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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)


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The surveyors engaged in cutting up the South Taranaki confiscated lands for settlement, 1866–68, carried on their work under adventurous and often very perilous conditions. It was remarked of the surveyors that they really performed the duty of outlying pickets to the troops garrisoning the frontier redoubts. The following are extracts from the private journal kept by the late Mr. S. Percy Smith, F.R.G.S., ex-Surveyor General, when he, as a district surveyor in Taranaki, was employed in laying out roads and surveying sections for townships and military settlements between the Wai-ngongoro and the Waitotara. With Mr. Smith at this period were his fellow-surveyors, Messrs. G. W. Williams, C. A. Wray, and F. Wilson, each in charge of a party.

19th April, 1866 (at New Plymouth).—Getting ready for Patea, for the survey. Received from the Militia officer five tents and ten revolvers, &c., for the men. Many people think we are running a great risk by going to such a dangerous place as Patea.

7th June (Camp at Kakaramea).—Upon coming into camp we found that Captain Newland's Company of Patea Rangers had arrived to furnish us with covering-parties.

14th June.—Rode with Mr. Carrington, Major McDonnell, and troopers to choose sites for blockhouses. First went to a hill inland of Kakaramea, where a good site was chosen, as was also the site of the township for military settlers. This is Colonel Haultain's idea of putting the town near the bush. Will it ever be a town? We shall see. We then rode to another hill, near the old settlement of Manutahi, which was also selected. Here we discovered fresh traces of the Hauhaus, and a place where they had been lying in wait. We then returned to camp.

15th June.—Rode with Mr. Carrington and McDonnell to Wai-ngongoro After passing Manawapou we went over a most beautiful country for ten miles—very level, and a great deal of grass, especially near the sea. We were most hospitably received by Captain Dawson and the other officers of the 18th quartered there.

16th June (Wai-ngongoro).—This is one of the nicest posts in this part of the country. One redoubt is situated on the southern bank of the river, and on top of the cliff overhanging the sea. The other is on the northern side of a rise commanding a beautiful view of the plains around here, dotted with “hostile” cattle and horses and backed by Mount Egmont, which on this clear frosty morning looked superb. At 12 we started back for Kakaramea and got on all well as far as the Waihi Stream, some three miles from the Wai-ngongoro. Here Lieutenant Wirihana, of the Native Contingent, advised us to ride on, in case of the Hauhaus being about. My horse, being very fresh, would insist upon keeping about 40 yards ahead of the rest. As we reached the point where the Ketemarae Road turns off from the General's road along which we were travelling I heard Wirihana call out something to me which I did not catch at first, but tried to pull up my horse; this after a time I succeeded in doing. I then saw that they all had stopped, and I heard them call out “Hauhaus,” and they pointed behind me. I turned my head towards a clump of flax-bushes and then saw a lot of Hauhaus about 40 yards from me rising up out of the fern, and at the same instant they poured in a volley at us. Of page 529 course we all rode off as fast as possible, with the bullets flying about our ears, as they kept up an incessant fire for a long way. Some of the balls were unpleasantly near, and I could see them and hear them striking the flax as we rode along. We recrossed the Waihi, where we saw another party trying to cut us off, and reached our last night's quarters, Wai-ngongoro in safety, and very thankful to God I feel for our miraculous escape. None of us was hit, though there were more than forty Hauhaus firing at us as hard as they could. If it had not been for Wirihana, who saw their heads moving in the flax, we should all have just ridden into the ambush and probably all have perished. Captain Dawson gave us some ten troopers and fifty of the 18th Regiment to go back as an escort part of the way. Upon reaching the scene of the ambush we saw some of the wretches in the distance inland, and reached Manawapou in safety. Thence we had another escort as far as Maori Bridge—needless, I think—and I finally reached my camp at Kakaramea at 8, whilst Mr. Carrington and McDonnell and the two troopers went on to Patea.

18th June.—Rode into Patea first thing to see Mr. Carrington. The rebels have written in to say that they are about to commence “slaying the pakeha” again. Returned and commenced laying out township. Always take out covering-party now.

7th July.—A Hauhau boy captured the other day was sent back and came in again to-day with letters from Te Ranga-o-te-whenua, one written in English (or rather Irish), telling the commanding officer to put a stop to the surveys or the surveyors will be killed.

9th July.—About 130 more military settlers arrived from Opotiki, on the east coast, to be stationed here. Surely they have enough men to furnish us more covering-parties now.

19th July.—Have been principally in the bush lately cutting out sections, roads, &c., but get on very slowly, as I often have to work three parties in one, as the Militia can only supply one covering-party of twenty men for my three parties. To-day cut one road through the township (Kakaramea) towards Manawapou through the bush—beautiful level country and open bush. The covering-parties come to great grief generally in the bush. Don't think they would be of much use if attacked.

20th July.—Explored across Von Tempsky's Gorge for road, but only discovered a pretty waterfall. Afterwards found a good crossing and carried the road from the township to the top of “Gentle Annie.” Find it is a beautiful place; old cultivations surrounded with ngaio trees. Covering-parties came to great grief coming home a short-cut across the mouth of the gorge.

21st July.—Traversing the Patea until stopped by an impassable cliff. Left the covering-party on a hill all day. Discovered fresh signs of the rebels having been down here in canoes.

23rd July.—Ross's Rangers left for Manawapou preparatory to the whole force leaving. I understand that Major McDonnell has instructions to “go in” at the Hauhaus.

27th July.—Captain Newland having sent down three carts, we packed up and left for Kakaramea at 12 for Manawapou, and I am not sorry to leave the place either.

28th July.—The men all refused to go out to work as they consider it too dangerous with only a covering-party of twenty men. Several of our men have left and joined the Military Settlers.

1st August.—Have been doing nothing all this time. This evening the Major goes out with some two hundred men to attack the rebels. Most of our men go also.

2nd August.—Expedition returned. They spent a very cold night, and at daylight rushed and took a village called Pokaikai, killing some page 530 seven natives and taking four or five prisoners. Aperahama, a man of some note, was killed. Poor Spain, a man who lately left us to join Wilson's Company, was shot by our own men whilst rushing into a whare where there were a lot of rebels. Lots of guns brought back.

4th August.—Last night an expedition consisting of two hundred men went out to attack a supposed stronghold at Manutahi. Williams, Wray, and I accompanied them. We marched all night through beautiful country, but found nothing of the rebels except some fresh signs and the cavalry horses which strayed away a few days since.

6th August.—Got to work again after a fortnight's idleness, cutting out sections inland of the redoubt. The force moves on again soon to a place called “The Round Bush” (near Hawera). That will suit us capitally as a camp.

7th August.—Went out with McDonnell and the Native Contingent to meet the Hauhaus of the Pakakohe section, who have after their thrashing at Pokaikai expressed a wish for peace. We met about thirty of them at Ohangai, a beautiful old pa between the Tawhiti and the Tangahoe Streams. It is the same place that we spent our Sunday at on our return from the Taupo journey (1858). The Hauhaus appear a miserable lot of dirty-looking wretches. They brought in their arms and took the oath, but, strange to say, McDonnell allowed them to keep their arms. I think he is wrong. However, I suppose he knows best. They had a 70th rifle amongst them, and a Military Train carbine.

14th August.—Some mounted rebels came down to Waihi and fired into the military convoy, but did no damage.

16th August.—Traversing the Tawhiti (near Hawera); very bad cutting. Newland went to-day to swear in some of the rebels at Meremere, but left them their arms. What a farce it is!

28th August.—Cutting on the main road to Ketemarae Road. Here two rebels galloped down and fired at us, but at such a distance that they did no harm.

30th August.—Carried on the main road to the Waihi Stream. Fired into again, but at such a distance as to do no harm. It appears that they keep two videttes there always.

31st August.—Wray, whilst out, suddenly saw two natives ride in to within 80 yards of his party and deliberately fire into him. They returned the fire, when the rebels quietly rode off.

1st September.—Traversing the Tawiti not far from Keteonetea, the Hauhaus came down and fired at us at 500 yards and kept it up for some time. The Native Contingent doubled out to our relief, when the covering-party mistook them for rebels and fired into them, but luckily without effect.

14th September.—Having completed all the work about here (Hawera district)—eighty allotments—we removed camp to Ketemarae, as the new camp is called, though not where the pa of that name used to be. Skirmishes going on all day at the edge of the bush between our men out hunting and the natives.

23rd September.—The Hauhaus laid a successful ambush to-day for the bread-cart coming from Hawera. They rushed into it, killed one of the troopers, and got some of the bread. We could see some of the affair from the redoubt. Newland turned out and exchanged shots with them, then sent down and put Captain Smith, commanding at Hawera, under arrest for sending up only three troopers as an escort. The man's name was Haggerty; he was most brutally tomahawked.

25th September.—The Native Contingent had a skirmish with the Hauhaus near the scene of the ambush on Sunday. They killed and cut up one man.

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28th September.—Saw some Hauhaus on the north side of the Wai-ngongoro when at work. Wright, who went down to the river to bring up some meat killed yesterday, saw some and fired at them; they ran.

2nd October.—Men off pay yesterday and to-day. Refused to go out without covering-parties. McDonnell returned this morning after attacking a village last night on the north side of the Wai-ngongoro called Pungarehu. They rushed the place at dawn, and had a tough fight of it before the place was burnt and the inhabitants killed. The Hauhaus from a neighbouring village came down, it is said, to the number of a hundred and tried to surround our people, who, after some time, were obliged to retire with the wounded, the Hauhaus following them up to the edge of the bush. Two of our men went out with the expedition—Wright and Allen. The former, while trying to save a wounded man, was shot in the knee, and, poor fellow, died soon after reaching Wai-ngongoro. Another man, Green, who had lately left us to join the Wanganui Rangers, was shot whilst trying to carry Wright, and died soon after. The farrier-major of the cavalry, Duff, a most plucky fellow, was shot at the beginning of the affair. Three were killed; Cornet Hirtzel wounded, and Spencer, volunteer attached to the Native Contingent, and two other men wounded. The Hauhaus lost killed thirty-five, and nine prisoners, several of whom are wounded. Surely this ought to make them give in, although our people had to retreat. This is their most severe loss for a very long time.

3rd October.—All hands went down to the Wai-ngongoro to bury poor Wright. The three dead men were all buried with military honours in the little graveyard [Ohawe] used by the soldiers on the southern side of the river. Our men carried Wright to his last resting-place.

8th October.—Morrison's Company of Taranaki Military Settlers arrived here from New Plymouth to reinforce the Major. Some of them are left at Hawera.

17th October.—Doing nothing all day. The men would not go out to go on with the work. Some Hauhaus came in (to give themselves up); only a few, however. At 8 p.m. McDonnell started with all the men in camp for Keteonetea.

18th October.—The expedition returned which started out last night. It appears they attacked the village of Oraukawa, but owing to the mismanagement of one of the subalterns it was a failure, so far. They succeeded in killing four Hauhaus and in bringing in one wretched old woman a prisoner. She seemed awfully frightened as she came up to the redoubt, no doubt thinking she was going to be killed. The Native Contingent always makes an immense fuss returning from an expedition, with war-dances and songs. Our men succeeded in shooting two bullocks, which will keep us in meat for some time, but our other stores are nearly out, and the difficulty of getting anything up from Patea here is tremendous. We have to trust entirely to the Government convoys, and they have as much as they can do in supplying the forces.

19th October.—Captain Newland went out last night with a considerable force to try Keteonetea again; left at 10.30 and returned this morning. The natives were on the alert, however. Captain McDonnell was leading with the best of the Contingent through a patch of bush where it was as dark as Erebus, when a Hauhau sentry jumped up close to him and fired, sending the ball right through his thigh. Firing also commenced on their right and front, so Newland thought it best to retire, which he did, the Hauhaus following to the edge of the bush. It is said that two or three Hauhaus were killed, but it is not known for certain. Winiata, the celebrated toa of the Contingent, killed the man who shot McDonnell, who, it is said, will not be able to take the field for many months.

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20th October.—Doing nothing all day, as we could not obtain a covering-party. Sir George Grey has arrived at Manawapou.

21st October (Sunday).—Ten kupapas, or allies, arrived in camp to-day from Wanganui. As they came near the three clumps of trees—which, by the way, is a very favourite place for ambushes—we saw from the redoubt about sixty Hauhaus creeping up to intercept them. A party was sent out and drove them back. It is thought they knew of the Governor's arrival in the district and thought to catch him.

23rd October.—His Excellency Sir George Grey arrived in camp; came round by Wai-ngongoro, where he was yesterday digging moa-bones. He succeeded, I believe, in getting a good many on the sandy neck of land on the south side of the mouth of the river. Sir George sent for me soon after his arrival, and I had a long talk with him about the surveys. He proposes to raise a corps of Guides, composed of the natives who have given in, to be under the direction and for the protection of surveyors. If the natives will go, it will do very well.

27th October.—McDonnell took out a lot of men and brought in part of the mill in Ketemarae clearing. They exchanged shots with the Hauhaus, but nothing more came of it. Three hundred and twenty men of the 18th Royal Irish marched into camp from Wai-ngongoro and Manawapou, under Major Rocke, who takes command of the post of course. I don't think McDonnell likes it. It looks as if the Governor was going to pitch into the Hauhaus, massing all these men here. The Governor and staff came up also and pitched their tents near the 18th.

29th October.—Sir George Grey has asked me to make him a map of the district. An expedition started at midnight last night and returned this morning, under Major Rocke, consisting mostly of the 18th. They attacked the place where McDonnell was wounded, Popoia, and took it, but only killed one Hauhau, with one of the troopers on our side mortally wounded. The Hauhaus appear to have taken warning from the lessons McDonnell has given them, and it is very difficult to catch them napping now.

28th November (At Ketemarae).—It is reported that the Waikatos have arrived at Pungarehu with the intention of “eating up” the pakeha. No Hauhaus have been seen here for some time. It is supposed that they have gone a long way inland to get out of the road of the troops. There are none but colonial troops at this post now, the 18th having retired to their own posts, and have taken up a new one about two miles from here towards Keteonetea. They (the soldiers) are to give us covering-parties now.

30th November.—Moved over to Turuturu-mokai and camped close to the redoubt.

1st December.—Major Noblett (in charge of the redoubt) told me that the natives are coming about again—that the friendly natives of Matangarara have seen their fires in the bush.

9th December.—We have been laying out roads in the country lying inland of the Tawhiti and inland as far as Mangemange. This is a most beautiful country. The bush contains no end of lovely little clearings with quantities of fruit-trees. There are constant reports that the Hauhaus have returned, so that perhaps we may meet some of them. I hope not, however, for some of the soldiers would come to grief. They make most excellent fellows for covering-parties. They are not afraid of getting wet nor of going first through the high fern; and, best of all, they do not grumble as those wretched Rangers do. Besides, it is as good as a play to hear the extraordinary comical tales they are always spinning to each other in the richest brogue. Some of them sometimes take a billhook from the men and go on working for a change. I was through this country in 1858, on page 533 my way from Wanganui to Taranaki, but remember very little of it. We were through at Keteonetea the other day. There is nothing left of the fine pa there used to be there but a few posts and acres of clover. I saw Hone Pihama on the 7th. He told me that the Waikato are coming down in three weeks’ time on their way to Rangitikei, and that it won't be safe for any of us to come across them.

1st January, 1867 (at Camp Turuturu).—Engaged in cutting up sections inland of the Tawhiti Stream. For the last few days we have observed a very large fire away inland, some miles apparently, and the friendly natives tell me that it is the Hauhaus burning some large swamps which exist in that direction and which are called Te Ngaere. In all probability they are the same places that are to be seen from the top of Mount Egmont. The Hauhaus, having been driven from this neighbourhood by the troops, have retired there, where they have some plantations.

7th January.—The Waikato who arrived a short time since at Pungarehu are said to be disgusted at the people here because they won't fight, and are going back.

11th January.—Went out with Wray to the place where the natives stopped him on the 7th. It was just at Taumaha, the place where we all went with McDonnell one night when we recovered the cavalry horses. We had not gone very far when several natives came up and insisted upon our stopping, as we were not on our land—which, by the way, we were. After a great deal of talk we agreed to refer the matter to the Major. We then adjourned with the natives to the village they are building at Taumaha, where we partook of potatoes and pumpkins. This is a most beautiful little spot, a clearing in the high scrub and bush, surrounded by and divided by belts of beautiful ngaio trees; under these the natives are building their huts, and they look very pretty indeed. On returning to camp I reported our stoppage to McDonnell, who rode up at once, and we then went on to Paraone's whare, and had a long talk with him and other natives. It ended in their promishing not to interrupt us again.

11th February.—Could not get a covering-party today, so both survey-parties went out together and cut line back into the bush. At 2 p.m. we got into a pretty little clearing, where our dogs were driven in by some native dogs. It being such an unusual thing for native dogs to show so much pluck, we imagined there might be some Hauhaus about, so left for camp.

14th February.—Went back to Turuturu-mokai. I hear from the friendly natives that it was very lucky for us we did retire on the 11th when we heard the dogs barking, as a Hauhau has since come in who says that they saw us just as we disappeared into the bush. Good job we did not get a volley.

19th February.—Out in the bush. A large covering-party to-day under command of Lieutenant Chapman.

20th February.—Took my party and traversed up the Tawhiti in the forest. Covering-party under Lieutenant Haines, 18th Regiment (Royal Irish). Wilson with covering-party from Ketemarae went up to the mill and traversed down. At about 4 o'clock we were very near each other. Our dogs got hold of a pig a little ahead of the party. The Native Contingent, who were with Wilson's party, immediately they heard the dogs dashed off through the bush in a tremendous fright, fancying the Hauhaus were upon them, and were only prevented from going right home by Lieutenant Gudgeon, after they had got some distance. This shows how much they are to be depended on.

26th February.—In cutting a line a little inland of Keteonetea to-day I came across a strong fortification built right across the path inland, but so that forces coming along the track would never know of its existence page 534 until they received a murderous volley. The inside of the redoubt was shaded by a beautiful growth of karaka trees. It is along this path that the 18th Regiment (Royal Irish) went when they took Tirotiro-moana. From the account of those who accompanied the expedition it would appear that they had some exceedingly bad country to cross, and in the forest, too; but the soldiers appear to have been able to get along quite as well as the Militia and the Native Contingent. It had always been supposed, until General Chute's march behind Mount Egmont proved the contrary, that British troops could not get along in the bush, but from what I have seen of them—and I have had plenty of opportunities of seeing them in every description of rough country lately—they are every bit as good as the Military Settlers who formed part of the column which took Opotiki under Major Brassey, and who were supposed to be (at least by themselves) very excellent bushmen. I must say that I like the 18th very much, and that my respect for the soldier has considerably increased lately. I have had these men out with me, wet through all day long and forced to push their way through heavy fern and scrub, encumbered by their heavy rifles, bayonets, and cartouche-boxes, and not a grumble to be heard.

20th March (at Manutahi).—All hands are engaged in cutting up the land for Jonas's and Ross's companies [military settlers]. I took two parties and encamped for a few days between Otoki and the Hingahape. One of William's men set fire to the country some time during the great gale, and it has made a clean sweep of everything and extended some miles inland. It is a very good thing, as otherwise this country would be almost impenetrable owing to the dense character of the scrub. The Maoris are furious about it. They say it has burnt their houses and cultivations, but I think they are disgusted because it has opened up a road by which their settlements may be reached by troops. There is a nice lot of rascals congregated a little way inland at a place called Whakamara.

23rd March.—Returned to Manutahi. I met a native to-day just as I was leaving off who told me the people would not allow us to go on with the survey. I hope we are not going to have any trouble with them. Colonel Gorton returned to Wanganui yesterday, having been relieved by Colonel Lepper. They are getting up two companies of Militia to protect this district, as the 18th will soon leave and the Military Settlers will soon be off pay. I believe they get men readily at 2s. 6d. per diem.

29th March.—Returned to headquarters camp at Manutahi, having been stopped by the natives several times. They seem determined not to allow the survey to go on. I hardly like going up so near Whakamara when they offer so much opposition, as they could so easily cut us off, and I think there are plenty of men at that place who would be only too glad to do it, but they won't so long as Paraone and the Mokoia people live where they are. Reported the matter to Mr. Richmond.

24th April.—Was stopped again to-day by the natives of Whakamara. I don't know when this part of the survey will be finished. I expect some of us will come to grief yet.

29th April (at Wanganui).—Saw Mr. Parris, who gave me letters of instructions from Mr. Richmond to carry on the survey of the block between the Whenuakura and the Waitotara for Nos. 8 and 10 Taranaki Military Settlers and the Patea Rangers. This is good news for them, as it is a very fine district, and much nearer Wanganui than the north side of the Wai-ngongoro, where they expected to get their lands.

2nd May.—Rode on (from Kakaramea) to Manutahi, and thence accompanied Messrs. Parris and Booth to see Paraone, who informed us that the Hauhaus of Whakamara would turn us back if we attempt to page 535 survey again. The natives are evidently getting cheeky now that the soldiers are leaving. Hear that some Hauhaus who came to visit the friendly natives at Opunake have cut down the flagstaff in the redoubt. There are no troops there now.

11th May.—Hearing that all the Hauhaus were holding a meeting at Putahi relative to the new survey, I determined to take the opportunity to finish a line that was very much needed near Whakamara. Wray and I went out there and luckily finished it without interruption.

15th May (at Kakaramea).—Moved from our tattered tents to a house inside the redoubt, which is a deal more comfortable. Mr. Booth held a meeting of natives at Hukatere (on the Patea River) to-day. They informed him that they would offer every obstacle to the prosecution of the survey. This is a nice state of affairs, truly! The matter has been referred to Wellington, so we may have to wait a month before we can get to work.