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A Sketch of the New Zealand War

Arrival in Auckland II

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Arrival in Aucklandpage 14page 15 II

I Arrived in Auckland in June, 1860, in medical charge of troops. We had touched at Sydney and heard of the Maori War. Communication was scant at that time, and but little was known. Enough, however, to make me feel the Maori tomahawk crunch through my skull into the brain.

Nothing can be more charming than the first view of Auckland. I have seen many beautiful cities in Europe, Asia, America, and Australia. I doubt whether any compare favourably with Auckland in situation and surroundings. It looked to us weary voyagers a haven of rest. No one could believe that in such a lovely country, so peaceful, so attractive, war could be possible.

The troops on landing were met by a military band, and marched up Queen Street, surrounded by a rejoicing people. We brought fresh hope and joy to anxious colonists. The affair at Waireka had left a poor impression as page 16to the efficacy of British troops in Maori warfare, and anxiety and alarm pervaded the public mind.

I reported myself to the Chief Medical Officer, and left a card on the commandant's daughter. How well do I remember her first question—" Well, what do you think of Auckland?"

I stood up, looked out of the window, and said, "Beautiful! It is a thousand pities, however, the North Shore is not planted."

I turned round, looked at the circle in the drawing-room, and said to myself, "These people think me a prig. I wonder why?"

I was detailed for duty at the General Hospital in Auckland City, and settled down to my work. In a few days a very nice, gentlemanly man—a brother medical officer—said to me, "I have my orders for the seat of war. Your arrival has played the devil with everything. I am making love to the sweetest girl in the world. Long before my return (if I ever return) some combatant officer will have carried her off."

I felt the cold shivers run down my back, and the whistle of the Maori bullet in my ear. I muttered to myself, "Blood is blood," and said to him,—

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"My dear fellow, I am dying to go to the seat of war. I am a poor devil of an Irishman, accustomed to a turbulent people. I have seen the lady: she is a beauty. For her sweet sake, I'll be off and get tomahawked. I will volunteer for active service. You have friends: you can manage the rest."

And he did.

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