heavy fire from Heke's party. Kawiti, the fighting chief of Heke, had placed a party of warriors behind a breastwork, on the brow of an adjoining hill; and these also opened fire on the troops. The attacking force, however, soon dislodged them, occupied their breastwork, and kept up a sharp fire on the enemy, which was as briskly returned. Kawiti's force was charged and routed; then about 100 Maoris came out of the pa and attacked the small party in the breastwork. Kawiti rallied his force and again came into the conflict. The battle was waged fiercely all day, and in the evening the order was given to retreat, as it would have entailed too serious sacrifice for the small party to have stormed the pa. The troops retired to Kororareka, and the friendly natives brought in the wounded. The losses were very heavy on both sides. To get reinforcements Colonel Hulme returned to Auckland, taking the wounded with him. Great was the surprise of the Aucklanders at the repulse; and the feeling of insecurity increased. In the meantime, however, Waka Nene kept up a continual guerilla warfare with Heke, and in one of these encounters Heke was wounded in the thigh.

The Fight At Ohaeawai.

Owing to the damage and the loss he had sustained Heke erected a new pa at Ohaeawai, seven miles from the Waimate mission station, and nineteen miles from the Bay of Islands. Though built rapidly it was unusually strong. At this stage Colonel Despard arrived from Sydney with more troops. Being senior officer, he took command of the whole force which now consisted of 520 soldiers, thirty sailors from H.M.S. “Hazard” and eighty volunteers from Auckland. After a tedious march of nine days, they arrived at Ohaeawai on the 25th of June. Next day the attack began, but even the 12-pounder artillery made no impression on the pa. A 32-pounder, with another detachment from H.M.S. “Hazard,” arrived a few days later; this proved somewhat more effective. On the 1st of July, strongly against the advice of Waka Nene, Colonel Despard ordered an assault. The storming party consisted of 160 soldiers, under Majors Macpherson and Bridge, and forty sailors and volunteers. This brave party threw themselves in vain against the palisades, and were shot down by the Maoris behind. The result was a disastrous repulse; in ten minutes 107 men were lying dead or disabled before the pa. The Duke of Wellington, as Commander-in-Chief, considered Colonel Despard should have been tried by court martial for ordering this attack in the face of such hopeless difficulties. Heke's party quietly evacuated their pa the next evening, and left some of their noisiest dogs tied up inside, in order to lead the besiegers to believe that they were still in possession. At daylight on the following morning the troops took possession of the pa. In his hour of victory Heke wrote a characteristic letter to the Governor, in which he said: “If you make peace, do not bear malice against your enemy. Cæsar, Pontius Pilate, Nebuchadnazzar, Pharaoh, Nicodemus, Agrippa, and Herod were kings and governors; did they confer any benefit, or did they not kill Jesus Christ?”

After the troops had taken possession of Ohaeawai hostilities were delayed, awaiting the arrival of reinforcements. This delay lasted four months. During this time Kawiti erected a new pa at his own place, Ruapekapeka, or the Bat's Nest. This was considerably stronger than Ohaeawai and more difficult of approach. Kawiti's love of war and ancient feuds with our allies, Heke's hatred of the British, and Governor Fitzroy's arbitrary conditions of peace kept them still hostile. As the first Maori warrior who had fought against England's trained soldiers Heke rose high in the esteem of his countrymen.

The Capture of Ruapekapeka.

In June, 1845, it was announced in the Imperial Parliament that a despatch had been forwarded to Governor Fitzroy recalling him. It was further announced that Captain Grey, then Governor of South Australia, would succeed him. On the 18th of November, of the same year, Captain Grey officially landed and assumed office. He immediately adopted vigorous measures to bring the war to an end. In order to restore England's prestige he resolved at all costs to institute a victorious campaign. He stopped the sale of arms to the natives and cut off all communication with Heke and Kawiti, and issued regular rations to the Maori allies under Waka Nene. An available force of 1173 men, with the addition of the friendly allies, now commenced operations against Heke, at Ruapekapeka. Two stockades were built close to the pa, in which were mounted one 18-pounder and one 12-pounder Howitzer. On Saturday, the 10th of January, 1846, the action commenced, and an incessant artillery fire was kept up for the whole day. In the evening it was observed that the guns had made three breaches in the outer palisades. The commanding officer then contemplated an assault, but owing to the remonstrances of the friendly chief, Mohi Tawhai, this idea was abandoned. On the following morning (Sunday) some of Nene's men, cautiously approached the breaches, and not hearing any noise they entered and found the pa unoccupied. Immediately they signalled the troops, who rushed forward and entered the pa before the Maoris, who were engaged in worship outside at the back of the pa, could return. Thus Heke and Kawiti lost possession of their stronghold. Their forces commenced a heavy fire on our men from the surrounding woods, but soon retired to another pa, page 150 which had been erected about three miles away by Heke, in case they should be driven from Ruapekapeka. The British loss was twelve killed and thirty wounded, and Heke's loss was about twenty-five killed.

The loss of Ruapekapeka disheartened the followers of Heke, and Kawiti, and the latter wrote to the Governor the following letter:—“Friend! O, my esteemed friend, the Governor, I salute you. Great is my regard for you. Friend Governor, I say let peace be made between you and I. I am filled of your riches (cannon balls); thereupon I say, let you and I make peace. Will you not? Yes. This is the termination of my war against you. Friend Governor, I, Kawiti and Hekitenedo, consent to this good message. This is the end of mine to you. It is finished. To my esteemed friend, the Governor.—Kawiti.”

This petition was strongly backed by Tamati Waka Nene, and Sir George Grey thereupon granted a free pardon to all who had been engaged in the rebellion, and allowed them to retain possession of their lands. Thus peace was declared, and Heke's war terminated; no feeling of bitterness remained, and the friendly relations between the Maoris and the settlers north of Auckland have never since been broken.

Of the chief actors in this rebellion, Kawiti afterwards professed Christianity, and died in 1853, at the age of nearly four score years. Heke, who never recovered from the effects of the wound he received at Okaihau, died in 1850, near his old field of battle, and he was buried in a cave near the old mission station at Waimate.

Tamati Waka Nene.

Waka Nene, the famous Ngapuhi chieftain, and friendly ally of the British, had
From a photo by Mr. R. Stuart.Tamati Waka Nene.

From a photo by Mr. R. Stuart.
Tamati Waka Nene.

undertaken to protect the settlers against Heke. He therefore raised a force to punish Heke and his fighting general Kawiti, and pursued them until they were compelled to retire.

Wake Nene's valuable services to the Crown throughout the Northern War, and before the British were able to put any soldiers in the field, will ever be remembered. He subsequently received a Government pension of £100 a year, and Sir George Grey was commissioned by the Queen to present him with a beautiful silver chased cup, in recognition of his services. Before his death, in 1871, Waka Nene presented this historic heirloom to his old friend, Mr John Webster, of Opononi.

Te Werowero, Or Potatau.

The racial troubles which arose in connection with the progress of settlement in New Zealand had the effect of promoting intertribal organisation amongst the Maoris. Under the guidance of the missionaries some of them had become fairly close students of the Old Testament, and it was natural that they should think of a kingship as a means of attaining the ends they had in view for themselves in relation with or in opposition to the colonists. Accordingly a kingship was set up, and Te Werowero or Potatau was chosen for the office. Te Werowero was of the very noblest blood of the Maori race. No chief in New Zealand could compare with him in genealogy, and in his many relationships with the highest in rank in many tribes. No Maori chief is great unless he can trace his descent to some leader who came in the first canoes from Hawaiki. Te Werowero's ancestor was Hotonui, who came in the canoe Tainui, which made land at Kawhia. One of the most famous men in the line of descent was Tapaue, who had a number of sons who founded tribes. These sons were: Te Rorokitua, who was the ancestor of the Ngatipaoa; Te Putu, Tahau, Te Apa, Huiarangi, Ratua, Hikaurua. The son of Te Putu was Tawhia, whose son was Tuata, whose son was Te Rauanganga, whose son was Te Werowero, the first Maori king. Te Werowero's wife was Whakaawi, a woman of high birth, of the Ngatimahuta tribe.


Tawhiao, the second Maori king, was the son of Te Werowero. He was born at Orongokoekoea, at Mokau, about 1825, and was present at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. At Rangiriri he warned the Maoris to avoid the British soldiers on the line of the Waikato river, and advised them to go inland, but they would not consent. He was present at the fight at Rangiriri, and afterwards escaped in a canoe. After the war in the Waikato he remained in the King Country, and did not join in the outbreaks which subsequently took place, though he countenanced them. When Sir George Grey was Premier he had an interview with Tawhiao, and an amicable feeling was created. In 1884 Tawhiao visited England, with several other chiefs, and while there he had interviews with many eminent men. On his return he made claims to full dominion over New Zealand. In 1892 Tawhiao accepted a Government pension of £210 a year, but afterwards repudiated the idea of surrendering his authority, and returned the first instalment. At one time he might have had a semi-official position as Native Superintendent, and £1000 a year for life, if he would have surrendered what he regarded as the cause of his country and his countrymen. Tawhiao died on the 26th of August, 1894, at his residence at Parawera. His only son, Tu Tawhiao, predeceased him. Some page 151 time after Tawhiao's death the chief Mahuta was chosen for the kingship, which, however, is now regarded by the majority of the Maoris themselves as being merely a regulative or municipal office. But originally it was of considerable political and military significance, and it has been thought advisable to refer to Te Werowero and Tawhiao before proceeding with the remainder of the history of the Maori wars.

The Taranaki War.

Several years after the close of Heke's war, the Maoris again became troublesome, this time in the Taranaki district. Sir George Grey, during his term of office as Governor, had wisely restricted the sale of arms to the Maoris, but his successor, Governor Gore Browne, unfortunately removed the restriction, with the result that the Maoris accumulated about £50,000 worth of arms and ammunition. This, with the previous stock they had, was sufficient to supply every adult native in the colony with a gun, and sufficient ammunition for several years of active warfare.

In November, 1859, Governor Browne interviewed the natives at New Plymouth, and publicly announced that he was prepared to buy some of their land if they wished to sell. A native named Te Teira, then offered to sell a block of 600 acres at Waitara, but Wiremu Kingi, the chief of Te Teira's tribe, refused to allow the land to be sold. The Governor, intimated, however, that if Te Teira proved his title he would buy the land. Some months later, on the title being reported good, a sum of £200 was paid on account to Te Teira. A party of surveyors was sent to mark the boundaries, but they were stopped by Wiremu Kingi, who built a pa on the disputed block.

Two companies of the 65th Regiment were sent to quell the disturbance. Thus began a war which ultimately assumed such proportions that Governor Browne had to apply to England for assistance, which was speedily and liberally granted by the British Government.

Hostilities continued until the 21st of May, 1861, when a truce was declared. This truce was kept until the 4th of May, 1863, when an armed party of Maoris attacked a small escort convoying some carts between Taranaki and Tataraimaka, and murdered Lieutenant Tragett, Dr Hope, and five British soldiers. This was the signal of an open rebellion among the Maoris, who declared their intention of “driving all the Europeans into the sea, and attacking Auckland.” As a matter of fact, the Waikato rebels on the 11th of July, 1863, despatched a force in two columns to invade Auckland. Next day General Cameron, who had been sent out by the Imperial Government to take command of the British troops in the colony, placed a force of 380 men in the Koheroa ranges to intercept them. On the 17th an engagement took place, and General Cameron's force in the meantime had been increased to 500 men. The Maoris had formed several lines of rifle pits, which they obstinately defended, and were only dislodged from them at the point of the bayonet. So heavy was the fire poured in on the advancing detachment of the 14th Regiment, who were then receiving their first baptism of fire, that the troops wavered. Seeing this, General Cameron rushed to the front, rallied them, and led them on. The Maoris were defeated, and driven in great confusion across the Maramarua creek; some escaped up the Waikato river in canoes, and others along its right bank, after swimming the creek. Instead of following the natives up and routing them, nothing further was done. It was not until the 30th of October, a period of fifteen weeks, after the engagement at Koheroa, that a forward movement was made.

The Fight At Rangiriri.

On the morning of the 20th of November, 1863, General Cameron, with a force of 853 officers and men, proceeded from Meri-Meri up the right bank of the Waikato river to attack the entrenched position of the Maoris at Rangiriri. In this operation Commodore Sir William Wiseman arranged to co-operate with the steamers “Pioneer,” and “Avon,” and four gunboats. The combined forces arrived near Rangiriri at the same time, three o'clock in the afternoon. The position taken up by the Maoris consisted of a main line of entrenchments across the narrow isthmus dividing the Waikato river from Lake Waikare. The line had a double ditch and a high parapet, and a square redoubt of very formidable construction was erected in the centre. Behind the left centre of the main line, and at right angles to it, there was an entrenched line of rifle pits parallel to the Waikato river. After shelling the position for a considerable time with two 12-pounder Armstrongs, and a naval 6-pounder, the two gunboats assisting, General Cameron ordered an assault shortly before 5 p.m. This was gallantly executed by the troops, who had to pass over a distance of 600 yards in the face of heavy fire, the 65th Regiment leading and escalading the enemy's entrenchment on the left. After passing the main line of entrenchment the troops wheeled towards the enemy's centre, and came under fire of the rifle pits facing the Waikato river. They at once stormed and carried the enemy's outer position, and drove the enemy to the centre redoubt, which the Maoris then desperately defended. While the troops were thus engaged 300 men of the 40th Regiment landed from the “Pioneer” and “Avon,” occupied the ridge in the rear, and drove the enemy from that part of the position. The troops who carried the main line were checked by the fire from the centre redoubt; two assaults were made, the first by thirty-six of the Royal Artillery, led by Captain Mercer, and the second by ninety sailors of the Royal Navy, under Commander Mayne. Both attacks were unsuccessful, owing to the formidable nature of the work, and the overwhelming fire which the Maoris poured upon the assailants. Darkness coming on, it was resolved to await for daylight before undertaking further operations, but the troops meanwhile remained in the several positions which they had gained, and by which they almost completely enveloped the enemy. Shortly after daylight on the 21st, the white flag was hoisted by the Maoris, of whom 183 surrendered unconditionally, and gave up their arms, and became prisoners of war. The British losses included 130 in killed and wounded, and amongst those who died of their wounds was the gallant Captain Mercer; but the fall of Rangiriri gave great prestige to the cause of the colonists.

From the 8th of December, 1863, to the 27th of January, 1864, General Cameron was detained at Ngaruawahia, awaiting supplies. In the meantime the Maoris were taking up strong positions. When General Cameron arrived at Pikopiko and Paterangi he found these places too strongly fortified to carry by assault. At Awamutu, on the 21st of February, he surprised a force of natives, and pushing on, met a large body of rebels at Rangioahia, whom he defeated with considerable loss. Here Colonel Nixon, of the Colonial Defence Corps, was mortally wounded. Early next morning a force of about 400 Maoris were found entrenching themselves near Rangioahia. A detachment of the 50th Regiment immediately charged them with the bayonet. The natives, after firing one volley, bolted, and were followed and scattered by the Mounted Defence force.

The Stand At Orakau.

On the 30th of March, 1864, information arrived that the Maoris were entrenching themselves with the intention of making a stand at Orakau. Brigadier-General Carey, with a force of 1000 men, made a night march, and arrived before the pa at daylight on the following morning. This


pa proved to be of unusual strength, with ditches and parapets, and surrounded by a post and rail fence. Three assaults were attempted without success. Rewi, page 152 the great fighting general of the King party, was in command of the rebels. Reinforcements of rebels arrived in the afternoon, and kept up a fire from the bush. Heavy firing was kept up on both sides all that day, and the following night. Forty thousand rounds of ammunition were served out to the troops, who had also been reinforced, bringing up their numbers to over 2,000. On the morning of the 2nd of April, the Armstrong guns were brought into play. General Cameron now arrived, and the Maoris were asked to surrender. Their reply was: “This is the word of the Maori: We will fight for ever and ever and ever.” On being urged to send away their women and children, who were in the pa, they replied: “The women will fight as well as we.” Is there anything more heroically touching in ancient or modern history than this?

Our troops now got desperate. Through a breach made by our guns, a private threw his cap, and rushed after it; he was immediately followed by about twenty colonial troops. The Maoris retreated to the inner works, and ten of the assaulters were shot down. The Maoris, who had been fighting for three days, almost without food or water, at this stage evacuated their pa in a body, with the chiefs in the centre, and made towards the neighbouring swamp and scrub. The troops started in pursuit with the Colonial Cavalry, a corps of Mounted Artillery, and Colonial Forest Rangers, under Captains Jackson and Von Tempsky. Subsequently the Maoris acknowledged to a loss of 200, while our casualties amounted to sixteen killed and fifty-two wounded. Rewi got away unscathed, and ultimately reached Hangatikei. Virtually this ended the Waikato campaign, and the whole district from Auckland was now held by the British and colonial troops.

Up to the month of April, 1864, the Imperial troops had been assisted in the campaign by the Europeans only, but then the Arawa tribe of friendly Maoris came upon the scene, influenced probably by various motives—including tribal jealousy and hatred engendered generations before, and unabated by lapse of years, the intense desire of all Maoris to possess guns and ammunition, and their still greater love of war.

The Gate Pa.

After the fall of Orakau, the Tauranga natives, who had been assisting the Waikatos, returned home, and began to threaten Lieut.-Colonel Greer, who had just arrived at Tauranga with a force of 500 men, who had been sent by sea from Auckland. General Cameron at once sent reinforcements, and went himself to Tauranga. On the 27th of April, he reconnoitered the position of the natives, and found them entrenched about three miles from Te Papa. The Maoris had thrown up earthworks, and constructed an oblong redoubt, about seventy yards long and thirty wide, which was well palisaded, and surrounded by a post and rail fence. Between the side faces of the redoubt and the adjoining swamps, rifle pits were constructed. This was the celebrated Gate Pa. The number of Maoris engaged in this pa is said not to have exceeded 300, while our troops numbered, with officers, 1695. In addition, General Cameron had a battery of artillery, consisting of one 110-pounder, two 40-pounder, and two 6-pounder Armstrongs; two 24-pounder Howitzers, two 8-inch mortars, and six cohorn mortars. On the night of the 27th, General Cameron's troops completely surrounded the pa, and at 6.30 the following morning the natives opened fire on them. Simultaneously the four batteries opened fire, which was mainly directed at a flag staff which the Maoris, with their usual cunning, had placed about 100 yards outside in the rear of the pa. The ruse was not discovered until two hours later, and much of the firing was extremely wild, the shells falling from 1,000 to 2,000 yards beyond the redoubt. During all this time the natives had only fired twice at long
Gate Pa, Tauranga.

Gate Pa, Tauranga.

page 153 intervals. At 4 p.m. a breach was made in one of the angles, and an assault was ordered. The storming party comprised 300 sailors, marines, and privates; and 170 others were extended to keep down the enemy's fire, while 300 more followed as a reserve. Other detachments were drawn up in the rear to prevent the escape of the Maoris. With a ringing cheer, which their comrades re-echoed all over the field, the troops gained the breach. The natives attempted to escape at the rear, but finding that impossible, they turned and charged the assaulting column. Then a sudden panic seized our troops, who turned and rushed away in a headlong flight. Captain Hamilton, with a naval brigade, at this moment reached the breach, but he fell with a bullet through his brain. The natives then followed up and committed fearful execution on our men. When General Cameron had rallied his forces it was too late to renew the assault. During the dark night which followed the Maoris escaped. The losses on both sides have been variously estimated. Sir William Fox gives ours at twenty-seven killed and sixty-six wounded; the Maoris, thirty killed and forty wounded. On the other hand, Lieutenant Gudgeon gives the losses on the British side as thirty-five killed, and seventy-six wounded, and states that the Maoris had twenty killed and six wounded.

The Troops at Te Ranga.

On the 21st of June Lieut. Colonel Greer, who had been left in command at Tauranga, heard that the natives were entrenching themselves at Te Ranga, about three miles inland from the Gate Pa, and in a manner much similar. He resolved to dislodge them before they had time to finish the redoubt; and advanced immediately with two detachments and a corps of Colonial cavalry. After a few rounds from a big gun he ordered an assault, which was gallantly carried out. The engagement lasted only a few minutes; the natives were caught in the trenches, and a fierce hand-to-hand conflict took place; while the rebels who fled were followed and cut down by the cavalry. One hundred and nine dead bodies of the enemy were found and buried on the field; nineteen wounded natives (twelve of whom subsequently died from their wounds) and eleven who were unhurt were taken prisoners. Our loss amounted to eight killed and thirty-nine wounded.

During this time our allies, the Arawas, had been engaged in several fierce conflicts with the Ngatiporou and Uriwera tribes, and had inflicted severe losses upon them. Tohi, a brave loyal old chief, was killed in one of these successful encounters. The rebels then retreated to the hills in the Waikato borders, and our troops held all the country from Auckland to the Waikato plains.

The Wanganui-Taranaki Campaign.

While the Waikato campaign was in progress nothing of any importance was attempted in Taranaki. At last, however, the Government decided that it was necessary to subdue and punish the natives who were actively rebellious in the Wanganui and Taranaki districts. General Cameron then had a combined Imperial and Colonial force of 6,000 soldiers, in addition to nearly 1,000 friendly native allies and the local militia. This number did not include about 5000 other troops, then stationed in other parts of the colony. The rebel natives numbered altogether about 1500, of whom, possibly, 700 were fighting men. Before operations were ready the Maoris challenged our troops to fight. On the 24th of January, 1865, a skirmish occurred, when Lieutenant Johnstone and three others were killed, and seven were wounded. On the next day a force of 600 rebels (according to General Cameron—400 according to the Governor) attacked the General's camp. Eventually the natives were driven back, leaving eleven bodies on the field, while our loss was eleven killed and nineteen wounded. This was the only occasion in which the General's forces became engaged with any large number of the natives during this campaign.

The Maoris then deserted their villages and took to the native bush, where General Cameron deemed it not prudent to follow them. The Imperial forces were moved along close to the shore, and military posts were established. In February, when General Cameron advanced up the coast, he passed a fortified pa named Wereroa, on his right, which was occupied by about 300 rebels, and in his report to the Governor he said: “I consider my force insufficient to attack so formidable a work as the Wereroa pa.” The Governor proposed to allow the friendly natives to do it, but the General replied that they would be unable to do so. Much correspondence ensued on the subject, and in the end of April General Cameron departed to Auckland.

Sir George Grey then determined to attack the pa himself. He raised a “scratch” force of 309 friendly natives, 139 Forest Rangers and twenty-five Wanganui Cavalry, and persuaded Brigadier-General Waddy, who had been left in command on the coast, to lend him 200 Imperial troops, not for active operations, but for parade purposes near the pa, while the Colonial forces attacked it. The Colonial force, under Majors Rookes and McDonnell, was despatched over precipitous country to capture a smaller redoubt at the rear of Wereroa. This they gallantly accomplished without the loss of a single man, while they took fifty Maoris prisoners. As the pa at Wereroa was now untenable the rebels evacuated it, and next morning Sir George Grey's forces entered the pa.

The native allies, about 400 strong, built three redoubts up the Wanganui river, and prevented the descent of a large force under Pehi, a rebel chief of high rank. The rebels tried to outflank the friendly natives, who fought gallantly, and drove the rebels from pa to pa. Five of the friendly natives were killed and fifteen of the rebels before the latter surrendered. Pehi, the rebel chief, who had great influence over his tribe, was taken prisoner and sent to Wanganui. He was, however, released by Sir George Grey, on oath of allegiance. This oath was soon broken, and rallying his tribe around him, Pehi plunged into the war again. Governor Grey then sent a force of natives and military settlers to Pipiriki, and occupied that place. Pehi and his force attacked Captain Brassey at Pipiriki, but were repulsed with heavy loss after a short engagement. Our prestige was now being restored, chiefly through Governor Grey's military skill and success, and he issued a proclamation declaring that peace was restored. However, when the messenger conveyed this proclamation to the rebels he was barbarously murdered, and the proclamation was torn to pieces.

The East Coast Campaign.

Martial law was now proclaimed in the Opotiki district, on the East Coast on account of the murder of the Rev. K. S. Volkner, a Church of England missionary, by some Hau Hau fanatics. After the capture of Wereroa and Pipiriki, a colonial and native force of 580 men was despatched under Captain Brassey to Opotiki to quell the rebellion. They were joined by a force of about 500 friendly natives under a loyal chief named Mokena. The Hau Hau rebels assembled in great force to oppose them and erected and fortified numerous pas. Our force was attacked, but the rebels were driven back, and several of their pas were captured. During the following month there were successive skirmishes and engagements in which the rebels were invariably beaten with heavy loss. They then retreated inland, pursued by Lieutenant Biggs, with a small force of about 130, while Major Fraser, with a still smaller number, started also in pursuit in another direction. On overtaking the natives Lieutenant Biggs had a spirited skirmish with them, and compelled them to retreat further to another of their pas. Following up the rebels to this pa, which was strongly situated on the top of a hill, Lieut. Biggs advanced to within 150 yards of it, and opened fire, while ten of his volunteers, accompanied by some friendly natives, worked round the hill and scaled its precipitous sides. From this position they poured in an effective fire on the rear of the rebels. At noon Lieut. Biggs offered to spare all who would surrender, and acknowledge allegiance to the Queen. The Ngatiporou, East Coast Natives, then surrendered to the number of 200 men and about 300 women and children. The rebels lost twenty killed and several wounded, while the casualties of the attacking force were only two slightly wounded. Thus the prompt and decisive manner in which the rebels were followed through the bush, and from place to place, by a small body of determined men, did more to demoralise and disorganise them than the slow advance of a large army with all the pomp and circumstance of war.

While these events were happening at the south end of the Bay of Plenty, our allies, the Arawas, led by the Resident Magistrate, Mr W. Mair, defeated another party of Han Haus with heavy loss, and captured over eighty prisoners. The Colonial forces and friendly natives continued page 154 the campaign successfully in Poverty Bay, on the East Coast. After several days' fighting, a large body of Hau Haus, numbering 180 fighting men, besides women and children, surrendered. Other successes brought the campaign to a close and the troops returned to their homes. The London Times, in summing up the events recorded, said “The fact that a few hundred militia and natives readily do what General Cameron with his large force of men and appliances was so often urged in vain to do, requires to be stated, in its nakedness, if only as an act of justice to the gallant men of whom the colonial forces and the native contingent are alike composed.”

Te Kooti.

But for the calamitous episodes unhappily associated with the name of Te Kooti, trouble between the Maoris and colonists would have ended much sooner than it did. Te Kooti was one of 328 Maori prisoners who were sent in batches to the Chatham Islands between the beginning of March and the end of November, 1866.

Exterior of Te Kooti's Whare.

Exterior of Te Kooti's Whare.

Te Kooti was one of a batch that went in June. From the first the guard over the prisoners was only twenty-six strong, and half of its members were Maoris. Captain Thomas, the officer in charge, asked on the arrival of the second batch of prisoners in April, that the guard should be increased, but instead of complying with this request the Government—the Stafford Ministry of 1865–69—instructed him to send the whole of the military guard back to New Zealand, except a corporal and three privates. The settlers at the Chathams petitioned against this, and Major Edwards, who was sent to the Islands in March, 1867, to report to the Government, recommended that the guard should consist entirely of Europeans, with two officers and thirty privates. The changes made by the Government were not considered satisfactory, for on the 20th of March, 1868, Captain Thomas again wrote to the Defence Minister to be placed in a better position to deal with an unexpected outbreak amongst the prisoners. On the 4th of the following July the prisoners, instigated and led by Te Kooti, revolted, and overpowered the guard, one of whom they tomahawked; and when Captain Thomas himself went on the scene, unarmed, he was seized, bound hand and foot, and placed in the guard whare. The European settlers of the neighbourhood were placed in the local gaol, and by the time they managed to free themselves, Te Kooti and his countrymen were in possession of the schooner “Rifleman,” which had arrived on the previous day with stores from New Zealand. On the following morning a start was made for New Zealand, the master of the “Rifleman” having been left at the Chathams. Te Kooti himself supervised the crew, and especially the man at the wheel; and, meeting with head winds, he first threw overboard all the greenstone ornaments in the ship, and then an old man, a relation of his own, to appease Tongaroa, the Maori seagod. Next day New Zealand was reached at Whareongaonga, about fifteen miles south of Poverty Bay; and after he had taken all the provisions, rifles, and ammunition from the schooner, Te Kooti left her in possession of the crew.

It is unnecessary to recount here in detail all that followed on Te Kooti's return to New Zealand. He was treated as a prisoner illegally at large, but refused to surrender to the civil magistrate and was pursued by the military. In the ensuing encounters which took place between his men and the colonial forces, he was sometimes the victor, and was always able, however closely pressed, to effect his personal escape. Many of his countrymen flocked to his ranks, and by many he came to be looked upon as a man destined to rid New Zealand of the white man's rule. The most appalling incident of his savage career was what is known as the Poverty Bay massacre in which, on the night of the 10th of November, 1868, he and his bloodthirsty band barbarously murdered thirty-two Europeans, men, women, and children. Thenceforward till 1871, when Te Kooti escaped into the King Country, the rebel and murderer was pursued by the colonial forces, who, though occasionally defeated with serious loss, repeatedly killed and captured large numbers of his followers. Finally, as a matter of policy, Te Kooti was included in the amnesty granted to Maori offenders in February, 1883.

Later Episodes.

After the last encounter between the colonial forces and Te Kooti in the Uriwera Country in March, 1870, and the escape of the arch-rebel himself and twenty of his followers—nineteen of his men were killed and seventy-three taken prisoners—there were intermittent troubles for a number of years in connection with the Maoris. The authority of the law, however, spread steadily; Kereopa, the notorious murderer of Mr Volkner, was captured in November, 1871, tried, and executed on the 5th of January, 1872; page 155
Old Style of Maori House Prior To 1840.

Old Style of Maori House Prior To 1840.

amicable relations were established with a number of important chiefs who had been undisguisedly antipathetic or openly antagonistic to the Government; and it became increasingly clear that what has since been effected—the harmonious coordination of the races—was only a matter of time. Still colonisation was seriously retarded by the conflict between the races, property was destroyed, and lives were lost. In this last connection it is estimated that, from the 17th of March, 1860, to August, 1871, 460 Europeans were killed, and 766 wounded; 233 friendly natives killed, and 155 wounded; 1785 rebel natives killed, 418 wounded, and 1,447 taken prisoners. The figures referring to the number of rebel natives wounded rest largely on the actual admissions of the enemy and are probably under the mark.

In the later seventies a good deal of trouble was caused for a year or two by Te Whiti, the noted tohunga of Parihaka. Te Whiti's influence with his people was partly religious, partly political, and at his instigation, surveyors were removed and the lands of settlers ploughed up by the natives. At last in November, 1881, Mr John Bryce, then Minister of Defence, invested Parihaka with about 2,000 volunteers and constabulary; and Te Whiti and Tohu, his lieutenant, were arrested without bloodshed, and kept in custody till February, 1883. Since then there has been nothing worthy of the name of trouble as between the Maoris and the colonists. Even the men of the wild Uriwera Country, in the fastnesses of which Te Kooti found sanctuary, have for years been on the friendliest of terms with the people and the Government of the colony, and everything in the nature of Maori war is now, happily, a memory of the past. The years of strife are land-marked here and there by some appalling atrocities, but, in the main, the study of the Maori wars brings to light not only the indomitable courage and heroic endurance of the Maori race, but, as traits in Maori character, a military genius and intellectual resourcefulness which often baffled our ablest men and will ever be admired by British hearts. Henceforward, instead of even remotely thinking of fighting against us, the Maoris will be anxious to fight with and for us, and during the recent troubles in South Africa many of them pleadingly asked to be allowed to assist in upholding the integrity of the British Empire. This shows that the Maori wars have left no sedimentary bitterness in the natures of that brave and generous race.