1887 - Gudgeon, T. W. The Defenders of New Zealand - [Pages 78-101]

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  1887 - Gudgeon, T. W. The Defenders of New Zealand - [Pages 78-101]
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Land purchases for the Government--Resident Magistrate for Central Wanganui--Tribal warfare--The attack on Puketekauere--Graphic account of the engagement.

JOHN WHITE, for many years Resident Magistrate at Wanganui, came out to this colony in its very earliest days, and took up his residence at Hokianga until Heke's war compelled him to move to Auckland. He was present with Colonel Wynyard, the then Deputy-Governor, at a meeting of the chiefs at Coromandel, when that district was first proclaimed a goldfield, and received his appointment as Gold Commissioner, under Major Heaphy, V.C. Soon afterwards, he was appointed interpreter and land purchaser, under Surveyor-General Ligar, and purchased for the Government the district now known as Waitakerei, and obtained from the natives a deed of gift of two chains in width, from the head of the Waitemata River to Helensville, for the present Helensville railway. He also succeeded in extinguishing the native title over most of the land in the Auckland district. Being appointed Resident Magistrate of Central Wanganui, he soon made himself acquainted with the native chiefs, attending all their meetings and instructing them in English laws, etc., opening his court, and deciding their disputes so satisfactorily that even Hemi Hape, the rebel chief, who had headed the natives in the former raid on Wanganui, gave in his adherence to the Government. General Cameron had now arrived at Wanganui, and having taken up his quarters at Waitotara, gave Mr. White orders to inform the rebel natives up the river that if they made their appearance below the island of Moutoa they would be fired upon by the friendly natives who were protecting the river. But Epanaia and his party, taking no notice of the warning, came down the river and, firing on the friendly Maoris, killed Nape. A regular fight ensued, in which the rebels were beaten back, many of them being killed, and the remainder taken prisoners. As Resident Native Magistrate, Mr. White was instructed to discover, and report to the General commanding, the movements and intentions of the rebel natives, which he did very successfully.

Mr. White was also present at the attack on Puketekauere, at Taranaki, and his report of this battle being the best given, I quote it verbatim. He says:--"We had been stationed at Waitara for

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some time when Mr. Richard Brown, in passing on his way to town, was waylaid by a Maori servant of his, and mortally wounded. The camp was situated on the south bank of the river, about a thousand yards from its mouth, on rising ground, while Puketekauere lay about half a mile inland on a sugar-loaf shaped hill. The pa was about an acre in extent, surrounded with an embankment, and a fence about ten feet in height. The hill all around was covered with high fern. On the south was a deep, swampy valley, covered with soft grass and fern, and on the south-east a narrow strip of dry land, connecting the pa with the mainland, also covered with high fern. The day before we made the attack on the pa, we noticed that the natives had, in a valley between us and the pa, built up some fences. While in the act of destroying these, one of our men's rifle burst, in consequence of a Maori bullet entering the barrel, just as he had pulled the trigger. A council of war was held, and it was determined to attack the position. Colonel Gold was to leave the township, marching overland, so as to join us by five o'clock in the morning. One half of our force was to take up a position on the river bank side of the pa, whilst the other half were to attack on the inland side. This party consisted of 175 soldiers and sailors, under command of Captain Seymour and Captain Nelson, of the 40th Regiment. We left camp about two o'clock in the morning on a miserable drizzling day, Sergeant Margorem having charge of our one gun--the twelve-pounder. About a quarter of a mile from the camp our party divided--one half going off to the left, the other half continuing on the main road to the pa. Having taken up our position on the south side of the valley, we there waited for daylight and for the force under Colonel Gold, which was expected to join us. We had been seen from the pa, and had been fired upon, and we found our men on the north side of the pa returning the fire. The shots fell thick amongst us, as we held a position on a hill about three hundred and fifty yards from the pa, the only position from which the pa could be seen. As the fire from the pa became hot, we returned it, when an old chief left the pa, walking down the narrow strip of land described as joining the swamp to the mainland, and although some of our shots fell close to him, he did not seem to take the slightest notice. Reaching the valley, we soon found the fern alive with the rebels intending to attack our right. The twelve-pounder opened on them with canister and grape, which soon dispersed them. I was standing near to Captain Seymour when a rifle ball cut a piece off a bullock's horn which was attached to the gun, and one of the artillerymen was shot in the stomach, and dropped dead within a few yards of me. Soon afterwards, Captain Seymour was hit in the thigh, and taking off his neck-tie bound up the wound. In doing so he said, 'By all that's good, do not let it be known that I am wounded,' and took no further notice of his injury, save that now and then he bit his lip in silence as he moved about to give his orders. Just then, we perceived, in the direction of the Hui range, a large body of natives coming to the

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support of the rebels, and as our men on the bank of the river were not able to get near the pa, and could not seethe enemy coming, they were soon surrounded and cut off from us. Some of them fell fighting to the last, while others were driven up the river and killed or drowned. The wounded with our party included a midshipman, whose hand was smashed, and a soldier, who had a ball in his left breast. They were taken charge of by me and another soldier, and taken to the camp. On the way we met another wounded man, who had his ankle broken, and after reaching the camp we went back to assist him. For thirty-six hours before the battle, I had not time to eat, and I had no sooner seen the wounded safe in the hospital than I swooned away, and was laid up for ten days."

Since the war, the New Zealand Government has entrusted Mr. White with the onerous duty of writing a complete history of the Maori race, and from his knowledge of the native customs and language, it will probably become a standard work.


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How he won the New Zealand Cross--The siege of Ngatapa--Hair-breadth escapes.

SERGEANT RICHARD SHEPHERD, of the Armed Constabulary, obtained the New Zealand Cross for distinguished bravery at Otauto, the 13th March, 1869, while holding the ground close to the encampment, and enabling a close reconnaissance to be made by Major Kepa and the colonel commanding. Sergeant Shepherd was dangerously wounded on this occasion. The bullet entered at the left side of the jaw, passing under the tongue and out of the right side of neck, within a hairbreadth of the jugular vein. Sergeant Shepherd was entrusted with this important duty by Colonel G.S. Whitmore (now Sir George), and told to hold the narrow path leading to the Maori encampment until relieved by Colonel Lyon, who was expected up in a short time with a portion of the held force. Of the six volunteers who were along with him, three of them were shot through the head. Corporal Guthrie was struck in the mouth by a spent bullet, knocking out two of his teeth, and he coolly put his fingers into his mouth and pulled out the bullet. A young man named Langford was in the act of firing when a bullet passed through the wrist of his left hand, then cutting off two fingers of his right hand, and finally entering his right breast and passing out under the shoulder-blade. It was all but a hand-to-hand conflict. There were three killed and four wounded out of the seven.

When Te Kooti made his escape from the Chatham Islands, and landed at Poverty Bay, Sergeant Shepherd was along with No. 1 Division in their long chase after him; and when the arch-rebel and his followers entrenched themselves in the Ngatapa Pa, Sergeant Shepherd was selected as the officer to take charge of ten men who were appointed to hold a narrow ridge at the back of the pa, it being the only place where there was a possibility of the Maoris making their escape. The position this party occupied was on a hill at the back of the pa, and situated about twenty yards from the enclosure. Amongst the party was Solomon Black, Whaponga (a Maori), and Barry Reid, who also got the New Zealand Cross for gallant services. This party had their work cut out, as they were constantly exposed to a galling fire

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from the Maoris. The only cover they had was a small breastwork of stones, and about a foot deep of a trench they dug out with bayonets and tomahawks. They held this position from the 1st of January to the morning of the 5th, when the pa was taken by the besieging forces. On the fourth day, the men were worn out with their long watch, and some of them left the trench to get refreshed by having a good wash. The Maoris, taking advantage of the weakened state of the place, to the number of about twenty, made a sortie, and killed two of the party and wounded one. Sergeant Shepherd had a very narrow escape on this occasion, as the shoulder-knot was shot off his coat, and a bullet tore the skin off his forefinger and thumb. During the fight he reached out his hand to prevent a wounded man from falling down the cliff, and when he looked up a big Maori was standing with his rifle to his shoulder and the muzzle within about three feet of the Sergeant's body. He fully expected his time had come, as he could plainly see a line from the fore-sight along the barrel and over the backsight to the rebel's eye, and if the Maori had fired a period would have been put to his existence; but Sergeant Flowers, of the Poverty Bay Scouts, had come upon the scene just at the critical moment, and, by a shot from his revolver, laid the Maori low.

The following letter and memorandum show that Sergeant Shepherd did good service during the war, and also that the training he received in Her Majesty's 68th Light Infantry was not lost upon him:--

"SIR,--Under instructions from the Honourable Native Minister, I have the honour to inform you that His Excellency the Governor has been pleased to award you the New Zealand Cross for gallant services rendered by you during the late war.
"W. MOULE, Lieut.-Colonel.
"Mr. R. SHEPHERD, late Sergeant
"Armed Constabulary Force."

"WELLINGTON, 14th August, 1870.
"Sergeant Shepherd served under my command in the Armed Constabulary from the first raising of No. 1 division, and was only discharged on account of a very severe and painful wound, which he received at Otauto, near Patea, on the 13th March, 1869. The Sergeant was always a steady, civil, well-conducted man, and a brave, smart, and willing soldier. I have seen him on several occasions under fire, and have known him to distinguish himself upon many occasions.
"G.S. WHITMORE, Colonel, late Commanding Field Force."


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Herford's bravery at Orakau--He is shot in the head while assaulting the pa--Remarkable recovery and sudden death.

MAJOR HERFORD, in 1863, when the New Zealand Government sent officers to Australia to raise men to serve in the Waikato, was practising as a barrister, in South Australia, and being full of the love of adventure, threw up his practice and, raising a company, joined the 3rd Waikato Regiment, in which he was gazetted captain. He subsequently joined the Transport service and was sent to the front within a week of his arrival at Te Awamutu. The Maoris, under Rewi Maniapoto, were discovered entrenching themselves at Orakau. Captain Herford at once applied for, and received from the general in command, permission to join the storming party. The pa was much stronger than was anticipated, the consequence being that most of the officers and a number of the men comprising the storming party fell under the withering fire of an unseen enemy, and the first rush of our men was beaten off by the rebels. Major Herford, however, with Lieutenant Harrison and a few of the Transport men, would not give way, and bursting through the light outer palisading surrounding the pa, rushed into the great inner trench and endeavoured to scramble up the embankment. It was an act of splendid but unavailing bravery; for while vainly struggling to clamber up the steep sides of the trench, Major Herford was shot by a Maori who, for a moment, stood on the top of the parapet just above him. The bullet entered his skull, just above the eyebrow, and he fell apparently dead. His comrades carried his body to the rear, out of the enemy's fire, and the surgeon proceeded to examine him, but, upon seeing an apparently lifeless body with a bullet-hole in the forehead, naturally concluded that it was a case beyond his skill, and did not hesitate to say so. Very soon after, however, Herford showed signs of life, and opening his uninjured eye, recognised some of those around him. He subsequently, to all appearance, recovered, was promoted to the rank of major, when he suffered a sudden relapse, and died in great suffering. A post mortem disclosed the remarkable fact that the bullet was still in his head, having traversed round to the back of the skull, where its irritating presence had caused a fatal abscess to form.

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Taranaki settlers summoned to arms--The battle of Waireka--Attack on Mimi Pa--Battle of Mahoetahi--Engagement at Allen's Hill--Amusing incident at Stoney River--Wreck of the steamer Alexandra--The White Cliffs massacre.

CAPTAIN MESSENGER, with most of the younger settlers of Taranaki, perceiving the warlike disposition of the natives around them, had formed themselves into a company of volunteers years before the outbreak, determined to prepare themselves for the defence of their homes in the fight for supremacy which had only been delayed by the Government of the day acceding to the demands of the natives and bribing them with costly presents. When the threatened outbreak did take place, therefore, William Messenger, who had done duty as full private and sergeant, was made ensign of the Taranaki Militia, promoted to the rank of lieutenant on the 4th December, 1862, made captain on 27th July, 1863, and sub-inspector of Armed Constabulary on the 2nd December, 1877, when he was placed in command of the post at White Cliffs, where he has been stationed ever since. His own account of the events as they occurred at Taranaki is so lucid that I give it verbatim.

He says that he joined the volunteer force in consequence of the uneasy feeling of the settlers with regard to native matters, about June, 1858, as a private, was elected sergeant in 1859, and at the outbreak of hostilities in 1860 received a commission as ensign in the Taranaki Militia. After assisting in building the stockade at Omata, a village about three miles out of New Plymouth, he was ordered into town to assist in putting it into a state of defence. He marched with the militia and volunteers, under Major Stapp, to the relief of the Rev. H.H. Brown, on the 28th March, 1860, which led to the first battle (Waireka). In this engagement he was under the immediate command of Captain Charles Brown. It is a fact, perhaps not generally known, that the militia in that engagement were armed only with the old Brown Bess muskets; the volunteers had rifles, but many of the members having just joined, were ignorant of the sighting of the weapons placed in their hands. Messenger was near Lieutenant Urquhart, of the 65th, about four o'clock in the afternoon, when the "retire" sounded. The fire was very heavy at the time, and not until it had sounded three times

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and an order arrived for Lieutenant Urquhart to retire at once, did this brave officer leave the field. On leaving he said to the volunteers, "Well, I suppose I must go," and he took his men back across the gully to where the main body of his regiment were. Only a few minutes elapsed before the natives swarmed down the gully, cutting off the retreat of the militia and volunteers, and Captain Brown sent a messenger to warn a party under Captain Webster, who were carrying wounded to the rear, that the road was blocked, consequently a position was taken up round a house and some low hills and held until long after dark. Some of the men had only two or three rounds of ammunition left and had to husband it with great care, only firing when a native came too near. Just after dark they heard shouting and saw flashes in the direction of the pa on Waireka Hill, where the main body of natives were. Captain Messenger continues: "Major Stapp had a portion of our rough defences pulled down and preparations were made for going to assist in the assault (it turned out afterwards that it was an attack on the pa by the sailors from Her Majesty's ship Niger, guided by my two brothers, Charles and Edward, and F. Mace), but as the firing suddenly ceased, Major Stapp was, I believe, doubtful whether it might not be a ruse to draw us out. Volunteer Coad offered to go by himself and find out what was going on, but was not allowed to do so. As soon as we had completed stretchers to carry the wounded we marched by the beach road, which the natives had left unguarded when the pa was attacked by the blue jackets. We reached the stockade at Omata without any other incident than an alarm, which turned out on closer inspection to be caused by some dead bodies of natives lying in the flax. We then marched back to town, meeting a body of troops who had been sent out to try and discover our whereabouts."

After this, Captain Messenger was stationed in town and at one or other of the small blockhouses in its vicinity, also at Bell Block stockade with a detachment of the 12th Regiment. Constant skirmishing went on. On one occasion he formed one of a small scouting party, Captain Queade and Dr. Lynch, of 12th Regiment, and Lieutenant Hammerton, Taranaki Volunteers, being with them; returning to camp, they were suddenly greeted with a sharp volley from a detachment of the 12th Regiment, who, surprised by their appearance, had mistaken them for a prowling party of natives. Luckily no one was hit, but there were many narrow escapes. While stationed here Major Nelson, 40th Regiment, marched up one day with a detachment from Waitara, and called for volunteers from Bell Block to assist in attacking the Mimi Pa. The natives were seen there in the morning and a red flag was still flying. The Major was on horseback, and had, a minute before, been soundly rating Corporal Bush, 40th Regiment, for neglecting to take cover, when he suddenly galloped up to the pa (which had the usual crooked entrance), dismounted, and ran in. Messenger was close behind him, and when he got in Major Nelson was quietly rolling the flag up, and tucking it under

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his arm. The pa, fortunately for him, was deserted. Captain Messenger was soon afterwards attached to the Taranaki Bush Rangers, a corps whose special duty it was to patrol the country, under Captains Atkinson and F. Webster. He was at the battle of Mahoetahi. The troops marched from town before daylight, and firing began as they were crossing the river. They had orders to charge the hill--an old site of a village with banks and ditches, which were occupied by the enemy, chiefly Ngatihaua, under Wetini Taiporutu. The regular troops advanced at the same time, they taking one end of the rise, and the colonial forces the other. The natives stood their ground well for a time, but were driven out. The colonial forces had two men killed (Volunteers Brown and Edgecombe), the 65th losing the same number. The natives left 37 men dead on the field, including their chief, Wetini Taiporutu. They carried off their wounded, while, with the Bush Rangers, they surprised an ambuscade party of Ngatiruanui, who were lying in wait for an escort from Bell Block; the chief of the Ngatiruanui party being killed in the skirmish that ensued. At the battle of Allen's Hill, where there were about eight hundred natives engaged, Colonel Warre, C.B., being in command of the regular troops, the natives made a stubborn fight, and repulsed the troops more than once. The Bush Rangers were sent for, and went at the double nearly all the way from town, about four-and-a-half miles. As they got near they could hear that the firing was very heavy, and at Waiuku Hill they met an orderly sent to hurry them up. Directly afterwards, Captain F. Mace, who was in command of the mounted corps, galloped up on the same errand. They marched through the line of wounded men, extended and relieved the skirmishers; but were not allowed to charge the position held by the natives, who soon retired, and the colonial troops were ordered back to town. One of the regular officers received a Victoria Cross for bravery at this engagement.

Captain Messenger was next appointed to command a company of military settlers who had arrived from Melbourne and was sent with 150 of these men, before they were served out with arms, and only a few days after they landed, to build a redoubt at Sentry Hill, under the protection of the military. They finished the redoubt in a few days, and were complimented by Colonel Warre on their work. After a short time spent in drilling his company, Captain Messenger was sent to occupy a redoubt at Manutahi, and afterwards commanded at the Poutoko Redoubt. On the taking of Kaitake Pa by the Bush Rangers, he was sent to occupy that station.

An amusing incident occurred at Stoney River, to which place a reconnaissance under Major Butler went from Tataraimaka. They had just formed camp, and, as an attack was threatened, outlying pickets, etc., were posted. The men had piled arms, and were busy getting their supper, the bullocks, which had been dragging the guns, etc., all day, having been turned out to graze (in most cases with their yokes on). The only fodder was ground tutu, a stunted

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growth of the ordinary tutu shrub (which drives cattle mad). Suddenly the brutes rushed the camp, staggering about apparently quite blind, knocking down rifles, capsizing billies of tea, causing tents to suddenly collapse, and playing havoc generally. It was a curious sight. At one spot would be seen a pair of huge bullocks, heels upwards, kicking furiously, with two or three drivers thrusting sharp-pointed sticks violently up their nostrils, blood spurting in all directions, this being supposed to be the only cure for a "tuted" bullock; while at another place some maddened animal was "running a muck" through the tents. A conspicuous figure in this curious scene was a noted bullock-driver named Jack Phillips, who, by-the-by, received a revolver with an inscription in silver on the handle, as a reward for his bravery in remaining with his team during a sudden attack from a native ambuscade. The commander, Major Butler, was in a very anxious state of mind, fearing that the force, in consequence of the misadventure described, would not have sufficient bullocks to bring away the guns, etc. However, by the morning most of the animals had sufficiently recovered (although several were left dead) to do the work required.

In 1864 Captain Messenger was ordered to Pukearuhe, White Cliffs. This post had just been occupied by the Bush Rangers and 70th Regiment, whom the colonial forces relieved, one company of the 70th, under Captain Ralston, remaining for a time. The men had plenty of work clearing a site and building a redoubt. The only means of supplying the post was by sea, and they were fortunately not molested by natives until some time later. Skirmishing began when the Imperial Government steamship Alexandra was wrecked on the beach about a mile from the redoubt. She was engaged to bring timber for a blockhouse and supplies for the post, and running on a reef had a large hole knocked in her bottom. Being an iron ship she would have sunk in deep water if Captain Williams had not headed her for the beach at once. As it was, she filled and sank just as her bows touched the sand. The natives came down from Mokau to plunder the vessel and constant skirmishes took place. Captain Messenger remained at White Cliffs until his company of military settlers were placed on their land, and it was while living on the land allotted to him that the massacre of the Rev. J. Whiteley, Lieutenant Gascoigne and family, and two of his company of military settlers named Milne and Richards, occurred. A short time before this a communication had been sent to him by the Government stating that from certain information received, there was reason to believe that the Ngatimaniapoto natives intended to attack some one of the outposts, either in Waikato or the White Cliffs, and that the settlers, not being on pay, were to use their own judgment as to remaining on their land; also requesting him to make the people acquainted with this notice. The blockhouse at White Cliffs had been for some time without any garrison, a half-caste from Urenui Redoubt, ten miles distant, being sent up once a week to White Cliffs, apparently to ascertain whether any of the out-settlers were killed or not, but not a man was sent to garrison the post.

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Things went on in this way for some weeks, when on the afternoon of Saturday, the 28th February, 1869, the Rev. J. Whiteley called at Captain Messenger's house, on his way to the Cliffs to hold service the next day. As it was raining he was pressed to stay the night, but did not do so. He rode away, and was shot dead immediately on his arrival at the redoubt by a party of natives belonging to the rebellious Ngatimaniapoto tribe, from Mokau, among whom the good old man had spent some years of his life as a missionary. This was the taua or war party that the Government had been warned about, and which had decided to make Pukearuhe their point of attack. They had arrived at Pukearuhe early in the day, and the main body had concealed themselves in the creek below the redoubt, while a few, armed with spears and tomahawks under their mats, induced one of the settlers, Milne, to accompany them to the beach to bargain for some pigs, when he was struck on the head, from behind, with a tomahawk, and fell dead. Richards was then led to his death in the same way. Lieutenant Gascoigne was in his garden, with his wife and children, some little distance from the redoubt. Hearing himself called, he came, carrying one of the children. Just as he reached his own door, he was struck from behind, and fell stunned. His head was immediately split open with an axe. The child was also killed, his wife and the remaining children being killed on their arrival at the house. It was some time after their massacre that Mr. Whiteley arrived. Meanwhile, the natives had ransacked the place for arms, ammunition, and valuables. When the Rev. Mr. Whiteley and his horse were killed, some of the war party became "pouri," and it was decided to return home, instead of, as at first intended, going as far as Urenui and killing all the settlers on the way. So, after setting fire to the blockhouse and other houses, and cutting down the flagstaff, they retired. The next day (Sunday) was very wet. On Monday, the two half-castes, McClutchy and Coffee, whose duty it was to make periodical visits to Pukearuhe, arrived from Urenui, saying they had been sent by Captain Good to ask Captain Messenger if anything was wrong at the Cliffs. The Captain advised them to go on and see, which they refused to do. So, after exacting a promise from them to stay until his return, and in case he did not come back, to see his wife and children safe to Urenui, he started on horseback. Before reaching the Cliffs, however, he met a man who had been told by one of the military settlers, named Skinner, that he had been on his way to the redoubt, and had seen a dead body on the road, and that the blockhouse was burnt. Captain Messenger, after assisting all the settlers over the river Mimi to Urenui, then tried, without success, to induce some of the native contingent to accompany him back to the Cliffs. He remained at Urenui until the arrival of an armed party, under Major Stapp, with whom he went to the Cliffs, and recovered the bodies. The Rev. J. Whiteley lay where he had fallen on his face, with seven bullet wounds in his body, his watch

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and coat being taken away. Mr. and Mrs. Gascoigne and family were put all together in a shallow pit, and slightly covered with earth. The two other men lay where they had fallen. Captain Messenger received the thanks of the Government for his conduct on this occasion.

After this melancholy tragedy, Captain Messenger was placed on duty under Captain Good, at Urenui, for a short time, when he was sent to Huirangi in command of a party of militia engaged in building a blockhouse at Te Arie. When that was completed, he was ordered to proceed, as second in command, with an expedition consisting of Armed Constabulary, Bush Rangers, and native contingent, to assist in the capture of Titokowaru, at Ngatimaru; but, on reaching Mataitawa, the expedition was recalled. Captain Messenger was now despatched to Wai-iti, two miles from Pukearuhe, to take charge of a company of Bush Rangers, where he built a redoubt, being joined by a body of Armed Constabulary, who erected a redoubt about half a mile distant. While on patrol duty, with a portion of his company, he came across Te Wetere and a scouting party in the hills, and nearly succeeded in securing him. As it was, they got such a scare that they never again ventured to return to the district for the purpose of fighting. They broke two or three guns in rushing headlong down a steep hill, then scattered in the bush, and were some days in reaching home. Captain Messenger was next employed in charge of a working party or Armed Constabulary, sawing timber for building bridges over the Urenui and Mimi Rivers, making the approaches, etc, for which work, when completed, he received the thanks of the Government. Lastly, he was placed in command of the post at White Cliffs, with rank of sub-inspector, and is still stationed there.

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Service in the Imperial army--The campaign against Titokowaru.

COLONEL LYON, commanding officer of the Auckland district, was formerly an officer in the Coldstream Guards, one of Her Majesty's crack regiments; he afterwards, to obtain active service, exchanged, as captain, into the 92nd Highlanders, serving ten months with them in the Crimea. On the regiment returning to England, after the peace, he met with an accident while sporting, which caused the loss of his right arm, and retiring from the service, he came out to this colony to settle down to agricultural pursuits. But the Maori war breaking out soon after his arrival, the Government called upon him to take the command of a company of volunteers, and he was appointed adjutant of a battalion, under the command of Colonel Balneavis. He gained his majority in 1863, and commanding a wing of the 3rd battalion of Auckland Militia, was sent on special service with 150 men, composed of imperial and colonial troops, to the Wairoa, in August of that year, where, after repulsing the Maoris in an attack on his redoubt, he drove them, with considerable loss, from their position, for which service he received the thanks of Lieut.-General Sir Duncan Cameron, K.C.B., and Major-General Galloway, commanding the colonial forces, and was favourably mentioned in despatches. He was appointed Lieut.-Colonel of the 3rd regiment of the Waikato Militia in October, 1863, and took the command of an expeditionary force at Opotiki, in 1865, returning after some months to resume the command of the Waikato district.

In 1869 he was appointed to the command of the colonial field force, collected at Wanganui during the absence of Lieut.-Colonel Sir George Whitmore at Poverty Bay. On Colonel Whitmore's return he continued to serve under him as second in command during the whole of the campaign against Titokowaru, being present at the fight at Otauto and capture of Te Ngahiere. After the campaign he remained for some time in command at Patea, until ordered back to the Waikato.

During the twelve months' leave of absence granted to Colonel Moule to visit the home country, Colonel Lyon performed all his duties as Under-Secretary for Defence and Commissioner of Armed Constabulary.

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This brave and energetic officer has been on active service or outpost duty in New Zealand ever since the year 1860, and under fire so often that it would nearly lead one to suppose he had hitherto borne a charmed life.

The late differences existing between Russia and England which naturally, though unexpectedly, led to that spontaneous outburst of loyalty and offers of assistance from all Her Majesty's colonies throughout the globe, opened the eyes of hostile nations to the strength Great Britain could derive in case of need from her dependencies, and made them pause ere they forced a war upon us. Nevertheless, Her Majesty's colonial subjects at once saw their position, and taking the initiative, prepared to resist any invasion of their seaports, and Auckland--the principal port in New Zealand--a port of all others most liable to attack in case of war, was entrusted to Colonel Lyon to defend, one of the highest compliments the colony could bestow on so well tried a soldier.

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Gallant conduct at the capture of Rangiriri--A soldier's death--Tributes by Sir George Grey and General Cameron to his memory.

CAPTAIN MERCER, of the Royal Artillery, was despatched to this colony to assist in putting down the rebellion, and had not landed many months when the capture of Rangiriri (one of the strongest of the native fortifications, manned by many hundreds of Maori warriors) was made which resulted in the death of this beloved and much lamented officer. General Cameron, well aware of the strength of the Maori fighting pa, and having the character of a shrewd general, it has surprised many that he should have ordered so small a force as 36 artillerymen, and, after their repulse, 90 seamen, to assault so formidable a palisading, surrounded as it was by rifle-pits in every direction. Neither would it appear desirable to take thirty-six artillerymen from their guns to attempt a duty foreign to their calling. The attack on the pa, though eventually successful, resulted in the loss of many of our best and bravest troops, no less than 130 having been either killed or wounded in the attack, as will appear in General Cameron's report of the engagement to Sir George Grey, and the latter's reply, copied from the Gazette of the 30th November, 1863:--


"CAMP, RANGIRIRI, 24th November, 1863.
"SIR,--I have the honour to report to your Excellency that on the morning of the 20th instant I moved from Meremere with the force detailed in the margin (853 officers and men) up the right bank of the Waikato River, with the intention of attacking the enemy's entrenched position at Rangiriri, in which operation Commodore Sir William Wiseman, Bart., had arranged to co-operate with the Pioneer and Avon, steamers, and the four gunboats. The troops under my command and the steamers and gunboats arrived near Rangiriri at the same hour--3 p.m. The enemy's position consisted of a main line of entrenchment across the narrow isthmus which divides the Waikato River from Lake Waikare. This line had a double ditch and high parapet, and was strengthened at the centre (its highest point) by a square redoubt of very formidable construction. Behind the left centre of the main line and at right angles to it there was an entrenched line of rifle-pits parallel

to the Waikato river, and obstructing the advance of troops from that direction. On a reconnaissance made on the 18th, I had determined on landing a force in rear of the position simultaneously with attacking it in front, with the view of turning and gaining possession of a ridge 500 yards behind the main entrenchment, and thus intercepting the retreat of the enemy. With this object 300 men of the 40th Regiment were embarked in the Pioneer and Avon, to land on a preconcerted signal, at a point which I had selected. Unfortunately the strength of the wind and current was such that the Pioneer and Avon were unable to reach this point, notwithstanding the persevering efforts of Sir William Wiseman and the officers and men under his command. The same cause deprived us of the assistance of two of the gunboats. After shelling the position of the enemy for a considerable time from Captain Mercer's two 12-pounder Armstrongs, and the Naval 6-pounder, under Lieutenant Alexander, R. N., in which the two gunboats joined, and it being now nearly five o'clock, I determined not to wait any longer for the landing of the 40th from the steamers, and gave the word for the assault. This was brilliantly executed by the troops, who had to pass over a distance of 600 yards in the face of a heavy fire, the 65th Regiment leading and escalading the enemy's entrenchment on the left. After passing the main line of entrenchment, the troops wheeled to the left towards the enemy's centre, and came under fire of the line of rifle-pits facing the Waikato River. This they at once stormed and carried, driving the enemy before them to the centre redoubt, which they now defended with desperate resolution. While the troops were forcing their way over the parapet of the main line, as already described, I was glad to perceive that the 40th were landing sufficiently near the point I had indicated to enable them to carry and occupy the ridge in rear, and to pour a heavy fire on a body of the enemy, who were driven by them from that part of the position, and fled by the Waikare Swamp. In this part of the attack they were joined by a portion of the 65th Regiment detached from the main body after the latter had passed the main line of entrenchment. The troops who carried the main line being still checked by the fire from the centre redoubt, two separate assaults were made on this work--the first by 36 of the Royal Artillery, armed with revolvers and led by Captain Mercer; and the second by 90 seamen of the Royal Navy, armed in a similar manner and led by Commander Mayne, under the personal direction of Sir William Wiseman. Both attacks were unsuccessful on account of the formidable nature of the work, an 1 the overwhelming fire which was brought to bear on the assailants. An attempt was also made by a party of seamen under Commander Phillimore to dislodge the enemy with hand grenades thrown into the work. It being now nearly dark, I resolved to wait the return of daylight before undertaking further operations, the troops remaining in the several positions they had gained, in which they almost completely enveloped the enemy. Shortly after daylight on the 21st, the white flag was hoisted by the enemy, of whom 183 surrendered unconditionally, gave up their arms, and became prisoners of war. The exact strength and loss of the enemy I have been unable to ascertain, but he must have suffered severely. We buried 36 bodies, and there is no doubt a large number were shot or drowned in attempting to escape across the swamp at Waikare lake. Their wounded must have been removed during the night, as there were none among the prisoners. Our loss, necessarily severe in carrying so formidable a position, testifies to the gallantry of the troops I have the honour to command, and also, I am bound to say, to the bravery and determination of its defenders. I enclose a list of casualties. Your Excellency will observe that it includes a large proportion of officers, most of those who led in the different attacks being severely wounded.

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"It will afford me the highest gratification to report to the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for War, and to His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, the admirable conduct of the troops engaged on this occasion, and to bring to their special notice the names of those officers and men who more particularly distinguished themselves.--I have, etc.,
"D.A. CAMERON, Lieut.-General.
"His Excellency Sir GEORGE GREY, K.C.B."


"CAMP, RANGIRIRI, 26th November, 1863.
"Sir,--Since I closed my despatch of the 24th instant, I have received intelligence of the death of Captain Mercer, commanding Royal Artillery on this Station, from the effect of wounds received in the action of the 20th instant, whilst gallantly leading his men to an assault on the enemy's strongest work. I regard the loss of this able, zealous, and energetic officer at the present moment as a serious misfortune. Your Excellency having been intimately acquainted with Captain Mercer, and appreciating his noble character and many sterling qualities, will, I am confident, participate in the grief felt by myself and by the whole force, for the death of this invaluable officer. I have also to deplore the loss of another brave and excellent officer, Captain Phelps, 2nd Battalion 14th Regiment, who died in consequence of a wound received in the action of 20th instant.--I have, etc.,
"D.A. CAMERON, Lieut.-General.
"His Excellency Sir G. GREY, K.C.B."


AUCKLAND, 28th November, 1863.
"Sir,--I have directed that your despatch of the 26th instant, which I received in the night, should be published for general information, at the same time as your despatch of the 24th instant.
"I entirely enter into your feelings of grief for the loss of the brave officers and men who have fallen in obtaining a victory from which may be anticipated such great advantages for this country. I can assure you that very deep sorrow for the heavy loss sustained and for the sufferings of the wounded is felt throughout the entire community, who will, I am aware, in a fitting manner, express their debt of gratitude to yourself and the forces under your command.
"You must permit me, whilst expressing my own sorrow for the loss of Captain Mercer, Captain Phelps, Lieutenant Murphy, Mr. Watkin, and so many gallant men, to add that my intimate acquaintance with Captain Mercer has caused me in his case to feel very keenly the loss of an officer whose many excellent qualities I regarded with admiration and esteem.--I have, etc.,
"The Hon. Lieut.-General CAMERON, C.B."

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