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

How Mrs. Wilson Was Rescued

How Mrs. Wilson Was Rescued

One of the saddest incidents in connection with the Massacre was that Mrs. Wilson lay grievously injured so long in a little shed close to her razed home before help reached her other than that which her eight-year-old son had been able to afford from the second day after the tragedy. In addition to a grave bayonet wound in the body, she had suffered injuries to her arms and breasts whilst attempting to screen her infant daughter. She had at first had a shawl as well as a nightdress, but, whilst she lay unconscious, Hori Warakihi, who lived at Toanga and had often page 268 been befriended by her, relieved her of the shawl in the belief that she was dead. When she came to, she crawled to a tank and filled an old tea kettle with water. A broken bottle served for a cup. She then dragged herself to a small shed.

In his account of his doings, Jimmy Wilson says that, when he escaped, he went to Mrs. Bloomfield's home and got into a bed in an upstairs room. Hearing some natives coming up the stairs, he locked the door. Although the handle was tried, and a native woman called out, he was not molested. [A version current just after the Massacre was that he crept on to the verandah, but, becoming afraid, he hid beneath a sweetbrier bush and fell off to sleep.] Next day he visited Hori Warakihi, who gave him some bread, meat and potatoes. He also went to the site of his old home to tether his pony in a fresh place. On that occasion he did not learn that his mother was still alive. In a vacated whare he found some currants, chocolate and other eatables and proceeded to help himself, “thinking”—to use his own words—“that it was not exactly stealing, seeing that the owner had gone away and left them.” He then returned to the sweetbrier bush for the night.

On Thursday, whilst he was over at the site of his old home attending to his pony, he thought he heard a movement in a shed close by. At that moment his mother called out: “Is that you, Jimmy?” She told him to get some eggs, and, under her guidance, he boiled them in the kettle. She then directed him to return to his shelter for the night. Next morning he took to his mother some potatoes which he had obtained from Hori Warakihi. She found in a pocket of his father's coat, which he was still wearing, a card case and a small piece of pencil, and, after several vain attempts, she managed to write, in legible form, a message as under:

“Could some kind friend come to our help, for God's sake? I am very much wounded, lying in a little house on our place. My poor son James is with me. Come quick. ALICE WILSON. We have little or no clothing and are in dreadful suffering.”

Both on Saturday and Sunday little Jimmy tried to find his way to Turanganui, some five miles distant, but, on each occasion, he became confused in regard to the right track and returned to his mother. Again on Monday he set out. Near the site of the present hotel at Makaraka his little dog Flo began to bark and he was found, hiding among some scrub, by a reconnoitring party consisting of John Maynard, Tom Goldsmith and George Cook. Goldsmith took him in to Turanganui and brought back Dr. J. Murray Gibbs, of Waipukurau (who had accompanied the first relief contingent from Napier) and a party to assist in carrying Mrs. Wilson.

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Maynard and Cook soon reached the shed in which Mrs. Wilson was lying and called to her by name. “Thank God!” she replied. “Help has arrived. Please bring me some water.” After she had received attention from the doctor she was carried to W. L. Williams's home on Kaiti, where she was nursed by Mrs. Jennings, whose husband had at one time worked for Dodd and Peppard. Mrs. T. H. Lowry (a sister of Mrs. Wilson) came up from Okawa to assist. Mrs. Wilson was removed to Napier on 14 December, but, despite the skill and care of Dr. Spencer, she succumbed to her dreadful injuries three days later. Her son was presented with a piece of land by the Government as a gratuity.