The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume II: The Hauhau Wars, (1864–72)
Chapter 34: THE TAUPO CAMPAIGN (1869)
Chapter 34: THE TAUPO CAMPAIGN (1869)
FOR A FEW weeks in the winter and early spring of 1869 active hostilities were suspended, and Te Kooti made the most of the peaceful interlude by recruiting among the Ngati-Tuwharetoa Tribe and visiting the Waikato and Ngati-Maniapoto at Tokangamutu (Te Kuiti). He secured the adherence—not altogether willing—of Te Heuheu Horonuku, the hereditary head chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa, and most of the members of his tribe at Tokaanu and Waihi, on the southern shore of Lake Taupo. At the northern end of the lake the majority of the people under Poihipi Tukairangi, of Tapuae-haruru, and Hohepa Tamamutu, of Oruanui, were friendly to the Government. Te Kooti made Tokaanu his headquarters, and his followers revelled in the soft waters of the hot springs there, and the abundance of food after their short commons in the Urewera Ranges. At the northern end of the lake Captain St. George commanded the friendly natives, whose post was the palisaded pa Tapuae-haruru, on the western bank of the Waikato River at its point of exit from the lake. A little later a redoubt (which is still well preserved) was built by the Armed Constabulary on the opposite side of the Waikato; it was the nucleus of the present township of Taupo.
After Colonel Whitmore's departure for Wellington, in ill health, Colonel Harrington, with headquarters at Tauranga, was given command of the Bay of Plenty district. Harrington's first act was a grave blunder. He ordered the Armed Constabulary to abandon the redoubts at Matata, Fort Clarke, and Fort Galatea, and instructed the whole force to fall back on Tauranga, where he intended to put them through a course of drill for a few months. Lieutenant Preece had been sent to Patea with a new contingent of Ngati-Porou who had been enrolled for service in the Armed Constabulary on the West Coast. After handing the men over to Major Noake at Patea he returned to Wellington and there received instructions to go to the Bay of Plenty with Colonel Harrington.
Te Kooti, having more or less compulsorily recruited Te Heuheu and his people, went on to Tokangamutu, in the King page 372 Country. A Turanganui chief named Wiremu Kingi, of Te Aowera hapu of Ngati-Porou, who was compelled by Te Kooti to accompany him throughout the war and who was captured at Maraetahi (on the Waioeka) in 1870, gave Lieut-Colonel St. John and Captain Porter an account of the meeting at Tokangamutu with Waikato and Ngati-Maniapoto. Wiremu said:—
“We had about two hundred people in our party which visited the Maori King's country. At the meeting the chief Manga (Rewi Maniapoto) welcomed us, and chanted a song which appealed to the people to hold the land and keep up the fighting. Concluding, he handed Te Kooti a sword, with which he was to sever Manga-tawhiri and Hangatiki (i.e., to beat the Europeans out of the Waikato). Te Kooti answered: ‘Here is the sword; take it back. It will remain in front of the King. If he gives the sword I shall take it; if not, let him keep the sword and I will go elsewhere. The King is in the centre with his sword and I am on the outside.’ Te Kooti's reason for going to the Upper Waikato was that he wished to gather all the tribes—the people of Waikato, of the Wairarapa, of Wanganui, of Taranaki, of Tauranga, of Hauraki, and of Ngapuhi; then to consider and determine upon the matter of attacking the white man until he should be quite destroyed.
“By the mouth of Tamati Ngapora (King Tawhiao's cousin) came the answer to the words spoken by Te Kooti to Manga and others of the King's representatives. The answer was a refusal. The words were that the people did not consent to Te Kooti's proposals; that his purpose in coming amongst them was to lower their chieftainship, and to destroy their Atua, their god, and that they would not bow down to his Atua. But when Tawaio heard of the reply he was wroth. He asked, ‘Why did you not agree with Te Kooti? What are his crimes? You have robbed me of my dignity as King. My duty is to rise in hostility against the white man.’”
Then, according to Wiremu Kingi (not to be confused with the celebrated Taranaki chief of that name), there was mention of white men who were in active sympathy with the Hauhaus.
“Te Kooti asked if there was not a European in correspondence with the King. The custom of this pakeha was to be in opposition to the Queen. His name was ‘Hakara Mihara,’ and he was chief of the Irish, of the French, and of the Germans! The Mataura Ngati-Porou, living on the Coromandel Peninsula, where the European mentioned had leased some native land, were the bearers of his messages. These are enemies of the Queen, and said they would join Te Kooti. The white man was with Te Hira, whom he asked to concede the land at Ohinemuri to dig for gold, which would make the Government jealous, and afford a pretext for his people to rise up against the whites.”page 373
“Later,” Wiremu continued, “Te Kooti had correspondence with the pakeha mentioned. After we left Tokangamutu some few men of Ngati-Porou arrived from Mataura bringing gunpowder and percussion caps, with a message from the pakeha. Te Kooti wrote to him, and the letter was sent to the kainga of Hera te Kaki. It was in consequence of the letter that the men brought the powder and caps. They were sent back again. The King and Te Hira acknowledged Te Kooti, and consented to worship his god, and Te Kooti wrote and sent presents of clothing. The King wrote to Te Kooti, ‘Go and do your work. You are a man of labour. There are two men in the Island: one is a man of labour, the other is a man of idleness.’”
By the “man of labour” Tawhiao meant Te Kooti; the other was himself. In this fashion the Maori King encouraged Te Kooti to continue the fighting. As for Rewi Maniapoto, or Manga, as he was more generally known then among the Maoris, he accompanied Te Kooti back to Taupo, intending—if conditions were propitious—to join him in the campaign in the district south of the lake. Few of Rewi's people, however, supported him in his warlike plans.
It was early in September, 1969, before active measures were taken to deal with Te Kooti, who had returned from the King Country to Tokaanu. Lieutenant Preece had been sent up from Tauranga to Tapuae-haruru to join Captain St. George in command of the friendly natives, and soon after his arrival there it became known that a large war-party of the Ngati-Kahungunu Tribe, under Renata Kawepo and Henare Tomoana, was advancing from Napier, and also the Armed Constabulary field force under Colonel Herrick, withdrawn from Wairoa. Colonel Thomas McDonnell had now been appointed to the command of operations in the Taupo country, and there was general satisfaction among the Europeans and Maoris at the prospect of fighting under so energetic an officer.
From a photo, about 1883]
Te Heuheu Horonuku
To Heuheu, the paramount chief of the Ngati-Tuwharetoa Tribe, of Taupo, joined Te Kooti in 1869, but made submission to the Government shortly after the fight at Te Porere. In 1887 he presented to the Crown the summits of the volcanic mountains Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu, his famous tribal peaks, forming the nucleus of the Tongariro National Park.
Te Kooti's force took up a position on the crest of the Pononga ridge, the steep saddle of land, mostly covered with page 375 forest, which connects the Kakaramea Range with the extinct volcanic mountain Pihanga, forming the divide between the south end of Lake Taupo and Roto-a-Ira. On the morning of the 25th September the scouts discovered the presence of the Hauhaus there, and were fired on from a spur closely commanding the track from Tokaanu across the flat. Lieutenant Preece, hearing the firing, immediately moved out with the Arawa and Taupo contingents. Captain St. George had ridden out to Poutu to meet Colonel McDonnell. Preece did not think at first that the Hauhaus were in force, but on crossing a swamp and ascending the north face of the Pononga Hill, which was covered with high fern, he found that the enemy were numerous and were entrenched in rifle-pits at the edge of the bush. A sharp engagement followed. Henare Tomoana came up with his men, and, advancing in skirmishing order, the Hauhaus were driven back from point to point. Captain St. George now came hurrying up with reinforcements and gave the order to charge. The skirmishing Hauhaus were driven back on their line of rifle-pits, where Te Kooti made a stand, but Lieutenant Preece with his Taupo and Arawa Maoris charged them in dashing fashion and cleared the entrenchments. Several lay dead in the rifle-pits, and others about the ridge. Among the Hauhaus killed was Wi Piro, Te Kooti's near relative. [The spot where he was shot is pointed out by the Taupo natives, close to the left-hand side of the horse-track as one rides over the crest of the Pononga saddle from Tokaanu to Roto-a-Ira, just before the bush is entered.] Wi Piro had escaped from Chatham Island in the “Rifleman” he had been conspicuous in every raid and engagement since the landing at Whare-ongaonga, and was one of those who took a savage delight in slaughtering prisoners. The Government force had two killed and four wounded. One of the fatal casualties was Maniapoto, a young chief of Ngati-Hineuru; he had been a Hauhau and fought at Omarunui, near Napier, in 1866, when he was one of the very few who escaped from the field.
This fight at Te Pononga, in which only Maori troops were engaged, carried important consequences, for it stripped Te Kooti of much of the military mana which he had acquired in the Taupo country, and it convinced Rewi and some of his Ngati-Maniapoto, who were awaiting the result of the battle, that the Government forces were likely to come out victors in the inland campaign. Rewi went home to Tokangamutu, and renounced all intention of assisting Te Kooti.
Colonel McDonnell came up in time to see the end of the fighting on the Pononga Range and to congratulate St. George and Preece on their success. On the return to camp at Tokaanu it was found that No. 2 Division Armed Constabulary, page 376 under Captains Scannell and Northcroft, had arrived from Napier.
Shortly before this encounter Te Kooti had ordered the execution of four scouts sent out by the friendly chief Hare Tauteka, who were captured in a whare near Roto-a-Ira. They were killed, mutilated with tomahawks, and thrown into a swamp, where the remains were found.
THE FIGHT AT TE PORERE
A few days were spent in scouting the enemy's position by Captain Northcroft, Lieutenant Preece with some natives, and Sergeant C. Maling with the Corps of Guides. It was ascertained that the Hauhaus occupied the settlement Papakai, under the western slopes of Tongariro. Seventy Wanganui natives arrived under Major Kepa and Captain William McDonnell, and the whole force moved up to Roto-a-Ira. On the 3rd October McDonnell advanced with combined columns, only to find that the enemy had retired from Papakai and was holding two hills and a strong earthwork redoubt at Te Porere, on the tableland at the edge of the bush north-west of Tongariro. It was arranged that Major Kepa was to move to the left under cover of a low ridge, and that after he had had two hours' start he, with the Constabulary in the centre and Ngati-Kahungunu on the right flank, was to make a swift attack on the three positions. The two advanced positions were soon taken; one of these, Roipara, was on the right bank of the Wanganui River, here a small stream issuing from the west side of the Tongariro volcanic range. Just as the force was fording the river Captain St. George ordered Lieutenant Preece to take the Arawa to the right flank. This was done, and the Hauhau redoubt was determinedly assailed on three sides. The forest extended to within a short distance of the pa on the west and north-west sides, and McDonnell was not able to extend his force completely round the position in time, otherwise Te Kooti would have been cut off from the refuge of the forest, and his career would have ended on the battlefield of Te Porere.
A party of the Hauhaus took post in the edge of the bush and opened fire on the left flank of No. 2 Division as they were advancing to the assault. McDonnell detached a party to deal with them and launched the rest against the pa. Captain St. George and a force of Constabulary and friendly Maoris came at the double up the easily sloping hill on the east and rushed at the front of the work. St. George was leading on his men gallantly, charging through the short fern, when a bullet fired by Peita Kotuku, pierced his brain and he fell dead. But a very page 377 few moments later the walls were stormed and the Armed Constabulary and Kupapas, with bullet and bayonet, took abundant revenge for their slain. Just before the final assault the chief and most of his men escaped to the bush in the rear; Te Kooti himself was wounded, for a bullet had cut off one of his fingers and passed through his side.
Peita Kotuku, describing the defence of the pa, said:—
“Our redoubt was a massive earthwork—it is standing there to-day—but it had one defect, which resulted in our defeat. In making the loopholes (huarahi-pu) in the sod and pumice walls, interlaid with fern, we made them straight (horizontal), and could not depress the muzzles of our guns to fire into the ditch. The Government troops, pakeha and Maori, got up under the parapets, and many of them snatched up lumps of pumice (pungapunga) and stuffed up the firing-apertures with them. We therefore could not see our nearest attackers unless we exposed ourselves over the top of the parapet.
“It was I,” continued Peita, “who shot a pakeha officer as he was leading his men in a charge up to the front of the pa.” [This was Captain St. George.] “I was just behind the short parapet (parepare) covering the gateway immediately inside the entrance. My weapon was a breech-loading carbine. When the officer, rushing ahead of his men, was about twenty paces from the entrance I fired and shot him dead. It was not Te Kooti who shot him, as some have said. At that stage of the fighting Te Kooti was in a rifle-pit in an angle on the left flank of the pa, some little distance from the kuwaha (gateway). He was sitting there surrounded by a bodyguard of women.”*
Sergeant W. Wallace, No. 2 Division, narrating the incidents of the attack, said:—
“The first shots fired in the Porere fight were from the top of a hill just to the Roto-a-Ira side of the Wanganui. I saw the flash of a gun-barrel there, and called out, ‘We'll get a volley directly,’ and so we did, but none of us was hit. We crossed the river and skirmished up to the pa. The redoubt held by the Maoris was built of pumice, earth, and ferns, and their bullets sent the pumice from the ground around flying into our eyes. I had some good shooting there as they were retreating, running out of their gateway, into the trench, and then making for the bush. Pompey, of Wanganui, was with us; he ran around the east angle of the pa to get a better shot, and was killed between that point and the gateway. I was trying to get one fellow who wore a smoking-cap. Lying flat on the ground I got a splendid shot, and he disappeared. I don't know whether it was I or some page 378 one else who got him, but I don't think I missed; our Terry carbines were very good up to 400 yards. This man at whom I was shooting was armed with a spear consisting of a bayonet fastened on a long pole.”
All the Hauhaus found in the pa when the attackers at last succeeded in rushing it were shot or bayoneted. Thirty-seven Hauhaus were buried within the walls after the fight. The Government loss was four killed and four wounded. One of the killed was Komene, an Arawa sub-chief. The two Wanganui natives who fell, Winiata Pakoro and Pape (Pompey), belonged to the Ngati-Hau Tribe, and were fighters of exceptional activity and bravery. Winiata was shot dead while firing down into the Hauhaus from the top of their own parapet. Colonel McDonnell had ordered him to come down, but Winiata, who had been firing shot after shot into the crowded pa, said, “Only one more shot,” and fired; the next moment he fell from the earthwork, shot through the heart. His brother, Tonihi, had him buried in a running stream; the watercourse was diverted, a grave was dug in the gravel, and the stream was then allowed to return to its channel. This was done lest the Taupo Hauhaus should disturb the remains of Ngati-Hau's hero. Renata Kawepo, the old warrior chief from Hawke's Bay, was severely handled by a young Taupo woman, the wife of Paurini, a chief who had been shot in the attack. In the tussle she gouged out one of his eyes. This occurred in the edge of the bush where Renata was pursuing some of the Hauhaus who had left the pa.
The death of Captain St. George, killed while charging up to the pa front, was a source of deep sorrow to all his friends. Major Gascoyne wrote of him, “He was brave to rashness, and the finest horseman I ever knew.” St. George and Gascoyne had both joined the Hawke's Bay squadron of the Colonial Defence Force in 1863. The gallant soldier was laid to rest on the shore of Roto-a-Ira; two years afterwards Gascoyne brought his remains out to Napier, to be interred there with military honours.
Captain J. St. George
(Killed at Te Porere, 1869.)
“Who sleeps the sleep no more to wake
On earth, ‘mid loveliest scenes afar,
Where Tongariro's snows disgorge
Their flames by blue Te Aira's lake—
Young, kindly, chivalrous St. George!
Whose honour-fired aspiring brain,
Before that instant-blighting ball,
Flashed into darkness without pain.
So swiftly his bold course was run,
That ardent spirit's duties done.”
The pa at Te Porere, the last redoubt constructed by Te Kooti, is in a very fair state of preservation to-day. Diverging from the Waimarino—Tokaanu Road near the foot of Tongariro volcano we follow a horse-trail parallel with the Wanganui—here a little brawling brook—in the direction of the great forests which stretch far away to the west. A short distance from the road we come to page 380 the scene of the conflict on the edge of the tableland, close to a thick belt of bush. This pa is locally known as Mahaukura; Te Porere is the general name of the district. Its earth walls and rectangular flanking-works at the angles are in nearly as good order, except that their straight lines have been softened by bushes of flax and thick growth of fern, as when the rebel leader and his musketeers built the pa in 1869. The redoubt measures about 25 yards in length by 20 in width. The flanking bastions, devised to enfilade the outer side of the high parapet, would each have held about twenty men. The walls were built of sods and pumice, interlaid with fern, and square loopholes for rifle-fire were made in the parapets and kept open with pieces of timber. These loopholes, however, had been constructed without allowing for depression, so that when the Government men lined the outer ditch the Maoris within could not hit them without exposing themselves over the top of the parapet. The parapets are 8 to 10 feet high and 5 to 6 feet thick. The gateway on the eastern side of the redoubt is cleverly covered by earth parapets or traverses just within. In the interior of the work a long grassy mound marks the grave of nearly forty of Te Kooti's warriors.
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.
TE KOOTI AT MATAMATA
In January Te Kooti with his armed band ventured out from the bush and visited Matamata, on the Upper Waihou River, where Mr. J. C. Firth was then engaged in working his large estate. Mr. Firth received a message from Te Kooti saying that he desired to meet him (Firth). The latter replied by messenger, “I will meet you unarmed, at Wi Tamehana's monument.” Mr. Firth, describing the interview, at which he endeavoured to persuade Te Kooti to make peace with the Government, put on record a pen-picture of the rebel leader as he then appeared.
“As I approached the monument [at Turanga-moana],” he wrote, “a Maori advanced to meet me, raising his hat and saluting me as he approached. I dismounted on learning that Te Kooti stood before me. He was attended by two half-caste youths, fully armed, Te Kooti himself being unarmed. His height is about 5 feet 9 inches; he is about thirty-five years of age, stoutly built, broad-shouldered, and strong-limbed. His features are not repulsive; a rather large development of jaw page 382 and chin conveys the idea of a man of strong and resolute will. He has no tattoo; hair, black and glossy; wears a black moustache and short black beard. His dress consisted of woollen cords, top-boots, and a grey shirt; over the latter he wore a loose vest, with gold chain and greenstone ornaments. I noticed that he had lost the middle finger of the left hand.” [This was his wound received at Te Porere.]
Mr. Firth urged Te Kooti to surrender to the Government, but the war-chief refused, saying, “If they let me alone I will live quietly; if not I will fight.”
“During the conversation,” said Mr. Firth, “his followers had formed in a half-circle at his back. They were all well armed, some with short Enfields, some with breech-loaders, and one or two double-barrel fowling-pieces, all apparently in excellent order. A well-dressed woman about twenty-five years old, of a handsome but melancholy cast of countenance, sat at Te Kooti's feet during the interview. I learnt afterwards that this woman was his wife.”
THE FIGHTING AT TAPAPA
News reached Colonel McDonnell at Tokaanu that Major Kepa (Kemp) te Rangihiwinui and the Upper Wanganui chief Topia Turoa (who had recently left the Hauhaus to join the Government side) were on their way via Pipiriki to reinforce the Constabulary with two hundred men, consisting of Wanganui, Ngati-Hau, and Nga-Rauru (Waitotara). McDonnell moved off in advance in pursuit of Te Kooti, marching along the eastern shore of the lake and crossing the Waikato River at Taupo, and recrossing it at Whakamaru on the track to the Tokoroa and Patetere plains. At Whakamaru he halted and awaited the arrival of Kepa and Topia.
From a photo, 1901]
This Upper Wanganui chief fought against the troops at Pipiriki in the first Hauhau War, and for several years opposed the Government, but at the end of 1869 he turned to the pakeha side, and in 1870 led a contingent of his tribesmen in the operations against Te Kooti. Topia was one of the high chiefs present at the great Maori gathering of welcome and homage to the present (1923) King and Queen at Rotorua in 1901.
Two days later (24th January, 1870), lying low by day and marching by night, the force attacked and took Tapapa pa, a village of Ngati-Raukawa, on the bush track from Rotorua and Tauranga to the Waihou and Matamata. [The place is passed on the present vehicle-road through the forest of the Mamaku-Hautere Plateau, between Rotorua and Okoroire, and north-east of Putaruru.] One man belonging to a Hauhau picket was killed. On the following day Te Kooti reversed the order and attacked McDonnell just as he was about to move out against the enemy. It was fortunate for the force that he attacked when he did, page 384 for if McDonnell and Kepa had moved off he would only have found a small body in camp. He attacked from the bush under cover of a fog. One of the Wanganui contingent was, with others, gathering potatoes when he was killed by a blow with a mere pounamu (greenstone club) by a man who approached from the forest. [It was ascertained afterwards from Hapurona Kohu, a chief of the Urewera, that it was he who killed the forager.] The alarm was given by the man's companions, and the fighting became general. Te Kooti's people were flying the Union Jack and were at first mistaken for the Wanganui natives, and some of them got between the Wanganui contingent and a point of the bush where McDonnell's men were engaged with the enemy. Lieutenant Preece was instructed to clear this place, when a Maori passed just in front of him at the edge of the bush. Thinking he was a Wanganui native, Preece asked which way the rebels had retired. The Maori pointed in front of him, jumped behind a tree and fired, missing Lieutenant Preece but mortally wounding Private Etherington, of the Corps of Guides, who was a few paces behind him. The Government force drove the enemy off, killing six Hauhaus and wounding several. McDonnell's casualties were one European and three Maoris killed, and four wounded. Kepa and his men captured all Te Kooti's horses, about a hundred in number.
Te Waru, a sub-chief of the Arawa (Ngati-Whaoa hapu, of Paeroa, near Waiotapu), was Te Kooti's principal lieutenant in this bush skirmishing. He was well acquainted with the forest tracks, and led the early morning attack on the camp at Tapapa.
Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell, in his narrative of the Taupo-Tapapa campaign, gave the following account of this bush engagement:—
“On the evening of the 24th January I told off those who were to remain in camp, amongst whom were the Nga-Rauru. [This tribe, from Waitotara, had recently been under Titokowaru.] Early next morning, while I was seated on a log eating some breakfast—the men preparing to fall in—the camp being wrapped in a thick fog, three of the Nga-Rauru were sent by their chief to the bush, some 200 yards off, to get some firewood. Hiroki, and the two with him, as they approached the bush, stumbled upon Te Kooti's war-party, who were on the point of charging up to our camp. They shot one of the three; but Hiroki—who some eight years afterwards shot a man named McLean in a survey-party on some confiscated land at Waitototara, and who was executed for what was called the murder—protected his other companion, and shot two of the enemy, and brought into camp one of their guns, a Terry breech-loader, that was recognized as having belonged to one of the unfortunate page 385 troopers who had been slaughtered by Te Kooti at Opepe. This action had checked the advance of the enemy, but their first volley came whistling into camp about our ears. I ordered our fellows to take cover, and let the Nga-Rauru protect their own side of the camp. I feared to let No. 2 Division rush at the enemy, lest they mistook the Nga-Rauru for them, or intentionally mistook them. Our men who had been ambushed at Waitotara ten months before had belonged to this division, and one of the men had come to me during our march up and told me that the chief had the rifles which had belonged to Sergeant Menzies and Corporal Horsepool, two of the men who had been tomahawked on that occasion, and I knew that nothing would have pleased them better than to have a slap at them. Privately, I had no objection, but it would not have suited just then, and I had to be careful. The temptation, however, was great.
“The Nga-Rauru fought well, but were thrown into disorder and retreated on our Europeans, to whom I now gave the word to ‘Make ready.’ The wife of Pehimana, a Nga-Rauru chief, mounted a high whata (food platform) and, regardless of the bullets that flew round her, waved her shawl, crying out at the top of her voice, ‘Tahuri, tahuri, E Rauru e! Riria e te iwi, riria! Ngakia to mate! Ngakia! Riria e Rauru e, riria!’ (‘Turn, turn, O Rauru! Fight on, O tribe! Fight on! Absolve yourselves from sin! Clear yourselves, fight on, fight on!’)
“The exhortation to absolve themselves was referring to their having fought against the Queen, and now they were to do their best to prove their sincere sorrow for the past. The attitude of the excited woman was a perfect picture. Not one rap did she care for the bullets. Then the Nga-Rauru rallied, and with one wild yell charged at the enemy.
“Meantime I slipped round with some of the Arawa to our left and came upon the flank of the reserve of the enemy, who were kneeling at the rear of our camp, one man of them holding a staff with Te Kooti's flag on it. We opened fire on them, and after one volley, which knocked over three, they gave us one in return, and then broke and fled to the bush. One of the Arawa I had with me was mortally wounded. We joined the Nga-Rauru, who had beaten back their foes and chased the enemy to the bush, but the fog now rolled up more dense than ever, so that it was useless to follow them up farther.”
After Te Kooti's retreat from Tapapa McDonnell's force had a number of small skirmishes in the forest of the Hautere country, a plateau very much dissected with ravines, extending from the Patetere plains to the highlands inland of Tauranga. Expeditions by detachments under Captain Morrison, Lieutenant Preece, Kepa, Topia Turoa, and other leaders were made in various page 386 directions through the bush, and there were skirmishes with parties of Hauhaus, several of whom were killed without loss to the Government forces. Owing to the dense and jungly character of the forest and to the numerous gullies and ravines this work of scouting and pursuit was one of great difficulty, and Te Kooti once more succeeded in eluding his hunters. His trail was picked up by Kepa, leading in the direction of Whakamarama-Oropi country above Tauranga. Meanwhile Colonel James Fraser, with a mixed force of Armed Constabulary and Maoris, had advanced into the bush from the Tauranga side. At Paengaroa his advance-guard, under Sergeant Ben Biddle, was ambuscaded by a strong body of Te Kooti's men led by Peka Makarini, the half-caste. Four men of the advance-guard, one a European, were shot down in this affair, and Biddle had a personal encounter with Peka, receiving a bullet through his swag of pork rations. Fraser failed to support his greatly outnumbered advance-guard, and the Hauhaus escaped without loss. Te Kooti then, having evaded both McDonnell and Fraser, turned about and made for Rotorua, intending to attack the Arawa headquarters at Ohinemutu in the absence of most of the fighting-men, and then to return to the shelter of the Urewera Mountains.
* Statement to the writer by Peita Kotuku, at Taringamutu, 1921.