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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)



During the next few weeks the force made numerous expeditions through the surrounding forest country toward Tuhua, West Taupo, and had some small engagements up to the middle of January 1870. Colonel Herrick had left, and Colonel McDonnell remained in command. Kepa returned to Wanganui to get more men.

Two very brave actions performed at this time by members of the native contingent are worthy of record. It was necessary to send a despatch to the Premier, Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Fox, who was at Hiruharama, on the Wanganui River. Lieutenant Preece, in charge of the Arawa and Taupo contingents after the death of Captain St. George, was instructed by Colonel McDonnell to send a native orderly with a despatch to Hiruharama, a distance of more than ninety miles, of which thirty were open to the enemy. None of the Taupo natives knew the road (or they pretended they did not), so Preece said to Te Puia (who was partly an Arawa and partly a Wanganui native), “The Colonel wants a despatch carried to Hiruharama; do you know the country?” He replied, “Yes; give me a trooper's horse, and let me take any horse I see on the way.” He faithfully carried out his instructions, and on his return got through in one day and part of one night; he had used five horses on his way there and back, picking up his troop-horse to get to camp at Tokaanu. Lieutenant Preece often page 381 quoted this man's action as an example to other natives, but they only replied, “That is not bravery; he is a fool; he did not know he was in danger.”

The other incident occurred when the officers were anxious to secure accurate information as to Te Kooti's movements. He was known to be in the neighbourhood of Taumarunui, and two men of the Ngati-Tuara Tribe (Rotorua), Te Honiana and Wiremu, volunteered to go through on a scouting expedition. Armed with carbines and revolvers, they travelled the open part of the track by night, and the bush by day, a distance of forty miles, mostly forest. They reached the ridge just above the settlement of Taumarunui, where, lying hidden part of a day, they heard all the speeches of the enemy and ascertained their movements. At the end of five days they returned to report that the rebels were about to move along the west side of Lake Taupo, making for Tapapa, inland of Tauranga. Colonel McDonnell was so pleased with the information the scouts had gained at a very considerable risk that he presented them with the carbines they took with them on the expedition. These brave services and those of Te Puia certainly should have been recognized, but in the strenuous service in which the troops were engaged they were overlooked.

Te Kooti now marched through the Tuhua country, West Taupo, passing near Titiraupenga Mountain, and via Mokai to the Waikato River. Crossing to the east side of the river he joined his Ngati-Raukawa allies in the Patetere country.