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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)



The first award of the New Zealand Cross was that made to Trooper William Lingard, of Bryce's Kai-iwi Cavalry, Wanganui, in 1869. Mr. Lingard (died in Wellington, 1922) was born in Country Clare, Ireland; he was the son of an Imperial officer who had fought at Waterloo. Lingard was intended for the Army, but he came out to New Zealand in 1863 to try his fortune. He served in the Auckland Militia during the Waikato War, and followed a farmer's life in the Wanganui and Waitotara districts. He was a trooper in the Alexandra Lancers, a troop formed about 1865, and afterwards in the Kai-iwi Cavalry (Captain John Bryce), a corps which did a page 537 great deal of patrol and scouting duty. It was while serving in the Cavalry in front of Tauranga-ika pa, inland from Nukumaru, in 1869, that he won the decoration of the New Zealand Cross by an act of great gallantry.

Four troopers of the Cavalry rode up to the front of the pa one day in order to ascertain whether there were any Maoris in the stockade, as the place seemed unusually silent. These cavalrymen were Troop Sergeant-Major George Maxwell, Troopers Arthur Wright, Henry Wright, and William Lingard. They rode close up to the pa and galloped past the palisade. Suddenly a heavy fire was opened on them, and Maxwell was shot. He stuck to his saddle until he had ridden about a hundred yards from the stockade before he fell. Troopers George Small and Allan Campbell galloped forward and recovered his body under heavy fire. At the same time the horses of both the Wright Brothers were shot down about a chain from the palisading. Arthur Wright jumped off his horse before he fell, and, taking his saddle, ran down near the bush and rejoined the troop in the valley below, 400 or 500 yards from the pa. Henry Wright's horse did not fall until Arthur Wright was half-way to the troop. When the horse tumbled over he rolled on to his rider's leg and pinned him to the ground. The trooper lay in this position under fire, within a very short distance of the stockade; he kept firing his revolver at the palisade, but was unable to use his carbine. A Maori warrior, the locally celebrated Big Kereopa, came out from under the palisading with a long-handled tomahawk, and Wright would have been killed had it not been for the promptitude of Trooper Lingard, who galloped up and helped him away. He pulled him clear of the horse, and protected him under the heavy fire, while he (Wright) retreated, crouching. Lingard, when he saw Wright was in comparative safety, then turned his horse and galloped round to the far side of the pa. A few moment later he returned leading a Maori horse (looted from a settler) which had been tethered to a tutu bush; he cut the line with his sword. After assisting Wright to mount this horse the two troopers rode down the hill and safely rejoined their corps. Undoubtedly, had it not been for Lingard's courage and alacrity, combined with good horsemanship, Trooper Wright would have been tomahawked. The rescue was performed under a heavy fire at close quarters, and Lingard well deserved the New Zealand Cross bestowed upon him on the recommendation of Colonel Whitmore.

Lingard was soon afterwards put in charge of a small party of scouts organized by Colonel Whitmore; he was invalided at Patea, and Sergeant (later Captain) C. Maling was then appointed to the command of the scouts, styled the Crops of Guides.