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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 468

ALTHOUGH THE YEAR 1872 saw the last of the fighting expeditions against the rebel Maoris, it was by no means the last of the anxious times on the borderland of the native territory. In Waikato, in the Taupo country, and in Taranaki there was still material for racial trouble. The Maori King, Tawhiao, and hundreds of his armed followers had their quarters in the Ngati-Maniapoto country, a few miles south of the Puniu River, the frontier of the confiscated lands, and for many years after the war they plotted and planned the reconquest of the Waikato. It was not until 1881 that they finally renounced their hopes and abandoned their policy of sullen self-isolation.

Moreover, for nearly ten years after Te Kooti had taken refuge in the King Country and drawn many of Tawhiao's people to his side there was a feeling of uncertainty on the frontier as to the old rebel's intentions. The King Country was given over to Hauhauism in its various forms, such as the Tariao ritual, and to the Wairua-Tapu faith of Te Kooti, and these fanatic cults were ever-present possible sources of, or incentives to, renewed conflict with the hated pakeha. The more thoughtful men among the Kingites had no desire for another war, but there was a large and dangerous element quite ready for raid and plunder had a leader presented himself. Fortunately, the fanatic Mahuki came on the scene some years too late to do much mischief.

Alarms and war-rumours were frequent in Waikato during the period 1870–75. The Kingites strictly enforced their aukati—that is, they forbade pakeha intrusion on the Maori side of the frontier line. White settlers on friendly terms with the Maoris frequently crossed the Puniu in quest of strayed stock, to traffic with the natives for pigs, and so on, but Government officials and land-seekers were discouraged with tupara and tomahawk. In 1870 Mr. Richard Todd, a Government surveyor, was shot on the slopes of Mount Pirongia, not far from the township of Alexandra (now Pirongia). A more alarming tragedy, a murder page 469
Colonel Lyon (Died at Auckland, 1887)

Colonel Lyon
(Died at Auckland, 1887)

Colonel William Lyon, an Imperial veteran, commanded the Constabulary and Volunteer forces in the Waikato, with headquarters at Cambridge, during the often critical days of the “seventies,” and was in charge of the Auckland Volunteer District, 1884–87. He began his soldiering career as an officer of the Coldstream Guards, and exchanged into the 92nd Highlanders, serving with that regiment for ten months in the Crimea. He lost an arm through a shooting accident in England, and left the Army to settle in New Zealand. When the Waikato War began he was appointed to the New Zealand forces, and served throughout that campaign and afterwards in the wars on the West and East Coasts. He was second in command under Colonel Whitmore in the final campaign against Titokowaru in 1869.

of a particularly savage character, was an affair which occurred in 1873, on the border-line near Roto-o-rangi and Pukekura, at the base of the Maunga-tautari Range, and about midway between the farthest-out farms at Orakau and the township of Cambridge. This was the killing of a farm labourer named Timothy Sullivan, employed by E. B. Walker, of Cambridge, who was breaking in a large area of land he had acquired on the border, in the Pukekura Block. Some of this land was on the Maori side of the frontier, and had been leased from natives of the Ngati-Raukawa Tribe. One of the Maori owners, Mohi Purukutu, who had been absent when the leasing arrangement was made, objected to the occupation of the land by Walker and his men; he received no payment for his share in the block, and he brooded over this until he resolved on desperate measures. On the 25th April, 1873, Purukutu and several other page 470 men, armed with guns and tomahawks, came upon three of Mr. Walker's employees engaged in fascining a swamp on the land leased by Walker, on the Maori side of the aukati line. The three were David Jones (a stockman), Charles Rodgers, and Timothy Sullivan. When they saw the hostile Maoris, mat-clad and armed, appear from the manuka and fern, they turned and ran for their lives, closely pursued. They ran for more than half a mile, then Sullivan gave in, exhausted, and sat down; his comrades raced on and escaped. Purukutu led the raiders; two of his companions were Pere te Pouturutu and Hori te Tumu. Pere, it is stated, shot Sullivan; then Purukutu and Hori decapitated him and cut out his heart, slashing the body open down to the stomach. They carried the slain man's head to Aotearoa and then to Wharepapa, a Hauhau village three miles south of the Puniu, where it was left. The heart, the Maoris relate, was carried up country, stuck on the end of a korari stick (flax-stalk), and was taken to the Kuiti district. “The slayers of Timoti (Timothy),” said the old man Tu Tamua Takerei, of Parawera, “intended to lay the heart before Tepaea, or Tiaho, the Maori Queen, but she disapproved of their actions, so the trophy was not presented to her. The taking of a human heart was an ancient custom of the Maori; it was the practice to offer it up to Tu and Uenuku, the gods of war.”*
page 471


Wahanui Huatare, of the Ngati-Maniapoto Tribe, was the leading chief of the King Country tribes in the negotiations with the Government, 1879–85. He was a man of powerful and commanding personality and a great orator, and was regarded as the Kingite “power behind the throne.”

This act of savagery—the last instance of decapitation and taking the heart of a foe which occurred in New Zealand—was a revival of barbarous practices that thoroughly shocked and alarmed the European settlers, and indeed, the whole colony, and it was at first regarded at the inevitable prelude to another war.

The Government made arrangements for the better defence of the Upper Waikato border, reinforced the Armed Constabulary, and sent Mr. James Mackay as Commissioner to investigate the murder and strengthen the chain of border posts between Cambridge and the Puniu River. Mr. Mackay had blockhouses erected at Roto-o-rangi and Paekuku, and a redoubt built at the Kihikihi ford on the Puniu; this redoubt was garrisoned by friendly natives of the Ngati-Naho Tribe. The Waikato Cavalry was also called out for service. This corps was a useful and competent body of volunteer frontier horse, consisting of two troops, one at Te Awamutu and the other at Cambridge. Major William Jackson, the veteran Forest Ranger, who had settled at page 472
Drawn from a photo, 1870] The Orakau Blockhouse

Drawn from a photo, 1870]
The Orakau Blockhouse

This blockhouse, erected in 1869 on the battlefield of Orakau (see Vol. 1, pages 365–407), was a type of numerous fortified posts established along the frontier. On the ground floor the building, constructed mostly of kahikatea, was about 16 feet by 20 feet, with a height of about 9 feet. The upper storey, 12 feet high, overlapped the lower one by about 3 feet all round. The walls were bullet-proof; the space between the outer wall and the lining was filled with gravel. The top storey was loopholed all round; the rifle-apertures, 6 inches by 2 inches, breast-high. There were no rifle-slits in the lower storey, but the palisading was loopholed at intervals of 5 feet. The palisade was 10 to 12 feet high; there was a space of about 6 feet between it and the building. In the front the palisading was double, with a traverse of timber covering the entrance. The front fence was nearly all tall manuka stakes, but the main palisading consisted of posts 10 or 12 inches in thickness; manuka timber was used to fill the interstices. At the rear of the blockhouse the bank was scarped perpendicularly about 7 feet as an additional protection.

page 473 Hairini, commanded the Te Awamutu troop; his lieutenants at this period were Mr. Andrew Kay and Mr. William A. Cowan, the two farthest-out settlers at Orakau. The Cambridge troop was commanded by Captain J. Runciman. These troops of border farmers, well-mounted, and armed with carbine, revolver, and sword, were a highly valuable bulwark for the frontier. Divided into small detachments they patrolled the disturbed country by day and night, watched the fords and tracks, and kept a vigilant eye on all Maori movements. Undoubtedly some of the wilder spirits among the Hauhaus did contemplate a raid on the frontier settlements, but the presence of these resolute settler-soldiers moving about the country and the numerous Armed Constabulary posts deterred them from any forays they might have plotted. The Kingite chiefs disavowed Purukutu's deed, which came to be regarded as an act of protest against unjust treatment. The Maoris concerned only regretted having killed a “tutua,” a nobody; the object of their wrath was really Mr. Walker. The excitement on the frontier was heightened by an attempt to kill James Mackay when he pluckily went up to Tokangamutu to beard the Kingites in their headquarters and demand the surrender of Purukutu. A man called Ruru entered his tent in the night and attacked him with a native wooden weapon, and would have killed him but for Mackay's superior strength and the assistance of some Maoris who heard his cries. Rewi Maniapoto protected Mackay and set a guard round his tent. Mackay returned safely to Waikato, but without the wanted man. It was many months before the feelings of apprehension in the frontier settlements died away, when it became clear that no invasion of the pakeha land was intended.

Several years later another aukati-line tragedy excited the Kingites, but did not affect the settlements. This was the killing of Moffatt, a white man who had lived with the Maoris on the Upper Wanganui and who had manufactured a coarse gunpowder for them during the wars. After repeated warnings, he returned to the King Country to prospect for gold, it was said. He was waylaid by a party of Taumarunui natives at Matapuna—close to the present town of Taumarunui—and was shot. This deed was carried out at the behest of Wahanui, in pursuance of the policy to preserve the aukati inviolate.

* Mr. Andrew Kay, of Orakau, relates that shortly before Purukutu carried out his raid on Grice and Walker's estate, at Pukekura—Roto-o-rangi, he sent a party of Maoris to Ramsay's farm near Paekuku, opposite Orakau. There an old Maori, who had been taken as a slave in the intertribal wars, was working for Ramsay, pit-sawing timber in the bush which then existed between Rangiaowhia and Puahue. This relic of the old cannibal days they took away with them; it was found afterwards that they wanted him for the work of decapitating a pakeha whom they had decided to kill, and to preserve the head by smoke-drying it. The old man did not want to go, but he was compelled to carry out Purukutu's wishes, and when the labourer Timothy Sullivan was killed on the disputed ground his head was removed and carried about the King Country as a Hauhau trophy.

Shortly before Purukutu committed this deed a Maori named Te Wao, who was ditching for Andrew Kay, came to his employer in great alarm and said he was going away because he had heard that a certain man, whom he would not name, had swallowed a ngarara, a lizard. The natives usually hold lizards in great dread, and this act of eating a ngarara was a prelude to some deed of desperation. The murder on the frontier followed. The Maoris had first killed one or two cattle and driven others off the disputed land—for which Purukutu had never received his rightful share of payment—and as this protest had no effect they decided to kill a man.

About the same time the old tohunga Hopa te Rangianini, of Ngati-Matakore, came in across the frontier from Tokanui, and told Mr. Kay that there was going to be great trouble and he did not desire to be concerned in it, so he stayed at Kay's until peace prevailed once more on the border.