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The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume II: The Hauhau Wars, (1864–72)



In July, 1869, when Lieutenant Preece was with Colonel Whitmore at Wellington after the return from the Urewera expedition, the steamer “St. Kilda” arrived from the East Coast with one hundred or one hundred and twenty Ngati-Porou men under Hati te Houkamau (a young chief from Hicks Bay), Paratene Ngata (father of the Hon. A. T. Ngata, M.P.), and Peneamine Tuhaka; the last-named had been sent up to recruit the force. Lieutenant Preece was sent in charge of them, with instructions to march them from Wanganui to Patea and hand them over to Major Noake, A.C. On arrival at Patea it was found that Major Noake had just returned from an up-river expedition with about one hundred and fifty prisoners of the Pakakohi Tribe under Taurua, and another very old page 513 chief. They were camped at the old Patea Township, about opposite the present railway-station.

After Lieutenant Preece had handed the men over there was a parade, and a curious incident occurred when the parade was dismissed. A man of No. 9 Division, Armed Constabulary (Ngati-Porou), stepped out and advanced with outstretched hands to the spot where the officers were standing; with them was Colonel Thomson, a retired Imperial officer. The Maori cried, “Aue! Ko Tamihana!” Surprised at the man's recognition, Colonel Thompson said, addressing Sub-Inspector Ferris, that there must be a mistake. But the Maori said, “You are Tamihana; you were in the 58th at Rua-pekapeka.” Then he explained that he had been taken prisoner on the East Coast by the Ngapuhi, as a boy, and carried up to the Bay of Islands. He was with Tamati Waka's friendlies in Heke's War (1845–46), and after many years returned to his tribe. He remembered “Tamihana” at the siege of Rua-pekapeka.

“This is an extraordinary recognition,” said Colonel Thomson. “At the Bay of Islands I was a young ensign with black whiskers, and generally in uniform. Now I am an old man with a grey beard, and in mufti, and yet this Maori knows me at first sight.”