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Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century:

Expedition to Great Barrier Island, 1838

Expedition to Great Barrier Island, 1838.

He says, “Towards the close of the year 1838, about one hundred fighting men of one of the tribes in the neighbourhood of the Bay of Island, went on a predatory excursion to the Barrier Island, at the mouth of the river Thames, about 120 miles to the southward, on the east coast. Barrier Island is about 40 miles long, very fertile, but thinly inhabited. The interlopers from the Bay of Islands having therefore billeted themselves on the peaceful and unoffending natives of that island, the latter sent private information of the circumstance to the chiefs on the banks of the river Thames, on the mainland, with whom they were on terms of friendship, and who accordingly assembled in great force to give battle to the invaders. The latter, it seems, though few in numbers, were better acquainted with fire-arms than their countrymen to the southward, and there were accordingly upwards of twenty chiefs of the page 460 Thames river shot in the fight that ensued, besides many natives of inferior standing. The fight had evidently been very sanguinary, for the Bay of Island natives who had in the meantime nearly exterminated the natives of the Barrier Island, were themselves reduced to thirty men, and were glad to embrace the opportunity of a small coasting vessel, bound to the Bay of Islands with pork and potatoes, to return to that neighbourhood. The little vessel arrived in the Bay on the 2nd February last (1839), having landed the thirty natives on the coast, to walk overland to the Bay.…Pomare then laid claim to the island and was offering to sell it, the natives who had been concerned in the affair being of his tribe and district.”