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

Gisborne and its Garrison

Gisborne and its Garrison

When the shocking news reached Poverty Bay steps were at once taken to augment the measures for the protection of the settlers. Further extracts from Colonel Porter's diary follow:

  • April 13: O.C. of the Armed Constabulary to furnish till further orders one non-com, and four troopers for patrolling outskirts of the settlement and to parade at 4.30. Outlying piquet of one non-com, and six troopers to parade every night at 5 o'clock. Immediately after mounting, they are to see that no boats or canoes remain on either side of either branch [Waimata or Taruheru] of the [Turanganui] River above usual crossing place. A double sentry is to be placed at such spot as may be directed by the orderly officer.

  • April 15: W. King has completed contract and extra work at blockhouse. [Built of kauri and sheet iron, this blockhouse stood at the corner of Childers Road and Peel Street, i.e., approximately on site of the present (1949) police station. It was sold by public auction on 5 May, 1876, to W. Milner for £20.]

  • April 19: Volunteers called to dig trench from courthouse [N.E. corner of Gladstone Road and Lowe Street] to blockhouse. Notice to be given to Europeans and natives not to remain on the point at the junction of the rivers after nightfall. Notice to Europeans and natives in case of alarms, etc., appointing a rendezvous. Blockhouse to be defended by its present garrison.

  • April 20: Fancy to have seen smoke in the direction of Whareongaonga; could not be positive. Smoke shortly afterwards seen at Muriwai. Trench from blockhouse to courthouse sufficiently far advanced to enable people to cross to blockhouse under cover from an enemy's fire.

  • April 22: Working party in bush as usual. Slight alarm caused by Ra Mackey imagining himself to have been shot at whilst in the vicinity of Makauri bush.

  • April 23: Twenty men on foot and four mounted A.C. to proceed to-morrow at 7 a.m. to Makauri bush; Mackey to go as guide.

  • April 28: W. King commences defences of courthouse (including chevaux de frise).

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  • April 30: P.B.M.R. Volunteers are to furnish one non-com, and six troopers for guard; sentries to be posted, one outside the stockade and one inside. P.B. Militia are to furnish detail of one non-com. and six privates nightly; three men for guard on the bank of the river at the rear of the courthouse; the remainder for patrol duty. This detail is to parade at 9 p.m. and remain on duly till 6 a.m.

  • May 1: In case of alarm or attack on defences, the garrison at the blockhouse, with the exception of 10 men (who will defend it) will man the walls, 8 being placed on the flanking angle. The sergeant-major will see that there are never less than 20 Europeans, exclusive of the guard, garrisoning the courthouse from 9 p.m. till 6 a.m.

  • May 4: Reports having reached the O.C. that the sentries at blockhouse frequently allow armed parties within dangerous proximity to their posts, both sentries at the blockhouse will be posted outside the stockade after dark, one fully 30 yards in front of the other, by the ditch [trench].

  • May 11: Non-com. officers on guard at courthouse and blockhouse will be held responsible if any Maori woman is admitted inside the defences.

  • May 12: The O.C. expressly forbids anyone, whether European or native, to be outside the lines after dark without a special pass.

  • May 15: Sentry at courthouse challenged someone this night going down the road towards his post at a canter. The party turned and fled.

  • May 16: Sentry challenged someone in same manner as last night, with the exception that the sentry fired, but with no result.

  • May 17: The whole of the native contingent, militia and troops, struck off pay. The O.C. is pleased to express to the Volunteers, militia and native contingent the lively satisfaction he feels at the manner in which the officers and men have succeeded in carrying out their duties at this camp, it being a rare occurrence for such goodwill to exist in other districts, where the forces have been tried out for active service.

  • July 22: Blockhouse doors to be closed at 9 o'clock and none of the garrison to absent themselves without leave. Any dereliction will be severely punished. Orders and instructions in case of alarm or surprise written out and posted up about township.

  • July 23: Order book taken round to the outsettlers of the township and instructions in case of alarm or surprise read out to the occupants.

  • August 18: Padlock on door of magazine at the blockhouse found broken and ammunition missing.

  • August 25: Meeting of inhabitants to undertake voluntary patrol by men off pay; 24 volunteered.

  • August 27: Fatigue party levelling site for gun fort; walls and breastwork commenced. [The cannon, which was named “Big Ben,” was returned to Wellington in 1872.]

  • September 10: Scouts went to look over the lake country [Waihau] by Te Reinga. Reports to hand of fires having been seen and dogs having been heard barking at Tarewa and at Hangaroa River, distant about 25 miles from Turanganui; orderly sent to warn outsettlers.

  • September 14: Fires seen at about 4 a.m. in hills in direction north of Makaretu. P.B.M.R. Volunteers started out on expedition at 7 a.m., provided with rations for two days.

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  • September 23: Ropata requested to leave 20 men here, but declined to leave less than 50—not accepted.

  • October 31: Troopers sent out on expedition in the direction of Ngatapa. An expedition returned from Waikohu about noon, with nothing unusual to report.

  • November 8: Men out scouting in the direction of Waikohu.

  • December 7: Ngati-Porou arrived in eight canoes.

  • December 15: Rumour at Tauranga that Te Kooti has attacked at Wairoa (emanating from natives).

  • December 22: A.C. marched out to Government Paddock [Makaraka] there to take up quarters and build redoubt.

  • December 28: Report in from Muriwai that the Hauhaus have commenced hostilities at Wairoa.

A mixed force of about 800 men, including 350 Armed Constabulary, was stationed, under Lieutenant-Colonel Herrick, at Onepoto (Lake Waikaremoana) in May, 1869. Two pontoons, each 40 ft. by 10 ft. and capable of carrying a six-pounder Armstrong gun, were constructed. The lines of communication with Wairoa were guarded by a native force under Lieutenant Witty. Some weeks later, Herrick's force was withdrawn, probably because Te Kooti was now giving that locality a wide berth. Not a shot had been fired. The pontoons and a whaleboat were sunk in case they might be needed for any future operations. This abortive expedition cost £42,000.