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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Captain Read Fears a General Massacre

Captain Read Fears a General Massacre

Whilst hostilities were proceeding on the East Coast, the Kingites and Hauhaus in Poverty Bay adopted an increasingly unfriendly attitude. By August it appeared practically certain that Poverty Bay would also become the scene of strife. As Pukeamionga pa lacked a water supply, the rebels began to strengthen the big pa which stood on the bank of the old riverbed near the Waerenga-a-Hika mission station. Hirini te Kani now declared himself on the side of the Crown, and sought aid for the protection of Poverty Bay. On 15 September Mr. McLean sent up 26 Military Settlers, under Lieutenant Wilson, from Hawke's Bay. They built a stockade on Kaiti about 200 yards east of the site now occupied by the War Memorial. Harris urged Mr. McLean to increase Wilson's contingent to 50. Seven of the 41 adult males left in the district would, he said, be of page 222 little use outside a stockade. He also reported that Hauhaus from the East Coast were reaching Waerenga-a-Hika by the inland route. It was imperative, he added, that the St. Kilda should call as she passed both north and south as, sometimes, weeks went by without a vessel of any sort being seen.

Towards the end of September it became evident that the rebels who had rallied at Waerenga-a-Hika had the active sympathy not only of the bulk of T'Aitanga-a-Mahaki, but also of a majority of Rongowhakaata. On 27 September, Wilson's small force was augmented by 30 members of the Hawke's Bay C.D.C. under Captain La Serre. The Rongowhakaata loyalists built a pa at Oweta (about two miles from the mouth of the Waipaoa River) and, on 11 October, hoisted a Union Jack and saluted it. Henare Potae reached Poverty Bay with 30 Ngati-Porou loyalists on 30 October. As the settlers' homes on the Flats were vacated they were looted. By 1 November only Robert Read, who lived at Manutuke, had not come into Turanganui. Anaru Matete, who had 150 rebels under him, now threatened to build a redoubt at Makaraka and block the road between Turanganui and Waerenga-a-Hika.

Fearing that a general massacre was imminent, Captain Read went to Napier on one of his own vessels to warn the authorities. Mr. McLean gave orders that the European troops who had been so successful on the East Coast should be drafted to Poverty Bay. He also went up to Waiapu on H.M.S. Esk to fetch Ropata, Mokena and Potae and 260 Ngati-Porou. They were landed at Poverty Bay on 9 November, and, on the same day, the Sturt arrived from Waiapu with 100 Forest Rangers under Major Fraser. Lazarus, who professed to be angry on account of the settlers' homes having been plundered, promised to counsel his people (the Ngati-Maru) to agree that all rebels should lay down their arms, take the oath of allegiance, give up Hauhauism, and make restitution in land for the damage that had been wrought.