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

Saw Nothing Amiss

Saw Nothing Amiss

It is plain that some of the victims met their deaths before the firestick was applied to Captain Wilson's house. John McCulloch could not have seen anything to arouse his suspicions when he went out to get his cows. Surprised by some rebels, he fled towards his home. His wife observed that he was being chased by armed natives and tried to escape, taking with her their infant and also her brother (Sam Tarr, aged eleven years) and a seven-year-old niece (Mary McDonald). Young Tarr (New Zealand Herald, 14/11/1868) said that he ran ahead into some page 259 scrub and begged the others to hurry. A volley rang out and they fell. McCulloch was shot dead whilst he was getting over his stockyard rails. Also unaware of any danger, Maria Goldsmith went out with her young brother to get in their cows. She was shot dead from her horse, and her brother was also slain.

Among the residents who were indoors when the rebels arrived was John Cadle, the local partner in the storekeeping business of Cadle and Blair. A mounted native called out to him and waved what appeared to be a letter. As Cadle stepped out of his home he was shot through the head by one of several natives hiding in some flax bushes. A very amiable man, he had become engaged to be married only a few days earlier. His faithful retriever guarded his body till the burial party reached the spot eight days later.

No authentic details can be traced as to the circumstances in which Lieutenant Walsh, his wife, child and partner (Sergeant Padbury) were slain. Padbury had served as a guard at the Chatham Islands. Colonel Porter was told that the rebels found the door of their home open, walked in and tomahawked them. If the rebels entered Matawhero via the lower river crossing, it is probable that the Walshes and Padbury were their first victims.

The home nearest Gisborne to be attacked was that of Trooper Mann, who had a wife and child. It stood on a sledge amongst some flax close to the site of the present hotel at Makaraka. According to the Hawke's Bay Herald (17/11/1868) Mann, who was unarmed, had a severe struggle with Te Kooti and had nearly strangled the villain when he was shot by another rebel. Te Kooti's name does not appear in connection with any of the other slayings.

When Tom Goldsmith was passing Mann's house he saw some rebels tossing the infant's body up and catching it on their bayonets. As he moved towards them to interfere one of them caught hold of his bridle. He brought down his riding crop on the rebel's head and galloped off, being hotly pursued. It was fortunate for him that none of the rebels had a loaded weapon. As fugitive and pursuers passed through Makaraka they were observed by Mrs. Steele, who called out to her husband: “Look! There's Tom Goldsmith having a race with the Maoris!” Both shouted encouragement to him, not knowing that it was for him a race for life. A friendly native warned them and they fled before the rebels returned.

Good fortune favoured Mrs. James and her eight young children. She lived in a barn near C. G. Goldsmith's home. Her husband was on a carpentering job beyond Kaiteratahi. Aroused by the sounds of musketry, she fled with her family towards the page 260 Waipaoa River. En route they passed the bodies of Maria Goldsmith and her young brother. For more than a mile they crept along the riverbank till they reached a point where the scrub was denser. As they neared Turanganui, they were joined by Sam Tarr.

Mrs. Bloomfield and her family, together with her sister (Miss Steggall, who became Mrs. Hancock, of Auckland) and two guests (Minnie Parker and her infant brother John), were equally fortunate. On his way to warn his mother, Charlie James aroused the cowboy (Tom Finucane), who, in turn, warned the household. At that moment the rebels were operating not more than 20 chains away. The women threw only cloaks and shawls over their nightgowns, and, gathering up the children, made off towards Awapuni and thence along the beach to Turanganui.

Much praise was bestowed upon Minnie Parker, who assisted to carry her little brother over a great part of the perilous journey. When the party was about to leave she had the presence of mind to fill the infant's bottle and take it with her. As a tribute to Charlie James the citizens of Auckland raised a considerable sum, which they invested on his behalf. In turn, the residents of Napier subscribed freely towards the cost of a suitable gift for Minnie Parker. At first it was suggested that she should be awarded a medal for her bravery. Major Heaphy sent her a replica of his V.C. She died of fever on 20 April, 1875.

In the bustle at Mrs. Bloomfield's home prior to the departure of the inmates, Jim Garland, a bullock driver, who lived on the property, was overlooked. When he rose about 5 a.m., he was surprised to find no sign of activity about the homestead. Soon afterwards he saw some mounted natives leave Walsh's house and his suspicions were aroused. Proceeding over to Biggs's home, he saw the painful evidence of the tragedy that had been enacted there. Barefooted, he hurried on through Makaraka (which he found deserted) to Turanganui without being molested.

Two young men—Henry Tarr and Jack Smith—were living in a whare at Matawhero. At daylight Tarr rose and went out and caught a horse named Pu, which belonged to Captain Read. A rebel fired at him, but missed. Tarr, who had not had time to saddle up, jumped on the horse and put it to a fence, which it cleared, and he escaped through Makaraka. Smith did not come out of the whare and the rebels did not inspect it. Watching his chance, he slipped into some scrub and got away.

The Newnhams—“French Bob” and his wife and an adopted child—who lived near King's Road, were not slain until the following morning. In the belief that the rebels would not harm page 261 them, they had refused to leave their home. William Brown, a neighbour, saw the raiders leave their place, and escaped by crossing a muddy stream close to his own property.

The settlers at and around Tutoko (to the north of Matawhero) were saved by a friendly warning instigated by Hoera Kapuaroa. He resided at Patutahi, but, as he had agreed to embrace Hauhauism, Te Kooti had given him his liberty. Hoera told the Poverty Bay Crown Grants Commission (1869) that, early on the morning of the raid, he went down to the river ford near Patutahi. There he met Meri Taiapu, who told him that she also was anxious to warn the settlers. On account of the river being swollen Hoera could not cross it on his horse. Meri, therefore, swam over. She met Constable Firmin, who had heard shots in the direction of Matawhero and had risen to investigate. Although he understood but little of the native language, he gathered that Te Kooti and his band were attacking the settlers' homes at Matawhero.

The settlers who benefited from the warning were: Constable Firmin, his wife and family; Mr. and Mrs. Wyllie and family; Mr. and Mrs. Benson and child; Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson and child; J. Hawthorne and H. Strong. At first, Hawthorne and Strong were overlooked, but Benson went off and warned them. Strong had sent his native lad to Waerenga-a-Hika and, therefore, he was not able to join the other fugitives. When the lad returned he put him up behind him on his horse and they made a circuitous, but safe, journey into Turanganui.