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The Story Of Gate Pa, April 29th, 1864

Stormed at with Shot and Shell

Stormed at with Shot and Shell

The cannonade became heavier. An awful fire was concentrated on our redoubt. Eighteen big guns (so we learned afterwards) were hurling their projectiles at us and shells were bursting all round. Our fences and frail parapets crumbled away under the heavy artillery fire, and splinters and earth were continually flying through the air. We were every now and then smothered with the dirt thrown up by the exploding shells, and this the rain, which had set in, soon converted into mud. To add to our suffering, the troops who had crossed an arm of the Kopurererua swamp had, by dint of laying down planks and fascines, managed to get a big gun across, which they placed on a hill to our left and it completely raked our position. The troops in our rear (the 68th) began to close in on us. The chief, Te Hawa, stood up on the ruined parapet shouting defiance at them and calling on us to meet their attack with courage.

Our position now seemed desperate. All our defences above ground had been demolished and levelled flat, while as we took shelter in our trenches, we were all more or less covered with mud and drenched with the rain. Our leaders, Rawiri, Tuaia, Hakaraia, Mahika, Timoti and Poihipi showed valiant front, directing our affairs with cool courage. They ordered us not to utter a word or fire a shot till the proper time came for the order.

A party of our people tried to break away through the troops in the rear. They were met by the 68th and fired on heavily. The chiefs, Te Kani and Keni and a number of men were killed, and several badly wounded, including Te Ipu and Wiari. Te Ninihi and Pomare got through and escaped to Wairoa. All the others who could, hastily rejoined their comrades in the pa who were now resisting the storming party.