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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)



It is curious to recall the fact that there was a time when it was suggested that Sikhs should be used against the Maoris. The resources of the colony were strained to their utmost in the final wars of 1869–70 and in the maintenance of large Armed Constabulary and Maori field forces, and, although the services of Imperial troops had been discontinued for some years, it was proposed to apply for them again if they were available. The Hon. F. D. Bell and Dr. J. E. Featherston, New Zealand Commissioners, went to London and endeavoured to obtain Imperial troops, and they consulted Lord Napier of Magdala, who was Commander-in-Chief in India, on the question of the employment of an Indian force against the Hauhaus.

Lord Napier informed the Commissioners at this interview that they could not hope to induce the Indian authorities to allow of volunteering from the Gurkha regiments (of which there were only four), nor could they succeed themselves in raising a true Gurkha force of trained men, in the face of the obstacles against their leaving India. As regarded a Sikh regiment, they might without difficulty raise a corps of two thousand trained men or even more; for various reasons it would be expedient first to obtain the concurrence of the Home Government in the proposal. Though Lord Napier did not think obstacles would be interposed by the Indian Government, under fair conditions of service, against the enrolment of Sikhs, he expressed great repugnance to the suggestion of employing the Indian race against the Maori, and strongly advised the Commissioners not to resort to enlistment in India at all, but to engage European soldiers, and these only in England, on the ground that an Indian force would be found in every respect inferior to a European, and cost very nearly if not quite as much in the field, besides the ultimate expense of its return to India. The end of it all was that the New Zealand Government carried on the final campaign against Te Kooti with friendly Maori contingents and the Armed Constabulary.