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The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume I (1845–64)

(Chapter 1) — Early Military Operations in New Zealand

page 441

(Chapter 1)

Early Military Operations in New Zealand

THE FIRST OCCASION on which British forces came into conflict with Maori warriors (leaving out of consideration Captain Cook's trifling encounters) was the punitive expedition to the Taranaki coast in 1834, when H.M.S. “Alligator” and the schooner “Isabella,” from Sydney, landed bodies of sailors and soldiers who had been sent to rescue Mrs. Guard and her two children captured when the barque “Harriet” was wrecked near Cape Egmont. The troops employed (besides the sailors) were sixty-five men of the 50th Regiment, under Captain Johnson. On the 8th October the forces landed on the beach near Waimate pa, on the south side of the Kapuni River, and fired heavily on the Maoris after securing the remaining child, little Jack Guard. A British flag of truce was flying at the time, but the troops got out of hand. After the sharp skirmishing the force escaladed the evacuated hill-fort Waimate, which had been shelled on the 1st October, and also captured the pa Orangi-tuapeka, on the northern side of the Kapuni. On the 11th October both fortified villages were destroyed.

The first British troops stationed in New Zealand were 100 men of the 80th Regiment, under Major Bunbury, who arrived at Auckland from Sydney in 1840.

In 1842, as the result of an outbreak of war between the Ngai-te-Rangi and Arawa Tribes in the Bay of Plenty—an aftermath, by a curious chain of circumstances, of Taraia's cannibal raid on Ongare, Whanake's pa on Katikati Harbour—a military expedition was despatched from Auckland to Tauranga. Two traders' boats had been seized, and as one of these was retained by the Arawa, of Maketu, it was proposed to attack that pa. Major Bunbury took fifty of his men, and was given three guns from H.M.S. “Tortoise,” a store-ship loading kauri spars at the Great Barrier. The Government brig “Victoria” landed the small force at the entrance to Tauranga Harbour, and Bunbury encamped at Hopu-kiore, a short distance east of Mount Maunganui. Several weeks were spent there quietly, and then the expedition was withdrawn, after serving as a kind of buffer between the two tribes, which presently made peace. Lieutenant Bennett, R.E., had shortly before this examined and reported on a number of the Maori fortified positions at and around Tauranga.