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A vessel at last is advertised for New Zealand, the barque Jupiter. I went to the agent to secure a passage. He asked me if I had been to the Marine office. He said all passengers have to appear there before a passage can be taken, and reference made to some well known man in Sydney. I mentioned Wright and Graham. "A note from them will be quite sufficient," he replied. So I had to get that note, and went to the Marine department which, on my presenting the note, graciously permitted me to pay my passage to New Zealand, which I did right away, showing my permit to do so.
On the day we sailed, April 20th, 1841, all the passengers were mustered, and a boat came off and tallied off the number, and examined the crew, and even went below to see if they could find any stowaways, looked into the cabins and up aloft, to see that there was no one on the tops, then went ashore.
These were the old convict days. A number of the better class of convicts were found in offices and in shops, and other responsible positions, but you could not tell them from respectable people, and servants were assigned to masters who were responsible for them.
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We at last sailed down the harbour. Our pilot was the agent of the barque himself, and made a mark in the colony, being Robert Towns.
I had made arrangements with the captain that he should land me at the Bay of Islands, on his way to Auckland. We were with light winds, ten days in reaching that harbour. On landing (May 1st) the first white man I met was David Graham, a big boy in a blue jacket, and leading a horse. I asked him where I could get accommodation. He directed me to a certain house. When I got there the house was full. It was the season when all the whalers put into the Bay for provisions. There were over twenty whalers in the harbour at this time, and Kororareka was all alive with seamen and their officers. The greater part of the beach was occupied by a Maori pa, or stockade, where great orgies were kept up by day and night.
I had got my trunk with me. It had been brought up to an establishment presided over by a party of the name of Wilson. I was given to understand that he was agent for the Deborah, which was expected daily, and would soon be going round to Hokianga. I asked Mr. Wilson if I could get a guide to take me across the country to the West Coast, which, I was given to understand, was a distance of forty miles, and I would have to walk all the way, for no horses were to be had. So it
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appeared I was in a fix, knowing nobody. Mr. Wilson told me there was an American young fellow who had come from Hokianga lately and he might be inclined to act as guide.
I went back to the accommodation house, and asked the proprietor if he could not give me a shake down anywhere. He said the house was full up. If I liked I could sleep on top of the stairs (it was a two-storied house). I consented. He said he would give me something to lie on, and I could take my meals with the others. I went back to Wilson's store, and told him where I was staying, and if he saw the party he told me of he would send him to me. The store of Wilson's was a long building on the beach, full of requirements for whalers. Several captains were in on business, and I noticed a small cask with a tap and tumbler handy. These captains would help themselves occasionally out of the same tumbler. It seemed a permanent institution.
I got a dirty rug to lie on and one blanket. The blanket I rolled myself in, but only took my coat off to make a pillow, and lay down on the top of the stairs. I had to get up early, for those who had sleeping apartments began to come out of them, and I was in the way. At breakfast it was salt junk or pork, for the only fresh meat was got from the Maoris in the shape of pork, but was very sweet eating, for the pigs were fed entirely on vegetable food, and the sweetest of all were the wild pigs,
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as I found out afterwards, as they lived entirely on fern root.
While at breakfast a man asked the proprietor if there was anybody there who wanted to go to Hokianga. I had told the proprietor that I was going there, so he brought him to me. He was an American, as I soon found out. He told me he knew where my brother lived, and that he had a sawmill. I engaged him at once, and asked him when we should start. "I guess the sooner we start the better," was his reply. "Well, to-morrow morning or to-day, if I can get a boat, he said, to take us across to Waitangi."
He arranged for a boat for us in the morning. I went to see what was to be seen. I learnt that this was the seat of Government for a short time, but, as the surrounding land was very poor, they had removed the headquarters to Auckland, on the Waitemata. I entered the native pa, and saw some of the Maoris for the first time; the tattooing on their faces made them look very fierce. It was only the men whose faces were quite bluish black. Some were only partially tattooed, others fully. One I saw quite nude from his breast to his knees. He was covered with spiral designs of tattoo. The women were tatooed on the lips and chin. A few I noticed had two figures like a candlestick on the forehead just above the nose.
The Bay of Islands at the season is full of life and business, as I can believe. Ships
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Nene, baptised by the Wesleyan Mission Thomas Walker, otherwise Tamati Waka Nene.
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come empty to take back full loads of oil. The merchants on the beach also buy oil, and some ships draw money to pay wages, and the drafts on the owners were always paid.
I am told thirty ships have been seen in the harbour at one time, including, of course, ships loading oil for America, and allowing the ships from which they got the oil to cruise for another year.
Next morning the boat was ready, and my guide also. He advised me to get tobacco to pay our way across, so I purchased two pounds of fig tobacco. It was all figs in those days. I settled with my host, who charged 1s. per bed and 1s. 6d. for meals. I saw Mr. Wilson before I started, and he said he would be sure to send my trunk when the Deborah arrived.
We started and pulled across the harbour to the other side, but I found out after landing and the boat had gone that we were on the wrong side of the river, and we would have to recross. We blundered through mangroves. I had taken my shoes off and rolled up my trousers to my knees, when small black flies swarmed about us and bit very sharply. This was a new experience for me. "I said to my guide, are these flies always about?" "Oh no," he said, "they are only found amongst mangroves." "Then let us get out of the mangroves as soon as possible. But where is the road?" said I. Kenny, for that was his
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name, scratched his head, and said, "There is a native settlement not far off, and they will put us across in their canoe."
We found the settlement, and saw the Waitangi Falls. The settlement was some twenty yards above the falls. My guide jabbered something half English and half native, giving the native or Maori, as they are called, two of my figs of tobacco to put us across the river.
The canoe was hollowed out of a large tree, and the paddles were quite artistic in form. I sat down in the bottom of the canoe and my guide and the Maori pulled us across. The Maori pointed out where we would find the road to Waimate, the headquarters of the Church of England Mission. It turned out a broad track, and we could not miss it. I began to lose faith in my guide. When we started on the road it began to rain, and came down heavy and soaked us through. We trudged through the rain and came to the Waitangi River again. We had to cross here. We could not tell its depth, so I took off my wet clothes to ascertain how deep it was, and dived, when I struck my head on the bottom. The river was running muddy from the rain.
My guide ought to have known its depth, as he must have crossed it before. It was nearly breast high right across. Kenny did not strip. He carried over my clothes on his head, taking care the tobacco did not fall into the river. We found the track again with dray marks of
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wheels, which we followed, and got to Waimate about dusk. The first house I enquired at was inhabited by two shipmates of the Portland, Messrs. Lowe and Motion, who were surprised to see me.
I was equally gratified, you may be sure. And they were so kind, and gave me dry clothes and hung up mine by the fire to dry. Kenny also was attended to. They had come to New Zealand shortly after landing in Sydney, and had been putting up a flour mill for some of the mission people, near Waimate Missionary Station. They had heard of my brother's arrival at Hokianga. I asked how they liked the country. They said it was a fine country altogether. They intended going to Auckland soon to erect a mill on their own account.
Next morning our clothes had been dried. After breakfast we left our hospitable hosts, and proceeded on our journey. We passed a beautiful lake of water, called Omapere, and then entered a grand forest, so different from those in Australia, where the trees show little shade. Here the rays of sun scarcely pierce the dense foliage, and the variety of trees is numerous and quite new to me. There were giant fern trees and a beautiful palm tree--the nikau--here and there. The track was only a footpath, and sloppy after the rain. I had to follow Kenny, for there was not enough width to permit two men abreast. We saw several large pigeons flying about, otherwise the forest
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seemed devoid of birds compared to Australia. The track led us to a stream, the Utakura, which apparently had its source in the lake. The river was not deep, and was easily forded. We took our boots off, the water barely reaching our knees. We then came to Maori cultivations, and to what they call a pa, or stockade. Here we were invited to take food, wild pig and sweet potato. The chief of this pa was named Taonui. He was one of those who signed the Treaty of Waitangi. The sweet potatoes were called kumara, and were very palatable. They have them in great variety. Some were watery, and others quite mealy. They or their forefathers had brought them from an island, Hawaiki, somewhere, I presume, on the South Seas.
The natives did not ask for any remuneration, but gladly received a few figs of tobacco. What fine stately men these Maoris are, and their tattooed faces seemed to add to their dignity. They were dressed in different kinds of mats, and some had scarcely any clothing at all on. The women were fairly good looking. Their lips were all tattooed. There were a number of children running about quite naked.
Kenny had told them I was a brother of Te Wepiha, that is how they pronounce Webster, and they all shook hands before I left, as the white man does. A few miles further took us to the Horeke.
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My brother's mill is up a creek called Wairere, not far off. At Horeke we found a large ship being built. A number of men were employed sawing planking for the frame, which was set up. Two of the men came out with my brother in the Bengal Merchant. They told me a fresh had carried away a dam he had put up, and he had a lot of Maoris engaged repairing it. Kenny professed to know the way up the creek, so we started. When we got to the creek it was high water, or pretty near it. He said he could have waded across if the tide was out. I proposed to make a raft of dry timber, and put our clothes on it and push it before us, and get over, for the creek was no width. I asked how he had got to the mill when he first got there. He said in a canoe with Maoris.
I now lost faith in him entirely, for he did not seem to know where the place was. We got across right enough, and then we could not put our clothes on, being just out of the water. The sun was hot, and we walked about until fairly dry, with only our hats on. When pretty dry we dressed, and came to a small creek, too wide to jump, and went further up and sat sunning ourselves till the tide had ebbed from the mangroves and the creek. We took ourselves off, and rolled up our trousers to the knee and crossed over. Then we came to another creek. By this time the tide had ebbed sufficiently for us to wade over. The first white man we met was a Mr. Eli Dudley. He told
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me that the mill was half a mile further up. He also confirmed what was told us at Te Horeke, that the dam had been carried away, and he had some Maoris working for him. We got there at last, dead beat. I had not seen my brother for three years, and as no letter from me had reached him, he could not tell if I was coming or not. We shook hands over and over again. I told him of the difficulty we had in getting to him. He said there was a good track to the other side of the river, and we could have crossed over quite easily. If the tide was out we could have got over, and if the tide was in a native would have brought us over in a canoe. But my guide, as a guide, should have known his way better.
My elder brother was an easy going young man, as I soon found out, and could not fight the battle of life as most people have to do. He being the eldest of the family had all the support of the family and connections, and had a large deposit in the London Joint Stock Bank. At Te Horeke lived an ex-Lieutenant of the Navy, named McDonnell, and here my brother, when he required stores or trade (for little money was required in those days) would draw on his deposit at Home, but he had to take samples of all the trade in the store at the time, not what he really wanted. If he wanted tomahawks to cut fresh clearing for the natives, or spades or tinder boxes, or blankets, he would return with some of the
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articles mentioned, plus Jews' harps, musical apples, leather belts, and such a miscellaneous lot of articles that he said he had to take, and the price at least 100 per cent. to 200 per cent. of their original value. As there was not much to eat in the house, he said he would have to go to Te Horeke to get a supply. Kenny said there were lots of pigeons in the bush. I took my gun, for I had it still with me, and powder flask and shot-belt of the period, and started for the forest. A dog belonging to my brother followed me. I saw no birds, and missed the dog, when I heard a loud squealing not far off, but out of sight. What struck me then was the grandeur of this forest, with fern trees fifteen to twenty feet high; palm trees also, for the climate here is semi-tropical, and here were giant kauri trees and every variety of foliage. But I must return to the squealing, and I was hastening thither all the time when I came to the dog, which had a small wild pig by the ear, that was squealing for all it was worth. I could not stick it for I had only a pen knife, nor shoot it in the head while the dog had it by the ear, so I searched for some tough leaves and found a long palm leaf tough enough to hold it. I caught the pig by the hind legs and tied them together, drove the dog off, and shot my pig in the head. With my pen knife I disembowelled it, and dragged it towards the weather boarded house, when I met a Maori man, who talked to me, but I could not understand him. I allowed him
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to drag the pig to the house, when Kenny took up the conversation in what was supposed to be Maori on his part. He said the Maori would make a hangi, whatever that meant, and cook it for us. He took it across the creek, Kenny approving.
It was well I killed that pig, for my brother did not return for three days. He had been advised by McDonnell and his storeman, Marriner, to go in a boat with a crew up a river, named Waima, and purchase a load of sweet potatoes and the ordinary potato for both parties. Meanwhile Tipene Toro (for that was the name of our friendly native) brought over to us, in small baskets, portions of the pig with sweet potatoes, and I never enjoyed so nice a meal as this, all cooked, as Kenny told me, in the earth. I found in the house plates, knives, and forks. There was certainly a table in the house, a wooden stool or two, and one bedstead.
Tipene Toro was very attentive to us, and brought us from over the creek meals regularly. After the third day, about midnight, my brother returned with a large supply and the usual supply of trade and etceteras, previously described. I learnt from him afterwards that for his draft in London he allowed 25 per cent. to be deducted as exchange, and the et ceteras he got, as I stated before, was 100 per cent. to 200 per cent. on original cost.
Meanwhile the Deborah schooner had arrived at a place called Kohu Kohu, and I got into a
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canoe, Kenny pulling, and went down to see if my trunk was on board. I went up to the agent of the vessel, Mr. Russell, who told me it had not been shipped, and was probably left behind at the Bay of Islands. He asked me inside his house, and introduced me to a Mr. J. Peter Dumoulin, who had been surveying some land for Mr. Russell.
I was much disappointed at not receiving my trunk. The Deborah was to return to Hokianga again, and Mr. Russell promised to instruct the captain to ship it. Before leaving we all partook of some dark brandy and water. I had all my clothes in the aforesaid trunk, and could not get a change. On returning to the creek, or river Wairere (which meant, I was told, running water) I told my brother my fix, and he gave me a change while Kenny washed mine. I had to roll my brother's trousers half way up to my knees, for he was much taller than myself, and slept in bed with him until he put up another bunk for me. It was a very primitive house altogether. Kenny slept on the floor, clothes on, with a pair of blankets round him.
I had great sport, for the pigeon food was plentiful. At this season they live on a red berry growing on a tree called miro. So fat are they when feeding on this berry, that when shot they look like a lump of fat, and so delicious. I got a fresh supply of powder and shot from Mr. Russell.
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Meanwhile my brother, seeing that no dam could be constructed to withstand the winter rains, examined the creek further up, and proposed to make a water-race of timber down to his mill, and I helped him in his work, and the next trip of the Deborah brought me my long wished for trunk. That timber race was finished, but did not answer.
Another brother came out from Home in the Jane Gifford. Fellow passengers with him were Robert Graham, at one time Superintendent of Auckland, and a well known identity, Mr. Robert Mitchell, in connection with Brown and Campbell, who built the first brick house in Auckland, in Shortland Street, the only street Auckland had at that period.
My brother George came to join us at Wairere. He had brought out with him a great quantity of useful trade for the natives.
Every Sunday my brother William went to the chapel of the Wesleyan persuasion, and ultimately joined that Church. I usually went with him. The Church was near the mouth of the Wairere. Now we got a proper boat built, and every Sunday we went to church or chapel (as it was called). There was a bell tolled for service. The natives had helped to build the chapel, but there were no seats, except for the white people. The natives squatted down on the floor on their mats.
The Rev. John Hobbs occupied a good house on Mount Wesley, while the Rev. Mr. Woon
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resided near the beach. I learnt that other missions were in various parts of the Hokianga River, and also a Catholic mission was established by Bishop Pompallier lower down the river.
At this time the mission people were supplied with articles of trade from Home, and those converts who attended chapel and had put away their surplus wives had the run of the trade, and many of the highest chiefs were converted.
I was told a story, but can't vouch for the truth of it, of a great warrior who applied to be baptised. He had three wives, and was told he must put two away. He went to the kainga, or native village, a sad man, but turned up again in another year. When asked if he had put away his two wives, he replied they had been killed and eaten. He was surprised that he was rejected once more, and wondered at ways of the pakeha, for the two extra were slaves. He retained his chieftain wife.
There was at that time quite a village of huts all along the beach towards the mouth of the Wairere. Sunday was called Ratapu or sacred day, and Saturday was named Ra horoi whare, or the day of house cleaning, for the natives had observed that the mission people on that day always cleaned house.
There was, I forgot to mention, a supernumerary missioner, named Stannard, also at Mungungu (the name of the station).
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On Sundays the mission people would visit the various sawing stations on the river, and preach to the sawyers. On one occasion they visited two sawyers up a creek on the opposite side of the river. It was a narrow creek, and the native pullers had to pole the boat up. They heard the saws going on a Sunday as they neared the pit unobserved. "I am ashamed to find you at work on a Sunday," exclaimed one of the missionaries. The top sawyer was dumfounded, when he was so addressed (for he had not heard the boat). "Well, d-----n my eyes if I knew it was Sunday, did we Bill?" (addressing the lower pitman) "I'm d-----d if I knew," said his mate.
"Now," said the missionary, "you both are swearing to make matters worse."
These were strange times and strange manners.
My brother and I were always invited to tea at Mr. Hobbs', and they were always kind and hospitable, but I am afraid they made few real converts. The natives, as I have already said, knew that by being baptised they secured the coveted tomahawk, spade, axe, and blankets, and all good things. That more than the belief in the doctrines of the missionaries filled the chapel.
In fine weather many of these sawyers would pull down to Mungungu to attend service, and would squat down amongst the natives on the floor. They guessed there was a little jealousy
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between the Hobbs and Woon families. They generally came in canoes. On landing, the best dressed of the party would run up to Mr. Woon's house and eagerly inquire who was to preach to-day. "Oh," he would exclaim (scratching his head) "if we'd known, we would not have come. We thought it was Mr. Woon's day." "Oh, come in, and have a cup of tea." (Human nature).
The natives like singing hymns, and that also helped to fill the chapel.
For three or four years I remained with my brother, and made a fine orchard at Wairere. The missionaries did much good in introducing the peach, apple, pear, and the vine, and the peaches spread rapidly on the banks of rivers where the peach stones had been thrown, or in open country. There was no bird or beast to interfere with the fruit. Everywhere were peach trees loaded with fruit in its season.
The Tupakihi berry was also squeezed through muslin or dry grass to retain the poisonous seeds, and made a delicious drink. I have filled a bucket of the juice in an hour or so. To swallow the seeds brings on convulsions, or even death. Down south the shrub is called tutu. The beautiful bird, the tui, or parson bird, is very fond of the berry, swallowing seeds and all with impunity.
In July, 1844, I made the acquaintance of Dr. (now Sir John Logan) Campbell. He had come to Hokianga to arrange with Mr. George
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Frederick Russell for a cargo of hewn kauri spars and baulk timber, for the Home market (London). All squared by the Maoris.
In September of the same year a ship arrived for the above cargo, Captain Daldy in command.
One day Mr. Russell, Dr. Campbell, and Captain Daldy came up to see the mill at Wairere. The former gentleman had written to my brother that the party were coming, so we had a log on ready. The water was turned on, and a fair amount of cutting was shown them.
I may here remark that this mill never paid my brother. He spent many thousands of pounds on it, but it was always breaking down. He was no engineer, and had never learned to work a mill, but he had the confidence of my friends at Home. Nearly up to the time of his death, at the age of 89, he still persevered with that mill. At one time he tried steam. That also was a failure. He died in 1895.
Returning to Dr. Campbell. He proved afterwards a lifelong true friend of mine. He is a few months older than myself. There were many years before us, the events of which will be related at the proper time.
My brother married in 1850. One of his daughters married Mr. Cardno, an Auckland merchant, another married Mr. J. McKell Geddes, also of Auckland, and now sole proprietor of Brown, Barret and Co.'s business.
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1844--We now heard that Heke, a Bay of Island chief, had cut down the flag staff erected on a hill called Maiki, and that this might lead to some great disturbance if not checked.
I had been learning the Maori language during this period, but was far from being perfect. Regarding Heke's act in cutting down the flagstaff at Kororareka, it was rumoured that some of the whalers gave him that advice, and it is said that when the staff fell some of the whaling crews cheered.
Up to the present I had not seen our greatest chief of the Ngapuhi, called Nene (a beautiful shrub or miniature palm). He was baptised in the name of Thomas Walker, one of the mission fraternity. I will therefore have to give him his full title of Tamati Waka Nene. It is a pity, I think, that they were not baptised in their original names, which had always a special meaning. There are dozens of John Wesleys in the district, which would be pronounced Hone Wetere. Many chose scriptural names. One chose Zerubbabel, and rejoiced in the name of Horopapera.
A Mr. Day lived near where Nene had his kainga (settlement) and invited me to visit him. So I took the first opportunity of going up, hoping to see the celebrated chief, and I wanted to find out what was his opinion regarding the cutting down of the flagstaff by Heke. One fine day I went up river in a canoe, and arrived at Te Papa, where Mr. Day resided. The house
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was half a mile from the river. I fastened the canoe to a ti-tree bush, and walked the distance. I had got a good idea from Mr. Day of how I should find the House. I could not go wrong, for a track led me there. Mr. Day welcomed me in his hospitable manner. He had heard of Heke's act, and said much would rest with Nene as to which side he would take. If he joined Heke (which he doubted) all the white inhabitants would have to leave. If he did not he would have to fight Heke, that was inevitable. He told me Nene lived close by, and he would send for him to see me (a pakeha now) a new comer. He had a Maori lad, and sent him to Nene, who said he would come next day.
Next day brought Nene. He was rather short of stature, and rather stout. He shook hands with me after the European habit. Had I been a Maori he would have rubbed noses, their usual mode of salutation.
Mr. Day asked if he had heard of Heke cutting down the Maiki flagstaff, on July the 8th. He said he was going to Kororareka to see what he meant by it next day.
There is no mistake, but the moko (tattooing) gives the natives a most distinguished appearance. I noticed also (for he had a mat only covering his body) that the tattooing reached to the thighs, and body also, I presume.
Nene's was the first signature to the Treaty of Waitangi. The natives were much opposed to signing or making their mark (for few could
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write at this juncture). Bishop Pompallier is known to have influenced the Maoris against signing or making any mark on the paper. At this juncture arrived Nene and Patuone, his brother, from Hokianga. Nene addressed the assembled natives with great eloquence, and completely changed the aspect of things, and all were eager to make a mark on the Governor's paper. But for the timely arrival of Nene and his brother the Treaty would have been a failure. Some of the chiefs wanted to send the Governor away.
Nene had been a consistent friend and protector of the pakeha mission folks and others as well. At the same time he was a great warrior, and it was fully hoped that he would disapprove of Heke's action.
We learned afterwards that Tamati Waka Nene, to give him his full name, on his way to Kaikohe, where Heke was then residing, had found the Governor at Waimate, who made a speech, concluding with a demand for ten muskets as compensation for cutting down the flagstaff. Heke's friends immediately put down twenty, but what the Governor would do with them when he got them was difficult to say. The troops were again sent back to Sydney. Better had he kept the troops where they were handy, say in Auckland, but Mr. George Clarke, protector of Aborigines, advised their return to Sydney. Nene, in the presence of the Governor, gave a stirring address, saying that
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if Heke cut down the flagstaff again he would have to reckon with him, as well as the Governor. Another chief, named Mohi Tawhai (a little man, but a great warrior) spoke to the same effect. Bishop Selwyn was present on this occasion, as well as Archdeacon Williams and others.
The troops were sent back a second time to Sydney. Heke cut down the flagstaff again on the 10th of January, 1845. Kawiti joined him with more men than Heke commanded originally. The Governor offered a reward for Heke's head. Heke retaliated, by offering a large track of land for the head of the Governor.
Governor Fitzroy again sent to Sydney for assistance. Sir Everard Home in the North Star, one of Her Majesty's ships, arrived at the Bay of Islands from Wellington, and a temporary pa was erected and entrusted to Nene's men for protection. Heke remained at Kaikohe and enrolled many sub-tribes who joined him, as his mana was becoming great. Several of the Hokianga sub-tribes also joined him. Te Ikutae tribe for one, whose chief was called Te Wharepapa, and a great Tohunga (wizard) named Te Atua Wera, with many men, also joined. H.M.S. Hazard also arrived at Kororareka after a stormy passage, when she had to throw overboard some of her guns.
A new flagstaff had been erected on Maiki Hill, and Heke sent word to Mr. Gilbert Mair (an old resident near Kororareka) that he would
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cut it down again, as he had done the others. Now, Ensign Campbell had charge of the upper blockhouse, and had three guns commanding the approach. Inside he had twenty soldiers. A deep trench had been dug round the house. Within the house was a signalman and his wife, also the daughter of a Captain Wing, quite a child.
Captain Robertson of the Hazard, with a number of his crew and civilians kept the pass, called Matauhi, near the English Church, at Kororareka, for to-morrow was the day Heke said he would cut the flagstaff down again. (11th March).
Kawiti attacked before daybreak. Captain Robertson drew his sword and killed several of Kawiti's men, when he was himself shot down with four bullets in his body. His crew and the civilians, however, stood firm, and drove off the natives. One of Kawiti's sons was killed in this fight.
Meanwhile the noise of the firing had reached the blockhouse. Ensign Campbell left the blockhouse to go higher up to see better what was going on below. The soldiers followed him. Then Heke (who had been lying in ambush) saw his opportunity, rushed the blockhouse, and killed the few soldiers inside, and in the semi-darkness also tomahawked a child, daughter of Captain Wing, who was moving in one of the bunks. The wife of the caretaker of the flagstaff was allowed to go to the township.
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Heke then removed the earth below the iron, cut the back stays, and then cut below the iron, and the fourth flagstaff fell on the day that Heke said it should fall, the 11th March, 1845.
Heke now built a pa close to Okaihau, on the banks of Lake Omapere, midway between the Bay of Islands and Hokianga.
Tamati Waka Nene also built his near the forest of Okaihau to check Heke's progress further west. Taonui built a second pa with his tribe from Utakura, and Mohi Tawhai with Arama Karaka Pi with the Mahurihuri tribe built a third pa, all close together. Then came the Hikutu tribe, and many of the Rarawas from further north.
There was a rising ground near the lake, called Taumata Kakaramu, otherwise the country was quite level, with short ti-tree scrub here and there, and a few clumps of korari (native flax). A creek of clear water ran from the forest into the lake, and served quite sufficient for the purposes of the camp and for cleaning muskets when foul.
Previous to Nene building his pa, he had a great meeting of Maoris and white men, Missionaries also attended. Mr. Russell, Lieutenant McDonnell, and others and myself were also amongst them. Nene spoke first, and stated his determination to keep Heke from coming to Hokianga to disturb that district, and would fight for the Queen and Governor. All this I had interpreted to me, for as yet I could not quite
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follow the speaker, but could understand them when speaking quietly.
Maning was also present, a tall wiry man of splendid physique, and his hair fell from his head in ringlets. This was the first time I had met him, but we were great chums in after years.
Francis White, a blacksmith, offered to repair all the muskets that were out of order, and my brother William offered to make a lot of Hamanu's cartridge boxes. He had brought out from England a lathe, so that he could bore the holes without difficulty. The natives were all armed with old fashioned flintlock muskets at that time.
I have forgotten to mention also that two Commissioners, named Richmond and Godfrey, had been appointed by the Sydney Government to enquire into all land purchases made by the white people from the Maoris. They had to bring the chiefs before the Commissioners who had sold the land, and the value of the goods or money paid (little of the latter) was assessed, and if the land exceeded in acreage the value paid it was called surplus land, and went to the Government, not to the natives, as one would expect.
The Baron de Thierry had come down from Sydney a year or two previous to my arrival in New Zealand, and claimed all the country north of the Bay of Islands. He had employed a man of the name of Kendall to purchase that
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part of the country for him. Kendall had arranged with the Baron in England before the latter had seen New Zealand, the Baron supplying him with funds for the purpose. Kendall on his return made some purchases from the chiefs accordingly; Nene, for instance, sold him about 600 acres at Waihou, for the Baron. But it would seem that Kendall made default, and appropriated the funds to his own uses. So that when Baron de Thierry arrived in New Zealand, about 1838, to take possession of his kingdom he found that Kendall had disappeared long before, and that the only land to his credit was that of the upright chief Nene, who considered a bargain a bargain.
It was upon this piece of land therefore, on the upper Waihou, that the Baron settled, and issued his grandiloquent proclamations of which this is a specimen:--
"I, Charles Baron de Thierry, King of Nukuhiva, and Sovereign Chief of New Zealand, do call upon all well disposed Europeans to assist me in forming a government," &c.
It went on to say that he would allow all land purchased fairly to belong to the purchaser.
The following is an extract from another of the Baron de Thierry's Addresses, dated Sydney, 20th September, 1837:--
I appeal to every white resident in New Zealand . . . . and to every New Zealander for the truth, and to say whether I did or did not purchase
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the land to which I lay claim. . . . I claim the district called the Te Tu One, at the source of the River Yokianga; the District of Wai Hue, adjoining, also Te Papa, containing about 40,000 acres. They were purchased for me by Mr. Kendall from the chiefs Mudi Wai, Patu One, and Nene, in presence of Captain James Herd, and Mr. W. E. Greer, of the ship "Providence," on the 7th August, 1822, and forwarded to England by Mr. F. Hall. . . . . Believe me, residents of Hokianga, that I have not been unmindful of your necessities; I go to govern within the bounds of my own territories, it is true, but I neither go as an invader or a despot; you will find in me a brother and a friend who will be proud of your advice and co-operation in legislative matters, and who, without claiming an unwilling service from you, will preside over you as the guardian of your safety and prosperity. . . . . and shall be accompanied by a considerable number of respectable families, who will add to your society and increase your feeling of security. . . . To all chiefs who shall enter into treaty with me and engage to live in peace with other tribes and with the whites, I will give occasional bounties, and will raise them to a respectable rank in society. . . The settlers may ask about direct or indirect taxation. I do not intend to resort to either. . . . You will judge by the annexed Articles of Agreement, by which I bind those who accompany me, whether I am likely to do good or evil; judge me by my works as the tree is judged by its fruit. . . .
The Articles of Agreement were fifteen in number.
His pretensions were ignored, however, by all the Europeans without exception.
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The Baron was a refugee from France in stormy times, and became a French teacher in a gentleman's house in England, and eloped with a daughter of the house. He must have been possessed of means, for he came down to New Zealand in a large ship with a number of Europeans. He had an armourer, Peter Flynn by name, a keeper of the stores, Hargreaves, whose son discovered gold in Australia, a tutor for his children, Tuite, afterwards postmaster at Herd's Point, and who embezzled the post office moneys there, and others. He had several sons and one daughter, who afterwards married Major Matson at Auckland. His eldest son, Charles, was a handsome lad. He and I became very friendly, and he induced me to go with him up north to a place called Herekino. We appear to have been the first white men to have visited that part of the country. The chief, Pukeroa, wanted to annex us to his tribe, and offered to tattoo us, and make us chiefs, but, of course, we would not consent. Then they jeered at us saying we were afraid of the pain. Charley de Thierry could talk Maori fluently, and said we could not show our tattooed faces amongst the white people, but he and I would submit to the hae hae, that is, cutting lines on our arms, which would not be seen. This satisfied them, and very painful it was. They used sharp shells for cutting, and then introduced with a sharp piece of wood the ngarahu, a black pigment, made from
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burning a resin of a certain tree, and collecting the smoke as it burned. We had to go shirtless for a fortnight, and sat up at night till a crust formed on the cut. Had I known I should never have submitted, but de Thierry was quite I proud of his ornamentation, though unseen.
A compact had been made between Nene and Hewe that there should be no torohe on the roads (ambush) and when they fought it should be during daylight only, and this was carried out most faithfully in a most chivalrous manner between Nene and Heke's forces, for they were of the Ngapuhi tribe.
Up to the present time Te Atua Wera had not joined Heke, and, as he was a friend of mine, I paid him a visit to ascertain his thoughts. He lived at Omanaia, on the small river of that name. I pulled up in a canoe. When I arrived at his settlement, he told me he expected a visit from Heke, for a messenger had arrived that morning from Heke to that effect. This was just after the destruction of Kororareka, and he was coming on horseback with about a dozen followers, all riding, for they had looted a number of the settlers' horses. I decided to remain and see the man now so celebrated. Some young men had been despatched along the road to give due notice when the party was in sight. About noon the first messenger came in, and said Heke's party were in sight; others arrived with the same tale. I
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expected to see Heke at the head of the cavalcade. I could see none of the first who came were at their ease on horseback, probably none of them had ridden before this occasion. When the first horsemen appeared about twenty young men danced a haka. The last to arrive was Heke himself, on a fine horse (looted). He wore as a garment a crimson robe with a yellow border (it looked to me as if it had been a tablecloth, part of the loot of Kororareka). On getting off his horse, which he did awkwardly, he threw off his sanguinary garment and saluted Te Atua Wera by rubbing noses. There was the redoubted Heke standing before me with a great reward for his head. He was tall. His moko (tattooing) was not quite full, but he looked every inch a chief. After rubbing noses with Te Atua Wera he asked the tohunga "ko wai to hoa?" "Who is your friend?" Te Atua Wera, laughing, said, "He will likely meet you on the battle field." "Ahakoa," meaning nevertheless, said Heke, and he offered me his hand to shake as the Pakeha do. All this conversation was in Maori, of course.
Heke had come to consult with the tohunga, having heard that the troops were expected back again, and he wanted Te Atua Wera to consult his familiar spirit and divine the result of the first engagement with Her Majesty's forces. There was a large whare capable of holding over one hundred men, and to-night he would have a consultation with the spirit of the
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air. I asked some of the Atuas, Wera's men, to enquire if I would be permitted to be present. The reply was, "e tika ana" (all right). Meanwhile the visitors were fed on pork and kumaras, and when it became dark the party assembled in the big house. Te Atua Wera was at one end of the house, Heke and the rest of us at the other end.
For some time we sat without a sound being heard; suddenly a whistling sighing kind of sound was heard over our heads, and it moved about in a mysterious manner, sometimes a fluttering, and I thought that something actually touched me. It was all over in about twenty minutes. The tide being favourable, I got into my canoe, and pulled up river, quite bewildered with that seance in the dark.
All the people but Heke, who remained for some time alone, waited to hear the result of the first battle with Her Majesty's trops, to come off soon. That knowledge was never divulged, only Heke knew.
Next morning they had left for Kaikohe in the same manner, Heke being the last man.
When the troops had arrived at Kororareka I learned that Te Atua Wera (which means the fiery god) had gone to join Heke with all the men he could muster. Some of the Motu Karaka natives had gone with him also. As long as the white settlers remained in Hokianga they were safe, unless Nene was defeated, which was not at all likely.
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I had arranged with Francis White (the blacksmith) to go with him when the troops arrived, and on hearing that they had gone to the Keri Keri, where Nene's men would show them the way to their chief's camp. It was rainy weather, and Nene's people had built a long shed covered with korari and nikau leaves (flax and palm) to keep the rain off, but the troops brought no provisions with them, at least so I was told, not having been there.
When I went to the blacksmith, expecting he was prepared to go to the front, he said his son had gone the day before, and he did not like leaving the family. I doubted if I could find my way through the bush, and White offered me a shakedown for the night, and was very hospitable, but I missed seeing that first engagement with Heke, which I have regretted ever since. I heard all about it when John White, my host's son, returned.
It appears that Colonel Hulme, on arriving, had a good look at Heke's pa, and said he would attack it next morning. He had two rocket tubes, but no field guns. Had he brought two or three of the latter he would easily have overcome Heke. I saw the pa after Heke had left it. Two field pieces could have smashed in one side of the pa by angle fire, but then, I am only a civilian, and supposed to know nothing about these matters. The rocket tubes were wrongly placed also, and only one post of the pa was damaged. The other rockets went over it.
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The troops went close to the lake, and gained a rising ground, facing the south side of the pa. Heke had one flag flying at this time. There was a bit of dense scrub on the right of the troops. Nene had given the troops a slave of his as guide, named Hone Ropiha (John Hobbs, after a missionary) and well it was he accompanied the troops, for he examined that bit of bush and found an ambush there, consisting of Kawiti and his tribe, all ready to pounce upon the flank of the troops when they rushed on the palisading. As it was they had to face Kawiti, who fired on the troops, and a flank fire from the pa. During this time Heke ran up a second flag or signal to Kawiti to keep the soldiers from the pa, and so it happened they could not reach it when they drove Kawiti's men into the scrub, and attempted to face the pa. Kawiti came out of the scrub again, and took them on the flank. This continued until evening, when the troops were ordered back to Nene's camp defeated. The men were brave enough, but the commanding officer was out-manoeuvred, and treated the Maoris too lightly. It has been so up to the present time. All this information I got from John White.
The night I spent at Mr. White's was by no means a pleasant one. I had a shake down on the floor, and a rug was given me, and before me he knelt down for prayer, and such a prayer I never heard before. He called for Christ to come down to him, and apparently he came, and
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he got hold of his garment in imagination and bawled out, "I won't let go until you assure my soul will be saved." He hammered the ground and struck the wall until he was quite exhausted, and the perspiration was pouring from his face.
Mr. White had a brother, William White. At one time (previous to my arrival in New Zealand) he had been at the head of the Wesleyan Mission in Hokianga. He was a great preacher, but his weakness was Maori women. He was married to a European wife, but his actions were so scandalous and quite open that the rough sawyers could stand it no longer, and insisted upon an enquiry as to his conduct. He had previously sent away Messrs. Hobbs and Woon so as to have every liberty.
Messrs. Hobbs and Woon were sent for. When they came he was asked to appear before Lieutenant McDonnell and Mr. Russell at Te Horeke, Messrs. Hobbs and Woon also being present. Everything was proved against him. Many years afterwards I married Mr. Russell's daughter, and found amongst his papers all the evidence then taken, but, thinking that evidence might get into the hands of some person who would make a bad use of it, I burnt the lot. William White was called to England and dismissed from the ministry.
My brother William having made a lot of cartridge boxes, I got a young native as guide. The cartridge boxes were put into a bag, some twenty in number. A heavy load, but he would not allow me to carry any.
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We set off for Nene's camp. Lieutenant St. Aubyn, who resided about one and a half miles from Kohu Kohu, had lent me his rifle to use against Heke. St Aubyn was a naval officer on leave, and had his wife with him.
It had been raining heavy during the night. We passed through Utakura Valley, and had some food at a pa there belonging to Taonui, who had joined Nene, and had erected a pa close to Nene's. We went further up the valley, and had to scale a rather high hill, and entered the forest. The track was quite narrow, and the late rains had made the track muddy and roots of the trees slippery. My comrade with the bag of Hamanu's cartridge boxes got on wonderfully well with his bare feet, better than I did with my boots. After eight hours wrestling with tree roots and mud holes, we emerged from the forest, and came to an open country, and were soon in sight of Nene's pa, with a British flag flying from a long pole within the pa.
I received a hearty welcome from Waka Nene and his brother, Patuone. The latter was the elder of the two, and both were great friends of the Pakeha, and protectors of the missionaries, but Nene was energy personified. Erua Patuone was fully tattooed, like his brother, but much taller.
The Hamanu cartridge boxes were much appreciated. My brother had got leather from somewhere, and covered the boxes and drilled
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the holes big enough for the muskets of the natives. I had one of them, and had made a lot of cartridges before I left Wairere.
Patuone was a man of peace. On one occasion he was insulted by a slave at a meeting of natives, and took no notice. Nene looked on, boiling with rage, and seeing his brother inclined to pass the insult, rose, and with one blow of his tomahawk laid the fellow dead.
After the evening meal, I had a look at the pa. It was a square, containing nearly an acre of ground. The sides were strongly palisaded with timber from the forest, hauled and erected by main force of many men, and four feet in the ground, and close together, though it would permit of a musket passing through. These posts were held together by cross pieces fastened by creeping vine from the bush about the thickness of one's finger, called toro toro. Outside the main pa is a sort of curtain, called pekerangi, of smaller stakes, bound in a similar manner with toro toro. But the curtain does not reach the ground, and is supported by stronger stakes here and there, so as to have a clear view of an approaching enemy. At each corner of the pa is an extension, so as to take an enemy on the flank if he came close up. The whares or huts are arranged round the sides of the pa, but not touching it. A deep trench is dug all round, wide enough for a man's body, and here, after firing, they could get out of sight to load their muskets. These muskets
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were all flintlocks. Even some of the troops used the same kind of musket, for the percussion cap had scarcely reached the colonies at this time.
Heke's pa is about two miles distant from Nene, and is much nearer the Lake Omapere than we are. Half way is a hill, called Taumata Kakaramu. When either side wished to fight they went to this hill and fired a musket off. The challenge was always accepted. I had brought a blanket with me, and slept in Nene's unfinished whare. Just as I was turning in Mr. William White turned up. He had come out to Hokianga again after being dismissed from the ministry and lived near his brother Francis. He also rolled himself (not in a blanket). He had an oilskin cloak, and we lay in this unfurnished whare. We neither of us slept much for watchmen were calling out all night the mataara, or watch cry. About midnight a karere, or newsbearer arrived from the Bay of Islands, and told those in the pa that Pomare a chief had been taken prisoner, and was then on board a man of war ship, and that troops would soon be here to fight Heke. Towards morning I fell asleep, and woke up very cold. It had been raining during the night, and I was soaking wet. The unfinished hut had let the rain in. Mr. White was better off with his oilskin cloak.
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We heard news of the massacre of Wairau, Captain Wakefield killed in the Nelson district, and several others. It was a stupid attempt to enforce the law with a few men.
We had breakfast, consisting of potatoes and kumaras. A large kit full was set before each of us. Mr. White had brought some cooked pork with him, and with tea and sugar we made a hearty breakfast. I hung out my blanket to dry, and went to take a walk round the pa. I met another white man from Hokianga, named William Munro. He had been at the front a week, and saw several engagements. The weather cleared up, and there was a challenge from Heke from Taumata Kakaramu. I looked to see the men setting off to the battle field in a body, but they strolled leisurely. I, with St. Aubyn's rifle, followed. I had kept it in Nene's house, where it would be dry. I had about 200 cartridges made, which I had brought from Wairere with me in a bag. I now filled my cartridge box with twelve cartridges, and went with some of Nene's people to the fray. I noticed some of Nene's men were only clothed with cartridge boxes strapped round them, no clothing. Others had as many as four. The women were all busy making cartridges for their husbands. Some of them even followed their husbands to bring back the empty boxes to be refilled. We heard the firing when we left Nene's pa. He did not go himself.
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Mr White had come with us too, but when the bullets whistled over our heads or entered the ground with a clunk he went back. Monro also was with us. He and I and some of Nene's men went to the challenging hill, and were soon in the thick of it. On the side facing Heke's pa some trenches had been dug. I got into one of them. Only a few men appeared at one time on both sides to fire at. I learnt that there were several hundred in the field, but they were all concealed, except a few I saw scattered over a great extent of country. A man would fire at another on either side, and immediately disappear to load his gun. After loading he would appear again, but never standing still for a moment, trotting backwards and forwards so as to avoid the bullets fired at him.
The near bullets were spitting past us as we lay in the holes exposing our heads only. I did not see a chance of firing for some time. At last some of Nene's men had crossed a swamp lying below us, and got near a rise in the ground, where Heke's pa was erected. At the same time some of Heke's men appeared, approaching on the rising ground. Nene's men got covered under the leaves of the korari (flax) and when they approached nearer fired at them. The fired was returned. One of our side had a bullet through the calf of his leg, but he did not seem to mind it much. When he got out of reach of bullets he sat down, and
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put some moist clay from the swamp in the wound, and beat it with his fist for some time. He plugged both the entry and exit of the wound, and was fit for more fighting in two days.
As a compact had been made between Nene and Heke that they were to cease fighting at sundown, and it was getting on to that time a distant cry arose of "Ko po te Ra," "The sun is setting." Immediately some hundreds of men seemed to arise out of the ground with a great roar of "Kua po te Ra," "The sun has set." (It is singular that the Egyptian name for the sun is also ra).
The two armies (I may call them) gathered together, for there was not a shot in anger after the sun had gone down, but still it was quite light. Each party was about ten yards from the other. Two men from each side would meet half way, and after rubbing noses would make enquiries as to the casualties of the day. They would tell as far as each knew who had been killed and who wounded. They would mention the names of those who had been killed. (They all knew the principal men) and a name might be mentioned when the opposite party would cry out, "Aue taku hoa" "Alas, my friend" ; perhaps the man who cried out was the very man who shot him.
On returning to Nene's pa we overtook two parties using kauhoas (litters) on which were apparently two dead men. One I knew as the
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son of Taonui (Pera Taonui). The other was Taonui's brother, Te Huru. The latter was shot through the breast and the bullet issued out of the back. The former recovered, but Te Huru, after lingering a few days, died, and there were great lamentations, for he was a great chief.
The bullet that struck Pera Taonui, after passing through his arm entered his body, and was never extracted. He lived for many years afterwards. I believe it would have killed a European.
For about a week I emptied my cartridge box, and always took up my position on the hill overlooking the pa. I don't know if I killed anyone or not. An old man took up a position one day in the next trench to mine, and put too much powder in his cartridges. I noticed every time he fired the muzzle rose considerably. I told him of it. His reply was, "Kia nui te tangi," he liked his gun to make a noise.
I omitted to say that after the sun had set and enquiries as to casualties had been made both messengers returned to their respective army, and first one and then the other gave a great hari (war dance).
It was a grand sight, and set one's blood boiling and made the ground shake.
Next day our people challenged Heke. When I got to the hill, and what I considered my own trench, I found my old friend occupying his also. He kept loading and firing in the air, as
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usual, but suddenly he ceased firing. I thought he had used up all the cartridges he had, and kept firing myself, as the foe gave me an opportunity.
About afternoon a party of the Rarawa natives from the north side of Hokianga River had arrived. I knew some of them. They had chosen to join Nene, and had brought some live pigs to Nene, driven by slaves. Part of the Rarawa, mostly young men, had come on the battlefield to have a shot at Heke's warriors. They lay a little to my rear, sheltered by the top of the hill. They kept firing over our heads. Another party of the Rarawa had crossed the swamp under us, and lay waiting for a fresh party from Heke's pa they had seen coming towards the swamp. They had sheltered behind dead manuka shrubs. Heke's men came nearer and nearer, one man ahead of the others looking out. That man spied the Rarawa behind the bushes, and fired into them. The Rarawa started up and fired into Heke's men, which was returned by them, and two of the Rarawa were wounded. The party of Rarawa now joined the others over the swamp, having filled their cartridge boxes. Their women also accompanied them, having fetched them cartridges in kits made of flax. There was quite a fierce encounter across the swamp, and all were hidden in smoke. The sun was now going, and "Ka po te ra" was raised with the usual messengers, and afterwards the hari. I thought
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then my old friend in the next trench to me had used up all his cartridges, for he had ceased firing for a long time. I went to his trench, and saw he would never fire again, for a bullet had entered his forehead over the left eye. I hailed two young fellows, and they carried the poor fellow, time about, nearly two miles to Nene's camp. He belonged to Taonui's Tribe of Utakura.
It is wonderful how few men are killed with muskets. In their old wars it was man to man. They seized each other by the hair, and the best man killed his opponent.
Next day a recruit joined us as we left Nene's camp, the notorious John Marmon. He had been a convict, and was serving his time in one of His Majesty's ships on the coast of New Zealand. He managed to escape, and was sheltered by a chief named Hone Kingi (baptismal name for John King). His native name was Raumate, and he gave Marmon his daughter as wife.
Marmon joined them in their wars, and on one occasion brought a basket of human flesh cooked in their earth ovens and offered some of it to George Nimmo, who refused it. Marmon said he had no idea how good it tasted. He could not however induce Nimmo to taste it.
Marmon seemed to dodge the bullets, for he was for ever ducking his head or jumping from side to side as the bullets whistled passed us. We took shelter under a small hillock, and
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found a party of wahines there for shelter also, but the humming and spitting of the bullets over our heads was incessant. The muskets and the men using them were alike. The bullets nearly always went too high, and few hit what they aimed at during that period.
An old man kept firing away at a native half a mile distant, who he said was one of Heke's spies. I convinced him at last he was wasting powder.
We now heard that Heke was building a very strong pa at Ohaewai. I returned to Wairere and found my brothers, William and George, had left the mill and gone to Te Mata, close to the Mission Station. William White had also come back. He lived a little distance from the Mission Station. His brother Francis (the blacksmith) still nearer the Mission Station, who lent my brothers a storeroom to sleep in.
William White, the ex-missionary, was not long at home before he exhibited his old propensity. I was witness to a taua made on him by the natives of a tributary of the main river. There were about fifty stalwart men and a few mere boys. After a war dance the leader roared out, "Murua, murua," and instantly the store was broken open and plundered, and the youngsters chased and caught fowls, tore their heads off, and sucked the blood. They took his servant (Maori) away with them, for she was partly the cause of the taua, or plundering party. These tauas are very frequent, and for all sorts of reasons.
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If a young man meets with an accident, incapacitating him from ever being capable of using a weapon of defence again, the tribe would make a taua on the father for not being more careful of his son. If a woman left her husband, that was another cause. The father or husband in either case would have a raid made on them, and the unfortunates were proud of it, for the larger the taua the more he considered the respect paid him. Of course these tauas were never resisted.
I now formed a small troop for sword exercise. The dress of the period was a blue shirt (serge) with a belt round the waist, and trousers, of course, and a blue cloth cap. I had learned the sword exercise and drilled them. There were three sons of the blacksmith, Charley de Thierry, and a son of a Mr. Gittos (afterwards an esteemed parson of the Wesleyan persuasion).
I visited Mr. Russell occasionally. He told me that the Ihutae tribe, living near him, had told him part of their tribe were assisting Heke's men in building the pa at Ohaewai, and that the huge uprights would resist heavy gun fire. Their chief, Te Wharepapa, was superintending the work.
There was a ship loading spars for the Navy soon to sail for London. Mr. Russell was the shipper. As my brother George wanted to return to Scotland again, I made arrangements with the captain for his passage to London,
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thence to Scotland. When quite loaded the ship had to wait for a fair wind to go down the river, and out to sea.
I asked the captain to go with myself and John White for a pig hunt at the bush behind the Mission Station. He readily consented. We took some provisions with us, and John White had some pig dogs, which we took also. So we three started to the forest and looked for traces of pigs. We saw where they had been rooting in the forest, but the dogs had no scent. It was a dull day and we finally lost ourselves. I gave John White my rifle and climbed a sapling tree to see if I could discern any water anywhere, either the river or creek, which would instruct us as to our position. I did see a creek, which must be Wairere, as there was no other water near the Mission, and it was not the river. We sat down and had something to eat out of a Maori basket of flax leaves, and something out of a bottle also, which the captain produced, after which we started for the creek.
We got into a very wild country. Huge rocks overgrown with creeping ferns and other plants, while great trees with spreading roots made our descent very difficult. Just then we heard one of our dogs barking. I said we would have a pig at last, but John White was doubtful as if it was a pig we would have heard a squeal by this time. We had to cut long poles for ourselves now to feel the way on the huge rocks, in which
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were crevasses overgrown with rocks and creeping vines. We could hear the water trickling at times far beneath us. The dog still gave voice occasionally, but its mate with us took no notice. I was the first to reach the barking dog. It was no pig he was barking at, but under an overhanging rock were three Maoris with mats on smiling at me. I realised at once I had come on a wahi tapu, or sacred spot, where the tohunga, or sacred priests convey the tribal dead. Only the tohungas are allowed to visit the sacred spot. If an ordinary Maori happened by accident to come as we had come on this spot he would very likely die from fear of the dreaded tapu.
As the tapu had no fear for us we examined the vicinity. These three men must have been rangatiras (chiefs). Before them lay their wooden weapons. When I took one up it broke in my hands, quite decayed. The mats crumbled up on touching them also. The lips were drawn up as if smiling, and the moko on their faces was perfect. One had his hand outside the mat. It had long nails, and I touched it with my hands. We now examined the locality, and found great caverns full of skeletons, hundreds of them. The large bones of each were tied by vines (mangi mangi) and the skull lying on top of each heap.
I handled some of the skulls, and within one I heard something rattling. I found
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it to be an ear ornament of transparent greenstone. John White found a rehu, or Maori flute, made of the arm bone of a human being. He afterwards gave it to Sir George Grey, and it is now in the Art Gallery of Auckland. I found also a beautiful carved box, containing a greenstone image, called hei tiki, which I still have. I told the Captain, to frighten him, if he told anyone he had been in this sacred spot he might lose his life, and moreover they might seize his ship.
As we were leaving I observed deep down a crevasse something like a coffin. A rata tree had sent its roots down towards it. I gave my rifle to the Captain to hold while I scrambled down the root. The coffin, or long box, was on a ledge of rock, and a small stream trickled below. I swung the root to get my foot on the box, and managed to do so, when the lid started up, and for the instant I imagined I saw a figure of a man, but it disappeared. I must have been mistaken, but really I saw the moko and face and a stout body. A belt of kiekie, which had been round him when placed in the box or coffin was still there, standing up showing what a huge man he must have been. All about was a huge Golgotha, a sacred burial place of the Ngatitoro tribe. I again urged the Captain to be careful not to say anything about the day's discovery.
When we reached the creek the tide was out, but this small creek was unknown to me. I
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found out afterwards it was called Kapa Ti, a sacred creek, up which the bones and bodies of the dead were brought at night in a small canoe. These canoes were always left at the landing place, and we saw such a lot of them; the lower ones decaying and the top ones more or less sound.
We now, at least John White and I, knew where we were, and we kept in the forest, and when near the river we went up hill so as to come out on the track we entered. The box I got I put into the basket, or kit, and tied or overlapped my handkerchief round it to conceal it, and when I got to Te Mata put it into my trunk, which had been brought from Wairere with the other et ceteras, when my brother removed from his place.
He could do nothing while fighting was going on, for all his Maoris had gone to fight Heke, and no one could tell when it would end or how it might spread, for the Maoris dearly love fighting.
The Osprey sloop of war came into the harbour on the evening I arrived, and addressed a letter to Mr. Russell, announcing an intention of attacking the pa of the Ihutae tribe, close to Kohu Kohu, where Mr. Russell resided. Captain Patten, who commanded, was a headstrong individual, and had he carried out his intention it would have placed the lives of all the settlers in jeopardy.
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Mr. Russell called the settlers together, and a letter was prepared and sent on board to the Captain, to the effect that Nene and Heke had both declared Hokianga neutral ground, and it would be most imprudent for the commander of one of Her Majesty's ships to jeopardise the settlers' lives and property by such action as he proposed.
He did not attack the pa, and we heard no more about it.
I have that letter before me now, which I copied before it was sent on board, dated 16th January, 1846.
St. Aubyn, my brother, and myself, as well as other settlers, appended their names to the letter in reply to the Captain's threat. St. Aubyn showed me a letter he got from Captain Beckham, an official at Kororareka, saying that no assistance could be given by the Government in the way of help, and advised all the settlers to form a camp and protect themselves, but there was no necessity whatever, for the Maoris would respect the compact between Heke and Nene.
As I intended going to the front again, St. Aubyn kindly allowed me to retain his rifle.
In October, 1845, Fitzroy was recalled, and Captain G. Grey took his place as Governor. Heke now abandoned his pa near Omapere Lake, and went to his stronghold at Ohaeawai.
Captain Patten with his ship left for Auckland, and got every information of Heke's new
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pa at Ohaeawai. It was enormously strong. At every corner was what otherwise would be a tower, faced with flax and projecting outwards, so that they could take any party assaulting in the flank.
Nene shifted his pa to the Ahuahu, a rather high hill, it being also an extinct crater. The cone was perfect, and very deep scoria walls were all about. These had enclosed old Maori cultivations. There were traces of old pas, but all hidden with tall fern. Nene improvised a hasty stockade against surprise. Taonui joined, as did Mohi Tawhai with his men also.
We heard that Heke with a large force intended to try conclusions with Nene and the others. If he could beat them, he would have only the soldiers to meet at Ohaeawai.
Nene had not been able to strengthen his pa, as he had returned from fighting the Kapotai. They burned the pa belonging to that party, and killed all their pigs, at the Bay of Islands. It was the Kapotai tribe who killed Hauraki, a young chief who was brother-in-law of Maning, who wrote "Old New Zealand."
Heke mustered nearly a thousand men, and was nearly surprised in his indifferently erected pa. It was left for Taonui to defend.
Nene had more than 500 men altogether, but he was a great force in himself. Had it not been for an old woman, who went out at break of day to gather firewood the pa might have been taken with great slaughter on both sides.
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I followed Nene. His brother Patuone remained with Te Taonui to defend the pa, which was assaulted by Te Kahakaha, a renowned warrior.
I could see little through the smoke to fire at. Men began to drop here and there. Loading and firing continued. I noticed John Marmon in the fray. There was little or no shouting, but a continuous rattle of musketry. Before I had fired off my twelve shots (a cartridge box full) Heke's men had retreated. They were so close together that they suffered most. Marmon got behind a scoria wall and killed one of Heke's men and brought his musket into camp.
After all was over, some of Heke's men were tomahawked. Waka Nene seemed everywhere exhorting his men, "Kia toa," (be brave) was called out on our side.
More than once Heke's men charged us, but we were in possession of a long scoria wall, and they had more than double the men killed that we had.
Meanwhile Te Kahakaha had been fighting the defenders of the pa, aided by Te Whare-papa and his tribe, the Ihutae. (It was the pa of the Ihutae that Captain Patten intended attacking when objected to by Mr. Russell and others).
Te Kahakaha fell in front of the attacking party. His body was carried away by three Hokianga men of Heke's forces. One of them I
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knew well. His name was Hoao, belonging to Motukaraka.
After that the soldiers arrived at Te Waimate. I went with Nene to see them. They were under Colonel Despard. They occupied some houses that had been given up to them. They had tents also and field guns.
I forgot to mention that Heke also was badly wounded, and taken to Torotoro, where the Mission people attended to his wounds. After which he went to Ohaeawai, where many men were strengthening the pa, which had originally belonged to Pene Taui, a man I knew well also, but an adherent of Heke.
The pa was made very strong, great posts of hardwood sunk six feet in the ground, which would stop any ball from the guns I saw with the troops.
I think I have already described this pa at Ohaeawai.
When at Waimate, Nene arranged with Colonel Despard that he would leave Ahu Ahu the same morning that the troops left, and would occupy a commanding position on the range above the pa.
We started before daylight, and travelled for some miles. It had been my first journey in this direction. A number of men and women followed with potatoes and a few pigs for provisions.
It was evident to me our party knew the country well, for there was no hesitation at any
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time as to the road we were to take. Just as day was dawning we stopped, and I was told Heke's pa was just over the hill. We soon could hear the tetere (bugle) of the troops afar off, which annoyed Nene, and he called for about fifty men to go with him to the top of the hill to see what Heke was doing (or rather those within the pa, for Heke had not yet and never did recover from his wound). When we got to the top of the Hill we saw the Maoris driving their pigs into the pa.
We were all lying down at that time, peering in the dim light of early morning. Suddenly Nene called in a loud voice, "Whakatika" (arise) and I soon knew what for. It was a haka, a war dance, and soon they went helter-skelter down the hill, which was very steep on that side. I followed but more gingerly, as I did not see my way as yet. Soon I heard a cannon shot from the pa. Having no round shot they had loaded the gun with broken bullock chains, which made an awful clatter, going through the air. Our people secured half a dozen pigs, and brought them to the top of the hill. By this time the rest of our party had come up from where we first halted, and commenced to fell trees and make a pa. The pigs captured were killed and preparations under Rutu (Nene's wife) were made on the top of the hill for a hangi and bush wood collected for the fire. There were sufficient stones about for the oven. I don't know
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whether I have described a hangi before, but I will now do so. A hole is made in the ground, and a fire lit in it. Stones are placed on top, and when heated sufficiently they are taken out or whipped out rather, by a long stick, for they are nearly red hot. The hangi is now lined with fern or any other green leaves, and kumaras, meat and potatoes, or whatever is to be cooked, placed in the hot ground. The hot stones are laid amongst the meat, and all covered with an old mat, usually, but, failing that, with more green leaves or fern. Then the earth is heaped over all and a calabash of water poured over the the hangi, which raises steam sufficient for cooking purposes. In half an hour or longer if it is a big hangi, the earth is carefully removed, and the cooked meat is put into baskets made of the flax plant (korari) and served out. Meat cooked in this fashion is sweet and wholesome.
Daylight now was with us. Nene had got a long pole, and hoisted the British Ensign, and everyone was busy felling timber to make a stockade. There was no fear of an attack from the front, for the Hill was very steep, and the back only required to be staked.
We still heard the tetere at intervals, calling a halt when crossing creeks or other impediment. We had anticipated the troops by some hours. Arama Karaka and Mohi Tawhai were with the soldiers, and picked out a hollow immediately in front of Heke's pa. Here the troops encamped. They were invisible from the
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pa of Heke, except perhaps, from the corner of the pa, where look-outs were posted.
Several tents were pitched, a large one for Colonel Despard and smaller ones for the troops. Blue Jackets from H.M.S. Hazard came a day or two after, under Lieutenant Phillpots, who was a great favourite with the Maoris. I forget how many guns the Despard had, but they were too light to be effective in making a breach. It took a few days to select positions for the guns.
Mr. F. C. Maning joined us on Nene's Hill. In a day or two after the troops arrived the guns were placed in position in front of the pa, not, as Maning and I expected, to make a breach.
Two of these guns were brought up to Nene's camp. They were hauled up by the soldiers, and began to fire down on the pa, but with no result. If the larger of the guns had been placed so as to keep up an angle fire on the pa, in time, no doubt, a breach would have been made to allow a storming party to get inside. To Maning and me it seemed a childish way of acting. We heard that Despard was of the opinion that by firing all over the front of the pa it would loosen the fastenings and allow a storming party to tear it down. Why, any damage done was repaired every night.
We heard that Heke was still with Te Atua Wera, and a large following at Tautoro, the missionaries attending to his wound.
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Colonel Despard now got a 32 pounder ship's gun from the fleet at the Bay of Islands. This gun, if fired continuously at one spot of the pa, would soon have made a breach.
Nene had not quite finished the back of his pa, and one morning, about break of day, when every thing was still, suddenly a war cry was heard and a volley fired into Nene's camp. During the night the enemy had got into the forest and up to the back of our unfinished pa. We ran down the hill, but we saw no individual, for there was a dense fog and a dense forest as well in our rear, so we had to get out as soon as possible. A soldier in charge of the guns was killed, and a son of Mr. George Clarke, a missionary, was wounded. He had acted as interpreter to Colonel Despard. F. E. Maning and I had always our rifles by our side when we slept, and we secured them before we tumbled down hill. I fell several times before I got to the bottom.
Major Bridge retook the hill the same day. Nene was not in the pa when Heke's men rushed it. He had been to see Arama Karaka to consult with him on what Despard was determined to do (assaulting the pa before a breach has been made) which Maoris and ourselves considered madness.
Nene offered to assault the pa in a different direction to where Despard intended operating, but the Colonel would not let him. It would have drawn many men away and there would have been less loss of life.
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Meanwhile, Maning, myself, and Nene went to interview Despard. We knew well the strength of the pa and its construction. Maning was spokesman, and commenced with-- "Sir, we hear that you intend assaulting the pa, and we have come to say that unless a breach is made it will cause great loss of life, and will fail." "What do you civilians know of the matter?" replied Despard.
Sir," said Maning, "we may not know much, but there is one that apparently knows less, and that is yourself."
Despard got very angry, and threatened to arrest us. Nene now enquired what the chief of the soldiers was saying. Maning told him. "He tangata kumare tene tangata." What does the chief say, Despard enquired of his interpreter (I think Meurant was the interpreter's name). He scratched his head, and said it is not complimentary. "But I order you, sir," said Despard. "The chief says you are a very stupid person," then replied Meurant.
It was impossible to make any impression on the man who had so many fine young fellows' lives in his hands, and he was prepared to sacrifice them through mere obstinacy.
We returned to our hill, and nothing was done for a day or so. Maning always took up a position at the back of a dead puriri tree, and I against the earth thrown up to protect the two small brass guns. Despard had now got from Bay of Islands a 32 pounder gun, and erected
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Troops and Natives under Nene before Ohaeawai Pah.
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it at the base of our hill, and fired at the pa. We could see the splinters flying after each shot, and had he continued he could have made a breach without doubt. Next day my rifle got very foul, and wanted washing out badly. I put it alongside Maning's tree, and went to sit on the embrasure where the guns were.
Maning and I never fired except when we saw steam rising in the pa, when we knew some Maoris were there getting the food out of the hangi (Maori ovens). I was unable to fire until I had cleaned my gun as already mentioned. A few bullets were always flying about. For the first time a bullet carried my cap away, and for the moment stunned me. It made only a small abrasion on my scalp. I picked my cap up and went into Nene's hut and told I had ceased firing as my gun was foul and I could not get the bullet down the barrel.
Dr. Thomson had meanwhile come up the hill, and asked Maning for a shot. "Wait until you see steam rising," said Maning, and entered into conversation with the doctor about wounds received by the Maoris. There can be no doubt, said the doctor, that Maoris will recover from wounds that would be speedily fatal to Europeans. He took up my gun at Maning's permission, with the result that he was knocked down by the explosion, as the charge was only half way down.
Colonel Despard, in spite of all advice, determined to storm the pa. Maning and I
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went down and found the soldiers preparing shields of flax leaves to block bullets--a stupid thing to do. These were made of a frame of ti-tree with flax leaves outside, and were about 4 x 3 feet, but all were abandoned in the actual assault.
This assault was made on a corner of the pa which was nearest the bush, and which had scarcely been fired at. The party, which consisted of volunteers, was under the command of Captain Grant and Lieutenant Beattie, the bluejackets under Lieutenant Phillpotts.
The bugle sounded the charge, and the party rushed out of the bush towards the pa. Meanwhile the Maoris were firing under the pekerangi, or false front, and our men were dropping.
The result was the death of Grant and Beattie and Phillpotts, and a number of soldiers and sailors. The party was compelled to retreat without having succeeded in the least.
During the night an agonised cry was heard from the pa. The soldiers considered it was one of their number who was being tortured, but I am convinced it was the wailing of the women, who had lost some of their friends, as hitherto the war had been carried on in the most chivalrous manner.
Next morning the soldiers sent a party to ask for the bodies of their dead, and were allowed until noon to take them away. The following night the howling of dogs was heard in the pa,
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and some of Nene's people considered that the natives had deserted it. A quiet entrance was made, and this proved to be the case, an old woman who was asleep being found the only person remaining inside.
Phillpott's body was found with part of the scalp taken off, and a war cry was danced on the occasion.
"Tenei te riri te riri nei,
Tenei te toa nei te toa,
Ka whati kau ana te ngaru ki Kororareka,
Te tai ki Tokerau,
Tua hoki ra ki taku ringa, E nau ana
Te upoko o te kauaua i te riri--na!"
"Here's the battle raging,
The warriors being brave, the warriors being brave,
The waves dash unheeded on the beach of Kororareka, on the beach of Kororareka.
Behold in my hand I have the head of the hawk that fell in the angry battle."
The bodies of the rank and file, Beattie, Phillpotts, and Grant were finally taken to Waimate, and there buried, with tombstones afterwards erected over them.
The soldiers now pulled down and burnt the greater part of the pa, but found much of the palisading too huge to be torn up.
Heke was still at Tautoro, under the care of the missionaries for his wound, from which he never recovered.
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In the meantime Kawiti had gone to Ruapekapeka, and built a pa there. A dense forest was in front of it, which had to be cut away before the troops could be brought up to its face.
Charles de Thierry and I went over. On our way we rested at a creek near Waimate to partake of refreshments, and heard voices of people approaching. These proved to be Heke's people, who also rested, and we had to conceal ourselves until they left. We travelled near the Kawakawa estuary, and came to a pa of friendly natives, the chief of whom was Tamati Puketutu. From there a military road was being made up to Ruapekapeka. I had a letter to deliver to Captain Grey from St. Aubyn. On reaching the camp a sentry was pacing in front of his raupo hut. On asking for the Governor, the sentry thrust his head into the only doorway shouting, "You're wanted, sir." Captain Grey came out, and I gave him the letter.
He enquired how things were at Hokianga. I said the missionaries and their families were all leaving, and that they had taken all their belongings with them, their church and bell also.
This seemed to annoy Captain Grey, and he thought they were very foolish. After giving him other news, he asked me to join the interpreters' party, but I declined, as I had arranged to go to Auckland in the Government brig Victoria. Meanwhile I noticed that Grey
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sighted one of the guns in action, and he was like a volunteer under Despard.
The guns were of course muzzle loaders. After the charge of powder had been rammed home the ball was lifted up by two men and also rammed home. A very clumsy process it was as compared with that of to-day. They kept firing day and night, rockets as well as cannon. These made a great display at night as the course was perfectly plain. The rocket-tubes were fired from a palisading erected in a ravine, not far from the pa. Mortars were also fired from the same spot.
St. Aubyn, who had appeared on the scene to see his friends, returned with me to the Bay of Islands, where we went through the fleet, which consisted of the North Star, Calliope, Hazard, and Elphinstone, and were treated in the usual hospitable manner by the officers and crew. We heard that the pa had been taken on Sunday, the 6th January, 1846. In the meantime Waka Nene interviewed the Governor, and advised him not to take any of the native land as an utu for misdeed. The Governor fully assented. I saw little of the casualties at Ruapekapeka, but my friend, Wi Repa, had three of his fingers amputated one day, a midshipman had a hole made through both his cheeks, and two Maoris were killed near a waterhole.
The Government brig arrived, and I went on board her and sailed for Auckland, the Hokianga Wesleyan Missionaries, Messrs. Hobbs
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and Woon with their families being fellow passengers.
This ends my account of Heke's war, in which I had taken a constant part at Okaihau, Ahuahu and Ohaeawai at least. As far as the natives were concerned the war was conducted with great chivalry, the greatest consideration being shown towards the wounded. Very different indeed from the war of the later sixties, where no consideration or quarter was shown. I was then a young man, and the adventure and incidents of that stirring time were such as to be most congenial and exciting, and further developed in me a love for the old native character at its best.
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