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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 7 (October 1, 1937.)

Spoils of War

Spoils of War.

Fourteen Terry carbines and as many revolvers and swords, besides the horses and saddles, were the spoils of war at Opepe. The jubilant Hauhaus also stripped the fallen of their uniforms. Then there were the arms taken by the Heruiwi scouts, Peita and Makarini. With these weapons and gear Te Kooti was able to complete the equipment of his mounted men, so that by 1870 he had a small body of cavalry, armed and uniformed like the Government men.

The Maoris who captured the Camp were the advance guard of Te Kooti's force. They were led by Te Rangi-Tahau, who was a chief of East Taupo, and familiar with all the tracks.

* * *

There was an astonishing sequel to the cutting-off of the cavalry detachment. Cornet Angus Smith, who should have been court-martialled for dereliction of duty in failing to post sentries page 28 and safeguard the camp, was awarded the New Zealand Cross. This award was made long after the war, and there was much indignation among other holders of the Cross—such men as Colonel Roberts, Captain Mair, Captain Preece and others—for it was considered a gross misuse of a rare and greatly prized decoration, reserved for acts of distinguished valour. Undoubtedly Smith was deserving of censure; but Lieut-Colonel St. John was even more culpable, for he should have realised that to post a few men in an open camp close to the bush was simply inviting an enemy raid; and he knew that Te Kooti intended marching to Taupo.