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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 1 (May 1, 1928)

Historic Church of Pukekohe

Historic Church of Pukekohe.

From Pukekohe Town we can see, less than two miles eastward, on the high rim of an old crateral valley, the little white-painted Presbyterian church of Pukekohe East, which was a stockaded garrison-house in the war days; it was the scene of a thrilling fight between a little band of armed settlers—there were only twenty-three of them—and about two hundred Maoris. British reinforcements came in briskly with the bayonet and relieved the hard-pressed defenders.

On the other side of the line, over yonder at Mauku, a pretty church which is still standing was fortified with a stockade and loopholes, and there were two little bush battles near by.

Up yonder on the switchback hills, culminating in the Razorback Ridge, the old military road was a highway of peril. Convoys and road parties were always in danger of ambuscade by the bush-roving bands of Maoris, and forest skirmishes cost some lives. The tatooed bushmen made a useful haul one day when they charged out on a party of the 40th Regiment who had stacked their arms while they worked with axe and saw widening the road-clearing. The Maoris shot a couple of soldiers and carried off twenty-three rifles and pouches of ammunition. In another affair they killed five soldiers. After this sort of thing large covering parties marched with the transport carters who hauled huge quantities of stores to the Army base at Queen's Redoubt.

We see the grassed-over parapets and the wide trenches of that big camp-ground close to the present Pokeno Station (40 miles). The redoubt was 100 yards square, with rounded bastions at each angle; a farmhouse now stands in the middle of the entrenchment. A short distance to the north of this olden camp is the Pokeno military cemetery, where there is a page 13 stone memorial, with a carving of stacked rifles, in honour of the officers and men who fell in this war area in 1863.