Reminiscences of The War in New Zealand
Chapter XVII. — Murder of Keriti, of Mr. Charles Broughton, and of Trooper Smith
Murder of Keriti, of Mr. Charles Broughton, and of Trooper Smith.
The Hauhaus on the west coast having refused to receive the peace proclamation issued by His Excellency Sir George Grey in 1865, it was absolutely necessary for the peace of the district they should be punished; for these tribes, taking advantage of the absence of the colonial forces at Opotiki, had committed some very treacherous and barbarous murders; the first one was on a Wanganui Maori named Kereti, who had been attached to Brigadier Waddy's staff as native orderly. This man had been ordered to select some one among the Weraroa prisoners to carry the page 104peace proclamation to the Ngarauru and Pakakohi tribes, a dangerous duty for anyone but a Hauliau to undertake. One of the prisoners, Tariu by name, was chosen, and he volunteered to do the work. Mr. C. Broughton, interpreter to the forces, approved of the choice, and warned Kere'ti not to proceed beyond the Weraroa, he being a Wanganui, and friendly to the Europeans. Kereti acknowledged that it would be unsafe to do so, and promised to remain at the Weraroa. On the 25th of September he and Tariu started from Wanganui, and on arrival at the redoubt Tariu was sent with the proclamations to the Putahi, while Kereti, forgetting Mr. Broughton's warning, proceeded on the same errand to the Ngarauru tribe. On reaching the village of Arei Ahi he observed a strong party of Hauhaus, who were en route to waylay stragglers from the Weraroa. These men he avoided by hiding in the fern. After they had passed he went on to the Waitotara river, where he saw four women, and a man named Rawiri, on the opposite bank.
Kereti called to them and stated his errand, but was promptly informed that they would not consent to peacemaking. He then asked them whether he was to return to the Weraroa. The women replied in the affirmative, but Rawiri said "Return here to-morrow, and the tribe will then talk it over with you." Kereti very foolishly trusted to the good faith of a Hauhau, and on the following morning started to meet the tribe; but he did not go far, for the Hauhaus expecting him, had an ambuscade laid on the edge of the Karaka plateau, within sight of the Weraroa, and their first volley mortally wounded him. He fell, and was immediately stripped of his valuables, but, strange to say, was not tomahawked. The garrison of the redoubt saw the volley fired, and hastened to his assistance. They found him dying, and carried him to the camp, where he lived sufficiently long to make a statement to Mr. C. Broughton, identifying Rawiri and two other men as his murderers.page 105
Even the ex-Hauhau Tariu was not well received, for the people of the Putahi refused to receive the proclamations, and kept him a prisoner for some days. Eventually he was allowed to depart; but his chief and relation, Hare Tipene, warned him to return by the sea coast, not by the track he had used previously, as ambuscades were lying in wait for him.
The treacherous disposition shown by these tribes ought henceforth to have been a warning to those people inclined to trust themselves to Maori honour; but such was not the case, as will be seen. On the 26th of September a letter, signed by some Patea Hauhaus was sent in to one of the redoubts. It contained a request that some person acquainted with the Maori language might be sent to confer with them on the proclamations which had reached them by the agency of Tariu. On receipt of this letter Brigadier Waddy ordered Mr. C. Broughton to proceed to Kakaramea, and communicate with the rebels. No time was lost, and, on the 30th, Broughton and a Maori assessor from Wanganui, escorted by ten soldiers, left the Kakaramea redoubt, and proceeded in the direction of Otoia. Their flag of truce was seen, and a few Hauhaus went out to meet them, and invited them to enter the pah. This Mr. Broughton very properly refused to do, but proposed that the meeting should be held midway between their respective strongholds. The Maories would not agree to this very reasonable request, and Mr. Broughton returned to the redoubt. On the following morning he went to the meeting-place of the previous day, and after hoisting his flag was met by three Hauhaus. One of them, named Ruka, had been Mr. Broughton's servant some years previously, and now tried hard to persuade his former master to enter the pah, assuring him that he would be safe. Wi Pukapuka, the assessor, tried equally hard to prevent it, saying that treachery was intended, and absolutely refused to go a step further himself.
Mr. Broughton unfortunately trusted his old servant page 106and went on to the pah, while his companions returned to Kakaramea, feeling that they had seen the last of him. Of the tragedy that ensued there is no really authentic account, but the following statement made by an eyewitness who belonged to another tribe, is probably true. When Ruka and Brought on entered the pah they found the tribe assembled; but instead of the loud welcome of "Haere mai! Haere mai!" usual in such cases, they were received in dead silence. As they entered the gate Broughton saluted the Hauhaus, but received no reply, and saw, when too late, that his fate was sealed. He sat down for a few moments amidst the dead silence, and then, probably to hide his feelings, took out his pipe, walked towards a fire and began to light it. While thus engaged a fellow named Maka shot him through the back, and he fell partly upon the embers, where he writhed in agony until they dragged him off the fire and threw him over the cliff into the Patea river. My informant added—" Do not blame Maka. It was a cowardly murder, but every man in the tribe was equally guilty. Before the letter was sent, asking some one to meet them, it had been decided to murder the man when he came." Thus far the peace proclamations had caused two barbarous murders. The Ngarauru and Pakakohi tribes having in this manner shown their desire for war, the people of Tangahoe and Ngatitupaea evinced the same spirit, for on the 4th of October five troopers of the Military Train fell into an ambush on the main road between Manawapou and Te Hawera. Two of their horses were shot. Trooper Smith, unable to move, his horse having fallen on him, was tomahawked; but his comrade escaped, after knocking down a Hauhau who tried to stop him.page break