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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

The Men Of Maoriland

page 2

The Men Of Maoriland.

I've written some lines of night-long rides
With galloping screens and sweltering flanks;
I've often measured the headlong strides
Of men who serve in the scourging ranks;
But out of a trooper's tangled theme That ripples the head and guides the hand,
I'll shout you the score of a day-long dream
Of the mounted "Men of Maoriland''!

We serve our time at a ghastly trade,
And scheme in the simmering heart of things,
With each device that a war has made
To shatter on wheels and throb on wings.
We amble along on the faithful horse,
And straddle the hump on a camel-pad;
And whether it be on the danger-course,
Or whether the ways be green and glad,
We are all possessed of a youthful pride
When the staunchest mates move close at hand,
For we have fought and ridden beside
The galloping "Men of Maoriland"!

The treks were long in the early days,
When 'Abdul" traversed the waste of sin
With guns that threatened the few rough ways
That a man could gallop his squadrons in;
But out of the anxious, hazy west
Men came in a smother of eager haste,
For the Turks were perched on Royston's crest,
And the shells ploughed deep in the yeilding waste—
'Twas rattle of bolt, and bayonet stab,
And blood on the white, Romani sand,
Then a long, long ride to Bir-el-Abd
With the conquering "Men of Maoriland"!

We dwelt on the wind-swept wilderness,
When sorrow and thirst were both supreme,
When a day of extra-mute distress
Was crowned with a night of fitful dream;
But peace approached when the waving palm
Tossed leaves on the white, enchanting star,
After a day that had wrought us harm,
When the trails were faint and the goal seemed far.
We travelled along for many a mile,
A yearning horde on a barren strand;
But ever beside us all the while
Were the golden "Men of Maoriland"!

The glimmering waste of white remorse
Still scattered our hard-pressed wits about,
The night crept over the hazy course
And lured us south where the Turks held out.
And many a comrade passed away
In the rifle-storm of the Turkish host,
In the heat of a long December day,
On the sand around Magdhaba post.
But troop and troop, and ever ahead
With steel to shorten the foeman's stand.
We swept, outwitting the Mauser lead,
With the storming "Men of Maoriland"!

They helped us many an anxious hour,
And took their turn in the buoyant van
That shattered the brunt of "Abdul's" power,
Till "Abdul" limped like a beaten man.
And not long back, on the fall of night,
When Rafa defied our own Brigades,
They pulled us out of a day-long fight
With a fence of naked bayonet blades!
They opened the long-locked Christian gates,
And led us into the Holy Land—
For we are the staunch, hard-riding mates
Of the fighting ''Men of Maoriland"!

Oh, never in all the great career
Of the big New Zealand mounted men,
Was "Abdul" ever allowed to sear,
Or threaten a cause within their ken.
They stood their ground in the waiting days,
And harried the Turks near Gaza beach
When the cactus hedges lept ablaze,
And succour and help were out of reach;
But little they cared, for all was well—
When Allenby came and took, command,
A lull began, with a needed spell
For the steadfast "Men of Maoriland"!

Long months we lay in the Gamli dust,
And toiled on the flats of Sheikh Nuran,
While the blazing sun consumed its lust
And worried the soul of horse and man.
The Turks hung on to an awkward line,
And watched us work from the rising ground,
With eyes that swept, when the weather was fine,
From Marakeb beach to Fara mound.
But we were ready and tempered strong
To weather the war-god's falling hand.
That made us saddle and surge along
With the keen-eyed "Men of Maoriland"!

We reached the Ghuzze at evenfall,
And passed by the base of Fara mound
When the sun dipped west like a blood-red ball,
And dusk crept over the broken ground.
Long hours we rode in the breathless heat
On the hoof-stirred soil of Idumaea,
Till a trace of panic and sure defeat
Showed plain in the Moslem atmosphere.
Beersheba fell in the moonlit night
To the ruck of a charge they say was grand;
But greater than all was the stormy sight
Of the thund'ring "Men of Maoriland"!

Grey clouds rolled over the autumn sky
And warned us all of the coming rain;
But the roads were cleared, and hope beat high,
And we were travelling north again.
And the staunch New Zealand men rode near-
When the rolling plains were seas of mud,
They made the galloping hoofs ring clear
On the Ramleh road that leads to Ludd!
And Jaffa beheld them ride full steam,
Like a raging tide on a beaten sand,
As vict'ry swept to the Auja stream,
With the Mounted "Men of Maoriland"!

We forced our way to the Jordan Vale,
Where the Dead Sea gleams in the ruthless sun;
Then followed an eastern mountain trail
Whose limit of weight was a mountain gun.
The Turks were many and we were few
On trek to the Hedjaz railway line,
But comrades gave us a good pull through
On the last big stunt in Palestine.
On they are the men of golden mien,
With grips for a good Australian's hand!
A vanguard strong for a fight that's clean,
The rollicking "Men of Maoriland"!

I've written some lines, and all is well,
For a lull hangs over the firing line;
But "Abdul" threatens to break the spell
Of the men who serve in Palestine.
So here's good luck ere the guns begin
To harry our firmly rooted stand;
And we shall saddle, and mount, and win
With the galloping "Men of Maoriland"!