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Pioneering Reminiscences of Old Wairoa

War, Red War!

War, Red War!

One day a Maori courier came to the pa saying that war had come. Te Kooti had escaped from the Chatham Islands, the Wairoas were friendly to him, and it was time to get ready for battle. Then the men marched away in long lines over the hills for Wairoa to cut in on the line of Te Kooti's march. The women returned sadly after the farewell and huddled in the pa; ammunition was stored in a cache in the centre of the pa and the people waited. The 10th of April, 1869, broke fine, with a light breeze from the south, and the fleecy clouds rolled lazily by. The river fronting the pas lay cool and still as it wended its way to the sea and as it danced over the pebbles in the sunlight it did not sound martial music. The leaves on the trees scarcely stirred and all seemed well as the morning mists rose to the hill-tops. But away to the west in the direction of the towering ranges the forests looked dark and gloomy, and a great stillness seemed to come over Nature itself, as if "the children of Tane Mahuta" feared that a storm was approaching that would snap the stoutest trees and bend the saplings to breaking point. The women felt awed as they thought of their men-folk away out on the Kiwi hills. Then came from the river the figure of a woman calling out the arrival of the enemy, and a woman carrying the dead body of her child. As the Native watchers gazed in the direction of the kumara fields they sensed danger, page 198and soon the edge of the dark forest became alive; black dots appeared in the scrub, and then began to move; then a long line of black became visible, spread out and became a line of marching men—the disciples of the cult of the uplifted hand! On they came at right angles to the line of vision till they reached a small hillock in the centre of the flat. Hidden first by this hillock it cut the line in two, but still they marched ever onward. By this time it was broad daylight, and it was soon known that the advancing men were foes and not the Ngatipahauwera coming back from the Kiwi hills. With an exclamation of "Aue," the women outside the pa rushed in, dragging their children after them and the gates were closed.