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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 75

Appendix I

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Appendix I.

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.

Colonel Herrick's Expedition Against Waikare-moana, 1869.

During the above year it was resolved to despatch a strong force against the rebel strongholds of Waikare-moana. This force consisted of nearly nine hundred men, of whom three hundred and fifty were colonial troops, and the balance made up of friendly Natives of the Ngati-Porou and Ngati-Kahungunu Tribes. The object of this enterprise was to destroy the crops and food-supplies of the hostiles, and to reduce several positions taken up by them at Matuahu and elsewhere on the western shores of the lake. This district had become noted as a refuge and recruiting-ground for rebel leaders such as Te Kooti, who, raiding down from these secluded ranges on the European settlements, rendered life and property alike insecure on the East Coast.

On arriving at One-poto, a redoubt was erected on a small hill overlooking the lake, the earthworks of which are still standing, Here a long stay was made, and great preparations undertaken for the destruction of Matuahu, the principal stronghold of the hostiles, Two large boats, each 40ft. long, were built, also some metal pontoons, which, with a whale-boat and dingy, comprised a most imposing fleet, by which it was calculated that two hundred men could be landed at one time on the western shore. Matuahu was described as a very strong place, and not to be taken without severe fighting, though it appears that many of the defences were fictitious, and merely intended for show. The intelligent aboriginal also bethought him of discharging at sunset on each day a heavily-loaded gun, the report of which was so magnified by echo that it was thought to proceed from a young cannon.

After this expedition had made preparations for transporting the force across the lake to attack Matuahu, and a start was at last to be made in the great cleaning-out of the lacustrine pas and retreats, of the enemy, they rose up one fine morning and retreated on Te Wairoa—whereupon the hostiles crossed the lake to the site of the page 65 abandoned redoubt, and there held a grand war-dance in token of derision. Trooper Noonan, shot down from ambush while carrying despatches, was the only victim of this imposing campaign.

Expedition against Waikare-moana, 1870.—Fall of Matuahu.

In this year some three hundred and fifty friendly Natives of Ngati-Kahungungu and Ngati-Pahau-wera were led by Native chiefs and three European officers—Messrs. Hamlin, Witty, and Large—against the Waikare-moana rebels. They went into camp at One-poto, from which base they proposed to proceed against the Hauhau stronghold of Matuahu. Their fleet was by no means a large one, consisting merely of two canoes and one small boat. The rebels, seeing these signs of a hostile demonstration, sent two men over to One-poto under a flag of truce. These men lay off the camp in their canoe, and pretended to have been sent for the purpose of opening negotiations for peace, but their real object was to spy out the position and numbers of the invading force. Shortly after their departure, a force of about a hundred and fifty Hauhaus crossed the pie from Matuahu, and landed at Ohiringi, their object probably being to ascertain if there was any chance of surprising the camp or of intercepting stragglers.

Early in June a start was made from One-poto. The two canoes and boat were manned by a portion of the force, under Lieutenant Large, and the remainder marched across the rugged hills to Mau-taketake. From this place a force of eighty men were conveyed across the lake and landed on the western shore. These were accompanied by Messrs. Witty, Large, and Saunders. On reaching Taumata-taua, a Native clearing, they received a volley from the bush, but held the Hauhaus in check while the balance of the men were landing. Then they advanced on the enemy and drove them back on Matuahu, upon which, as darkness was setting in, the force returned to the clearing and camped for the night, Another skirmish took place next day, in which Enoka, a leading man of the enemy, was killed. An advance was then made on Matuahu, and, after spending some time in planning and carrying out a careful advance, the famous pa of Matuahu was rushed and--found empty.

* For information concerning these engagements I am indebted to the kindness of Mr. Tunks, of Windsborough Station.