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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)



Some months after the attack on Sentry Hill the neighbouring Hauhau pa Manutahi was captured by the British in this way. On the 8th September, 1864, Colonel Warre, with a force of 500 Regulars and Militia and some friendly Maoris, advanced upon Mataitawa, and found the direct approach blocked by a stockaded fort at Manutahi. The Bush Rangers, under Major Atkinson, skirmished up and were received by a fire from the palisades. Major Ryan, with a company of the 70th, and Captain Martin, R.A., with two guns, came on in support, and on the flank of the position being turned the natives abandoned the stockade. The fortification was of a rather unusual figure. It was nearly 150 yards in length, and the shape was somewhat that of a double concave lens, 20 yards wide in the middle but expanding towards the flanks, which rested on the bush on either side. The place was built across an open fern patch; the track to Mataitawa went through the bush in rear. The pa had parapets 8 feet to 10 feet thick in rear of the palisading and casemated covered ways. The troops pushed on without further opposition and secured Mataitawa. The niu flagstaff at Manutahi was cut down, and the palisading and whares were destroyed. One Maori was killed and one mortally wounded in the encounter.

On the 11th September Colonel Warre, with three companies of the 70th Regiment under Major Rutherford, 150 men under Major Saltmarshe, and an advance-guard of fifty friendly Maoris, page 29 marched towards Te Arei pa, the fortress which had so long baffled Major-General Pratt in 1860–61. The force got within a few hundred yards of the pa under cover of thick fog. When discovered the troops were fired on by the Maoris on the hill, but the place was soon abandoned. The works were found to be very formidable. There were trenches 15 feet wide, and—a novelty in Maori fortification—a parapet about 16 feet thick, covered by a line of rifle-pits or a covered way, about 40 feet in front of the line of the stockade. Thus, had artillery been used, the Maori defenders, being in front of instead of in rear of the stockade, would have been entirely under cover. The shot and shell thrown into the stockade would have been quite ineffectual, and the garrison would have been able to receive any attacking column after the palisades had apparently been breached. Lieutenant Ferguson, R.E., had the construction of a redoubt on this very beautiful and commanding position overlooking the Waitara.

The original of the lament for the dead at Te Morere, as recited to me by Te Kahu-pukoro and Whareaitu, begins:—

E hiko te uira ki tai ra,
Kapo taratahi ana
Te tara ki Turamoe,
He tohu o te mate, na—i.

The poem is chanted to-day on the death of people of the Nga-Ruahine and other clans of Ngati-Ruanui.

Sentry Hill as it is to-day is an example of the unfortunate destruction of a famous national monument. All that remains of the fort-hill is a mere shell, like a hollow tooth. The crest of the mound has disappeared, and Morere has been gutted—cut away by the Railway and local bodies, and spread over the rail-lines as ballast and the roads as metal. When I last visited the place I found only a portion of one of the flanking earthworks as yet undestroyed. If the work of demolition were stayed now it would be possible to save part of the hill as a war memorial, but the celebrated Morere has been disfigured hopelessly.

A famous place in American history which suffered a similar fate to that which had befallen Sentry Hill is Pawnee Rock well described by Colonel Inman in “The Old Santa Fé Trail.” This great rock, the scene of many fights between United States troops and frontiersmen and the Indian warriors, has been torn away by the railroad and the settlers, Colonel Inman records, and little now remains of the famous landmark. Recently, however, the Government erected a monument to mark the spot.