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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 1, Issue 6, March 1964

Maori Wars

Maori Wars

In 1881, New Zealand was faced with the possibility of a major Maori uprising—the result of a long series of disagreements with residents and surveyors. Matters came to a head, and a large body of Maoris began to congregate at Parehaka in Taranaki. Not only were the Taranaki Maoris concerned, but large numbers commenced to arrive from the Waikato. Volunteers were called for from Nelson, and a force of about 200 was gathered together. Among this con-page 5tingent were a number of member of the Stoke Rifles, including Mr. D. Giblin, a Stoke resident. After so many years he was naturally unable to name all the Stoke people who went with him, but he did recollect the names of John Naylor, Lieut. John Paynter, James Doidge, Henry Ching, Michael Ching, W. Burton, Charles Martin, Hicks Parker, D. Harkness, William Condell and William Kenning.

They proceeded to Port Neson, where the Hinemoa was waiting to transport them. Many women were on the scene, and in some cases were successful in their last minute endeavours to persuade the men from going upon what was considered a highly dangerous expedition. The men were taken to Opunake, but it was found that they could not land there so they went on to New Plymouth, where they landed by barges. They spent the night at New Plymouth, and next morning, had orders to put on their packs and proceed to Rohoto, where they remained for three or four days awaiting reinforcements from the Waikato. Upon the resumption of the march the Nelson men led the way, and some time later, they climbed some big mounds (now known as Mt. Rolleson) and from there they looked down upon thousands of Maoris who were gathered about the Pa. They advanced cautiously, and completely surrounded the pa, by which time there was not a sign of a Maori anywhere, all having retreated inside. Of all the thousands there, only one emerged, — an old woman who came out and nonchalantly inspected the guard. To everyone's surprise, the Maoris offered no resistance, and the constabulary were able to arrest the leaders Te Whiti and Tahu without casualties. These two Maoris were brought to Nelson, and for some time were imprisoned at Whakapuaka. After the arrest, the uprising subsided, and after waiting in the vicinity for three or four weeks in case of further trouble, the Nelson men were told their services were no longer required. They then came back to Opunake, and Mr. Giblin has vivid memories of their march down a black sandy road in the boiling sun. They sweated freely, and then a breeze whipped the black sand up into their faces with the result that it stuck there firmly, and the men got into such a condition that it was almost impossible to recognise their friends. Off shore the Hinemoa was waiting and they were once again taken out to her in barges.

It was later learned that it was only opportune arrival of the Nelson contingent that prevented a major uprising. It seems Te Whiti, who was something of a prophet, and who was held in superstitious awe by the natives, had warned them that their venture was doomed if the southwind blew — "for the pakehas would come with the south wind." The south wind did blow, and with the arrival of the Nelsonians, the Maoris felt that all was lost, and they therefore offered no resistance.