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

The Heroine of Orakau

The Heroine of Orakau.

But the shining example of woman's heroism in my mind just now is Ahu-mai te Paerata, whose deeds of noble courage were twofold; she fought for her national cause and she saved a pakeha's life when no other arm was stretched out to defend him. Ahumai of Orakau—she is one of those whose names will never die in our country's story.

Ahumai and her brother Hitiri te Paerata were the only survivors of their family at Orakau. Her father, brother and uncle fell on the battlefield. Her husband was killed soon after she had delivered her reply to the British request that the women and children should be sent out of the beleagured redoubt so that they would not meet the fate of the men. Major Mair (who was a young officer in the Cavalry Defence Force at Orakau) gave me the actual words of his request, as interpreter, when the warriors of the Pa had refused to surrender. He called out to the garrison, from the head of the sap:

“E pai ana tera mo koutou tangata; engari kaore e pai kia mate ai nga wahine me nga tamariki. Tukuna mai era.”

(“That is well for you men; but it is not right that the women and children should die. Send them out to us.”)

A young woman of noble and fearless bearing stood up on the firing-step inside the earth parapet and cried to Mair:

“Ki te mate nga tane, me mate ano nga wahine me nga tamariki!”

(“If the men are to die, the women and children will die also!”)