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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]

Hastings Drill Shed

Hastings Drill Shed.

The Hastings Drill Shed , which is situated near the centre of the town, is the joint property of the local military corps and the town band. It is a large wooden building, well built and appointed, and is one of the chief public halls in Hastings.

Major John Chicken, V.D., who was the first Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion Wellington (East Coast) Rifle Volunteers, was born in Sunderland, England, in the year 1847. He is the son of the late Mr. Joseph Chicken, of Bishop-Wearmouth, and was educated partly in his native town and partly in Auckland, where he arrived with his parents in 1859, by the ship “William Watson” (Captain Macfarlane). On leaving school he entered the employment of the late Mr. John Andrews, builder and timber merchant, and three years later removed to Napier, where he went into the service of Mr. R. Holt, sawmiller and timber merchant, with whom he has been for over forty years, for a considerable portion of which time he has been manager of the Napier mill. In 1866, when he joined the Napier Militia, he took part in the ensuing campaign, including the fight at Omaranui, page 334 where both his immediate comrades were shot down beside him. He was band-sergeant and band-master in the Napier Rifles until the corps was disbanded in 1874, This corps was re-formed in 1878, when Mr. Chicken became bugler and colour-sergeant. In 1885 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, three years later became captain, and major in 1898. He took part in the expedition after Te Kooti, holds the New Zealand war medal, the Long Service medal, the Auxiliary Forces medal, and the Imperial decoration. He is a successful marksman, and was a representative of Hawke's Bay in 1871, when he won the principal gold medal competed for. Major Chicken has been the recipient of a sword presented by the non-commissioned officers of the Napier Rifles in 1886, a field service sword and accoutrements, presented by his company on his promotion to Major of the battalion, and a thoroughbred horse and saddlery outfit by a few of his friends. He took an active part in organising and despatching all the Hawke's Bay contingents for the South African war. In January, 1903, he resigned from the Active List, and was placed upon the Retired List, with the rank of Major. In 1880 Major Chicken married the daughter of the late Mr. G. E. R. McAlpine, and has one son and two daughters.

Bunting, photo.Major J. Chicken.

Bunting, photo.
Major J. Chicken.

Captain Edmund Tuke, sometime of the New Zealand Militia, arrived in New Zealand by the ship “Cornwall,” in 1851. He took up land in the Hawke's Bay district for a sheep run in 1863. When the Maori war broke out Captain Tuke was appointed by Sir George Grey, as second in command, under the late Colonel J. Fraser, of the Military Settlers, and saw active service on the East Coast, for which he received the New Zealand war medal. He was also, for eighteen months, in command of the guard over the native prisoners, numbering 340, at the Chatham Islands, but was not there when they escaped, the guard having been removed. In Gudgeon's “Heroes of New Zealand” a long report appears, written by Captain Tuke, on the state of the prisoners at that date and before their escape. Captain Tuke was one of the founders of the Masonic Lodge Scinde in Napier, and a Justice of the Peace. He died on the 19th of March, 1901.