MR. E. HAMLIN.
[Image of page 102]
MR. E. HAMLIN.
Mr. Hamlin at Omarunui--The Uriweras routed at Waikare.
THE late Mr. E. Hamlin took so active a part in the I late war that had I passed over his services, I should I have placed myself in the position of an imperfect chronicler. In the early part of 1863, Mr. E. Hamlin, from his knowledge of the Maori language and character, was attached to Sir Donald McLean, who valued his services highly and brought him before the notice of the Government on several occasions. He was selected by Sir Donald to carry his ultimatum to the Hauhaus, then assembled at Omarunui, just before their extermination. A temporary staff had been erected, on which a white flag was hoisted when Hamlin started with the message "that if, within one hour, they did not lay down their arms and surrender, they would be attacked." This was an extremely bitter pill for them, and the only reply that Hamlin could obtain was "that the time allowed was short." For some time the Maoris took no notice of Hamlin, but sat glowering in their whares. They were puzzled how to act. They did not intend to surrender, nor did they wish to fight just then. We had evidently, by taking the initiative, upset all their plans; for had Te Rangihiroa been ready to operate from the western spit, there would have been no hesitation shown, and Mr. Hamlin's life would probably have been sacrificed as an offering to Tu, the Maori god of war. Again at Ngatapa, Mr. Hamlin particularly distinguished himself, being one of the first men in the pa. He was all through the Poverty Bay troubles, and took a party across the Waikare Lake, and utterly routed the Uriweras, after 800 men had abandoned the attempt.
[Page 103 is blank]
[Image of page 104]
[Image of page 105]
Services at the beginning of the Waikato war--Gallant conduct with the Forest Rangers at Hunua--An account with some Maori murderers settled--The "Bathing Party" episode--The Forest Rangers at Orakau.
MAJOR JACKSON, at the commencement of hostilities in the Waikato, was farming his own land near Papakura, and as his was not the spirit to submit tamely to be driven from his homestead, with the loss of his flocks and herds, by rebel Maoris, he came forward and offered his services as a private in the volunteers, and in that capacity took an active part in driving the enemy out of his own neighbourhood. He first distinguished himself in repelling an attack made by the rebels upon a half-finished redoubt on the Wairoa road (known afterwards as Ring's Redoubt), being one of the most conspicuous in its defence, and was further credited with having by his unerring aim severely punished the attacking force.
After this Major Jackson came prominently to the front by engaging to raise a company of forest rangers, who would follow the Maoris from place to place and surprise them in their forest strongholds. The Government gladly accepted his offer, and he accordingly enrolled a body of men, composed of brave and experienced bushmen, whose general physique and equipments were superior to any other corps in the colony. With the utmost perseverance and daring Jackson and his men endeavoured to track the marauding and murdering bands of Maoris who for several months had infested the large tract of forest country lying between the Lower Waikato and our settlements, but their success in finding the enemy was not equal to their expectations or exertions.
On several occasions they had smart skirmishes, and did good service in showing the natives that we were both able and willing to follow them anywhere; but like the movable column, commanded by Imperial officers and employed at the same time on somewhat similar duty, they never had the good fortune to inflict any great loss upon the enemy. Major Jackson's original company of forest rangers were only engaged for a short period of service, and being a rather expensive corps, the Government, after six months' service, disbanded them, but authorised Major Jackson to
[Image of page 106]
raise a new company for special service like the first, but to be attached to and form part of, the 2nd Regiment of Waikato Militia. Although this act reduced their pay considerably, the men would not leave the Major, and most of them joined under the new conditions.
During the whole of 1864 Major Jackson and his company were actively engaged in the Waikato, and distinguished themselves on several occasions, more particularly at the siege and capture of Orakau. For this and other incidents of individual bravery Major Jackson received the thanks of the General commanding and was promoted to the rank of major.
At the conclusion of the campaign, the Major again settled down to farm life on land which the Government granted to him for his services at Rangiaohia; and although, from that time forward, there has been no actual fighting in the district, there was for years a deal of uneasiness and threatening among the Kingites; so much so that Major Jackson, seeing the state of affairs, was mainly instrumental in raising two troops of cavalry volunteers, of which he was appointed and still remains commandant. And it may be safely said that, apart from actual fighting, no body of volunteers ever did better service in New Zealand, their martial and determined bearing having reassured the settlers, and awed the rebels into submission against their will, thereby thoroughly protecting our exposed frontier and preserving peace and order in the district.
Major Jackson was elected by the settlers of the district to represent Waikato in the House of Representatives, and still continues to take an active and lively interest in all matters connected with the defence of the colony. It appears from documents before me, that a dispute arose with regard to land claimed as compensation for services performed by the members of the Forest Rangers while serving under the Major, and the following extract, in support of their services, I have taken from the evidence given, and papers laid before the Commissioner (Colonel Haultain) on the subject:--
THE FOREST RANGERS.
AT THE HUNUA RANGES.
During the month of December, 1863, Captain Jackson left camp at Papakura to scour the Hunua Ranges, it having been reported that natives had been seen in the neighbourhood. He had a force of about thirty, all ranks. These men were raised under instructions from the Defence Minister. When in the bush, they came upon tracks of the enemy, which they followed for two days. At about 8 o'clock on a Sunday morning, in the vicinity of the Papakura Valley, not near any post occupied either by Imperial or colonial forces, the whereabouts of the enemy was discovered through observing steam ascending from their ovens, when opened for the morning meal; and
[Image of page 107]
from the earliness of the hour, Captain Jackson concluded they were on the move. The party they had tracked so long, he was well aware, were travelling, and, from the appearance of the tracks, were evidently a small party; but there could be no doubt as to the strength of the camp whose whereabouts they had discovered, as each of the five puffs of steam they had noticed bore evidence of a separate oven, while others may not have been seen; and it must necessarily be a large party requiring such extensive cooking arrangements.
When the whereabouts and strength of the enemy became known, the Captain had great doubt on his mind as to whether he should attack the enemy's position or not, feeling that in doing so he incurred a great responsibility; for should he be unsuccessful in his attack, the probability, if not certainty, was that to a man they would be destroyed, being well aware that if once the natives succeeded in causing a retreat, so small a force would be considerably reduced ere that stage was reached, and probably so much embarrassed with the care of the wounded that few if any would be left to tell the tale; and, notwithstanding the anxious wish of his men to engage the enemy, should he unfortunately be defeated, the disaster would be credited to his rashness and want of judgment, more especially as he knew that the authorities looked upon his corps more as a scouting than an attacking force. He knew the ranges he had travelled through had been, since the commencement of the war, harbouring a murdering set of natives, who for nearly twelve months had caused great anxiety to the Government by murdering such settlers as they could surprise when visiting their abandoned homesteads, and thus causing a large extent of settled country to be deserted. Major Jackson knew that if he could succeed in dispersing this marauding band the result would be of incalculable benefit to the country; and consequently the mere probability of success warranted him in making the attempt, if, after consulting with his men and explaining to them the danger incurred, he found they would freely undertake the duty. He consequently called his men together and, as well as he could, showed them the position they were in, and the risk they would run by making an attack; that while in the bush, with proper precautions, they might be able to protect themselves from an attack of the enemy very much their superiors in number, yet it was necessary to well consider what would be the result of defeat ere they voluntarily made an attack upon a force that was evidently much stronger in numbers than their own; but, as these men were probably the murderers of our men, women, and children, he thought it was their duty, even at great risks, to endeavour to relieve the anxiety of the out-settlers, for should they happily succeed in dispersing the enemy, he felt certain they would not again return to the scenes of their former murders. The men were quite willing to leave the matter in the hands of their officers, and it was decided to make the attempt. Before
[Image of page 108]
they started, the men stripped themselves of everything but shirt, trousers, and boots, taking only their arms and ammunition with them.
Before leaving the Captain again addressed them. "Is there any man who feels that he is not equal to undertake this duty, either on account of illness or that his heart is not at present in the right place? If so, let he or they start at once for head-quarters, and they may perhaps do good service in bearing a despatch to Colonel Nixon, who would be soon on the move to assist us." Not a man stirred. The attack was successful, and from information obtained afterwards the natives were at least two hundred strong. Without going into details, the force completely surprised the enemy; the action was short, sharp, and decisive, with no casualties on our side, several of the enemy being killed and wounded--the actual murderers of the late Mr. Hamlin, Turt's children, Cooper, Calvert, Jackson, and Mr. and Mrs. Fabey being amongst the slain.
In this action an act of self-devotion on the part of a native deserves to be mentioned. About twenty minutes after the charge and capture of the enemy's camp a Maori was seen returning, and while the sentry was watching his movements saw him enter a whare and taking up a tin box; he was in the act of making off with it when the sentry challenged him, but as he took no notice he fired, wounding him in the arm, which caused him to drop the box before he disappeared in the bush. The Forest Rangers thinking they had a prize, rushed to the box, and forcing it open found it to contain only the king's flag, which had been entrusted to his care, but which in the suddenness of the surprise of the camp he had left behind him, and had risked his life to try and recover.
AT WAIARI, FEBRUARY, 1864.
Major Jackson happening to be with Major Heaphy in Colonel Havelock's tent before Paterangi when the news arrived of the attack of the enemy on a bathing party in the Mangapiko River, about a mile from the camp, hurried off to the scene with others. As the Major reached the river he found himself with three men of the 40th opposite to an old native pa (Waiari), the entrenchments of which, as well as the steep sides of the opposite bank of the river, were thickly covered with scrub and occupied by the enemy. The bank of the river on his side was low and flat, while the opposite side was steep and high, and about one-third down a wounded soldier was seen stretched on the ground. Several soldiers were on the top of the bank firing down into the scrub below, where the enemy were supposed to be. Jackson's attention was called to the wounded man by the men on the opposite bank (one being an officer) requesting him to come across the river and relieve the wounded man. Jackson replied, "It would be easier and better for you to get down the bank and take him up yourselves, and in the meantime if the enemy showed
[Inserted unpaginated illustration]
PLAN ILLUSTRATING THE OPERATIONS AT NGATAPA.
[Image of page 109]
I could keep them down without injury to the relief party." This the officer declined to do, and the men with Jackson cried out, "You are a lot of cowards;" and turning to Jackson said, "If you will lead us we will soon shift him." Jackson immediately agreed, and they proceeded to cross the river at great risk to their lives, the water in places being up to their chins. When nearly across Jackson saw the arm of a Maori above the scrub in the act of ramming down a cartridge, and while keeping his eye on him (waiting a favourable opportunity to get a shot at him), did not perceive at the moment another Maori had concealed himself in the scrub only a few paces from his landing-place, and had covered him with his double-barrelled gun. As the Captain placed his foot on the opposite bank the Maori pulled the trigger, but fortunately for Jackson it missed fire, and put him on his guard. Seeing his adversary now about to fire his second barrel, he let fly at him with his revolver, which did not seem to take any effect further than to distract the Maori's aim, as he fired and missed, and in his rage and disappointment hurled his gun at the Captain, and was in the act of bolting when Jackson's second shot killed him. After this they proceeded to the assistance of the wounded man, bringing him into a place of safety. General Cameron, who was apprised of this gallant action, ordered the gun taken to be given to Major Jackson, saying, "As it was so nearly the cause of your death, it will remind you in after years of your narrow escape." Although it was not until after the battle of Orakau that Jackson obtained his majority, it was dated back to this event, viz., 11th February, 1863, as an acknowledgment of his services on that occasion.
The enemy were by this time completely surrounded by the troops, yet they still lay concealed in the scrub, the soldiers not caring to enter it, when Major Jackson asked the General to send for his and Von Tempsky's Bush Rangers, who on arrival went in with bowie knives and revolvers and soon made short work of the natives, which pleased the General so much that he despatched Major Jackson into town next day to endeavour to procure more men of the same stamp.
AT ORAKAU, APRIL, 1864.
As a party of Forest Rangers were busy pushing forward the sap to the enemy's position, a militiaman was shot down about half way between the head of the sap and the pa--a distance of about twenty yards from the pa--and was left lying wounded and exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy. The Forest Rangers, twenty in number, under Lieutenant Whitfield, determined to recover the wounded man. To have sent two or more men to bring him in would, for a certainty, have resulted in more men being killed or wounded; consequently, after an exchange of ideas, it was determined to effect his release by the majority of the men making a sudden rush across the open space between our works and the enemy's, thus causing a diversion by taking
[Image of page 110]
possession of the enemy's outworks, during which time the wounded man was brought in and handed over to the medical staff in attendance. In going across this open space, they laid themselves open to the fire of the whole native force in the pa, but owing to the suddenness of the movement, they were almost across ere their intention was suspected, and being so close under the enemy's works, were somewhat protected. It was not until some time after that Major Herford and others were shot down while trying to join the Forest Rangers. This movement had an important effect on the issue of events, for the Forest Rangers were not long in establishing themselves in comparative security and clearing the enemy's out-works of its occupants, thus enabling communication to be kept up with them and the covering party protecting those in the cap. A party with hand grenades were thus enabled to get into position immediately under the very walls of the pa, and by throwing grenades over the palisading amongst the occupants caused great consternation amongst them while endeavouring to escape.
[Page 111 is blank]
[Image of page 112]
[Image of page 113]
Maning and Lusk's patriotic offer---Forest Rifle Volunteers raised--The battle of the Bald Hills--Exciting hand-to-hand conflict.
MAJOR LUSK, prior to the outbreak of the war, was employed by the Government in surveying a part of the North Island. When hostilities commenced he joined with the late Judge Maning (the author of "Old New Zealand") in a scheme for marching 1,200 Ngapuhi warriors through the Waikato into the Taranaki district, and thereby crushing the rebellion at its outset by placing the Kingites between two fires. The Ngapuhi had given in their names to the Judge, who was to command the force, with Lusk as his lieutenant, which was duly reported to the Governor, Colonel Gore Browne, in the formal offer of their services; but as the Government were not then prepared for such vigorous measures, the offer was declined with thanks. Long after all concerned in this movement had given up the idea of their services being required, the Government intimated to Judge Maning their wish to accept the assistance of the Ngapuhi, and received for answer that the tribe had now changed their minds, the fact being that emissaries from the Kingites had been busy amongst them, and they decided for the future to remain neutral.
In the autumn of 1863 Mr Lusk was residing on his property, situated between the Maori settlement at Patumahoe and the Waikato river, and it becoming evident to him that the Maoris in his neighbourhood (who were a particularly bad lot) meant mischief, he called a meeting of the settlers of the district, and so forcibly pointed out to them the danger that existed to the out-settlers and the necessity for banding themselves together for their mutual support, that the Forest Rifle Volunteers was formed, Mr. Lusk being elected their Captain. The first act of the Captain was to advertise for a few men of the right stamp to make up his complement, which was readily responded to, and the corps was ready, when the crisis came, to take the field. For the first five months the Rangers had a lively time of it, as the Waikato natives and their allies made the forest country the principal scene of their operations, and for a time really believed they could not only drive in the settlers but take the town of Auckland.
The first fight that occurred was with a party of about two hundred rebels who were overtaken in the dense bush near Mauku,
[Image of page 114]
on the 9th of September, 1863, when a sharp skirmish ensued in real bush fashion, from tree to tree. It was the first time the volunteers had met the Maoris in the Waikato, and the first time the great majority of them had been under fire. But they behaved so well that the Maoris, being out-manoeuvred by a flank movement, fled, and left their temporary camp to be ransacked by the volunteers. In this skirmish, thanks to the bad firing of the rebels, only two of the company were wounded, whereas six Maoris were killed. Several other slight skirmishes took place in the forest, and on the 15th September the Maoris, numbering over two hundred men, suddenly attacked the small body of volunteers, who were posted at the Pukekohe church, under Captain Lusk's command. The volunteers were taken quite by surprise, and at the first rush the enemy nearly carried the stockade, but our men, having rallied, fought with such desperation as to drive the rebels back for a time to seek shelter. The heavy firing which had been kept up on both sides, brought up a number of regulars from the South Road, also a company of militia from Drury. These reinforcements joined the besieged force, and drove the enemy off at the point of the bayonet.
On the 23rd of October, Captain Lusk and his men fought what is known as the battle of Bald Hills. This was, in some respects, the most desperate and remarkable action during the war. A party of over three hundred Ngatimaniapotos, under two near relations of the celebrated chief Rewi, together with 50 Ngatiporous, who had just before brought a large quantity of ammunition from the East Coast, had slipped quietly down the Waikato River, in their canoes, passed our forces, who were confronting the rebels at Meremere, and landing below Cameron Town, expressed their intention of killing all the settlers between that place and Auckland. There were, at this time, at the Maukau stockade, under Captain Lusk, 60 non-commissioned officers and men of his own company, and 20 of the 1st Waikato Regiment, under Lieutenant Percival, and at the church, further up the valley, which was converted into a stockade, about thirty men also of the 1st Waikato Regiment, under Lieutenant Norman, who was at that moment absent from his post, having gone to Drury to draw the pay for his men. Captain Lusk had that morning, as usual, taken 40 of his volunteers out on a reconnoitring expedition round the district, and, on arriving at the church, found the small force there in some alarm, their officer being absent, while a considerable force of the enemy had suddenly appeared within a mile of the post, seemingly intent on shooting cattle. Captain Lusk soon took in the situation, and as there appeared to be upwards of one hundred and fifty of the rebels in view, he considered it prudent to get up reinforcements before attacking them. He accordingly dispatched a mounted messenger to Drury, requesting assistance, and suggesting "that the movable column stationed at the Queen's Redoubt should be sent down the banks of the river, so as to get between the Maoris and their canoes."
[Image of page 115]
Unfortunately, neither his request nor suggestion was attended to with sufficient promptitude to be of any service, as the reinforcement did not arrive until dusk in the evening--two hours after the battle--and the flying squadron only reached the Maori landing place (Rangipokia) early next morning, just in time to witness the last canoes, with a small rearguard of the enemy, disappearing round a bend of the river.
The consequence was that Captain Lusk and his men remained at the Church Redoubt for nearly six hours, fretting and fuming at seeing the rebels so near and no sign of assistance coming, which could easily have arrived within four hours of the time the despatches left. About three o'clock in the afternoon the engagement was brought on by Lieutenant Percival, who had been left in charge of the lower stockade, and who had received orders (when the enemy was perceived by Captain Lusk) to place the charge of the redoubt in the hands of the commissariat officer and to join him at the church with twelve men. Percival, being anxious to distinguish himself in having the first shot at the rebels, directed his guide to take him by a forest track past the church and within sight of the enemy, which was accordingly done, and the first notice Captain Lusk had of Percival's presence was witnessing from the Church Redoubt a small band of volunteers emerging from the bush to the west of the slope of the Ti Ti hill, lately occupied by the rebels. Fortunately for these twelve men the Maoris had just retired over the brow of the hill to a hollow beyond, probably to regale themselves on the cattle they had shot. Percival, who soon came within sight of them, opened fire at a long distance, and the Maoris seeing the handful of men firing at them did not condescend to return it, but despatched a strong party round the shoulder of the hill to cut them off.
Captain Lusk, seeing the state of affairs, at once advanced to their rescue, and Lieutenant Percival, perceiving at the same moment that it was time he beat a retreat, retired quickly on the support. It was a close shave, but the rebels seeing Captain Lusk's force hurrying to the rescue halted, and the junction was effected without loss. The Forest Rangers then advanced in skirmishing order, as the Maoris retired up the cleared slope of the hill, disappearing between two belts of bush land. Up to this time, as well as could be judged, not more than 130 Maoris could be counted, and as Captain Lusk had sixty-seven officers and men with him, including Lieutenant Norman, who had arrived in the meantime, he did not hesitate to advance upon the now retiring enemy.
When our line reached the brow of the hill, Captain Lusk observed that the enemy, instead of retiring straight on and down the slope on the other side, had turned off at right angles and taken up a position in the standing forest on the east of the clearing, and at once realised what the movement meant, viz., that the rebels had only shown a portion of their force, the main body being hidden in the bush, while the smaller body were the decoy-ducks, to try and draw the volunteers into the ambush laid for them. And so
[Image of page 116]
far they had succeeded, as at that moment there were 350 Maori warriors between the sixty-seven volunteers and their stockade. It was an anxious moment for all, and Captain Lusk had just time to change his front when the storm burst, as with terrific yells the whole body of rebels in a long line rushed from the shelter of the fores I upon the volunteers, expecting an easy prey, while from behind each log and stump on the clearing leapt angry flashes of fire on this brave and devoted band. But they never flinched from their duty, and, shoulder to shoulder, kept their ranks, relying on their commanding officer to extricate them from the ambush they had fallen into. The men were too well used to the yelling of the savages for that to have any effect on their courage; but when the long line of rebels began to lap round them, Captain Lusk gave orders to retire slowly on to the belt of bush at their backs. Then it was that the flank fire of the enemy began to tell, and the first to bite the dust was the brave but rash Lieutenant Percival. He fell shot through the jugular vein. He had only time to say, "Fight on, men; never mind me, " when the rush of blood choked him. A few moments later, Lieutenant Norman was shot in the chest by a Maori, who jumped from behind a stump within two yards of where he stood. The men now began to drop quickly, but the force by this time having gained the edge of the bush, a stand was made, and the advantage of shelter was all on the side of the volunteers. The Maoris soon learnt this to their cost, for when they rushed up thinking to finish the volunteers with their tomahawks, they were met with such a well-directed fire as considerably to check their ardour. Before this occurred, the volunteers had fixed their bayonets, in case of a charge occurring, and a few of the fanatics rushed madly upon the cold steel. Corporal Power had got his bayonet so fast in the body of a huge Maori that ere he could free it a long-handled tomahawk had split open his head; and while Private Worthington was striving to get a defective rifle to go off, his brains were dashed out with an axe. Such a hand-to-hand fight had it become that a chief rushing up close to our line was instantly shot through the heart, and while a dozen of his followers rashly came forward to drag away his body, six of them fell in one heap across him, while the rest, losing heart, bolted, and the whole line fell back and gave up the fight. Our men were too few and too encumbered to follow up their advantage, having eight killed and a large number of wounded to remove; whereas the enemy's loss was 32 killed and so many wounded that they fled across the Waikato River that same night and left the district.
The following was the despatch sent by Sir George Grey to the Duke of Newcastle, reporting the battle:--
"GOVERNMENT HOUSE, AUCKLAND, 2nd November, 1863.
"MY LORD DUKE,--I have the honour to transmit for your Grace's information the copy of a letter I have received from Lieut.-General Cameron, C.B.,
[Image of page 117]
enclosing a report from Captain Lusk, commanding the Mauku Volunteers, of a very smart engagement which the force under his command had with the natives on the 23rd ultimo.
"2. The gallantry shown by Captain Lusk and all concerned in this engagement reflects the highest credit upon them. It was no enterprise which they undertook against the natives, but an attack upon one of those murdering and marauding bands, who had penetrated far into our settlements for the purpose of murder and plunder. I am satisfied that the spirit with which this party was assailed, the moment it was discovered by so small a body of men, and the punishment they received by an European force of only about one-eighth of their own, will do much to increase the respect of the natives for the courage and determination of the settlers, and to check the marauding parties who have murdered so many people.
"3. I have every reason to believe that the loss of the natives was heavy, and although we have so much to regret the considerable loss which we ourselves sustained, it is impossible, at the same time, not to feel the greatest admiration for the resolute gallantry shown by the small body of men under Captain Lusk's command.--I have, etc.,
After the forces under General Cameron had advanced past Ngaruawahia, the transport service nearly broke down, partly through the shallowness of the river; and Captain Lusk was specially selected, from his knowledge of bush service, to open up communication between Raglan harbour and the Waipu valley, so as to transport the provisions across the forest ranges. After a short trial, and the crossing of a few convoys, the route was abandoned, the track. being too steep. Captain Lusk was then appointed to the command of the transport service at Te Awamutu, which place the force had just reached, and was present at the siege and capture of Orakau, after being the first to discover the whereabouts of the enemy. On this occasion he narrowly escaped being caught by the rebels. In 1868 Te Kooti escaped from the Chathams, and being in the neighbourhood of the Waikato, Major Lusk, in command of the Waiuku and Wairoa districts, assembled his men and made a forced march to Mercer, and within twenty-four hours' notice had marched his force of 300 men a distance of nearly thirty miles, showing the mettle the volunteers were then composed of. For this service, he and his force received the special thanks of the Government. The Major afterwards continued in command of the Waiuku and Wairoa districts until 1878, when the staff was reduced (the war being over), and his further services being dispensed with, he retired on his laurels.
[Image of page 118]
Gallant conduct at Ngutu-o-te-manu--The death of Sergeant Russell.
MR. LIVINGSTONE, one of the most energetic settlers at Waihi, on the West Coast, about half-way between Taranaki and Wanganui, accompanied the force on their second expedition to Te Ngutu-o-te manu as a volunteer. In the midst of the engagement, following the example of the rebels (who had posted themselves in the trees in the vicinity of the pa, and picked off many of our officers and men), he mounted a tree overlooking the pa, and, with Sergeant Davey, of No 2 division, did terrible execution amongst the rebels. So intent were they in their occupation that they were nearly left behind when the force retired. His mettle was severely tried in the retreat to Te Maru, being under fire the whole time. Coming up with Captain Roberts' party, who were separated from the main body, under Colonel McDonnell, he assisted in defending the rear, and behaved so gallantly that a few more of his stamp would have soon changed the fortunes of the day. About sunset Sergeant Russell had his thigh smashed, and as there was no means of carrying him off the field, his fate was sealed. This fact he recognised himself, and asked his comrades to shoot him. This they refused to do, but Livingstone put his revolver in his hand and bade him a sad adieu. Some months afterwards the facts of poor Russell's end were elicited from a Hauhau prisoner. He died game to the backbone. When the pursuing rebels came to where he lay, one of them, thinking he had an easy prey, rushed forward to administer the coup de grace with his tomahawk. Russell quickly drew his revolver and killed the Maori. After this reception, the Hauhaus stood off and shot him from a distance.
[Page 119 is blank]
[Image of page 120]
MAJOR SPEEDY, R.M.,
AND GROUP OF NATIVES.
[Image of page 121]
Friendly relations between the Mauku settlers and the natives. Plot to murder the Europeans--Organisation of the Mauku, Pukekohe, and Waiuku volunteers--Speedy's narrow escape--Maori gratitude.
MAJOR SPEEDY, a retired Imperial officer, who served in India as major of the 3rd Buffs, was one of our earliest settlers, purchasing his land at Mauku. This district was settled by a very intelligent and superior lot of settlers, who were on the best of terms with all the principal chiefs of the Waikato, taking an interest in their religious welfare, throwing open their houses to afford them English hospitality, and giving them entertainments, particularly at Christmas time. Major Speedy often welcomed a whole hapu, which the natives seemed highly to appreciate. Thus, up to the commencement of the war, the Lower Waikato natives and the Mauku settlers were seemingly the best of friends. But no sooner had the seeds of rebellion been sown by emissaries from King Potatau than all confidence ceased. The Maoris became "pouri" (dark) and morose, which bespoke the coming storm. They began to hold secret meetings, at one of which the massacre of the male Europeans, and the distribution by lottery of their wives and daughters, was not only proposed, but received such warm support that the East Coast natives were sent for to come up and take the leading part in the massacre, the instigators hoping thereby to remove the stigma of ingratitude off their own shoulders.
A day was actually fixed for this atrocious deed, but the Princess Sopia, daughter of King Potatau, being at that time on a visit to her relatives at Mangare, it was feared she might be caught or shot by the soldiers, in revenge for the massacre. After her departure to the King Country, another night was fixed upon for the deed, but, by a strange coincidence, the settlers had chosen the same night to celebrate the Prince of Wales' marriage, and had lit bonfires on all the principal hills. The Maoris, mustering after dark, had actually started to commence their bloody work when the sudden glare of the fires startled them into the belief that their plot was discovered, and that the settlers had a counter-plot for their destruction, which caused them to slink back to their settlements, and remain on the watch all night. This was not made known, however, until some time afterwards,
[Image of page 122]
when Hakopa (Jacob), an old lay reader, called upon Major Speedy and informed him of the plot. It was a strange but significant fact that this man, and a few other Maoris who were regarded as friendly, gave Major Speedy, on several occasions, most important and correct information about the intentions and movements of the enemy, but in every case too late to be of any service.
Soon after this Major Speedy, being the Resident Magistrate and native agent of the district, was directed to read a proclamation of the Governor to the natives, the substance of which was that they were either to take the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty and deliver up their arms for safe keeping, or, by a certain day named, leave the neighbourhood of the settlement, and retire up the Waikato among the Kingites, so that the Government might discover their friends from their enemies. It being evident to Major Speedy, as to all who knew the natives, that they would never give up their arms and leave their land, he instructed Major Lusk to enrol and organise all the able-bodied settlers of Mauku, Waiuku, and Pukekohe into three volunteer companies, and for some time Maoris and settlers watched each other with the utmost suspicion, the former firmly believing that the pakehas would soon become so alarmed as to leave the country. But, as the day mentioned in the proclamation arrived, both parties began to entrench themselves, and, just before the volunteers were prepared to look up the Maori quarters, the natives suddenly deserted their settlements and defences, and fled up the Waikato.
Major Speedy, in discharge of his duties, had frequently to travel over dangerous ground with a very slight escort, and at times ran great risk of his life from ambuscades. On many of the journeys made by him to Waiuku and back he was accompanied by his daughter, a brave and intrepid girl, who would never leave her father while danger threatened. On one occasion his party had reached the Waitangi Bridge, Lieutenant Melsopp, who was accompanied by Miss Speedy, being the advanced guard. They had just crossed the bridge, within thirty yards of an ambush of ten natives of the Ngatiruanui tribe, who were concealed in the flax bushes half a chain from the bridge, when, luckily for the Major, a young Maori named Honi Ropea, one of the ambush, whom the Major had cured of a cutaneous disease, saw him amongst the party, and immediately exclaimed, "There is my friend; don't fire. Major Speedy is amongst then." And, although his party was most indignant at being baulked of their prey, Ropea, being a chief's son, prevailed, and the party passed on in ignorance of the ambuscade, unmolested. Some years after the war was over, Ropea met the Major and asked him if he remembered the day, while riding to Waiuku, his dropping his handkerchief and riding back to pick it up. The Major remembered the circumstance. Then Ropea told him of the ambuscade, and the difficulty he had in saving him and his party's lives.
[Page 123 is blank]
[Image of page 124]
[Image of page 125]
His early military experiences--How he won the Victoria Cross.
MAJOR HEAPHY'S name is well known throughout New Zealand as the only colonist on whom the Victoria Cross was conferred. As a young man, he studied painting in the Royal Academy, and before the age of seventeen had gained both the bronze and silver medals and had entered as a competitor for the gold medal, from which he was obliged to withdraw on his appointment as draughtsman to the New Zealand Company. He left England for this colony in the ship Tory, in May, 1839. The sketches of many of the New Zealand views which adorn our early publications were by him. During the first ten or twelve years of his sojourn in the colony he employed his spare time in studying surveying, and in exploring the country, eventually settling in Auckland, where he married a daughter of the Rev. J.F. Churton, Colonial Chaplain. In 1852, he was located at the Coromandel goldfields, and in 1855 was appointed District Surveyor at Mahurangi. At the commencement of the volunteer movement, in 1859, he joined the city company, commanded by Captain Steward, Aide-de-Camp to Governor Gore Browne. He rose to be lieutenant of this company, and was afterwards elected captain of No. 3 (Parnell) company Auckland Rifle Volunteers.
When the first three detachments of volunteers were marched from Auckland to the front in July, 1863, Lieutenant Heaphy was with the detachment which erected St. John's Redoubt at Papatoitoi. In November, he was attached to the flying column, as guide, his intimate knowledge of the country rendering his services of great value. About the 20th December, 1863, some murders were committed near Kaipara, and it being feared that there was some political significance in them, a detachment of militia and volunteers was sent from Auckland. On their way they met Captain Heaphy, who had already, as a justice of the peace, held an inquest on the bodies, and committed the murderers for trial.
Being again attached to the flying column, Captain Heaphy was with Colonel Sir H. Havelock, V.C., on the 11th February, 1864, reconnoitring the country near Waiari, in the Waikato, when a party of the 40th Regiment, who were bathing, were fired
[Image of page 126]
upon. A number of soldiers from the adjoining camp appeared on the scene as quickly as possible, but in some disorder, and Colonel Havelock placed Captain Heaphy in charge of the detachment. A soldier was seen lying near the edge of the creek, wounded and bleeding to death, an artery having been severed. Captain Heaphy, having some knowledge of surgery, volunteered to go to his assistance, and, having reached him, was engaged in taking up the artery when he was fired at by a body of natives, who were concealed in the fern close by. He was struck and slightly wounded in three places, but nevertheless succeeded in completing his work of humanity and, with the assistance of some soldiers, in carrying off the man. For this brave action he received the New Zealand medal and the rank of major in the New Zealand Militia, and was recommended for the Victoria Cross. The warrant at that time, however, did not permit of its being awarded to any but regulars, and it was not until after considerable delay and special legislation in the Imperial Parliament that it was awarded to him in 1867.
On the termination of the war in the Waikato he held office as Chief Surveyor of Auckland. From 1869 to 1872 he represented Parnell in the House of Representatives, and in the latter year was appointed Commissioner of Native Reserves, and a trustee under the Native Lands Frauds Prevention Act. In 1877 he was further appointed Commissioner of Annuities, and shortly after received a judgeship in the Native Lands Court. At the end of 1880, finding his health failing, he applied for his pension, which was granted in 1881; and, in very feeble health, he left Wellington for Brisbane, to try the effect of a warmer climate. He gradually sank, however, and died in Brisbane on 3rd August, 1881. Thus ended the useful career of a man who, in private life and in every public position he occupied, won the esteem and respect of all with whom he came in contact.
[Page 127 is blank]
[Image of page 128]
[Image of page 129]
Bravery at Orakau--Narrow escape from death--His interview with the Maori King--Services in command of the Arawas--Attack on Te Teko pa--Capture of the murderers of Fulloon and Volkner--Graphic account of the incident at Orakau--Assault on Te Ponga--Subsequent Services.
MAJOR MAIR, the son of an old colonist and a proficient Maori scholar, was attached to General Cameron's staff as interpreter, at the commencement of the Maori war, and served through that campaign. At the famous siege of Orakau Sir Duncan Cameron selected the Major for the first post of honour when he opened communication with the brave defenders of the Orakau Pa to propose an honourable capitulation. The interpreter was ordered to advance to the extreme limits of the sap, and there to call upon the Maori warriors either to surrender or to send out their women and children. After delivering the ultimation, to which the reply from the pa was "We shall fight for ever and ever," Mair was suddenly fired upon by a native named Wereta, the bullet tearing open his tunic as it passed over his shoulder, yet leaving him unhurt.
At the end of the Waikato campaign the Major was appointed Native Resident Magistrate, and was located some time at Taupo. When the war broke out on the East Coast, Mair was gazetted a major in the New Zealand Militia, and entrusted with the command of the Arawas. After this he was constantly in action, and did good service to the State. Sir William Fox, in his " War in New Zealand, " gives a graphic account of Major Mair's capture of Te Teko Pa in the Bay of Plenty, taking upwards of eighty prisoners, including the prophet Te Ua, and eight of James Fulloon's murderers. The Major on several occasions received the thanks of the Government for military services, and when the campaign on the East Coast was ended, he again settled down to the duties of Resident Magistrate in the Upper Waikato.
Years after he was mainly instrumental in bringing in the Maori King. The story is told by Rusden in his "History of New Zealand" in the following spirited manner:--"It was during the debates on the Native Lands Rating Bill that an event occurred which created surprise, both amongst the friends and opponents of the Government. Tawhaio had visited the European settlements in
[Image of page 130]
Waikato, and in token of friendship had laid down before Major Mair, the resident officer of the district, about eighty guns. To Major Mair (whom the Native Minister, Mr. Sheehan, had so slighted) was due the token of reconciliation which Ministry after Ministry had laboured long and vainly to obtain."
Tawhiao met Major Mair at Alexandra, where the Waipa River divides the township from the mountains of Pirongia, and close to Matakitaki, where the firearms of Hongi, in years past, had laid low the flower of the Waikato, when the father of Tawhiao was young. Desiring Major Mair to stand back, Tawhiao laid his own gun on the ground, while at his gesture eighty of his people followed his example. "Do you know what this means?" he said to Mair. "It is the first of what I told you, that there should be no more trouble. It means peace." The telegraph flashed the information to all parts of New Zealand, and Major Mair, whom the Grey Government had not been sagacious enough to employ, had done more for the Ministry of the day than Donald McLean, or any of his successors.
The following is a sketch taken from the Waikato Times of 18th October, 1881:--
MAJOR MAIR'S SERVICES.
"At a time when both races are reaping the benefit of the successful negotiations of Major Mair with Tawhiao and his people, and when the question of fitly recognising his efforts in this direction is before the Government, the following account of some of the services which that gallant officer rendered his country in the trying days of the Maori war will not be inappropriate. The extracts are from a very interesting work by Lieutenant the Hon. Herbert Mead, R.N., entitled 'A Ride through the Disturbed Districts of New Zealand':
CAPTURE OF TE TEKO PA, 1865.
"After the murder of Mr. Volkner (four months later) came the murder of Mr. Fulloon, Government Interpreter, and the crew of the Kate, by the Hau Haus, at Whakatane, both on the East Coast. By this time the whole country-side, from Taupo to the East Cape, was one seething hotbed of fanaticism, encouraged by the impunity which followed the murder of Volkner. The Government had avowed their inability to assist the plucky little band of loyal natives who yet remained at Taupo, and advised them to fall back on Rotorua, which they did. When Fulloon was killed, Mair was at Rotorua, organising an expedition against Kereopa, in the Uriwera country, and as soon as he heard of it he took measures to avenge his death. In about a week he collected and equipped a sufficient force, and at the end of that time he started from the lower end of Lake Tarawera with 200 Arawas, having sent about one hundred and fifty more to march down the coast from Maketu. On the 16th of August, the
[Image of page 131]
coast party attacked the Pai-Marire Pa, at the confluence of the Awa-o-te-Atua (river of the spirit) and the Rangitaiki, without success, having no boats or canoes. On the same day, Mair's party attacked Parawi, a very strong position on the same river, about seven miles from Mount Edgcumbe, but met with no better luck, and for the same reason. He then effected a junction with the coast party, which the enemy tried to prevent, but failed, losing a chief in the attempt. There were three pas near the sea, but all too strong to be taken without artillery and boats. Several days were spent in skirmishing, usually picking off one or two Hau Haus, and waiting in hopes of assistance from the Opotiki expedition (English troops which landed the 8th September); in this, however, they were disappointed. He then detached a party, who seized all the canoes at Whakatane (the scene of the murder), and got them by fresh water to the rear of the enemy, while the remainder dragged others overland into the lake behind the pas, and thus cut off their supplies. The Hau Haus evacuated all the pas during the night of the 10th October, and retreated up the intricate channels of the delta, leaving no traces of their route. But, on the 15th, Mair learnt that they had thrown themselves into the Te Teko Pa, and following them up, he captured all their canoes, with eleven barrels of powder, and lead for bullets. On the 17th, travelling by land and water, with 500 Arawas, he reached the pa. The place was very strong, having in its rear on one side the Rangitaiki--swift, broad, and deep--and on the other three sides three hundred yards smooth glacis, three lines of palisading, With flanking angles, and three rows of rifle-pits and breastworks. The pa itself was 90 yards long by 45 broad, and every hut within it was separately fortified. There was, moreover, a covered way communicating with the landing place of the river. Sapping was the only way to take such a place. Mair, who was present at Orakau when that place was sapped under the direction of Captain Hurst, R.E., seems to have made good use of his eyes. He started three saps under cover of a slight undulation of the ground, and, in spite of a heavy fire, made such good progress that, on the 19th, the Hau Haus craved a truce to arrange terms. Firing was suspended for twenty-four hours, but the saps were kept driving, and the only terms Mair would accept were unconditional surrender. By 2 a.m. on the 20th the Arawas had cut off the covered way and got close up to the southern angle. Mair then, for the last time, summoned Te Hura to surrender, assuring him that, if forced to carry the place by assault, no quarter would be given. They saw that the case was hopeless, and at sunrise the whole garrison marched out and laid down their arms. As they came out, each hapu of the Arawa sprang from their trenches with a yell, and immediately had as fine a war dance as ever was seen, old Pohipi and three or four other hoary old sinners giving the time. It must, indeed, have been a stirring sight--the long column of
[Image of page 132]
prisoners standing with drooping heads, while their captors danced the wild war dance with all the fury of excitement and success; the war cry of the Arawas echoing from hill top to hill top, while the earth trembled under the stamp of a thousand feet. Mair then placed the murderers under the special charge of the native police, and the remainder became prisoners of war to the tribe of Arawa. The murderers were first tried by court-martial and convicted, but the court being afterwards deemed informal, they were tried again by civil law in Auckland, and the sentences carried into effect. Thus ended one of the most completely successful campaigns that was ever organised and carried through during the New Zealand war, every one of the murderers having been brought to justice, besides the capture of a large quantity of ammunition and arms. Amongst them were some of the most rabid of fanatics, who carried with them the baked heads of Mr. Volkner and that of a soldier wherever they went, for the purpose of exciting other tribes."
Before the advance on Orakau, Major Mair obtained, through native sources, full information about the country, and had a map prepared showing tracks, swamps, etc. This enabled General Carey to send a force to the rear of the pa during the night, Major Mair acting as interpreter and intelligence officer.
The Waikato Times of 18th October, 1881, says (in reference to Major Mair's services at Orakau, already referred to):--"The troops moved up to Orakau from Te Awamutu about the 31st March, 1864, halted at Kihikihi, and arrived about five in the morning. The cavalry were ordered to advance under Lieutenant Rait, and were met by a few skirmishers from the pa. Shots were exchanged, but nothing serious occurred till the pa was attacked, when Captain Ring (18th Royal Irish) was mortally wounded, and Captain Fisher badly wounded, with eleven men killed and wounded; later on, two more officers (Captain Herford, 3rd Waikato Regiment, and Ensign Chaytor, 65th Regiment, the latter being buried at Te Awamutu). Sapping had been kept up steadily for three days, and had reached within five or six yards of the pa, when General Cameron sent Mair to communicate with the garrison of the pa, for which purpose he went to the end of the sap, which was then close to the native entrenchment, and, having called for a cessation of firing, stood up on a banquette within the sap and held a korero with the besieged. But he had scarcely finished the ultimatum which he had to deliver when one of the men within the pa fired at him. The Maoris concluded that Mair had been killed, and vehemently condemned the treachery of the man (Wereta) who had fired. However, he escaped, and received no further injury than having the shoulder of his tunic torn open. (From his coolness on this, as well as other occasions, some of the officers christened him Julius Placidus.) The message from General Cameron was to this effect: 'That he admired their pluck, but did not wish to see so many brave men die; that if they came out their lives would be
[Image of page 133]
spared;' but the reply from the Maoris was, 'We will fight you for ever and ever.' They were then appealed to to allow the women and children to come out, but they still said, 'No; if the men are to die, the women can die too.' About 3 p.m. of the same day they bolted out of one end of the pa, surprising everybody, and commenced to fight their way desperately through a detachment of the 40th Regiment, but in this last struggle they lost about fifty in the pa, and about eighty lay thick about the fern and swamp. Te Karamoa, minister (or something of that kind) to Potatau, surrendered at the storming of Orakau, meeting the attacking party with a white flag in his hand, but was near being bayoneted, when Mair came to the rescue and saved him from the excited soldiery, who were jostling each other in their frantic efforts to get at him. Several months afterwards the part Mair had taken at Orakau, was very nearly bringing him to grief. Some Hauhaus at Taupo determined to take vengeance on him for having led the troops to Orakau, and laid an ambuscade for him on the road to the pa at Oruanui, where he was expected, but luckily he had gone off the road to examine a new steam jet; this brought him out on another track, and by this he escaped his assailants, little knowing the certain death he had accidentally avoided."
Major Mair also tried to save a woman who was kneeling by the side of her dead husband. She was attacked by the soldiers, and threatened with their rifles. He had succeeded in knocking down one man when the poor woman was bayoneted in the melee. Her name was Hineiturama, mother of the well-known Tapsell family, of Maketu. Von Tempsky made a sketch of this incident, and gave it to the Governor, who, it was said, sent it to the then Secretary of State for the Colonies.
During the operations on the East Coast and raids into the Uriwera Mountains, the native scouts repeatedly refused to advance unless led by Mair. In one of the late Colonel St. John's expeditions, with European and native troops, up the Waimana Gorge, with his subalterns Pitt, Hunter, and Goring, Mair led the natives to the assault of Te Ponga, and carried it; but the Arawas were so impressed with the difficulties and risks attending a further advance with an ill-prepared force that they refused to go on, when the impetuous St. John said, "Then I will go on with my Europeans." The native troops retorted, "It is folly to attempt to advance on Maungapohatu; but if Mair persists in going with you, we will carry him off by force, and you will soon turn back then. "Major Mair has been under fire upon more than thirty different occasions, and took an active part in the following engagements:--Paterangi, Rangiaohia, Haerini, and Orakau, in Waikato campaign; Te Awa-a-te-Atua, Te Teko, and Whakatane, in East Coast campaign; Te Ake Ake and Whakamarama, in Tauranga campaign; Waimana, Omaruteangi, Hukanui, Ruatahuna, and Tatahuata, in the Uriwera campaign. Yet he never received any special reward
[Image of page 134]
for his military services. In fact, it may be said that amongst the leading spirits of the war, he and his brother, Captain Gilbert Mair, are the only officers who did not get a portion of the confiscated lands they had fought so hard to obtain for the colony.
Major Mair became a judge of Native Lands Court in 1882, and still holds that office. In 1886, he adjudicated upon the whole of the lands comprised in the King Country, the parties concerned having such confidence in him that they came forward to establish their conflicting claims.