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The Story Of Gate Pa, April 29th, 1864

Natives' Chivalrous Fighting Rules

Natives' Chivalrous Fighting Rules

Prior to this the disaffected natives had held a general meeting at Potiriwhi (Port of Relief) at Wairoa, and promulgated a most chivalrous and humane code to be observed in the fighting. They then dispersed to their respective stations along their front, the edge of the great forest extending sixteen miles from Te Puna (where they confidently expected an attack owing to its deep water facilities) to the head of the Waimapu, where they re-built an old pa named Waoku (the Silent Forest Shade). From here their leader, the chief Rawiri Puhirake, despatched a formal message notifying the commanding officer of the position they had occupied, and that if attacked there would accept the ordeal of battle. They further detailed the solemn rules* for governing the fighting, namely, that civilians would not be interfered with; that soldiers captured would be disarmed and handed over to the authorities; that even if armed, and they fled through fear to the House of God or the Priest, they would not be followed; the wounded would be treated with kindness; and the dead would not be mutilated. The message further stated that with a view to lessening the fatigue page 11 of the Queen's soldiers, they had prepared eight miles of road leading to Waoku. These noble sentiments were written out by an enlightened young mission student named Henare Taratoa, who had been educated by Archdeacon (afterwards Bishop) Hadfield of Otaki. Six weeks after the battle of Gate Pa, Henare fell at Te Ranga, and on his body were found copies of the chivalrous rules above quoted, headed with the Scriptural injunction:— “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.” Many weeks passed and further accessions of troops were made. Some of the officers used to go out shooting on the Waimapu and Judea swamps, which brought a protest from Rawiri warning the General against permitting anyone under his command to wander at large, concluding by saying:—”In future all the hills and plains, valleys and streams may be trodden on by our feet and should harm befall those persons the Maoris would be blamed unjustly.”