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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 419


TOWARDS THE END of March, 1870, Captain Gilbert Mair and Captain G. A. Preece received instructions to disband the Arawa and Taupo native contingents, and to enrol a special corps consisting of two companies, each of not more than one hundred picked Maoris, who should be drilled in the same way as the European force. Captain Preece was to be stationed at Te Teko and work from there as a base; Captain Mair would be stationed at Kaiteriria. Both officers were under the officer commanding the Tauranga district. They were ordered to act together and meet at Fort Galatea, patrolling the country, and at the same time to keep in touch with Major Roberts, commanding the Taupo district; but a good deal of discretion was allowed them. Captain Preece picked his recruits from all tribes and avoided choosing any chiefs, in order to have the men under his own control; in his own words he had had “a sickening” of native chiefs. He met with considerable opposition from the chiefs, but selected good men in spite of them, and was fortunate in getting some excellent European and Maori non-commissioned officers, and never regretted the composition of the force. The men worked well together; the Europeans were experienced Armed Constabulary men, and one of the Maori sergeants had been many years in the Auckland police and was well drilled. The corps was styled the Arawa Flying Column; Mair commanded No. 1 Company, and Preece No. 2. For two years, working usually in combination, both companies carried out a great deal of difficult work under trying conditions, particularly in the Urewera Country, and it was an Arawa party under Preece that finally engaged Te Kooti in February, 1872.

From the 6th April, 1870, onward Captains Mair and Preece led their Arawa companies in a number of expeditions on the borders of the Urewera Country, and had a few unimportant skirmishes with the enemy in different places. On the 17th April a Ngati-Whare man named Paraone te Tuhi, and four others who had been in one of the skirmishes, came in under a page 420 flag of truce and surrendered. Paraone said, “I am the rope; pull me and the horse will follow”—meaning that he was the first to give himself up, and that if he were sent back to his tribe they also would surrender. Shortly after this the whole of the Ngati-Whare Tribe from Ahi-Kereru, under their chiefs Hapurona Kohi and Hamiora Potakurua, came in and laid down their arms at Fort Galatea. Under instructions from the Government they were conveyed to the coast at Putere, near Matata, and located there. Later, natives of the Warahoe Tribe surrendered under their chiefs Wi Patene and Manuera, and were settled near the redoubt at Te Teko, the Government providing them with food until they could gather their crops from the seed supplied to them. In all cases they gave up their arms.

When Major Kepa and his Wanganui Contingent advanced from Ohiwa up the Waimana River, Tamaikowha, the Urewera chief of Waimana, who had been the leading spirit in the rebellion in the Opotiki country in 1867 and 1868, met Kepa and made peace. He declared that he had never joined Te Kooti, and promised that the Government troops could go through his country in pursuit of the rebel chief without being molested by his men. After the junction of Kepa's party with Ropata's and their successful fight at Maraetahi, and after they had left the neighbourhood Colonel St. John, who then commanded the district, heard that rebels were afoot, and made a raid on Ohiwa, where Tamaikowha's father unfortunately was killed. This naturally caused trouble, because Tamaikowha said that the Government had made a treacherous peace and then attacked him. Colonel St. John was removed from the district, and Major Mair was sent to try and patch matters up. His efforts were successful, and Tamaikowha was ever afterwards a firm friend of the Government officers. Captain J. R. Rushton, now of Kutarere, Ohiwa, who was a member of this expedition, gives the following account:—

“Lieut.-Colonel St. John was induced by the chief Tamehana Tahawera, of Ngati-Pukeko, and Wi Maihi Te Rangikaheke, of the Arawa, to organize an expedition against Whakarae, the pa of the Urewera chief Rakuraku, on Ohiwa Harbour. Both the chiefs mentioned had had relatives killed by Te Kooti and his people, and their object was to obtain revenge by capturing the Hauhau leader Tamaikowha, who was with Rakuraku. We reconnoitred up to Whakarae and arrived there about two hours before daylight with the intention of surrounding the pa. I was ahead on the track leading up to the village with two Whakatohea scouts. Suddenly an old man appeared and came right up to us; he had a calabash in his hand, and was going down to a spring for water. He passed on, and Tamehana Tahawera led him down the track, and before we could prevent the deed he had killed the old man page 421 with a whalebone patu. It was a deliberate murder; it was Tahawera's way of obtaining revenge for the murder of his niece Ripeka on the Whakatane in 1869. Tamaikowha and his party, hearing the noise made by our people, retreated from the pa down a cliff into the Nukuhou River, seaward of the present road. The old man killed was Tepene, father of Tamaikowha; and, as Tamaikowha had already made peace with the Government, the expedition was a mistake. It was simply a scheme by the two friendly chiefs to make use of the Government forces and secure revenge for their family losses. St. John shortly afterwards was removed from the command of the Opotiki district.”

In July, 1870, Captain Rushton, who was acting intelligence officer and scout at Opotiki, hearing that some of the Whakatohea Tribe were in communication with Te Kooti, rode to Ohiwa, and explained the position to Colonel McDonnell. At his request Rushton went to Omarumutu, on the coast near the mouth of the Wai-aua River, and found all the Whakatohea mustered in the large sheds which held their whaleboats. He secured the Maoris' guns at Omarumutu, and Sir Donald McLean gave him his captaincy for the work. This was just before Te Kooti came down and captured the large Omarumutu pa, which surrendered at once, and led the people off as prisoners. After taking the tribe inland Te Kooti sent back a party of fifty or sixty men, who killed two Arawa scouts, Te Awaawa and Heteraka te Rangikaheke; the latter, a son of the Rotorua chief Te Rangikaheke, was shot by the half-caste Peka Makarini. This brought Ngati-Hau and Ngati-Porou on Te Kooti's trail, and the engagement at Maraetahi followed. All those taken away from Omarumutu were recaptured; they numbered two hundred and seventy men, women, and children.

This ended the war against the Urewera, although a small section of them from Maunga-pohatu under Te Whiu were still out with Te Kooti at Te Wera or Te Houpapa. Among them was Kepa te Ahuru, N.Z.C., a trooper of No. 1 Division A.C., who had been made a prisoner by Te Kooti at Rotorua just before Mair's engagement in February, 1870. This man afterwards escaped and made his way through the country to Maunga-pohatu, and surrendered to Captain Preece at Horomanga, near the Rangitaiki. He was sent to Tauranga to report himself to Colonel Moule, who, having satisfied himself that he was forcibly detained and had taken the first opportunity of escaping, sent him back to duty and gave him his back pay. Kepa was then attached to Captain Preece's force. He served in it for several years, and was in all the expeditions of 1871–72 through the Urewera Country.

Te Waru Tamatea and his tribe of Wairoa (H.B.) natives, who dared not show themselves in the Wairoa district on account page 422 of the treacherous murder of Karaitiana Roto-a-Tara and his three fellow-scouts at Whataroa, in October, 1868, just before the Poverty Bay massacre, surrendered unconditionally to Captain Preece at Horomanga and laid down their arms. They were informed that any murderers would be tried for their offences according to law. They were being sent to Tauranga under strong escort when Mr. Clarke, the Civil Commissioner, intervened, and the Government decided to place them on the coast at Maketu under charge of the loyal Maoris. They were afterwards settled at Waiotahe, near Opotiki, on land allotted to them by the Government, but were never allowed to return to the Wairoa district.

The Urewera mountain tribes were now growing weary of allowing themselves to be used by the rebel leader. Early in May 1870 Captain Preece heard that the Urewera chiefs Paerau te Rangi-kaitipuake and Te Whenuanui, of Ruatahuna, were inclined to break away from Te Kooti, who, after his defeat at Maraetahi, had taken up a position with the remnant of his followers at Te Houpapa, in the bush at the headwaters of the Waioeka and Hangaroa Rivers, about midway between Opotiki and Wairoa on the Hawke's Bay side. Preece accordingly sent letters by a surrendered Ngati-Whare chief, telling them that if they would come in and give up their arms the Government forces would merely go through their country in pursuit of Te Kooti and would not harm them. They replied that the peace made with Tamaikowha had resulted in blood being spilt, and that they would not surrender. However, shortly after this Te Whenuanui met Major Mair at Ruatoki, and peace was made with his party. A little later Paerau te Rangi-kaitipuake met Captain Preece at Ahi-kereru, and his people made peace and opened their country to the Government. After these important surrenders the only chief of the Urewera on the Ruatahuna side of the country who supported Te Kooti was Kereru te Pukenui, who occupied the lower end of the Ruatahuna clearings and Maunga-pohatu. A chief of Maunga-pohatu named Tutakangahau had previously surrendered with Ngati-Whare.

On one of the many expeditions made by Captains Mair and Preece during the latter part of 1870, scouring the western borderland of the Urewera, they intercepted a party of Te Kooti's men trying to get through to Waikato, and drove them back into the bush between Heruiwi and Te Tapiri. One of these men, Paora Wakahoehoe, was afterwards killed at Waipaoa (August, 1871). Another, named Maaka, was captured by Captain Ferris in the early part of 1872; he was one of Te Kooti's “butchers” who committed the atrocities in Poverty Bay in November, 1868. Maaka was tried in Napier and condemned to death; the sentence, however, was commuted to page 423
Captain Preece, N.Z.C.

Captain Preece, N.Z.C.

Captain G. A. Preece is a New Zealand-born officer who won the highest distinction in the Maori wars. His father was a pioneer missionary who laboured among the natives in the very early days, and was the first to establish a station in the Urewera Country. Captain Preece began his military career in 1865 in the operations against the rebel faction of Ngati-Porou on the East Coast. At the first attack on Ngatapa (1868) he and Major Ropata rendered exceptionally gallant services for which each was awarded the New Zealand Cross. (See Chapter 28, p. 275.) In 1869 he served as staff officer and interpreter to Colonel Whitmore in the Urewera expedition and in the operations on the West Coast. He commanded No. 2 Company of the Arawa Flying Column (Constabulary) in the arduous pursuit of Te Kooti through the Urewera Mountains. When settled conditions came, Captain Preece was appointed Resident Magistrate at Opotiki, and for many years served the country as R.M. in the North Island.

penal servitude for life, and after serving ten years he was released.

From April, 1870, to April 1871, Mair and Preece with their respective contingents patrolled the country from Te Teko as far as Heruiwi, and through the bush from Waiohau to Horomanga and Ahi-kereru, keeping in constant touch with the Armed page 424 Constabulary under Major Roberts at Taupo and Major Mair at Opotiki. Then orders came that they were to hold themselves in readiness to take the field against Te Kooti, as it was reported that he was making for Waikare-moana to avoid Major Ropata and Captain Porter, who were moving up towards Te Houpapa from Poverty Bay.

On the 27th May, 1871, Captains Mair and Preece started from Fort Galatea on their first expedition after Te Kooti through the Urewera territory. They had about fifty men of each Arawa Contingent (Nos. 1 and 2 Companies), and had brought up three weeks' rations from Te Teko. They arrived at Ahi-kereru the following day, and then got deep into the Urewera Mountains, where the knowledge of the country that they had gained on Colonel Whitmore's Ruatahuna expedition in 1869 was of great service to them. On arrival at Ruatahuna they were welcomed by the natives under Te Whenuanui and Paerau te Rangi-kaitipuake; this was the first visit of troops to the mountain clans' country since peace had been made with them in 1870. The force camped at Ruatahuna for a night and day, and buried the remains of Captain Travers, A.C., and five men whose bodies had been exhumed by Te Kooti's orders in May, 1869. With the expedition was old Hapurona Kohi, who had fought at Orakau and had killed one of Nga-Rauru with a mere pounamu at Tapapa in January, 1870. He was the chief of the first Urewera who surrendered in April, 1870. Hapurona was a man of great influence with the Urewera, and could be trusted to give reliable information. The passage through the country was not without risk of opposition from the more irreconcilable members of this wild hill tribe. Indeed, before Mair and Preece left Ruatahuna they received a defiant message from Kereru te Pukenui, a chief who occupied the Whakatane Valley below Ruatahuna, warning them not to return or they might get into trouble; this man's influence extended as far as Maunga-pohatu.

After leaving Ruatahuna the first march was over the Huiarau Range, and thence through rugged country and down the river-bed to Hereheretaua, on the northern shore of Waikare-moana. The officers had previously sent an Urewera native with a message to Hona te Makarini, the chief who had surrendered to Mr. Hamlin in the latter part of the previous year, bidding him have canoes to take the Arawa over to his settlement and to be ready to meet them. The canoes were provided, and Preece, having crossed to Waitohi, sent them back for Captain Mair and his men. On the following day the two commanders took the men over to Tikitiki, Te Makarini's settlement. Captain Mair remained there, while Captain Preece, Sergeant Bluett, and page 425 twelve men, with a prisoner named Hone Pareha—one of Te Kooti's men who had recently turned up at Tikitiki—went out to Wairoa to get further provisions and boots for the men. Though they had exceptionally bad weather they got back ten days later with a good supply.

Now Mair and Preece, taking with them Hapurona Kohi, who proved very useful as a guide, crossed the lake to the Whanganui-a-Parua arm and marched for Maunga-pohatu. After a very laborious journey they surrounded the settlement Te Kakari. This was the place where Ropata had had an engagement in 1870, losing one man killed. It was a strong position, about two miles west of Maunga-pohatu peak, which was separated from it by a deep ravine in which a tributary of the Waimana flowed. The forest grew close up to the pa on the south-east side. The force crept up to the palisade surrounding Te Kakari Village one afternoon in dull overcast weather, and Mair entered the place unobserved and called on the people to lay down their arms and have no fear. Hapurona told the natives that the Government had no quarrel with any but Te Kooti's Kereopa's people. There were about seventy men, women, and children in the pa; most of the young fighting-men were away in the direction of Opotiki. The inhabitants of Te Kakari made an attempt to retreat, but found each gateway blocked by the Arawa. The surprise was complete; submission was the only course, and the Arawa made them their unwilling hosts. It was discovered too late that Kereopa had been in the pa, but escaped from an unguarded side when the place was entered. The force remained at Te Kakari next day (19th June), and on the following morning marched on to Tauaki, a pa several miles below Te Kakari. There they met the notable warrior Tamaikowha, with some seventy of his tribe. Tamaikowha received the force in a very friendly manner; Major Mair's diplomatic visit to him the previous year had had the effect of allaying his anger over the slaying of his father, Tepene. Peace was cemented with the assembled people; in the symbolic phrase of the Urewera, the tatau pounamu, the greenstone door, was erected—an expression for a lasting peace.

The two commanders had intended pushing on from Maunga-pohatu to the forests of Te Wera, at the head of the Waioeka and Hangaroa Rivers, where Te Kooti was believed to be in hiding. But bad weather set in, and when the force moved on to Tauaki, Tamaikowha advised that the expedition to Te Wera should be abandoned for the present as supplies were running low, and that the Arawa should go down the Waimana through the Ngati-Tama settlement and make for Opotiki. It was now well on in June, and as the conditions were so wintry, page 426 Mair and Preece followed their new-made friend's advice. They went on to Opokere pa, on the high range, and from there to Te Whakaumu, where the track to Te Wera branches off, thence to Tawhana, at the junction of the Tauranga and Tawhana Streams, which form the Waimana Valley. The next point reached was Tauwhare-manuka, in the gorge of the Waimana, where Tamaikowha had built a large meeting-house. It had been named “Runanga” to commemorate the making of peace, but he, with grim humour, renamed it “Tepene,” after his father, who had been killed at Whakarae. A long march down the river, which was crossed forty-two times, took the force into the Lower Waimana. On the 26th June the Arawa arrived at Opotiki, and after another march in bad weather reached their headquarters at Te Teko on the 2nd July.

The force had been over a month going through the most rugged terrain in the North Island of New Zealand, and although Mair and Preece had not achieved much in the way of fighting, they had shown the Urewera that they could get through their country in the depth of winter. After-events proved that it was fortunate they did not go to Te Wera, for Te Kooti was close to Waikare-moana at the time the force was there, and, in fact, had a distant view of Captain Preece's small party as it returned from Wairoa.