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

(Chapter 37) — The Forest Rangers and a Scouting Expedition

(Chapter 37)

The Forest Rangers and a Scouting Expedition

Shortly before the operations at Orakau (1864) some of the Forest Rangers distinguished themselves—though unofficially—by a daring expedition into the Maori country south of the Puniu River. They found camp life under Imperial control very irksome and slow after the freedom they had enjoyed in their active and useful campaigning, and parties of them relieved the comparative monotony by scouting along the frontier, occasionally skirmishing at long range with the Maoris. During March a small party from the two companies, under Lieutenants Roberts and Westrupp (Jackson and Von Tempsky were on leave), made an expedition from Kihikihi into the unknown enemy country across the Puniu. Keeping the Tokanui hills (the “Three Sisters”) on their right, they penetrated a considerable distance to the south-east, and after crossing some streams (the Mangatutu and Waikeria were two of these small rivers) they bivouacked on a wooded hill above the large settlement called Wharepapa, where there was a gathering of fugitives from the occupied country. The smoke was rising from the cooking hangis in the early morning as the Rangers descended the hill. The Maoris abandoned their breakfast and their village when the dreaded “Mirihia” (“Militia,” as they distinguished the carbineers) came doubling down upon them, and retreated so speedily that Roberts and his comrades found it useless to follow them, and contented themselves with the captured pork and potatoes. It was not until long afterwards that Roberts ascertained the name of the village. This is one of the venturesome expeditions of the Rangers which did not figure in despatches. In fact, it was not appreciated by the Imperial officers. When Roberts and Westrupp reported to the officer in command at Kihikihi Redoubt the result of their scouting enterprise he had them and their Rangers transferred to Te Awamutu Camp for their “wholly unauthorized” zeal.