The Royal New Zealand Navy
ART. III.—The First New Zealand Navy; with some Episodes of the Maori War in connection with the British Navy
ART. III.—The First New Zealand Navy; with some Episodes of the Maori War in connection with the British Navy.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 21st October, 1919; received by Editor, 21st September, 1920; issued separately, 27th June, 1921.]
The early volumes of the Illustrated London News contain many illustrations of New Zealand scenes and incidents. I was particularly interested in those shown in the issue of the 30th January, 1864, among which was one of “the gunboat ‘Pioneer’ at anchor off Meremere, on the Waikato, reconnoitring the native position.” On looking into the subject of New Zealand's first navy I found that New Zealand had about that time quite an imposing fleet, which was manned from ships of the British Navy then on the station. On further search I found that the colony possessed a gunboat as far back as 1846. In the early days of settlement many requests had been made to the Mother-country to provide the colony with one or two armed vessels, but without success. It has been difficult to piece together the story of New Zealand's first navy from newspaper and official records and personal narratives, the censor having apparently been at work even in those far-off days.
An official statement of “Revenue and Expenditure for 1846” contains the item, “Purchase, &c., gunboat for Porirua Harbour, £100 17s. 11d.” A newspaper records the information that H.M.S. “Calliope's” pinnace and two whaleboats had been sent to Porirua, and in a later issue it is mentioned that the “Tyne's” long-boat had been lengthened for service. The “Tyne” was a barque which had ended her voyage from London to Wellington on the rocks off Sinclair Head, Cook Strait, on the 3rd July, 1845. McKillop in his Reminiscences says, “A ship's boat had been purchased and converted page 523 into a gunboat by the carpenters of the ‘Calliope’ mounting a 12-pounder carronade.” A brass gun was also placed aboard. The “Calliope” took the boat to Porirua on the 11th July, 1846. Midshipman McKillop was installed in command. He says that he secured the addition of six more bluejackets and two gunners lent by the officer in command of the Royal Artillery detachment then stationed at Wellington. McKillop came into contact with the Maori at the Pauatahanui head of the harbour on the 17th July; shots were exchanged, but, as he had “taken the precaution of lashing the men's beds up in their hammocks and fastening them round the boat, making a bullet-proof breastwork, which afforded great protection to the crew,” no damage was sustained, except that the brass gun burst at the first shot. For meritorious work at Porirua Midshipman McKillop received great praise from Lieut.-Governor Grey, and was promoted to be mate of H.M.S “Driver.”
The gunboat was used for some time at Porirua on patrol duty, and was then taken early in 1847 to Wanganui, where it was commanded by Lieutenant Edward Holmes, H.M.S. “Calliope,” who was assisted by Naval Cadet H. E. Crozier, of the same ship. Crozier accidentally wounded a native chief with a pistol, and this was the direct cause of the Gilfillan murders. The natives demanded the surrender of the youth, which, of course, was refused. Crozier was replaced by Midshipman John Carnegie. During the months of April and May, 1847, good work was done by the gunboat. On the 19th May, in consequence of the gunboat being injured from its own firing, Lieutenant Holmes moved his 12-pounder on board the “Governor Grey”, a Wanganui-built schooner of 35 tons, from whose unbarricaded deck he continued to fight until the enemy retired.
Captain J. H. Laye, 58th Regiment, who commanded the forces at that time, reported to the Governor, “To Lieutenant Holmes I am exceedingly obliged; the efficiency of the gunboat under his command (which was exposed to the fire of the enemy the whole of the day), his alertness with her at all times, and cordial co-operation, I am only too happy to bear testimony to.”
In a despatch from Wanganui dated the 21st February, 1848, Major Wyatt, O.C., states, “The repairs to the gunboat are progressing.”
On the outbreak of hostilities in the Taranaki Province in 1860 the Government advertised for two vessels suitable for gunboat service. In April the schooner “Ruby,” 24 tons, recently launched from a shipbuilder's yard, was purchased by the Defence authorities, renamed “Caroline”, and armed with a 32-pounder gun, and a supply of ammunition from H.M.S. “Elk.” The cost of the schooner was £630; the cost of stores, fittings, and the cannon, £300. Mr. Smyth, of H.M.S. “Niger,” who had distinguished himself at the attack on Waireka, near New Plymouth, was appointed to the charge of the gunboat. He hoisted the pennant on the 14th April, 1860, and sailed from Auckland for Manukau on the 17th April. Mr. Hannibal Marks, “an old, experienced, and dauntless seaman, who knew every nook and inlet of the coast,” was appointed pilot and sailing-master, being later appointed to command. The vessel acted as guard-ship on the Manukau Harbour, also being used as a despatch-boat between that port and New Plymouth. Later, she was transferred to Auckland, where she was chiefly page 524 used as a despatch-boat. I can find no record of her being engaged in any action. Her commission ended on the 12th October, 1863, and she was sold out of the service, the purchaser being Captain Davidson. Her name was changed back to “Ruby,” and for many years she traded between Wellington and Kaikoura. She was wrecked off Jackson Head in 1879.
An urgent call for help had been sent to Australia, and in reply the Government of Victoria had lent its warship, the steam-sloop “Victoria,” Captain Norman, which arrived at New Plymouth on the 3rd August, 1860, bringing Major-General Pratt, C.B., Commander of the Forces in Australia, and his staff. General Pratt took command of the troops in Taranaki until the arrival of Lieut.-General Cameron in May, 1861, when he returned to Australia in the “Victoria.” The “Victoria” also brought a detachment of troops from Australia during this period, and was engaged on the coast on various duties, including the transferring of refugees from New Plymouth to other ports. Officers and men from this vessel took part in some of the Taranaki land engagements.
On the 28th March, 1860, Captain Peter Cracroft, H.M.S. “Niger,” with a force of sixty men and a 24-pounder rocket-tube, landed and captured the Maori pa at Waireka, Taranaki, incidentally relieving a party of Volunteers who were in difficulties. This is the action in which Seaman William Odgers won the first Victoria Cross to be awarded for service in New Zealand. He was the first man to enter the pa, and he hauled down the Maori flag. He was promoted to be a warrant officer by the Admiralty on the 26th June, 1860, and the Cross was presented to him on parade at Devonport, England, July, 1862. Lieutenant Blake, who, with some men of the “Niger,” took an active part in the military operations, was promoted to be commander for his services, later taking command of H.M.S. “Falcon” on the New Zealand station. The “Niger” had shelled the Warea Pa on the 20th March.
A Naval Brigade under Captain (later Commodore) F. Beauchamp Seymour, afterwards Lord Alcester, was stationed at Waitara, where Captain Seymour was wounded, June, 1860, at the attack on the Puketakauere Pa. The brigade, which was in service 1860–61, was composed of men and officers from H.M. ships “Niger,” “Pelorus,” “Cordelia,” “Iris,” “Elk,” and the Victorian steam-sloop “Victoria.”
In 1862 the Government purchased the paddle-steamer “Avon” for £2,000. This steamer, which was 60 ft. in length, 14 horse-power, 27 tons register, and drawing 3 ft. of water, had been brought from England in sections and put together at Lyttelton in 1861. She had been engaged in the trade between Lyttelton, Heathcote, and Kaiapoi. On the 22nd November she left Lyttelton in charge of Lieutenant Easther with a crew of fifteen men from H.M.S. “Harrier,” in tow of that vessel. Lieutenant Easther retained command until the close of the Waikato War. Mr. Ellis, who is still living (1920) in Auckland, was engineer. The vessels arrived on the 26th November at Onehunga, where the “Avon” was refitted and armoured for service on the Waikato River. She assisted in the rescue of survivors from the wreck of H.M.S. “Orpheus,” on the Manukau bar, 7th February, 1863, the men being transferred from the steamer “Wonga Wonga,” which happened to be crossing the bar at the time of the disaster.page 525
The “Avon” was towed to the Waikato Heads on the 25th July, 1863, by H.M.S. “Eclipse,” Commander Richard C. Mayne. Thirty men were transferred from the “Eclipse,” and Commander Mayne took the “Avon” up the river to the Bluff—a little below where Mercer now stands. On the 6th August Captain Sullivan, H.M.S. “Harrier,” senior naval officer in New Zealand, took the vessel on a reconnaissance as far as Meremere, where the Maori opened fire, which, on completion of observations, was replied to from the “Avon's” 12-pounder Armstrong gun and a 12-pounder rocket-tube.
While the “Avon” was being fitted at Onehunga four large barges were brought overland from Auckland. These were also armoured with an iron-plate covering, and pierced for rifles and sweeps, or oars, this work being done under the superintendence of Captain Mercer, R.A., who was later killed at Rangiriri.
The “Avon” was on service during the course of the Waikato War. On the 18th February, 1864, through striking a snag in the Waipa River, she became partly submerged. She was used for a time as a coal-hulk at Port Waikato, which in those days was a busy place, with building and repairing shops. Later the “Avon” was renamed “Clyde,” and was occupied in mercantile trading in the run between Tamaki and the Thames. In 1876 her paddles were dismantled and twin screws substituted. She was broken up in Auckland about 1883.
In 1860 a small paddle-steamer, the “Tasmanian Maid,” 53 tons register, 36 horse-power, which had been trading between Nelson, Wairau, and Wellington, was sent over by the Nelson people to bring the women and children from New Plymouth if necessary. She was then used as a despatch-boat between New Plymouth, Waitara, and Onehunga. In 1862 she was engaged in trade from Auckland to Coromandel, and about Auckland Harbour. In June, 1863, she was purchased by the Government for £4,000. She was renamed “Sandfly,” and armoured, being also armed with two 12-pounder Armstrong guns. Lieutenant Hunt, H.M.S. “Harrier,” hoisted the pennant on the 23rd June, 1863, and his crew consisted of twenty-two men from the warships. On the 12th October Captain Marks, of the gunboat “Caroline,” was transferred to the “Sandfly,” while Lieutenant Hunt was transferred to the paddle-steamer “Lady Barkly,” which had been purchased by the Government and partially plated, when it was decided that she was unfit for service, as intended, on the Waikato River. She was used for transport work in and from the Manukau Harbour. The “Lady Barkly” is still (1920) running on the coast as a screw-steamer under the name “Hina.” The “Sandfly” was stationed on the east coast of the North Island, her headquarters being Auckland. She took part in the blockade of the Firth of Thames and the Tauranga campaign. She captured on the 31st October the cutter “Eclair,” a vessel of about 20 tons, owned by the Maori, and loaded with provisions. In 1865 the “Sandfly” was sold by the Government, after a short service about Cook Strait transporting troops to Wanganui, and doing a little survey work for the Cook Strait submarine cable. The new owners changed her name back to “Tasmanian Maid,” and she was wrecked off New Plymouth on the 16th January, 1868.page 526
In 1863 the Imperial Commissariat Department purchased the 80-horse-power steamer “Alexandra” for transport work. She cost £13,000, and was also wrecked somewhere near New Plymouth, 9th August, 1865. In 1863 the Government owned a sailing gunboat, “Midnight,” but I have not been able to trace her commission, except that she appears to have been on service on the east coast, north of Auckland.
In a memorandum dated 20th October, 1863, the Minister of Defence stated, “Towards the end of 1862 the Government determined to place a small steamer on the Waikato, and after some inquiry the ‘Avon’ was purchased for the purpose. Her draught of water is too great to be available as is desirable; but, notwithstanding this disadvantage, the vessel has been of great service. The importance of having a suitable steamer for the navigation of the Waikato determined the Government to have such a vessel constructed in Sydney, and after many delays and much anxiety the gunboat ‘Pioneer’ has been obtained—a vessel, it is believed, well adapted for the purpose.” The “Pioneer” was launched from the shipyard of the Australian Steam Navigation Company, Pyrmont, Sydney, on the 16th July, 1863, having been under construction for a period of about seventeen weeks, the superintending engineer of the work being Mr. T. Macarthur, of the company's staff. A report in a local paper, the Empire, says, “Yesterday morning there was launched from the A.S.N. Co.'s patent slip, Pyrmont, a rifle gunboat for the New Zealand Government, and intended for the. service of the inland waters of the Waikato district. She is intended to carry 300 men, on a light draft of water. Her dimensions are 140 ft. in length, 20 ft. beam, 8 ft. 6 in. depth of hold, and draws only 2 ft. 6 in. of water. She will be propelled by an overhanging stern wheel, 12 ft. diameter, 7 ft. broad, driven by two engines, each 30 horse-power. She is constructed of 3/8 in. iron, which is pierced for rifles, and which will render her ball-proof. She is fitted with watertight compartments. The boilers were placed 54 ft. forward of the engines for the purpose of keeping the vessel on an even keel.” The Empire of the 15th September further reports, “On the vessel's trial trip her speed was tested from Fort Denison to Bradley's Head, a distance of 1 mile and 150 yards. A smart N.E. breeze prevailed, but with this disadvantage the distance was run down in 8 minutes 12 seconds, and up in 6 minutes 53 seconds, giving a speed of nearly 9 knots, with 32 revolutions per minute, with 60 lb. on pressure of gauge, and a very small consumption of coal. Her speed exceeded the builder's expectations by one mile per hour. She is fitted with two sliding keels—one forward, one aft. The officers' cabins are situated aft, and the soldiers' apartments forward; they are very large and lofty. She has a flush deck, on which are placed two cupolas, 12 ft. in diameter and 8 ft. high, each pierced for rifles and 24-pounder howitzers. The commander's station was in a turret above the engine-room, which was also shot-proof and placed aft.” She was provided with space for the storage of 20 tons of coal, and it is interesting to note that while on the Waikato she used local coal, being the first steamer to do so. The Hon. (later Sir) Francis Dillon Bell, a member of the Ministry, represented the New Zealand Government on the occasion of the “Pioneer's” trial. For the trip to New Zealand the stern wheel was removed, and three masts provided to carry sail. The cost of construction was £9,500.page 527
After shipping a supply of ammunition, consisting of 60 cases shot and shell, 600 cartridges for 24-pounders, 1,000 tubes, 10,000 Terry's rifle cartridges, 12,000 caps, and 18,000 revolver-cartridges, the “Pioneer,” in tow of H.M.S. “Eclipse,” left Sydney on the 22nd September, reaching Onehunga on the 3rd October, after a rough trip. The officers attached to the vessel for the trip were Lieutenant G. R. Breton, late of H.M.S. “Iris”; Lieutenant O'Callaghan, H.M.S. “Miranda”; and Mr. Jeffrey, engineer; with a crew of twenty-five men. On the 24th October the “Pioneer,” with two companies of seamen from H.M.S. “Curaçoa,” was towed by H.M.S. “Eclipse” to the Waikato. At the same time the four armoured barges, or gunboats, were also taken to the river. While on active service each of the gunboats was in charge of an officer from H.M.S. “Curaçoa.” I am informed by Admiral Hammick (then a sub-lieutenant), who was in charge of one, which was named the “Ant,” that one was commanded by Midshipman C. S. Hunt, who had been saved from H.M.S. “Orpheus” when that vessel was wrecked on the Manukau bar; another was in charge of Midshipman F. Hudson. The fourth, which was named the “Midge,” was commanded by Midshipman Foljambe. Mr. Foljambe in his Three Years on the Australian Station (1868) tells us that the boat was armed with a 12-pounder gun and a 4.4 in. brass Cohorn mortar, and carried a complement of seven men. These boats were used in the different operations on the Waikato and its branches, and also in carrying stores. Mr. Foljambe was the father of the late Governor-General of New Zealand, Lord Liverpool.
On the 29th October the “Pioneer,” piloted by Mr. Chandeler, and flying the broad pennant of Commodore Sir William Wiseman (“Curaçoa”), after landing at Whangamarino, which commanded the Maori position at Mere-mere, two 40-pounder Armstrong guns, brought by the “Curaçoa” from Sydney, conveyed Lieut.-General Cameron, commander of the troops in New Zealand, on a reconnaissance. Shots were exchanged, but no damage was sustained by the vessel, which returned to headquarters. On the 31st October the “Pioneer” again proceeded up the river as far as Rangiriri, the Maori stronghold. A spot about six miles above Meremere was selected as a landing-place for a force of 640 men and twenty-one officers, with two 12-pounder Armstrong guns. This force was embarked on the “Pioneer” on the 1st November, and landed without opposition. During the afternoon it was found that the Maori had abandoned their position at Meremere, which was then occupied by a party of 250 seamen, under Commander Mayne (“Eclipse”), and 250 men of the 12th and 14th Regiments, under Colonel Austin, from Koheroa. This force was reinforced next day by detachments from the 12th, 14th, 18th, and 70th Regiments, amounting to 500 men.
On the 20th November General Cameron, with a force of 860 men, attacked Rangiriri. To assist in the operations an additional 300 men of the 40th Regiment were embarked on the steamers, to be landed at a selected point, so that they might make an attack on the rear of the main line of the Maori entrenchments while the main body attacked in front. Owing to the wind and current the “Pioneer” and “Avon,” with two of the gunboats, were not able to reach the landing-place decided upon. After a preliminary barrage by the Royal Artillery 12-pounders, under Captain Mercer, and the page 528 naval 6-pounder, under Lieutenant Alexander (“Curaçoa”), the main body attacked the main line of entrenchments and drove the enemy to the centre redoubt, while the party of the 40th Regiment, who had been landed sufficiently near to reach their position, were able to pour a heavy fire on a body of Maori, who were driven from their position and fled towards the Waikare Lake, where a number of them were drowned. The centre redoubt, still holding out against the troops, was attacked by a party of thirty-six men of the Royal Artillery, under Captain Mercer, who was mortally wounded, then by a party of ninety seamen under Commander Mayne, who was wounded. Both attempts were unsuccessful, as was another by a party of seamen under Commander Phillimore (“Curaçoa”), who used hand-grenades. As it was now nearly dark, the General decided to wait until daylight, when it was found that the white flag had been hoisted, and 183 Maori surrendered. Midshipman Watkins (“Curaçoa”) and five men of the Naval Brigade were killed; while, in addition to Commander Mayne, Lieutenants Downs (“Miranda”) and Hotham (“Curaçoa”) (afterwards Admiral Sir C. F. Hotham) and five men were wounded.
In a letter from Ngaruawahia dated the 4th December Wiremu Tamehana (William Thompson), the Maori leader, said that he had lost all his guns and powder. “It is your side alone which is still in arms—that is to say, the steamer which is at work in the Waikato, making pas as it goes on; when they finish one, they come a little farther and make another. Now, then, let the steamer stay away; do not let it come hither. That is all.” But, as the Maori king's flag had been hoisted at Ngaruawahia in the first place, it was decided that the Queen's flag should fly there.
On the 2nd December General Cameron moved on from Rangiriri. As the outlets from Lake Waikare were not fordable, the troops, with their tents and baggage, were conveyed up the river in boats manned by seamen of the Royal Navy, under Commander Phillimore. The following day the troops again moved on, and encamped abreast of the island of Taipori. Here General Cameron was delayed, waiting for provisions, until the 7th, when he moved the camp about five miles farther up the river, and met the “Pioneer,” which had safely passed the last shoal below Ngaruawahia. Next day he went with Commodore Wiseman in the “Pioneer” to Ngaruawahia, which he found to be deserted. He immediately returned to the camp, and, after embarking 500 men of the 40th and 60th Regiments, again proceeded up the river, and landed at Ngaruawahia, where he established headquarters. On the 26th December 300 men of the 50th Regiment left Onehunga on the transport “Alexandra” and the chartered steamer “Kangaroo” for Raglan. On the 28th, 250 men of the Waikato Militia, under Colonel Haultain, embarked on the steamer “Lady Barkly” for the same destination.
The memorandum of the Defence Minister, dated the 20th October, 1863, stated, “But so strongly has the necessity been felt for providing means for commanding the navigation of this important artery of the country, and for preparing means of communication with the military settlers to be located in the Waikato country, and of transporting the necessary supplies, that two smaller steamboats of very light draft of water have been ordered to be constructed in Sydney. These vessels are being constructed of iron.page 529
They will be brought from Sydney in sections, on board a vessel laden with coal, direct to the Waikato River, and put together at the Waikato Heads. These two boats are also specially designed of great power, so as to be used as tugs, and thus provide means of transporting supplies up the river.”
These two boats were named “Koheroa” and “Rangiriri,” probably after the two actions fought on the Waikato. The builders were Messrs. P. Russell and Co. A Sydney newspaper, in describing one of the boats, said, “This boat, which can easily turn in the space of a little more than her own length, may follow the bendings of such a river as the Waikato in its narrowest part, and may either be used as a steam-tug, towing flats for the conveyance of troops, or may be armed with a gun at each of the singular-looking portholes, which are closed with folding doors, in the middle of the lower deck; while the bulwarks on each side are pierced with twenty or thirty loopholes for rifle shooting.” The “Koheroa” was built in less than six weeks from the time the contract was received from Mr. James Stewart, C.E., who had been sent to Sydney by the New Zealand Government to superintend the construction. The sections of the “Koheroa” were brought from Sydney to Port Waikato by the steamer “Beautiful Star.” The first bolt was riveted on the 4th January, 1864, and the vessel was launched on the 15th. I can find no record of these boats being engaged in hostilities, but they were used for transport work for some time.
By the end of January, 1864, General Cameron's headquarters had been moved to Te Rore, on the River Waipa, from which, on the 20th February, with a force that included a naval detachment of 149 men and ten officers, he moved across the Mangapiko River to Te Awamutu, where headquarters were established. During the last few days of this campaign (February, 1864), while the “Avon” was patrolling the river, a shot reached the vessel and killed Lieutenant Mitchell, H.M.S. “Esk.”
From Ngaruawahia Commodore Wiseman and a party of naval and military officers went up the Horotiu River a distance of twelve miles, then transferred to the “Koheroa” and, proceeding twenty-two miles, farther on (to near the site of the present town of Cambridge), located the Maori position, and returned. This incident ends the story of the British Navy on the Waikato River, though the steamers were used for some time longer on transport duty. Colonial crews were placed on board, and the Naval Brigade's operations were transferred to the Tauranga district.
General Cameron transferred his headquarters to Tauranga on the 21st April, 1864. Reinforcements, which had been sent from Auckland on H.M.S. “Harrier” and “Esk,” arrived at Tauranga on the 26th April. On the morning of the 27th the Maori had fired heavily on Fort Colville, but they were shelled out of their position by H.M.S. “Falcon” and the colonial gunboat “Sandfly.” Captain Jenkins (“Miranda”) took charge of the “Sandfly,” which with the “Falcon” pursued the Maori who were retreating along the beach. Two 12-pounder Armstrong guns had been placed aboard the “Sandfly”; one, from the “Falcon,” was manned by “Miranda” men, and the other, from the “Esk,” was manned by men from that ship. Both ships shelled the whares at Otomarakau. At 3 p.m. firing ceased, as the enemy had finally disappeared. Captain Hannibal Marks, of the “Sandfly,” and Senior Lieutenant Hope, in command of the “Falcon,” were mentioned page 530 in despatches for “zeal and exertion.” The gunners from the “Miranda” and “Esk” were mentioned for the “extraordinary precision of their fire from the 12-pounder Armstrongs.”
On the 29th April General Cameron made the attack on Gate Pa, with a force of 1,700 of all ranks, including a Naval Brigade of four field officers, six captains, seven subalterns, thirty-six sergeants, five drummers, 371 rank and file. One hundred and fifty seamen and marines under Commander Hay (“Harrier”), and an equal number of the 43rd Regiment under Lieut.-Colonel Booth, formed the assaulting party. Commander Hay and Lieut.-Colonel Booth fell mortally wounded. Captain Hamilton (“Esk”) was killed. The casualties of the Naval Brigade were: Killed or mortally wounded: “Curaçoa”—Lieutenant Hill and one man; “Miranda”—one man; “Esk”—Captain Hamilton and three men; “Harrier”—Commander Hay and three men; “Eclipse”—one man. Wounded: “Curaçoa”—five men; “Miranda”—Lieutenant Hammick and eight men; “Esk”—Lieutenant Duff and ten men; “Harrier”—four men. Total dead, 12; wounded, 29. Most of the wounded cases were classed as “severe” or “very severe.”
For bravery in carrying Commander Hay, when wounded, off the field, Samuel Mitchell, captain of foretop, and captain's coxswain, was awarded the Victoria Cross, which was presented to him by Sir J. Young, Governor of New South Wales, in Sydney in October.
On the 21st June Colonel Greer, commanding the Tauranga district, attacked the enemy at Te Ranga, and while this attack was being made a naval force from the “Esk” and the “Harrier” was landed for the protection of the camp. Lieutenant Hotham was mentioned in despatches.
Lieut.-General Sir D. A. Cameron left Auckland in January, 1865, for Wanganui on H.M.S. “Falcon,” calling at New Plymouth en route. He arrived at Wanganui on the 20th January, and on the 5th February moved camp to Waitotara, one and a half miles from the mouth of the river. The paddle-steamer “Gundagai” entered the river during the evening, bringing provisions for several days. On the 16th February General Cameron marched to the Patea River, which had been entered by the “Gundagai” and “Sandfly” the day before. The General stated in his report, “They crossed under the most favourable circumstances; but as the latter [“Sandfly”] had not more than a foot to spare at high water, it will not be prudent to bring her into the river again.”
This covers, as far as I can discover, the operations of our first naval adventures. The vessels seem to have done good work, and all that was expected of them. It is to be hoped that the “Calliope's” gunboat, the schooner “Caroline,” the paddle-steamers “Avon” and “Sandfly,” and the river-steamers “Pioneer,” “Koheroa,” and “Rangiriri,” and the men of the British Navy who manned them, will not be forgotten in our histories.