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

Captured at Omarunui

Captured at Omarunui.

“My next battle was at Omarunui, near Napier (in 1866). I became a convert to Pai-marire, the new religion from Taranaki, and joined the Ngati-Hineuru tribe at Te Haroto and Titiokura, on the mountain track between the Rangitaiki and Napier (the present main road). Here I lived for a time in the kainga of Panapa, the prophet of this tribe. It was a small tribe, but fond of war. An armed party of about eighty marched over the ranges to Hawke's Bay; our chiefs were Te Rangihiroa, Kipa, Kingita, Panapa, and Petera Kahuroa; and there also came with us the chief Rangi-tahau, of Taupo. At Omarunui we were attacked by the Napier Militia and volunteers, and after a short fight we were defeated; more than twenty of us were killed, and the rest of us were taken prisoner. Nearly thirty were wounded; the whole of us prisoners, wounded and unwounded, numbered about fifty.

“At the beginning of the fight on the river-bank at Omarunui, I had no gun, but when one of my comrades fell I took his double-barrel gun and his cartridge belt nearly full, and fired at the pakehas advancing to surround us. I expended all my ammunition there. A bullet struck me in the stomach, but its force was strangely stopped by my clothing, and it did not injure me beyond inflicting a heavy blow; it entangled itself in my shirt. Another bullet thudded on my chest just over my heart, but my waistcoat and shirt stopped it from penetrating, or else the angle at which it was fired caused it to glance off. This was at a range of about a hundred yards. I saw Nikora shot in the body; two bullets struck him. A number of us retreated to the hills, but we were surrounded there by the cavalry and were forced to surrender. On the same day a small detachment of our people, Ngati-Hineuru, was cut off in the valley at Petane; twelve were killed and the few survivors were captured. Only one man of all our warriors succeeded in escaping to Te Haroto; his name was Maniapoto. All the rest of us who could walk were marched to Napier, and the wounded were taken to hospital there. Then we were shipped off to Chatham Island in a steamer. Nikora and other wounded men were sent after us when they had recovered in hospital.