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The Story Of Gate Pa, April 29th, 1864

The Maori's Challenge

The Maori's Challenge

We drew up a challenge in the form of a letter to the British General inviting him to meet us and fight it out. This letter was sent by a herald to the pakeha camp at Te Papa, and we waited a reply. All was excitement. The clansmen were busy preparing for page 23 the fray, making cartridges, sharpening tomahawks, cleaning guns, getting food supplies and so forth. Martial councils were held and great war dances took place daily to put our young men in form and to arouse their warlike spirits. Our leaders drew up a code of regulations for the conduct of the fighting. It was resolved that barbarous customs should not be practised by us, that the wounded should be spared, and the dead should not be mutilated. We resolved, too, that we should not harm non-combatants or unarmed persons. In short to fight fairly and squarely on the same lines as the pakeha. These regulations were put in by Rawiri Puhirake. This document was lost by us at Te Ranga and found by the Europeans in the trenches there, and is, I believe, still in existence.

For some time we waited for a reply to our challenges, but none came. We considered it very discourteous of the English that they did not even acknowledge that letter. We could not understand them making no move of any sort. We became impatient and it was decided to attack the soldiers' camp at Te Papa. Our party started out one night and selected men from the other detachments who joined up at Kopurererua. Just as they were starting a gun accidentally exploded, wounding one of our men and giving the alarm, so we abandoned the attack and returned to our quarters.