An Incident Of The Whaling Days.
Among the incidents connecting the history of the whaling days with Taranaki is the story of Captain Guard, who, in 1834, was shipwrecked in the “Harriet,” near Cape Egmont. He was a whaling captain, and had been familiar with the New Zealand coast for ten years or more. His wife and two children were with him, and these, with Captain Hall and twenty-eight seamen, were saved from the wreck. But while camped near Moturoa, the party was attacked by a large body of Maoris; and Mrs Guard and her children were captured, while most of the crew were killed. Captain Guard escaped northward with eleven men, and, falling in with a friendly party of Ngatiawas, was by them allowed to go to the South Island for assistance. After many adventures, he ultimately arrived in Sydney, and prevailed upon the authorities to send a ship of war to rescue his wife and children, and the white men still in captivity, at Moturoa. In August, 1834, four months after the loss of the “Harriet,” H.M.S. “Alligator”
The Sugar Loaves, New Plymouth.
left Port Jackson on this errand of mercy. By the time the “Alligator” reached the New Zealand coast, Mrs Guard and her children had been removed from Moturoa to Waimate, about twenty-three miles further south; and the natives, in response to the threats of Captain Lambert, agreed to surrender their captives. But they were very anxious to secure a ransom, and the consequent delay led to some desultory fighting. At last Mrs Guard and the younger child were surrendered; but Captain Lambert had to land troops and artillery to persuade the Maoris to give up the other. According to Dr. Marshall, who wrote an account of the expedition, the English sailors and soldiers fired, of their own accord, upon the natives, after the child had been given up, though their own flag of truce was flying at the time. This statement is contradicted by other authorities; but the gallant bearing of the native chiefs, and their leisurely retreat under a heavy fire, seem to have extorted the unwilling admiration of their opponents. The whole story illustrates very strongly the perils to which the few whites in the country were then opposed, and the characteristic bravery and generosity, as well as the ferocity, of the Maori.