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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)



page 549

Mr. John Finlay, of Tokaora, Hawera, has done his district and the Dominion good service by his patriotic appeals for fitting recognition of those who fell in the Maori wars. A number of burial places of soldiers in the South Taranaki district were neglected or unmarked until Mr. Finlay took up the question in his excellent articles in the Hawera Star under the heading “Lest We Forget.” His appeals in the cause of those who had helped to make the country fit for white settlement were warmly supported by Mr. James Livingston, of Waipapa, and other South Taranaki residents, and the memorials at Ohawe, Waihi, and elsewhere were the result.

John Finlays are needed in other parts of the North Island. The soldiers' graves in most districts have been attended to carefully by the Department of Internal Affairs and its enthusiastic officer Miss Statham, but there are still unmarked places where soldiers were buried on the battlefields.

Equally important is the duty of indicating in some conspicuous way the sites of notable battlefields, and also the graves, where they can be located, of the gallant Maoris in such places as Orakau. The following are the principal battlefields requiring attention, a duty devolving in the first place on the local residents; public roads in every case pass through or alongside the old fortifications:—

Puketapu pa, Lake Omapere; Rua-pekapeka; No. 3 Redoubt, Huirangi, Waitara; Rangiriri; Rangiaowhia and Hairini; Gate Pa; Sentry Hill, Taranaki; Moturoa (near Waverley, West Coast). At these places and numerous others a wayside cross or other memorial is desirable in order to indicate the sites.


In the Ngapuhi country, North Auckland, the Maoris set a chivalrous example to the pakeha in the care of their antagonists' graves. At Ohaeawai, near Kaikohe (see Vol. I), a monument to the Imperial soldiers who fell there stands in the Maoris church cemetery which occupies the site of the fortification of 1845. Governor Sir George F. Bowen, in a despatch in 1870 to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, mentioned a visit he had recently made to Ohaeawai, North Auckland, and said that the Maoris there had lately erected a pretty church “among the now decayed palisades and rifle-pits,” and that they had reserved the whole of this pa as a cemetery. The Governor continued: “When the Bishop of Auckland shall have consecrated this new burial ground the Maoris intend to remove into it the remains of our soldiers who now lie in unmarked graves in the neighbouring forest, and to erect a monument over them; so that, as an aged chief, formerly conspicuous among our enemies, said to me, ‘The brave warriors of both races, the white skin and the brown, now that all strife between them is forgotten, may sleep side by side until the end of the world.’

“I question,” the Governor concluded, “if there be a more touching episode in the annals of the warfare of even civilized nations in either ancient or modern times.” (Appendices to Journal of the House of Representatives, 1871.)