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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 11 (February 1, 1938)

The Flight from Ngatapa

The Flight from Ngatapa.

“We next gathered in the mountain fort Ngatapa. It was an ancient stronghold of the Maoris, and we fortified it afresh, and occupied it for several weeks. In the defence of this pa I used a rifle. The fall of the fort was due to the fact that the Government Maoris (Ngati-Porou) cut us off from the spring which was our water supply. The stronghold fell because of the lack of food and water.

“When our position became desperate and it was decided to escape to the forest under cover of night, we let ourselves down the cliff in rear of the pa by means of aka or forest vines, cut from the trees just outside the fort. The lowest part of the cliff where I went down on an aka vine was about sixty feet high. I escaped from the bush pursuit made by the Ngati-Porou, but many of our people were captured and shot. One of our men killed by Ngati-Porou was Nikora te Whakaunua, who had been severely wounded.

“We who had escaped from Ngatapa made our way through the forest ranges, pursued for some distance by the Ngati-Porou, and assembled again in the Tuhoe country. We remained for a little while at a pa in the Waimana Valley, and then we made an expedition down into the Whakatane Valley. Te Kooti recruited many men among the Tuhoe, and we laid siege to the Ngati-Pukeko pa Rauporoa, a large entrenchment on the left bank of the Whakatane, about five miles from the mouth of the river. At the same time a detachment of our force attacked the flour-mill and small redoubt at Te Poronu, on the opposite side of the river (about a third of a mile from Rauporoa). From the hills above the road we fired into the redoubt—which was held by a very few people of the Ngati-Pukeko, who were on the Government side—and also at the mill, where Hoani te Wiwi [i.e., “John the Frenchman”—Jean Guerren] worked this water-driven flour-mill for the Ngati-Pukeko. Hoani held the mill for some time, but at last he was shot in the gateway of the redoubt by Eru Peka, the half-caste, Te Kooti's bugler. All the positions of the Ngati-Pukeko were taken by us. Then some of our force attacked Whakatane, and the men of Tuhoe looted and burned the store of the trader [Mr. Simpkins]. The Government force [a column under Major Mair] followed us inland, when we retired from the Whakatane Valley with much loot. From the Whakatane we crossed to the Rangitaiki Valley and there was some fighting at Tauaroa. Thence we marched back into the mountains of the Urewera Country.