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

The First War-Path

The First War-Path.

“I was born,” said Peita, “up yonder at Petania, near the rapids of the Taringamutu. My tribes are Ngati-Maniapoto, of this district, and Patu-heuheu, my mother's tribe on the border of the Urewera Country. I was born a little before the time of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, so I am a very old man now; I have outlived all my old comrades and relatives. My first fighting expedition was to the Taranaki war. I joined a war-party of Ngati-Maniapoto. We all gathered at the Mokau River, and, going down to the heads in canoes, we marched along the coast to the Waitara, where the first Taranaki war had just begun. We met the British soldiers in battle at Wai-kotero and we defeated them there. We pursued them into a swamp and there we killed many; some of them were bogged up to their armpits and could not travel through the marsh like us, who wore little clothing. The tomahawk was the principal weapon used by the Maoris in this combat in the swamp. I was armed with a hakimana, a single-barrel percussion-cap shot-gun.”

(This was the engagement better known as Puke-ta-kauere, on June 27th, 1860, in which the 40th Regiment was badly cut up in the swampy ground below the Maori pa. The British casualties were 29 killed and 33 wounded.)