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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 187


A MILE AND a half north of the town of Hawera, along the Turuturu Road, where the clear trout-stream of the Tawhiti curves round the base of a great parapeted pa of ancient Maoridom, is a quiet grassy knoll sacred to the memory of the most desperate combat in the whole of the Taranaki Wars. Within a wire fence on the left that divides the green fields from the main road the traveller may see the slight undulations of the ground that indicate the long-since razed parapets of the Turuturu-mokai Redoubt, the “Rorke's Drift” of Taranaki. No memorial marks the spot where a little band of Armed Constabulary and Military Settlers—nearly all Irishmen—held the fort successfully against Titokowaru's Hauhau warriors though three-fourths of their number were shot down or tomahawked. A monument stands on the battlefield of Te Ngutu-o-te-manu, where Von Tempsky fell; the site of the Turuturu-mokai deserves at least a stone of remembrance. Turuturu-mokai Redoubt was built in 1866 by a company of the 18th Royal Irish Regiment. The Governor, Sir George Grey, on his visit to Taranaki in that year to direct Colonel McDonnell's operations against the Hauhaus, had selected the site for the redoubt. The spot was close to the great ramparts of the ancient walled pa Turuturu-mokai, a stronghold with a history dating back more than twelve generations. It was captured about three centuries ago from its builders by the Ngati-Tupaea Tribe, whose descendants now live at various settlements east of Hawera. When the Military Settlers in 1866–67 occupied the country at and around Turuturu-mokai the Ngati-Tupaea went inland a few miles and fixed their headquarters at the terraced pa Puke-tarata, now the tribal burying-ground, on a hill above the Mangemange Stream. There are ancient forts on both sides of the Tawhiti Stream; on the south side, close to the road from Hawera, is Te Umu-a-Tongahake, with its ruined parapets and trenches. The British redoubt would have been secure had it been constructed a little farther eastward on the crown of the hill; as will be seen, its interior was open to a raking fire from the slightly higher ground.

page 188
Plan of Turuturu-mokai Redoubt.

Plan of Turuturu-mokai Redoubt.

(1) N. W. flanking bastion held by John Beamish, Gill, Connors, and others. (2) S. E. bastion defended by Milmoe, Cosslett Johnston, and others. The crosses indicate where various members of the garrison were killed.

By the beginning of 1868 several military settlers had fixed their homes on the fertile plains about Turuturu-mokai, and the redoubt—now without a garrison, for conditions were more peaceful for the time being—was used by one of these pioneer farmers, Mr. Morrison, as a pen for his sheep. Another settler, Cosslett Johnston—a Wexford man, a veteran of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Taranaki Military Settlers—had taken up page 189 his 80 acres grant near Keteonetea, within sight of the deserted redoubt, and had built a whare. Up to the edge of the heavy bush on the east and north the gently undulating land was covered with high fern, flax, tutu, and koromiko, with here and there native cultivations and groves of peach-trees. Maori tracks wound across the plain, through the old cultivation and into the Maori clearings cut from the heavy forest that came close down to Johnston's farm.

After the killing of the three bush sawyers near the Waingongoro, Colonel McDonnell detailed a detachment of twenty-five Armed Constabulary, under Captain George Ross, to garrison Turuturu-mokai and put it in order. The few military settlers in the neighbourhood came in at night, working on their sections during the day. The redoubt was so small that the officer of the detachment had to live a whare outside the work. The parapets were low, and had been broken down in places; they were about 5 feet high, and were surrounded by a trench 6 feet deep. Just inside the gateway, where the ditch was crossed by a plank, there was a small earthwork, a traverse to blind the entrance. The little garrison set to work to repair the redoubt and strengthen the parapets but the work had not been completed when the Hauhau attack was delivered. There were no loopholes, and the parapet was not topped with sandbags, with spaces between for rifle-fire—a most necessary thing in these frontier forts. It was impossible, therefore, for the defenders to enfilade the trench, or, in fact, to fire at all, without exposing themselves over the earthwork. There was a plank walk running along the inner side of the parapet, a fire banquette, but it had not been finished, and it was so wet and slippery on the night before the attack that the men had asked the captain to allow them to do sentry duty outside instead of on the walk.

The redoubt was about 20 yards square, with rounded flanking bastions at diagonally opposite angles, one at the north-west corner, facing the Tawhiti Stream and Waihi, and the other on the south-east, facing the higher ground and the bush. Within the earthwork were several tents, and a thatched house, used as a commissariat store and guard-room, stood in rear of the earthwork curtain near the gateway, in an awkward position, for it masked the fire of the men in the south-east angle, preventing them from properly defending the entrance.

For some time before the attack a kind of truce prevailed, and the Maoris frequently came into camp, selling potatoes and onions to the Constabulary. Daily there were men and women about the place, gossiping and joking with the men, but all the time intently watching the slow work of repairing the redoubt and spying out, as they could with ease from the adjacent page 190 ground, the interior arrangements of the post. On Saturday, the 11th July, the day before the attack, some of Ngati-Tupaea visited the camp; a survivor narrated that they were “larking about” and playing games; it was all part of a cunning scheme to put the troops off their guard. At least one of the Constabulary men had some suspicion of the natives. On that Saturday George Tuffin, who was on sentry duty, noticed a Maori walk at a steady pace round the redoubt three times, looking intently at everything. The sentry said to the sergeant of the guard, “That fellow is up to something.” “Oh, he's only looking for old clothes,” said the sergeant.

In the forest stronghold of Te Ngutu-o-te-manu, seven miles away, the war-chief Titokowaru made his plans for the attack. Turuturu-mokai, as his spies had reported to him, was a poor specimen of a pa, and was weakly and carelessly defended; and a picked band of warriors, numbering sixty, the usual strength of the Tekau-ma-rua, was told off for an assault, to be delivered before dawn. In the great meeting-house “Wharekura” (“House of Knowledge”) the chief assembled his people and selected the members of the Tekau-ma-rua by means of divination with his sacred weapon, the taiaha “Te Porohanga,” which was supposed to be influenced by the breath of the war-god Uenuku. Before the chosen sixty set out on the war-path hakas were performed by the men and poi dances by the girls to “send them away in good heart,” as an eye-witness (Kimble Bent) expressed it; and as they marched out of the pa, armed with their guns and tomahawks, and with their cartouche-boxes and belts strapped about them, Titokowaru paced up and down with his befeathered taiaha in his hand and farewelled his soldiers. “Patua, kainga!” he shouted in his great gruff voice. “Patua, kainga! Kia mau ki tou ringa!” (“Kill them, eat them! Kill them, eat them! Let them not escape! Hold them fast in your hands!”)

The warrior Haowhenua, a chief of Nga-Ruahine and near relative of Titokowaru, led the storming-party. With him was his younger relative Kahu-pukoro and other youthful braves, besides many an old fighter of cannibal days. With the party, too, marched a renegade white man, Charles Kane, a deserter from the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment. Kane had been punished for insubordination, and had fled to the Hauhaus. He was exceedingly bitter against his late comrades, and Titokowaru permitted him to join the war-party, seeing that the disgraced runaway was anxious to strike a blow against his fellow-whites. Kane was armed with a double-barrel gun, and took part in the attack on the redoubt: he was wounded in the face by a bullet. He was tomahawked some time after by the Maoris on suspicion of treachery. Kimble Bent remained in the pa at Te Ngutu-o-te-manu.

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It was a bitterly cold, freezing night. Most of the Maoris were very scantily attired, after the fashion of war-parties, and some only wore short flax mats. Passing through the bush and crossing the Tawhiti Creek in the midnight hours, they stole up the gully inland of the redoubt and lay close to each other in the fern, shivering, awaiting the signal for the rush. All this time Titokowaru, sitting on his sacred mat within the praying-house Wharekura in the “Beak of the Bird,” was engaged in repeating karakia after karakia—incantations to the heathen gods, and Hauhau prayers to the Christian Trinity—for the overwhelming of the pakeha.

The night dragged on too slowly for the impatient and shivering warriors. Some wished to rush the white man's pa at once, but their leaders forbade it till there was a little more light. Several of the younger men began to crawl up through the fern towards the walls of the little fort. The form of a sentry was seen, pacing up and down outside the walls. He could easily have been shot, but the time had not yet come.

In the frontier redoubts it was customary to call the garrison to stand to arms at 3 a.m. and to remain ready till daylight as a precaution against Maori surprise attacks, which, as a rule, were delivered about an hour before daylight. The sergeant or corporal of the guard usually went round and wakened the men quietly by tapping the tents, but on this fatal morning at Turuturu-mokai the corporal omitted the call, and the men off guard slumbered until the first rifle-shots roused them to battle for their lives.

Soon after the attack began, Captain Ross was killed while bravely defending the gateway with revolver and sword. The canteen-keeper, Lennon, also was killed outside the redoubt. Then, in the midst of the fighting, the pagan, ceremony of the whangai-hau, the offering of a foeman's heart to the gods of battle, was performed by one of the Hauhaus, the young war-priest Tihirua. The heart of the first man slain (Lennon) was cut from the body even before it had ceased to beat. It was the ancient custom to offer the heart of the first victim to Tu and Uenuku, the deities of war. Lighting a match, Tihirua held it under the bleeding heart until the flesh was singed slightly and began to smoke. Then, crying out “Kei au a Tu!” (meaning that the supreme war-god Tu was with him or on his side) he threw down the heart, and snatching up his tomahawk, he rushed again into the fight. When Captain Ross was killed, his heart, too, was cut out. A human heart, either that of Lennon or of Captain Ross, was found on the ground outside the fort after the fight. The other probably was carried off to Te Ngutu-o-te-manu as the mawe of the battle, a trophy of oblation to the gods. This savage page 192 rite, revived by Titokowaru, was carried out on several occasions in the war of 1868–69.

Cosslett Johnston, a veteran of the Military Settlers, gave a vivid account of the attack. “On the morning of the fight, the 12th July,” he said in his narrative to the writer, “I and Garrett Lacey (an old 57th soldier, an Irishman) were on sentry duty. My post was at the south end of the redoubt, near the gateway; Lacey did sentry-go on the north side, near the northwest angle. I was armed with a long Enfield rifle and fixed bayonet, and carried eighty rounds of ball cartridge in the big pouch at my hip, besides twenty rounds loose in a pouch in front. The Enfield we used was a good straight shooter—it would kill a man at a mile. The Armed Constabulary were armed with Terry carbines; only the Military Settlers carried the Enfield.

“Suddenly, just before the first faint break of day, I heard Lacey challenge, ‘Halt! who goes there?’ There was a single shot, and next moment a thundering volley from the enemy in the fern. The Maoris had crept up the gully on the west and north side of the old pa Turuturu-mokai, and silently lay in wait not far from the eastern flank, and on the east and south they now concentrated their attack. Lacey was wounded in the shoulder by one of the Maori bullets, and as he thought he was cut off from the redoubt he ran into the fern and escaped to Waihi. At the first shot Captain Ross was up and out of his bed in the whare, and in his shirt only, revolver in hand, he ran over the plank and in through the gateway. I took post in the eastern flanking bastion, with Milmoe and others. Milmoe and I were the only two armed with Enfield rifles and bayonets, and I think it must have been the glint of our fixed bayonets as much as anything else that kept the Maoris from rushing us. Our weapons were unhandy—it took a long time to load and cap them—but they shot well. Then at it we went, firing away for our lives wherever we could see anything at which to shoot.

“There was a cry that the natives were coming in at the gateway, and a number of us rushed for the entrance to hold it. I found a dead man, William Gaynor, sitting against the earthwork screen just inside the gateway. He had evidently been in the act of firing over the low parapet when a Maori, who had charged in, killed him with a tomahawk-blow on the temple, as we discovered in the morning. He slid down, turning round as he fell, and remained in a sitting position, his back against the parapet, his rifle resting in the hollow of his arm. Captain Ross was killed near the gateway, and his heart was cut out. Lennon, the canteen-keeper, was killed outside the redoubt. They tomahawked him in two cuts, slanting downwards on his temple. page 193 Then they cut out his heart. They certainly made a clean job of it—trust the old cannibals!

“I was wearing a Glengarry cap—I had no uniform, as I was a volunteer settler. A man fired at me over the parapet at such close range that the explosion blew my cap off and sent me down half-stunned in a sitting position. Now we heard some of the Maoris in the ditch cutting away at the parapet with their long-handled tomahawks in an attempt to undermine it. We shouted out from time to time. ‘The troopers are coming,’ but the Maoris only laughed fiendishly and continued their chopping and digging. We fought there for two hours, and kept them off till help came from Waihi after dawn—but we had never expected to see daylight again.”*

In the other angle, that facing towards Waihi, an equally heroic resistance was made by six men, of whom only one escaped death or wounds. Among these men were two brothers, John G. Beamish and Alexander Beamish, from Skibbereen, County Cork, who had joined the Armed Constabulary in the early part of 1868. The younger brother, Alexander, was mortally wounded in the fight, and the other was severely wounded. “It was quite dark when the Hauhaus attacked us,” said John Beamish, standing on the grass-grown scene of his youthful heroism, the north-west angle of the redoubt. “It was between 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning; sunrise was not till about 7 o'clock, for it was midwinter. It had been raining and blowing, and the night was very cold. We were suddenly awakened by a shot; one of the two sentries had seen something move on the slope of the gully just below him, and challenged and fired. Then there was a return volley, and the Maoris jumped up from the fern and charged on the redoubt. They made their first rush on the parapet on the side facing Mount Egmont. When we first heard their yells and shouting as they came up on that flank, and rushed for our carbines and belts, we could scarcely realize that it was an attack. We had been sleeping soundly, and the thing at first seemed like some terrible dream. When we turned out most of us manned the low parapet on the north and east, and fired away there into the darkness, where the yelling and shouting were coming from. After firing a shot we did not wait to see the effect—if we could see—but stooped down under cover of the earthwork and reloaded. Then the Hauhaus worked round to the south-east angle, and presently there was a rush for the gateway. They were quite familiar with the lay of the redoubt, for on the

* Statement to the writer by Cosslett Johnston, of Keteonetea, 17th October, 1918. Mr. Johnston died 23rd June, 1920, aged seventy-nine years.

page 194 previous day (Saturday) some of them had been in, having sports close to the redoubt and apparently very friendly. They knew exactly our numbers, and knew all about the weakness of our defences. We had been there a mouth, so that was ample time to have had the redoubt strengthened. The lowness of the parapet and the want of loopholes were terrible deficiencies that cost us many men. At the first shot Captain Ross ran out from his whare dressed only in his shirt, and when the gateway was attacked he headed the defence of it. He fired many shots out of his revolver before he was shot, probably while reloading. After the fight we found his body lying inside the gateway between the earthwork curtain and the guard-hut; his heart had been cut out; we found it lying outside the ditch, not far from his hut. While some of the enemy tried to rush the gateway, others took to the rising ground on the east and south-east, and fired right into the north-west angle in which six of us had taken post; they could rake part of our angle between two of the tents. We, on the other hand, were able to enfilade the ditch on the west flank, and so prevent the gateway being rushed, but to do so we had to expose our heads over the parapet, which was only about 4 feet high above the firing-step. I was firing away there for about an hour, I suppose, before I was hit, and then there was another hour's fighting before relief arrived from Waihi, by that time the sun was up.

“Most of our firing was at very close range; only two or three yards, sometimes less, separated us from our enemies trying to swarm into the place. My brother was shot at close quarters. Both sides were yelling at each other as they fought. I was hoarse with shouting at the Hauhaus to come on, and bluffing them that the troopers were coming. ‘Come on, come on!’ we yelled, and the Maoris called on us to ‘Come out, come out!’

“Some of the Maoris,” Mr. Beamish continued, “set fire to the raupo huts outside the redoubt. They were armed with muzzle-loading Enfields and shot-guns, and we could now and then see the ramrods going up and down as they sent the charges home. Then sometimes we would see the flash of a tomahawk and catch a glimpse of a black head above the parapets. When they set fire to the huts we were able to take aim at some of them by the light of the blazing whares. Then they started to dig and cut away at the parapets with their tomahawks. We could plainly hear them at this work, and I heard one Maori ask another for a match; I suppose he wanted to try and fire our buildings inside the walls.

“One after another our men dropped, shot dead or badly wounded. I had very little hope of ever getting out of the place alive. But we well knew what our fate would be if the Maoris page 195 once got over the parapet, so we just put our hearts into it and kept blazing away as fast as we could load.

“My younger brother fell mortally wounded, and before he died he told us he believed it was a white man who shot him. [This would be the deserter, Charles Kane.] I was wounded about the same time. An Enfield bullet struck me in the left shoulder. It took me with a tremendous shock, just as I was stooping down across a dead man to get some dry ammunition. The bullet slanted down past my shoulder-blade and came out at the back. This incapacitated me from firing, or, at any rate, from taking accurate aim, so I had to content myself with passing cartridges to Michael Gill, who kept steadily firing away, and with levelling my unloaded carbine as well as I could with my right hand whenever I saw a head bob up above the parapet. When the fight ended, Gill was the only unwounded man in our angle of the redoubt. Out of the six who manned it when the alarm was given, three were killed and two wounded. One man, Tuffin, was wounded in five places.

“Daylight came, and those of us who could shoulder a carbine were still firing away and wondering whether help would ever reach us. We knew they must have heard the firing and seen the flashes of the guns at Waihi Redoubt, only three miles away. Suddenly the Maoris ceased firing and retired into the bush. Their sentries had given them warning that troops were coming. As they dropped back we rushed out of the redoubt and gave them the last shot, and then Von Tempsky and his Armed Constabulary arrived at the double, and the fight was over. Out of the twenty men who held the place, ten were killed (the captain, sergeant, a corporal, and seven privates) and six wounded; and the only wonder is that any of us ever came out of it alive. My wound kept me in hospital for five months.”*

Private (Constable) George Tuffin, Armed Constabulary, who was one of those who made an attempt to hold the gateway at the beginning of the attack, was soon disabled; he received five wounds. He had served in the Wanganui Rangers in numerous engagements. Describing the defence of the little fort, he said:—

“It was a bitter, cold frosty morning. Five minutes after the sentries had been relieved that morning some of our men heard one of the two men (Lacey) who had just gone on duty suddenly challenge and fire. He shouted, ‘Stand to your arms, men!’ and made for the redoubt, but was cut off from it and had to run for Waihi. He received a bad wound in the shoulder.

* This narrative was given to the author by Mr. John G. Beamish, of Patea, on the site of the redoubt, 28th July, 1920. Mr. Beamish, who is the last survivor of the defenders in Taranaki, is now eighty-two years of age.

page 196 Our carbines and accoutrements were hung to the tent-pole, and when we leaped up we knew exactly where to lay our hands on them. Besides our carbines we were armed with revolvers. I ran out to the parapet and fired my revolver into the ditch; the other men did the same; a great crowd of Maoris were upon us, close up to the parapet. The dogs around the place had been making a lot of noise that morning, barking furiously, but we thought they were barking at Captain Morrison's sheep, and when the sentry first saw forms dimly moving through the fern he imagined they were sheep. We were all in our shirts, just as we had jumped from our blankets, and it was freezing. The parapets were too low; the earthwork was only up to my waist when I stood up on the firing-step. I had just fired one shot out of my carbine, drew out the flange and put another cartridge in, and was just rising to fire again, when a Maori caught sight of my head and fired at me. The bullet ploughed a deep furrow right across the top of my head, making a bad skull-wound. Captain Ross came up and asked, ‘Where are you hit, old man?’ I could not speak. Then he asked, ‘Where's your rifle?’ I pointed to it: he picked it up. ‘Come on, lads!’ I heard him shout next moment, ‘the devils are coming in at the gate!’ That was the last I saw of Captain Ross alive. I made my way to the north-west angle. Later on, after the fight, when I was crawling down to warm myself at the blaze of the burning whares, I saw a human heart lying on the ground outside the trench; the savages had cut it out of his body. We found afterwards that he must have been killed between the parapet and a whare which stood inside the gateway; this was the raupo-thatched building used as a guard-room and store-room. Another Ross, a private—no relation to the Captain—jumped the parapet and was killed in the ditch. He was an old 57th Regiment soldier.
“I received four wounds as I lay in the north-west angle. I was shot in the left arm, through the back near the spine, in the right hip, and in the right ankle. When I got to the angle there were five men there. Of these, three were killed outright, including Sergeant McFayden, and one of the Beamish brothers was mortally wounded. My comrades were fighting for quite two hours before we were relieved; I was out of action early in the fight. When relief came I got down to the fires outside: the Hauhaus had set fire to Captain Ross's whare and the storehouses and they were still burning. However, I soon came away, because I was so weak from loss of blood that I feared I would fall into the fire if I stayed there longer. As I was going out across the plank bridge when the fight was over—it was full daylight then—I looked down and saw two dead Maoris lying in the trench, one on either side of the plank, feet to feet page 197
Photo by A. E. Watkinson, Wanganui, 1918]George Tuffin (Armed Constabulary).

Photo by A. E. Watkinson, Wanganui, 1918]
George Tuffin (Armed Constabulary).

Tuffin was one of the defenders of Turuturu-mokai in 1868, and received five wounds.

—their bare feet almost touching each other. Another dead Maori was lying in front of the gateway.

“I have often thought since the fight that we made a mistake in firing off our revolvers at the Maoris in the ditch at the beginning of the attack. We should have reserved them in case of a final rush of the enemy.”*

One of the first men killed was Corporal John Blake, who was shot through the head while defending the side nearest the rising ground. Paddy Shields, an old 65th soldier, who was the Captain's orderly, was killed in the angle held by Gill and Beamish. Private George Holden was shot dead between the guard-house and the parapet near the gate.

Michael Gill was one of the veterans who put stiffening into the little band of men; but the youngest recruits, the Beamish brothers, fought as gallantly as any old soldier. Gill was the

* Statement to the writer by George Tuffin, formerly of the Armed Constabulary, at Wanganui, 23rd October, 1918. Tuffin died in 1920, aged eighty-four years.

page 198 first to rush to the gateway when Captain Ross shouted for volunteers. “I'll make one, sir,” he replied. “All right, Gill,” said the Captain. “Any more?” he asked. Henry McLean, Tuffin, Swords, and Gaynor came forward. But all the garrison did not behave with equal bravery. Three men jumped the parapet early in the fight and ran to Waihi. Their names were Wilkie, Burrowes, and Cobb. When they proposed to go, Gill said, “No, there are wounded, and we must protect them.” But they thought the place was doomed, and they ran and left their comrades. Gill and Michael O'Connor (or Connors), another fine steady soldier, joined some of the others in the north-west angle and fought there to the end. When John Beamish was hit, Gill said, “You open the ammunition and I'll do the shooting” and in spite of his bad wound the plucky young Irishman kept handing up cartridges for the Terry carbine. The Terry, the survivors said, was not a good weapon for such an emergency; after a few rounds the breech-block often jammed and was difficult to work.

On the east side and at the north-west angle some of the Hauhaus dug away at the parapet with their tomahawks, endeavouring to cut a hole through or to undermine it. In one place the earthwork was so much weakened that it fell in, but fortunately not before help came.

Five men besides Garret Lacey, the wounded sentry, escaped to Waihi. Two or three of these, who were Military Settlers, were unarmed; they lived in a whare outside the redoubt. Another who had tried to escape, a private named Kershaw, was wounded a few yards outside the north-west angle and was found there by the relieving force.

It was 7 a.m. before the relief force of which the garrison had begun to despair arrived from Waihi. For the tardiness of this reinforcement Major Von Tempsky was to blame, but another officer was most unjustly and cruelly made the scapegoat. All the Armed Constabulary at Waihi Redoubt were under arms from 3 o'clock until daylight each morning. The garrison turned out as usual this Sunday morning, and the parade had just been dismissed when firing was heard in the direction of Turuturu-mokai. The men rushed out of their tents, and Major Von Tempsky, the senior officer, called out, “No. 5 this way,” and marched his division (company), numbering sixty men, off to the relief. The garrison remaining consisted of sixty of No. 3 Division, half of whom were mounted Constabulary, and about a dozen men of No. 2 Division. The troopers ran to the stables for their horses, which had been saddled at the early morning turn-out, fell in, and numbered off, when Major Hunter came out of his whare, which was between the Constabulary redoubt page 199 and the work built by the Kupapa, or friendly natives. To the astonishment of the troopers, all anxious to ride off to the rescue, Hunter gave the order, “Dismount and feed the horses.” Whether Von Tempsky gave definite orders to Hunter, who was his junior, or whether he hurried off without leaving instructions, is a point on which reports are contradictory. It is clear, however, that Major Hunter was of the opinion that the attack on Turuturu-mokai was in all probability only a feint, in order to draw out the garrison of Waihi and so enable them to capture that post with its valuable stores of ammunition. He concluded that Von Tempsky's sixty men would be adequate for the relief work, and felt that his duty, much as he wished to go to the help of the other garrison, was to guard the Waihi post. But the troopers were indignant at Hunter's order to put their horses away, and some of them expressed their opinion of their Major in such terms that they were put under arrest. When the court-martial sat to inquire into the circumstances Major Hunter was acquitted of blame, for he had obviously acted under a strong sense of duty, being responsible for the safety of the principal redoubt. On the other hand, had Von Tempsky sent off the troopers immediately the firing was heard, Turuturu-mokai could have been relieved an hour earlier than it was, and several lives would have been saved.

The unjust stigma sank deeply into Hunter's soul. He was a high-minded, sensitive man—none braver in the force—and it was undoubtedly in a determination to refute this unwarranted accusation against his soliderly honour that he deliberately threw his life away in the charge against the stockade at Moturoa three months later. His younger brother, Captain Hunter, fell at Te Ngutu-o-te-manu.

As the relief force of Constabulary advanced and, fording the Tawhiti Stream, came doubling up the hill, the Hauhaus retired to the bush on the east, leaving three of their dead on the field. The little redoubt was a frightful scene of slaughter. Ten men—half the defenders—lay dead or dying, two of them mutilated with tomahawk, and six others were wounded. Only six unwounded men came out to greet their Waihi comrades. The casualties were—
Killed or mortally wounded:

Captain Ross, Sergeant McFayden, Corporal John Blake, Privates Ralph Ross, Alexander Beamish, P. Shields, George Holden, Peter Swords, William Gaynor; Lennon (canteen-keeper).


Privates J. G. Beamish, Garrett Lacey, Flanagan, Michael O'Connor (or Connors), Kershaw, G. Tuffin.

The unwounded defenders were:

Cosslett Johnston, Michael Gill, Milmoe, O'Brien, Stewart, and McLean.

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Among the sixty warriors of the Tekau-ma-rua was the young chief Te Kahu-pukoro, who, though only a youth, had already seen four years of war. Describing the attack on Turuturu-mokai he said:—

“Our leader Haowhenua headed the principal assault. Take-take led the attack from the north side, and it was he who shot and wounded the sentry outside, on the flank. Nuku, a brother of Titokowaru, dashed right into the redoubt through the open gateway and killed a pakeha there with a short-handled tomahawk. [This was Private Gaynor.] After this first assault we all fired heavily upon the pakehas at very close quarters, and some of us cut away a portion of the parapets with our tomahawks, trying to force a way in. Only three of our men were killed, an old man named Papia, Taroai (from Ketemarae), and Uruwhero, a young man whom Titokowaru had warned not to join the expedition. When the pakeha reinforcements were sighted coming from Waihi we thought we had killed or wounded all but two of the men in the redoubt. These two men jumped up on the parapet when they saw help coming, and shook their rifles at us and danced a haka, and shouted at us in derision, ‘Te bloody Maori—hau, hau!’ As the reinforcements advanced, firing at us, we retired to the bush in the rear, and then worked round home to our pa at Te Ngutu-o-te-manu.”*

The survivors who particularly distinguished themselves by their gallant bearing and resolute resistance were Cosslett Johnston, Gill, John Beamish, and Connors. Each of these men deserved the highest recognition, and the decoration of the New Zealand Cross, instituted for just such exceptional cases of valour, might well have been bestowed upon them.

This determined attack on a military post quickened the field force into precautions for the safety of the other redoubts. Waihi was strengthened by the withdrawal of Captain Page's company of Armed Constabulary, ninety strong, from the Waingongoro Redoubt: this concentration of troops inland, however, left the middle Taranaki coast from Manawapou northward free to the Hauhaus.

Very shortly after the fight Captain J. M. Roberts took charge of Turuturu-mokai with a detachment consisting of nine non-commissioned officers (including Sergeant MacFarlane, Sergeant Anderson, and Corporal H. Talty) and fifty men of Nos. 2, 3, and 5 Divisions of the Armed Constabulary. Roberts's first care was to repair the redoubt and put it in a proper state of defence. On the eastern side an enemy on the high ground could see right

* Narrative given by Te Kahu-pukoro, head chief of Ngati-Ruanui, at Otakeho, Taranaki, 1920.

page 201 into the redoubt: this was remedied by increasing the height of the parapet. Bottles were collected and broken, and the trench was strewn with them. A drawbridge replaced the plank bridge across the ditch. Loopholes of timber were made in the parapet; these firing-apertures were masked in the daytime with plugs of fern. (Layers of fern were used by the colonial troops in redoubt-building in order to strengthen and bind the earth parapets. The men were not allowed to cut the fern, but had to pull it, and double it and turn the roots inwards, so as to leave the fern-leaves outside on both faces of the parapet. A parapet when completed had a matting of fern alternating with every foot or so of sods and earth until the top layer was reached.) Captain Roberts told his garrison off in sections, and each section was instructed exactly what portion of the redoubt it was to defend in case of an alarm, without necessity for further orders.

On the night Captain Roberts was given charge of the redoubt Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell who had ridden up from Manawapou and was very excited over the fate of so many of the garrison, asked the young officer to walk outside the redoubt with him. When they had gone a short distance he said, “Sit down.” Drawing his sword he extended the blade, gleaming brightly in the winter moonlight, and brought it back up to his lips, kissed it, and said dramatically, “Roberts, I shall have revenge for this.” The sequel was the first attack on Te Ngutu-o-te-manu. McDonnell was a man of dashing courage, but he was of excitable temperament, and when skilful leadership was required his impulsive character had its military defects.

The site of Turuturu-mokai Redoubt is included in a national reserve vested in the Hawera Borough Council, near the crown of the hill on the east side of the Tawhiti Stream, and about a mile beyond the borough boundary. The road cuts obliquely across the south-east angle of the work, so that the bastion at that corner—the part of the redoubt held by Cosslett Johnston and four others—is just outside the reserve-fence. The complete outline of the entrenchment with the flanking bastions can still be traced plainly by the depression in the ground. The work measures approximately twenty paces square. Small totara trees planted as memorials by survivors of the fight grow in the angles. An unsightly wire fence intersects the south-east part of the redoubt inside the road-fence; this should be removed and the place enclosed in alignment with the contour of the work. The scene of this heroic defence should be marked by a fitting memorial, such as that which stands on the battle-ground of Te Ngutu-o-te-manu.

The name Turuturu-mokai (that of the massive old pa near the redoubt) embodies a memory of the savage days of Maori warfare. It signifies the short stakes on which the smoke-dried heads of warriors killed in battle were set up in ceremonial display.