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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 75

Fighting Between Native Contingent and Rebel Hauhaus. — The Fight at Te Kopani, 1865.*

Fighting Between Native Contingent and Rebel Hauhaus.

The Fight at Te Kopani, 1865.*

The rugged country around Waikare-moana was a great rendezvous and stronghold of the rebel Natives during the Maori-European war, and troops engaged in the process of clearing the Hauhaus out of this section of country underwent many privations, for the life was a hard one beyond measure.

At Te Kopani, about four miles from One-poto, a severe fight occurred between a force of friendly Natives and rebels. This place is a narrow gully between two hills, and up which the old trail from Te Wairoa to One-poto ran. At the time of this fight, the gully and hills were covered with a dense growth of fern. Some five or six hundred rebels took their stand in this gulch, and proceeded to entrench themselves by sinking rifle-pits, which were skilfully masked by the wily Hauhaus. These were situated on three different slopes, and were not discernible by a person passing up the gully. The friendly chiefs, Ropata Wahawaha, Kopu, and Ihaka Whanga, led a force of five hundred of our Native allies from Te Wairoa against the enemy, and, when marching up the ravine at Te Kopani, they received heavy volleys from both sides, which killed six men and wounded about twenty-five. The friendlies were thus at a great disadvantage, as they were exposed to the fire of an unseen enemy, but the wily aboriginal was not long in seeking cover and replying as well as possible to the enemy's fire. After a period of desultory firing the enemy advanced, and then that gallant old warrior Ihaka Whanga called on his men to charge, and drive back the Hauhaus. But the sons of Kahungunu, never over-distinguished for prowess on the battle-field, declined the seduc-tive offer. Ihaka, however, advanced, and in so doing received a wound in the hip. Having discharged his piece at the enemy, he took another carbine from one of his men, and again fired into the body of Hauhaus, receiving at the same time another wound, which felled the old warrior. His men now rushed forward to recover the body of their chief, which they accomplished, and Ihaka recovered to again meet the enemy on many a future field. page 64 All this time the enemy had a strong advantage, and [unclear: many] friendlies were killed. Whereupon the European officers ([unclear: Major] Fraser and Captain St. George) conferred with the [unclear: Native] chiefs, and a retreat was decided upon. But Ropata thought that it would be an excellent plan to fire the fern, and so [unclear: dislodge] the enemy. No sooner said than done, and in a few minutes the fire was roaring up the hillsides, creating dense volumes of smoke and driving the enemy from their rifle-pits. The exultant friendlies now took possession of the ridge, and opened a sharp fire on the retreating Hauhaus, who lost heavily in this engagement, and eventually fell back on the wilderness of Waikare-moana, leaving nearly eighty of their dead upon the field. It is certain, however that this does not represent the enemy's loss, and even now the oncoming Pakeha often finds mouldering skeletons in gully and cave with probably the remains of a gun by the side thereof.