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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 1 (April 1, 1935)

Maori Bravery Recognised

Maori Bravery Recognised.

The Nelson townspeople were greatly excited by the news of the Delaware wreck and the rescue by the Maoris. A fund was immediately raised, and a public presentation was made to the three swimmers. Julia and her husband each received an inscribed gold watch, and their companion, a youth, and the helpers on the shore each were given a silver watch. Sums of money were also presented to them. Julia's portrait hangs in the Nelson Art Gallery, and under it is this inscription:

“In Public Recognition of the Brave Deeds of Huria Matenga, Chieftainess of the Ngati-Awa, Ngati-Tama and Ngati-Toa Tribes, who, in company with her husband, Hemi Matenga, at risk of life swam for a rope through a stormy sea, thereby saving the lives of the crew of the Delaware, wrecked at Whakapuaka, September 3, 1863.”

The portrait of Julia Matenga which illustrates this article is from the painting by G. F. Lindauer in the Partridge collection of notable Maoris, in the Auckland Municipal Art Gallery. The brave woman of Whakapuaka died at her home there in 1909. Her stalwart husband followed her in 1912, at the age of seventy-seven. Hemi, who was half-brother of Wi Parata Kaka-kura, the chief of Waikanae, was a fine figure of a man to the last, lean and erect. When I last talked with him in Wellington he was on his way, notwithstanding his three score and fifteen years, to Matata, in the Bay of Plenty, duck-shooting, a sportsman to the end. Only a little while previous to our meeting he had rescued a Nelson man from drowning, near the very same place where he and his wife had saved the despairing crew of the Delaware forty-six years before.