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Early Wellington

To Arms

To Arms.

The natives had lost all respect for the authority of the Government, and British authority was brought into contempt by Captain Fitzroy's proceedings. At the same time that Whanganui was threatened, a troublesome chief named Paramata, with a considerable body of natives, created a disturbance at Happy Valley (Nelson). The New Plymouth people were also in great trouble. Some of the settlers sent to Wellington “to engage a vessel to convey a number of persons to South Australia.”

These wars and rumours of wars kept the inhabitants of Wellington and the surrounding districts in a constant state of alarm, and the bugle call “to arms” was frequently heard.

At Windy Point (immediately behind Barrett's Hotel, Dominion Steps), cannon were placed in position, and the inhabitants enrolled; for the city had to do “sentry go.”

The Militia Ordinance was passed on the 25th March, 1845, signed by Robert Fitzroy, Governor, and J. Coates, Clerk in Council.

An address to the inhabitants of Port Nicholson and fellow Colonists, from the Superintendent and the Magistrates of Wellington, was published in the local newspapers, and the “New Zealand Journal,” dated 11th October, 1845. The following announcement appeared in the latter issue, of which a few extracts are given:—

“The Town will be divided into three districts, viz.:—

Te Aro District.—All portion of Town south of Boulcott Street.

Central District.—From Boulcott St. to Sydney St., including Karori Road District.

Thorndon District comprises the whole of the Town to the north of Sydney Street, including Wade's Town and Kai Warra (Kaiwharawhara).

Hutt.—A separate District.

“A place of refuge will be selected and fortified in each district. Every person capable of bearing arms is required to come forward and be sworn in, as rapidly as possible, as a Special Constable. A Magistrate will attend for the present at Bethune and Hunter's store (old Custom House Street), from 1 to 2, for Te Aro. Mr. Grace's house at Kumutoto (Woodward Street), from 11 to 12, for the Central. The Police Office, Thorndon, from 11 to 12, and BurchaMcs house, for the Hutt; also at places of drill.

Officers for Te Aro District.—A McDonogh, Esq.; Capt. Sharp; Major Hornbrook; Major Durie; and Mr. Halswell, J.P.

Central District.—Colonel Wakefield, J.P.; Capt. Daniell, J.P.; E. Chatham, Esq., J.P.; and Dr. Dorset.

Thorndon District. — Capt. Smith, J.P.; Mr. St. Hill, J.P.; Mr. Clifford, J.P.; and Major Baker.

Hutt District.—Hon. H. Petre, Esq., J.P.; W. Swainson, J.P.; and Mr. Compton.

“Major Richmond in command of all.

“All required to attend drill at 5 p.m., Monday.

A. Chetham

Clerk to Magistrates.”

“All persons, with few exceptions, between the ages of 18 and 60, are liable, if fit, to service within 25 miles of the Police Office, and to a drill of 28 days in every year.

“An alarm will be a gun fired in the enclosure adjoining Major Richmond's residence, and at the Barracks at Te Aro. 50 page 132 men of each division, who are reported efficient, will be supplied with arms forthwith. On the alarm being given, the Thorndon Division will, for the present, assemble at Major Richmond's. The Aro Division at the Barracks. Te Aro to receive orders. Two Divisions to amount to 229 men.”

So read the memorandum addressed to the settlers at Parade.

“Places of security are being made by surrounding the immigration houses and Clifford's house at Thorndon Flat, with a strong mud wall and deep broad trench. Similar defences are being thrown up from Watt's store to Ridgway Hickson & Co., on the water side, and from LudhaMcs house to Dr. Hansard's, in Manners Street” (locality of Bank of New Zealand and Bethune and Hunter's cattle yard), “and connecting them with defences along each of the side lines. A place of defence and refuge for the centre division of the town is to be erected on the hill, just behind Northwood and Drake's brewery.”

“A battery has been erected on Clay Hill (above Stewart Dawson's Corner), under the superintendence of Capt. W. Mein Smith, R.A., and three guns placed therein.

“At Thorndon Flat another battery was in progress at the period of the arrival of the military from Auckland, but has not been proceeded with since the arrival of the soldiers of the 96th Regiment, numbering 53.

“The Police Magistrate undertook to charge the Government with the cost of its completion. And a local subscription has meanwhile been entered into to meet the expenses.

“A Military sub-committee has been formed, comprising Captain Daniell, Captain Sharp, Captain Smith, Major Baker, Major Hornbrook, Captain Robinson, Dr. Dorset, Mr. Lewis, Wm. Fox, Abraham Hort (Senr.), T. Watt, R. Park, N. Levin, Geo. Hunter, K. Bethune, N. Ross, C. Penny, J. Boulcott, B. Polhill, K. Mathieson.

“The Companies of Militia stationed in the Town of Wellington will patrol every morning from 5 to 7 a.m. No. 1. the district from Thorndon Flat to the station of the 58th Regiment. No. 4. from Kumutoto Stream (Woodward Street), to Thorndon Flat. No. 2. from Te Aro Flat to Kumutoto Stream. These patrols will consist of a non-commissioned officer and four men, and will move in the rear of the town. The detachment of the 58th and 96th Regiments will protect the flanks, and patrol at the same hours, the former in the direction of Wade's Town, the latter towards the signal station at Evan's Bay.

“The Cavalry Corps, when formed, will patrol the roads leading to Karori and Porirua.

“A guard of the Militia, consisting of a sergeant, corporal and twelve men will mount daily at Thorndon Fort.

“Definite instructions have not yet been received relative to the pay of the Militia, but for the present it will be the same as the non-commissioned officers and privates of the line. Those working at the batteries between the hours of drill will receive 10d. a day extra.“*

* “N.Z. Journal, 3rd January, 1846, and 1st March, 1846.