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Moko; or Maori Tattooing


During a portion of last year I had the privilege of being stationed in London, where I experienced the pleasure of meeting Major-General HoratioHenry Gordon Robley, a veteran of the Tauranga Maori campaign of 1865–66, and from him I was able to learn a few particulars of his interesting career. Perhaps with the possible exception of the late Major-General Sir [gap — reason: illegible] James E. Alexander, it is doubtful if any Imperial, officer who took part in those stirring times so closely identified himself with this country, or subsequently showed the same interest in it as Major-General Robley. He was born on the 28th June, 1840, when the colonisation of New Zealand was in its early processes, and is, therefore, now over the four-score. When the second unfortunate Maori War of 1860 a young man of twenty, was stationed in India with the 68th Regiment, now known as the Durham Light Infantry, and subsequent to the siege of Delhi, followed by the capture of its old, feeble, and senile King, Bahadur Shah II., with his banishment to Rangoon, was in charge of the guard placed over that dusky potentate. The two or three years Major-General Robley was quartered in Burmah with his regiment, gave him the opportunity to study the arts, mythology, and beliefs of the Burmese, and, being proficient in the use of both pencil and brush, he has left on record many striking sketches of that application; besides illustrations of incidental experiences and strange things witnessed. His sojourn in Burmah was terminated with the outbreak of the Maori War of 1860, a conflict that, perhaps, could have been avoided if the governing powers of the day had displayed more skill and tact than were shown. The province of Taranaki was the scene of the initial conflict, where the measures taken to subjugate it were far from successful; and in a very short time the Ngati-Maniapoto, a powerful Waikato tribe, were sending bands of fighting men to the assistance of the Taranaki tribes; while elsewhere in the Auckland province other tribes were engendering a strong feeling of antagonism to the Europeans. Meanwhile Governor Gore-Browne had been recalled, Sir George Grey appointed in his stead, and in the space of two years some 6000 British troops from England, India, China, and Australia had been poured into the colony, commanded by officers who had rendered distinguished services in the Crimean and Indian Wars.