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Pioneering Reminiscences of Old Wairoa

The Women's Part

The Women's Part.

The enemy divided his forces, and one detachment sought to get possession of Te Huki pa by false promises. "Let us be friends," said Te Kooti, but one woman said, "Mothers and daughters, did you hear the cries and noise of the killing at the other pa (Te Huki). Did you see the Pakeha horsemen flying. Do you see the children around you? I, for myself, will fire if the men will load the guns." That settled the point, and a dozen rifles were levelled, and a crashing volley burst forth. The Hauhaus, surprised at the defence, scattered like sheep, but three forms stiffened on the edge of the cliff. Half an hour of silence, and the women dug holes and hid the little ones, while the men re-loaded the guns. Then the onslaught on all sides, 300 men opened fire on the pa. Ah, then the fight waxed strong all page 199day, said a Native chronicler, the smoke drifting away like fleecy clouds, and the air reeking with the pungent powder, but every approach was checked. The fire from the pa was wild at times, but it meant death to any stormers even at 500 yards. Towards evening the fight waned, and died away with the setting sun. The guards were placed; and through the night came the words, "We are ready, we are ready." So much for the first clay. In the morning the watchers on the hills saw their flag still flying defiantly. All the night the breakers had sung to it, and the morning breezes had come to fill its folds. The firing began again, but the water in the pa was all gone, and the children were wailing for drink, their plaintive cries rising fitfully in the morning air. Then spoke up a man: "I will go forth; ye have fought well. Give me the cans." Carefully the guns were laid on the lines to the spring, and the children lay behind them. Sweeping volleys guarded the water-bearer, and back he came to the pa with his precious load. The little ones slept, paid the night came down, soft and cool. The land breeze came and the slumber-song of the waves arose from the shore. The sun's rays shone on the hills turning them into green and gold, and painting the clouds purple and red. Soon the stars peeped out from the curtain of night. "Awake,! Awake! We are awake," said the women of the pa. Another day in the heat of the battle and then there came signs of succour near at hand. Away to the south, winding along the hills, came the militia troopers, and over the hills from Waihua the braves of the pa were returning home page 200from Te Kiwi. They had seen the defeated enemy making for home with the horses laden with plunder…. The women staggered out on the slopes of the pa, but their eyes were heavy, and their limbs weak, and the children clung fast to them. They sank aweary to the ground, "We are safe: let us sleep," said the women of the pa.

"And as I sat where the pa had been, I saw a vast concourse of people. Many mighty ones were there, and there was much music. The lines of the soldiers were still, and he who was the lord of the people spoke great words, and afterwards drew aside a curtain. Behold! There stood beneath the figure of a woman holding a rifle, and at her feet a child. And it was written on: 'To the women of the pa.'"

Will the girls of "Jerusalem" be like their mothers? Oh, we shall see, if ever occasion call. And, indeed, you women of New Zealand, you who have the gold of the cities, and you whose wealth comes from the land—not much these days—have you no monument to these brave hearts? Are you going to let this deed be as a thing dead? Here is something for your solicitude. You will not let it fade? Surely not.