TE POKIHA TARANUI.
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TE POKIHA TARANUI.
A remarkable incident--A run for life under a galling fire--How Pokiha saved McDonnell and his men.
ON the 22nd of April, 1864, the Hauhaus, about eight hundred strong, were entrenched on the sand hills on the opposite side of the river Waihi, near Maketu, in the Bay of Plenty. The cliffs on this side, rising perpendicularly from eighty to ninety feet high above the flat on the river bank, were occupied by 200 men of Her Majesty's 43rd Regiment, under Major Colville, and about six hundred Arawas, under their old chief Pokiha. Considerable firing had taken place on both sides, when Major Colville ordered Colonel McDonnell, with nine men of the defence force, who had accompanied him from Waikato, to take possession of a rifle-pit immediately under the cliffs on the flat, on our side of the river, and opposite the enemy's rifle-pits on the other side, who were posted within 350 yards of the position. To reach this rifle-pit McDonnell and his men had to traverse about five hundred yards exposed to a raking fire, although the fire from the cliff poured down upon the enemy to cover the movement. Captain William McDonnell (the Colonel's brother) was the first in the pit, followed by the other eight, who all arrived safely. It was intended to make a general attack upon the enemy's rifle-pits at low water, when the river would be fordable. After the men were safely ensconced in their position the fire from the main body on the cliff ceased, the enemy only continuing a brisk rolling fire, principally directed on those in the pit, which was twenty feet long, six feet broad, and three feet deep, and had been dug by the men of the 43rd Regiment the day previous. McDonnell returned their fire with interest, as many were seen to fall. About noon the fire slackened, and for a few moments ceased, and as no support had as yet been given, the men in the rifle-pit, whose ammunition was getting low, began to consider their position. No good result had as yet been effected, and the Hauhaus had by that time got their range, which caused our men to crouch down and husband their own ammunition by only firing at intervals. In this dilemma, the bugle sounded the recall; but the sun was yet above the cliffs, affording a splendid light for the enemy's marksmen had McDonnell's party attempted to run the
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gauntlet over the 500 yards of space within rifle range of the enemy, so they turned a deaf ear to the bugle, more particularly as the main body had taken no precaution to cover their retreat. The bugle sounded again and again, but no one moved; and as the enemy fully understood what the bugle meant, they prepared, by a heavier fire than before, to cut them off from the main body, should they attempt to leave. On a sudden the whole fire of the enemy, from right to left, and from cliff to cliff, opened upon them, when, in the midst of the uproar, the old chief Pokiha suddenly leaped into the rifle-pit, saying, as he did so, "That fire was meant for me." Pokiha had seen their danger, and leaving his men on the cliff, had traversed the 500 yards, exposed to their fire to save the pakeha. This devotion and gallantry of the old chief was one of the bravest acts performed by either Maori or pakeha during that campaign. McDonnell asked him why he had run such a risk. "It was to save you," he answered; "do not obey the people on the cliff, but wait until the sun goes down. If you had left you would have lost half your men. Your brave fellows have been fighting all day the whole of the Bay of Plenty men. Let them bugle away; we will stay here, and I will take you out of it after dusk," which he did safely, for McDonnell and Pokiha were the last to leave, and as they flew over the five hundred yards the bullets snipped off the tops of the toi-toi all along the route, but the darkness saved them. Pokiha was afterwards recommended for the New Zealand Cross, but it was not bestowed on him. Soon after Major Jackson of the Waikato having to present a repeating rifle to the bravest man of the force, it was awarded to old Pokiha without a dissenting voice, a prize the old chief greatly preferred to the decoration.
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HON. J.C. RICHMOND.
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(TE WHITI'S SETTLEMENT.)
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HON. J.C. RICHMOND.
Early Taranaki troubles--Destruction of his bush farm--Native Minister in the Stafford Administration--The Poverty Bay massacre--Expeditions in pursuit.
JOHN C. RICHMOND'S relations with the Maori wars in New Zealand began with the formation of the Taranaki Volunteer Rifle Company, commanded by Captain C. Brown (now Major Brown), in 1858. He was absent from the colony during the feuds which broke out among the local tribes, and which led to the quartering at New Plymouth of a detachment of the 65th Regiment, under Major (afterwards Lieut.-Colonel) Murray, and his name does not appear in the absurdly abused memorials sent to Governor Gore Browne by the Taranaki settlers, previous to the arrival of that force. He became a member of the volunteer corps as a private, and studied rifle shooting with some success, ranking second after Mr. Messenger as a marksman.
It was as Provincial Secretary, that he first took any part deserving of record in the troubles of the province. Mr. Cutfield was Superintendent, and Mr. Thomas King and Mr. Richmond were his executive officers, responsible to the Provincial Council. Governor Gore Browne, having agreed to purchase the Teira block at Waitara, subject to survey and detailed inquiry, wrote in 1860 a semi-official letter to the Superintendent, informing him of his intention of going forward with the transaction, and asking him to furnish surveyors for setting out the land offered, who, if necessary, would have military support. This letter was placed in the hands of Mr. King and Mr. Richmond, and they at once stated their opinion that it would be right, in assenting to furnish the professional help required, to state fully to his Excellency the views of the local government as to the probable issue of the attempt to survey. Mr. Cutfield did not agree with them, and considered that the letter, being only half official, did not require or justify any further answer than a simple assent to furnish the assistance it asked. Mr. King and Mr. Richmond adhered to their opinion, and Mr. Richmond drafted a letter, which appears on the Parliamentary Blue Book of 1860, and in which the readiness of the settlers to support the Governor's policy was affirmed. It went on to state that the survey would certainly be opposed by
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force, and that not only the non-selling party at Waitara, but their sympathisers among the local tribes, would join; and that it was to be expected there would be wide-spreading excitement and succour to the opponents of the Government from other distant tribes. It pointed out that the weakness of the Taranaki settlers was their scattered condition, their families, and their property; and suggested the erection of block-houses in the several districts. After a short "ministerial crisis," Mr. Cutfield accepted the draft, and it was despatched. This letter, which showed a clear foresight of the events that followed, was of special importance to the settlers of the day, and became a powerful support to their prayer to the Legislature to consider the ruin of their prospects and property. In particular, it gained the somewhat tardy assent of the late Mr. Sewell and Mr. J.E. Fitzgerald, C.M.G., to the provision honourably made by the New Zealand Parliament for compensating the local losses.
Mr. Richmond's share in the active operations which followed was small. He was at the Ratapihipihi fiasco, but not with the gallant combatants of Waireka, except in a night expedition after the fight to search for stragglers.
His bush farm having been destroyed, cattle driven off, and house burnt, he was obliged, with a growing family, to remove to Nelson; to which place he had been invited to take charge of the Nelson Examiner newspaper. He had been a frequent correspondent of the paper during the disturbances, and had made friends there in connection with the Taranaki refugees. It may not be out of place here to state that the large expenditure for the housing and maintenance of these refugees, as well as in housing and rationing the helpless non-combatants at New Plymouth, was incurred at the sole risk and responsibility of Messrs. T. King and Richmond; and that Mr. Richmond had, as a private member of the General Assembly, to ask for votes for these and other public local matters--the boating service for the troops among the rest-- carried on and expended on their own risk and authority.
Living at Nelson Mr. Richmond continued to be honoured for ten years with the confidence of the constituencies of Grey, and Bell, and Omata; the latter place re-electing him in 1866, after four years' residence in Nelson. In 1865 he joined the Government of Mr. F.A. Weld, and held for a few months the portfolio of Native Minister. During this time he drafted the Order in Council confiscating the Ngatiawa Taranaki Ngatiruanui Block, under the "New Zealand Settlements Act, 1862."
In 1867-9 Mr. Richmond became a member of Mr. Stafford's Government, holding the portfolio of Native Affairs; Colonel Haultain being Minister for Defence. There was some difficulty in forming that Ministry, not merely owing to the peculiar position of the Prime Minister with relation to the former government of Mr. Weld and his colleagues, but chiefly owing to the jealousy of all expenditure on defence and native affairs which then animated the Assembly. Mr. Stafford had pledged himself to
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large reductions and Colonel Haultain declined to accept office on the proposed votes. In this Mr. Richmond seconded him, and was prepared to support him to the full. The negotiations were on the point of falling through, when a proposal by Sir George Grey, then Governor, satisfied Colonel Haultain, and avoided the dead-lock. Sir George undertook to place the troops remaining in the colony in the towns of Napier, Wanganui, and New Plymouth; and thus to set free all the colonial militia and levies for any necessary active operations; the Imperial Government and the General Assembly alike objecting to any further active employment of the Queen's troops. This arrangement was deferred from time to time, and never fully carried into effect,--a failure which in no small degree aggravated the difficulty which fell on Colonel Haultain's shoulders in the troubles of the next three years.
Not very long after Mr. Richmond had charge of the Native Office a deputation from the Ngatiruanui tribe came to Wellington to ask if their submission was accepted, and where they would be "allowed to live in peace, all their land having gone from them. Mr. Richmond explained that the Governor had full power to return part of their land, and appointed to visit the tribe at once. Summoning Mr. Parris, they proceeded to Patea, and after a tribal meeting, headed by Hone Pihama, the head of the Ngatiruanui tribe, five considerable reserves were made and promptly gazetted, upon which these hapus still live and from which they receive rents. Pihama, under all the difficulties of his position arising out of the pilgrimages to Te Whiti, at Parihaka, has remained orderly, and peacefully farms at Oeo in partnership with an experienced European, Mr Good.
With respect to the part of his public life in which alone he has any distinct claim to be remembered as one of the list of defenders of New Zealand, he was not personally responsible for the removal of Te Kooti and his party to the Chatham Islands. This took place during the government of Mr., now Sir F. A. Weld; but he was responsible for their continued detention. The Bay of Plenty was still disturbed; Kereopa, the murderer of Mr. Volkner at Opotiki, was yet at liberty and actively hostile. Mr. Rolleston, the Under-Secretary for Native Affairs, was sent to the Islands to visit the prisoners and report on their condition. On his report Mr. Richmond advised the prolongation of their exile, though not without promise of immediate release when the native affairs of New Zealand were quiet. Meanwhile Colonel Haultain was in personal command of the defence forces at and around Tauranga, until attacked by rheumatic fever, and incapacitated for service in the field and travelling for many months. Kereopa was taken, but the weakness of the guard at the Chathams let loose on the colony a more dangerous and able opponent, whom the bold and confident action of Major Biggs converted into our most active enemy.
During the Tauranga campaign Mr. Richmond had inspected the posts on the West Coast on behalf of Colonel Haultain. He found the military settlers had vanished, and that whilst the prospect
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of peace was yet remote the only real force under arms on the coast was the native contingent under Colonel McDonnell. The Defence Minister had asked him to send this force to his assistance at Tauranga, but he could not undertake that responsibility; instead of which he dispatched its commander, Colonel McDonnell. On the resignation of Colonel McDonnell Colonel Haultain did Mr. Richmond the honour to ask his advice as to the selection of a successor for the retiring officer. He named to him two, either of them, in his opinion, competent to take active command of our forces, Major Atkinson and Major, now Sir G.S. Whitmore. By Colonel Haultain's request he spoke to both. The former gentleman had a most imperious call to visit England, but. Colonel Whitmore was able to undertake the anxious work. It was towards the end of the session of 1868, shortly after the affair of Ngutu-o-te-manu, that news reached Wellington of the landing of Te Kooti a few miles to the south of Poverty Bay, and that the gallant Major Biggs had thrown himself between the returning party and the interior. Before the prorogation, Mr. Richmond set out in the Government steamer Sturt, at the request of Colonel Haultain, to see the East Coast in a state of defence. Mr., afterwards Sir Donald McLean, Agent of the Government at Napier, accompanied him.
After calling at Napier, they went to Waiapu to procure auxiliaries from the Ngatiporou. Along the coast they picked up Major Biggs, who had not thought the escape inland of Te Kooti a sufficiently serious danger to prevent him carrying on his ordinary visits as Resident Magistrate. A force of 170, or thereabouts, from the hapu of Mokena, Hotene, and Ropata, was obtained, and made for Poverty Bay. As they approached, they noticed considerable smoke up the Te Arai valley. No boat came off, and the tide did not serve for entering the river. A schooner at anchor was boarded, and from her people they learned that the idea had been entertained that the smoke was from the approaching party of Te Kooti. Mr. Richmond's mind hardly hesitated about it, and he desired Major Biggs to say what he required to put the settlers on the plain of Tauranga in safety. He asked for means to put a redoubt at the port in order, and a native force of 100 men to garrison it. On Mr. Richmond pointing out the scattered and scanty population on and round the plain he added to his demand money for a stockade near the few houses in the centre of the plain, amongst which was his own. All these things were agreed to and set about immediately, and the native force arrived in less than two days. Mr. Richmond's last words to Major Biggs were: "Do not let any loyal natives, Major Westrupp, or any outlying settlers sleep outside a stockade after this day." Biggs assented, but did not act on this caution, and ten days later was, with his whole family, among the victims of the massacre. Mr. Richmond then returned south to bring up the European forces, and returned with about 200 men, under Colonel Whitmore, but too late to prevent the disaster. At this time the total European force on foot did not exceed 500, probably
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not more than 400 men; and this was divided between the west and the east coasts of the island. On arrival at Poverty Bay, they learned that Ropata's Ngatiporou, along with a party of Hawke's Bay natives, under Tareha te Moananui, were following Te Kooti. Colonel Whitmore and Mr. Richmond rode up the Arai Valley, and found that they had abandoned operations. Either the two tribes had disagreed, or they were tired, or did not like the look of the stronghold; and both tribes were sent home, but the Ngati-porou were engaged to return after a rest. Colonel Whitmore arranged deliberately all his plans for the attack of the pa, which was undergoing improvements. In a few days Mr. Richmond brought back the Ngatiporou, and the siege proceeded. The place was most formidable to approach; situated on a peak 1,000 to 1,200 feet high, bush covered, the top rendered more defencible by low, natural cliffs on one side. The approach on the easier side was by a narrow track, which a few resolute bushmen could hold against half a regiment. In the interval, Mr. Richmond had been to Maketu and Rotoiti and got from the Arawa a reinforcement of 120 young men, who arrived in time for the latter part of the operations, and had the honour of being first to enter the fortress. Ropata and his Ngatiporous also rendered magnificent service, for which the brave chief was awarded the New Zealand Cross, as narrated elsewhere in the biography of Major Ropata. The siege occupied about six days. The defenders were reduced to great straits The water, which curiously was found near the top of this isolated peak, was cut off by our lines of approach. Te Kooti and his body-guard escaped. Few prisoners capable of bearing arms were taken. The old men, the women and children were removed to Waiapu, where they have taken root among Mokena's people.
The geography of the East Coast and Hawke's Bay is favourable to a Maori general, and Te Kooti did his best to use it. After recovering from the affair of Ngatapa, he descended from his central position at Maungapohatu, on Mohaka in Hawke's Bay, and on Whakatane, Bay of Plenty. Our little European force had been meanwhile round to the Waitotata, and, in order to give Te Kooti a new lesson, we had to bring a body of men back by way of Waitara, Manukau, and Tauranga. The geography above referred to was not unknown to the Defence Minister. Colonel Whitmore had talked of a triple concentrating expedition by way of Wairoa, Poverty Bay, and Whakatane; and it was resolved to carry something of the kind out, omitting the Wairoa, and substituting Matata for Poverty Bay. Mr. Richmond assisted the commander in collecting his forces, which included a considerable number of Europeans, with Arawa and Whakatane (Ngatiawa) natives. These were divided into two parties, one, under Colonel Whitmore, starting from Matata by the Rangitaheke, the other, under Colonel St. John, striking at once into the bush by the ranges. Mr. Richmond was with Colonel Whitmore at Matata, bar-bound on board the Sturt, up to the day before his setting cut
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At the last moment he was asked to organise a third expedition, via Wairoa and Waikare Moana, and to lead it up himself. He agreed to assist but not to command such an expedition, but pointed out that it could not possibly form a junction with the others, as it must take ten days or a fortnight to get it on foot. He consequently handed it over to Major Herrick, of Hawke's Bay, telling him that the march of a colonial force by that route, if conducted with forethought and prudence, would be worth the expense in prestige and in exploring the fables about the difficulties of the country. A force was collected, a sledge track made up to the lake, boats built, and pontoon made; but the expedition did not start, the order having been countermanded the very day it was ready to march, and a Maori expedition was substituted.
This country is now explored in all directions. The mystery of Waikari Moana is now fully dissipated, and railways have penetrated, and are penetrating, the dark wildernesses behind Mount Egmont, and up to the foot of Ruapehu; but even now the peaceful tourist may look about him with a little surprise, and some respect for those earlier visitors, who, carrying their food, ammunition, and lives in their hands, threaded them in spite of an enemy, equal in bravery, superior in local knowledge and in the habits of life in the wilderness.
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More than fifty times under fire--Services meriting the New Zealand Cross--Carrying a wounded comrade off under heavy fire--Dangerous exploit at Ketemarae--A wounded man shot in Northcroft's arms--Swimming a flooded river for provisions.
CAPTAIN NORTHCROFT, one of the bravest of our colonial defenders, joined in Taranaki at the very outset of the rebellion, taking a prominent part, although quite a boy, in the defence of that district. He was always to be found where danger threatened, and as the war extended itself to Wanganui, he was despatched there with the Taranaki Military Settlers, and took part in all the engagements and perils of a guerilla war. He was seldom out of the field, yet fortunately escaped even a wound. He gradually rose to a Sub-Inspectorship of Armed Constabulary, and received a commission as Captain of Militia. After the war he was made Resident Magistrate of the Waikato district, which position he holds to this day. During his sixteen years' of military life, he participated in no less than forty-nine engagements with the enemy, not to mention the daily skirmishes incidental to guerilla warfare, his services fully entitling him to the decoration of the New Zealand Cross, and which his modesty alone, one would be inclined to think, could have kept him from obtaining; as his bravery, while under fire, was mentioned in despatches so often as to occasion surprise that he could have been passed over, while so many possessing only a tithe of his coolness in action, and his indomitable pluck and determination, were favoured with this distinction. The following (compiled by Mr. J. H. Wilkes) are a few only of the many acts of bravery this young officer was known to perform, any one of which would have entitled a soldier of the Imperial army to the decoration of the Victoria Cross:--
CAPTAIN NORTHCROFT'S RESCUE OF FARRIER-MAJOR DUFF.
On the 1st October, 1866, Colonel McDonnell made one of his favourite night attacks on the enemy. We had left the Waihi Redoubt about 10 p.m., and, crossing the Waingongoro near the mouth, came on to the Waimate Plains. From here we struck
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inland for the bush, and, following up a track for the best part of the night, we at last were rewarded with the sound of a cock crowing. This was just at day dawn. We continued in the direction of the sound, and, coming to the edge of a clearing, saw immediately before us a Maori village, which we rushed before the natives had time to escape from their whares. Ensign Northcroft, with two of his company--viz., Foley and Lufton--were, as usual, leading, and while in the act of getting over a fence into the clearing a Maori saw them, and attempted to run the gauntlet, but was immediately dropped by one of the three; I could not say which, as they all fired simultaneously. Ensign Northcroft on this day performed an act of bravery I had ample opportunity of witnessing. One of our best men on this expedition--Farrier-Major Duff--fell mortally wounded, and was carried and laid down under cover of a fence, so that Dr. Suther could attend to him. The natives of a neighbouring settlement, having heard the firing, came down in great force, and soon made it so hot for us that an order to retire was given. This was now somewhat difficult to obey, as the Hauhaus were pressing us very hard, and had already gained possession of the track by which we had entered the clearing. In the hurry of getting off the wounded, poor Duff was for the moment forgotten, the part of the clearing where he was lying being almost in the hands of the enemy; but to have left him to his fate would have disgraced the colonial forces for ever. Ensign Northcroft volunteered to bring him off. It was almost certain death to any one who should attempt it, as the natives held possession of the edge of the clearing within fifteen yards of where poor Duff lay, and to have endeavoured to dislodge them would have meant still greater loss of life, and almost certain failure, for the enemy by this time had considerably outnumbered us, and were under cover of the bush. Northcroft, at a glance, took in the situation, and said to me, as I stood beside him, "Take this rifle" (a rifle he had taken from another wounded man); and, without saying another word, he dashed off in the direction of where Duff was laid. We watched him eagerly as he ran, for no one expected to see him return. He had lost his cap in the early part of the fight, and had tied his white pocket handkerchief around his head, so that his men could distinguish him. I never shall forget the scene as long as I live--this brave, determined young officer, with the white band round his head, running, as it were, into the very jaws of death. The natives themselves did not seem to comprehend what it meant--what he was about to do--for on his first appearance they fired fifteen to twenty shots at him, and then for a time ceased altogether. But, nothing daunted, on ran Northcroft--the distance being from sixty to eighty yards--took up poor Duff in his arms, and ran as swiftly back again as he could with such a burden. Then, and then only, did the Maoris seem to realise what was happening, and two natives rushed out of the bush into the open, and deliberately took a pot-shot at Northcroft within a distance of twenty yards; but one of these fired for the last time,
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as Sergeant White (who fell some few months after) dropped him before he could re-load. The other native turned and fled into the bush. By this time Northcroft was safe, having escaped without a scratch; and as he laid his burden down, poor Duff, with his parting breath, paid him the highest compliment one brave man could pay another, as, while looking up into Northcroft's face, he in a whisper said, "I all along knew you would never leave me to be tomahawked."
CAPTAIN NORTHCROFT'S SPIRITED BEHAVIOUR AT THE DEATH OF ECONOMEDES.
Once again during the month of November, 1866, Colonel McDonnell left Waihi camp for another forage in the bush, hoping to catch or come across some of the broken parties of natives who had escaped from Te Umu, Popoia, and other places McDonnell had taken, and with the further object of getting to the rear of Tiritiri Moana, where the Hauhaus were supposed to be strongly posted. The force, consisting of Maoris and Europeans, started inland from the Ketemarae clearing, the Wanganui native scouts leading the way up to 2 p.m., when they came across two of the enemy, whom they foolishly fired at, the result being that they escaped and raised the alarm. Soon after we came to a deep and dangerous-looking ravine, with a creek running through, when our native scouts refused to lead further, and McDonnell called for volunteers, sixteen presenting themselves. Ensign Northcroft, Privates John Hall, Wilkes, Economedes, Lufton, and a very brave native named Tonihi were chosen as the advance guard, to be supported by Lieutenant Gudgeon with his Native Contingent, who would be followed by Captain Morrison and Lieutenant O'Callaghan, with their company of Taranaki Military Settlers. As the advanced party crossed the creek it was evident from the footprints that a strong party of Hauhaus had crossed it but a short time before, for though the stream was clear in the middle it was still muddy on each side, which fact was reported to McDonnell, and all felt assured that the advance under Northcote would soon be ambuscaded. Those who know anything of Maori warfare are aware that there is no greater trial of cool courage than leading in a bush track with the certain knowledge that before you have gone much further you will be fired into by an unseen enemy. Northcroft knew the danger he had before him well enough as he filed up the opposite side of the steep ravine at the head of his small party. When this party arrived at the top they found the track wound round to the right for some fifteen yards and then crossed a small karaka grove before entering some dense bush. At the edge of the grove Northcote held up his hand to indicate caution, ordering us to halt a few minutes while he and Economedes first crossed it. This they did with great caution, and were about to enter the thicket on the opposite side when Northcroft suddenly cried out, "Take cover," and sprang behind a karaka tree, none too soon, as
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a volley was fired from within a few yards in front of him, and poor Economedes, who was close behind him, was shot through the hips and mortally wounded. The rest of the party for the moment fell back, and so left Northcroft with his wounded comrade alone within a few yards of a lot of fanatical Hauhaus. We could hear them shouting "Kokiritia" (Charge), "Whakawaria" (Close in), and other cries used in Maori warfare. Gudgeon tried his utmost to get his Native Contingent to charge, but one of his fighting men having had a bad dream that foretold evil to come on that day, none would move. He consequently passed word to Lieutenant O'Callaghan to come up with his men, and as Gudgeon, O'Callaghan, the scouts, and No. 5 Taranaki Settlers dashed down the track we never thought to see either Northcroft or Economedes other than tomahawked corpses. But when we came to the karaka grove we found Northcroft kneeling down by the side of his brave Greek comrade behind a karaka tree, where he had drawn him for safety before the poor fellow died. By this act Ensign Northcroft saved Economedes from being tomahawked while he lay wounded, besides preventing his arms and ammunition from falling into the hands of the enemy, as well as a considerable sum of money he had on his person.
PRIVATE WATT SHOT WHILE IN NORTHCROFT'S ARMS.
On the 12th March, 1869, a column under Colonel Whitmore left the Patea township, crossed the river, and marched inland, between the Whenuakura and Patea rivers, in the direction of a place called Otauto, where the Hauhaus, under the redoubtable Titokowaru, were supposed to be strongly posted. On the following morning about dawn the Arawas, who were in the advance, stumbled across an outlying picket of the enemy. The morning being so misty we did not see them until we were fired into. Colonel Whitmore immediately ordered the advance division to extend and feel their way carefully, as the fog was very dense. We cautiously advanced through a small piece of bush, and entering an old cultivation continued on to the edge of a gentle slope, when we received another sharp volley, apparently only from a few yards' distance, which killed one man and wounded several others. The officers ordered us to take cover, as it was impossible to see what was in front. Colonel Whitmore then came up and tried to ascertain what was over the slope, but was received with a volley that convinced him that the enemy could see us, and to advance in that direction would be only useless waste of life. The Colonel very narrowly escaped death. He ordered Major Kemp to work round to the right flank of the enemy, and Sub-Inspector Scannell, with No. 2 division Armed Constabulary and the Arawa contingent under Sub-Inspector Gundry, to do the same on the left. I was with the party on the left, and it was soon apparent the Hauhaus intended to make it warm for us, as we soon had several men killed
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and wounded, while as yet we could not see further than the muzzles of our gun. Some of our men had at first taken cover under a row of flax bushes, which ran down the clearing in a direct line to, where the enemy were posted. These poured in a raking fire on our fellows, killing and wounding many. A man of No. 2 division named Watt had, in his eagerness to find out the position of the enemy, crawled to within a few yards of them, when he suddenly called out that he was hit on the leg, the bone being broken. Although we were within a few yards of the Hauhaus, and could hear every word they said, we could not discover whether they were entrenched or under cover of their pa, the fog still continued so dense. It appeared almost certain death to advance to where poor Watt lay wounded, but Sub-Inspector Northcroft, sticking his sword into the ground, proceeded to pick Watt up. He had hardly got him fairly in his arms when the enemy fired a volley of five or six shots within a few yards' range, mortally wounding the man he had in his arms, while Northcroft himself escaped. Poor Watt exclaiming, "Oh, I am hit again," soon after expired. The whole of these circumstances I can vouch for, having been an eye-witness.
MAJOR SCANNELL'S ACCOUNT.
During the attack on Otauto a man named Watt, of No. 2 division Armed Constabulary, was severely wounded, and was lying amongst some flax bushes in a place much exposed to the enemy's fire. Sub-Inspector Northcroft, of that division, went forward, and taking the wounded man in his arms brought him from under fire, but while in the act of doing so Watt was again wounded whilst in Northcroft's arms, and died shortly after. The Victoria Cross has been granted in the Imperial army over and over again for such actions as this. The same officer marched with his division from Wairoa, Hawke's Bay, to Lake Waikaremoana. On the arrival of the division at the Waikare Taheke River, which it was necessary to cross, it was found impossible to do so owing to the heavy flood and rapid current. The division were out of provisions, and although every effort was made to attract the attention of the party in the Kewi Redoubt, about two miles' distant, it was found impossible to do so. The situation was becoming very critical, as the men were then two days without food. Under these circumstances Sub-Inspector Northcroft and one of the constables volunteered to endeavour to swim the river in company, and communicate with those stationed in the Redoubt. The river was swollen, the current strong, and the bed covered with huge boulders, against which the rapid current foamed and dashed in a most fearful manner, and to attempt swimming seemed certain death. At the last moment the constable declined the venture, and Sub-Inspector Northcroft, despite all opposition, jumped in alone. Before he rose to the surface he was carried fully twenty yards down the river, and after a desperate struggle with the current, succeeded in gaining the
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opposite bank, quite exhausted. After a short rest for recovery, he set off to the redoubt with only a shawl round his waist, and succeeded in procuring for his starved comrades all the provisions that could be spared, viz., a 50lb. bag of flour, which had to be dragged bodily through the river. Only those who witnessed the exploit could form an adequate idea of the danger he had passed through.
[LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION FROM COLONEL M'DONNELL.]
"WANGANUI, March 30th, 1871.
"Sir,--For the consideration of the Honourable the Defence Minister I have the honour to state, that at the attack on Pungarehu in October, 1866, Ensign Northcroft, of the Patea Rangers, and now a Sub-Inspector of the Armed Constabulary, did with great bravery and at the risk of his life, rescue Sergt.-Major Duff, who laid mortally wounded and helpless, from the enemy.
"Also, at the attack upon Tiritiri Moana, in November of the same year, Mr. Northcroft, being on that occasion in front in the bush, with Private Economedes, were mat by the enemy, who fired and killed the latter. Mr. Northcroft held his ground until assistance came up, preventing mutilation of the body and the capture of his arms and ammunition, besides a considerable sum of money the man had on his person.
"This officer would have been recommended by me for the above to the Honourable Colonel Haultain as deserving of the Victoria Cross could it have been conferred on a colonial soldier.--I have, etc.,
"THOMAS McDONNELL, Lieut.-Colonel.
"To G. S. COOPER, ESQ.,
"Under-Secretary, Defence Office."
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WIREMU KATENE, rebel, friendly, and friendly rebel, is now no more. At the beginning of the war, he was one of our most powerful foes; but after a time, he brought in a portion of his hapu and, delivering them up, said he was tired of leading men who deserted him in the moment of danger, and for the future he would fight for the pakeha. He was given over to the custody of Major W.E. Gudgeon, who then had charge of the native contingent, with orders to keep a sharp look-out on his actions. The information he gave us, and his earnestness in the cause of the pakeha, soon induced Colonel McDonnell to use him as his guide, and faithfully did he perform this duty. Katene was one of the bravest of Maoris, and the best of scouts, and would have remained true to us to the end had he not been imprisoned by the Resident Magistrate at Patea for some trifling peccadilloes.
One evening, while sitting round the camp fire, he suddenly placed his hand on Captain Gudgeon's knee, and, looking up in his face, asked him a question so full of meaning, and so illustrative of the Maori character, that the Captain never forgot it--"Do you believe in me now?" The Captain replied, "Yes, Katene, I do." "Well," said Katene, "you are right and you are wrong. You are right to trust me now, for I mean you well; but never trust a Maori, for some day I may remember that I have lost my land, and that the power and influence of my tribe has departed, and that you are the cause; at that moment I shall be your enemy. Do not forget what I say."
It was Katene who warned the force that in future they would have to meet the Hauhaus in the bush, as they did not intend to fight again in their pas, which they had come to regard as traps to be caught in, but that they would make the most of their knowledge of the country, surprising small parties, and only
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meeting the pakeha in the forest. He also warned us to be specially careful of the small redoubts, and see that they were well fortified, "For, mark me," he said, "their intention is to surprise and storm some of them immediately." The truth of these utterances was soon felt, both at Te Ngutu-o-te-manu and Turi-turi Mokai. Katene remained with us for some time after receiving repeated warnings from the rebels, and only left us in the quiet of one night to save his young daughter, whom the rebels had got possession of, and had sent him word they would destroy if he did not leave us immediately. He died only a few months ago, respected by both Maori and pakeha.
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Early military services--Training the New Zealand Volunteers--Formation of Mounted Defence Corps--His great popularity and sad death.
LIEUT.-COLONEL NIXON retired from the Imperial service with the rank of major, having served in the 39th Regiment in India; was present at the Battles of Gwalior and Maharajapore; and was considered by the authorities to be one of the most promising soldiers of the day; receiving the Bronze Star for those actions. He settled in New Zealand, having reached this colony in June, 1852; and, on the first rumours of war, the settlers in his immediate neighbourhood looked to him as their leader in any defence they might be called upon to make; while he, on his part, as readily responded with all the energy and promptitude of his nature to their appeal. He quickly embodied and trained two troops of volunteer yeomanry cavalry, composed principally of the sons of country settlers, who were soon in a high state of efficiency; proud of their corps, and of their commanding officer. When hostilities in the Waikato district seemed inevitable Colonel Nixon, who was a Member of the House of Representatives, was entrusted by the Government to enrol a cavalry force of a somewhat different character, to be henceforth called the Mounted Defence Force of the Colony; and many of the officers and men of the volunteer yeomanry cavalry at once joined the new force, rather than be separated from their commanding officer, who at that moment was the most beloved, popular, and prominent man in the Auckland district. From the commencement of the Waikato campaign to the action at Rangiaohia, Colonel Nixon may be said to have lived in his saddle, and no affair of any importance occurred at which he was not present. He fell on the 23rd February, 1864, being shot by a Maori from a whare the natives had taken shelter in after the skirmish at Rangiaohia, while trying to induce them to surrender. His fate was more deeply
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felt, and more sincerely mourned, than that of any man who fell during the war. The whole country was in mourning, proving more real sympathy than even the stone monument raised by the colony to his memory, and showing how deeply the settlers valued his unblemished character, his high military talents, and his fearless bravery.
It is told of Major Nixon that, as a boy, he was so full of fun and devilment, that the authorities at Sandhurst told his widowed mother that she had better take him away, as he could never pass the examination. The lad, seeing the disappointment of his mother, begged hard for one more chance, which, in deference to his parent, was given him; and from that moment, long after the lights were supposed to be extinguished, he was seen with a candle under his table (which he had covered over with his blanket to hide the light], pursuing his studies half the night through; the consequence being, that he passed a brilliant examination, to the surprise of all who knew him.
He was adjudged a public funeral, and was buried in the Symonds-street cemetery. A monument has been erected to his memory at the junction of the Great South and Mangere Roads.
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Services with Forest Rangers--Gallant behaviour at Ngutu-o-te-Manu-- Cut off from the main force--Bravery at Moturoa--Command at Parihaka--The New Zealand Cross.
JOHN MACKINTOSH ROBERTS, in August, 1863, joined Major Jackson's company of Forest Rangers, and in the following November was appointed ensign in Von Tempsky's company, and finally promoted to lieutenant in March, 1864. From the first, he took a most active part in the war, was present at Rangiaohia and Haerini, and, on the day prior to the attack on Orakau, was ordered from Te Awamutu to Kihikihi, with 20 Forest Rangers, to join Captain Ring's Company (18th Regiment), which company, with the Forest Rangers, formed the advance guard to, and the storming party afterwards, on the Orakau Pa. In this attack the gallant Ring fell mortally wounded. In March, 1868, Captain Roberts was made sub-inspector of Armed Constabulary, and on the outbreak of hostilities in the Wanganui district, was transferred from the Waikato to Patea, with Von Tempsky's division of Armed Constabulary. He was present at the relief of Turi-turi Mokai, and was left in command of the redoubt. He took part in both attacks on Te Ngutu-o-te-Manu, and was the officer who, on the second attack, was cut off from the main body with 58 men and eleven wounded, and who, after so gallantly beating off the enemy, got benighted in the dense bush. Here he anxiously awaited the first streak of daylight to try and feel his way out to the open country, which was at last successfully accomplished, and Captain Roberts had the satisfaction of seeing his party in safety at Waihi Redoubt, about nine the following morning, thoroughly exhausted. (Vide his report attached, taken from the Gazette.) Captain Roberts with the 6th division of Armed Constabulary, was also present at the attack on Motorua, and again distinguished himself in covering the retreat of our forces, for which service he received his majority and rank of inspector. He, soon after, took an active part in the siege and capture of Ngatapa; was at the taking of Tauranga-a-hika Pa, and at the defeat of Titokowaru at Otauto and Te Whakamaru. He afterwards led the right column of the troops engaged in the pursuit of Te Kooti, in the Uriwera campaign, under Colonel
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Whitmore, and was subsequently appointed to the command of the Taupo District. Here he remained until May, 1871, when he was transferred to the district of Tauranga, and made Resident Magistrate for the same. But, on the outbreak of active resistance and aggressive measures taken by the fanatics of the West Coast, Major Roberts' military services were again called into action, the Government conferring on him the rank of Lieut.-Colonel, and placing him in command of all the colonial forces gathered together at Parihaka on that memorable occasion. In 1886 he was removed to Auckland in command of the Armed Constabulary of that district.
The Gazette, conferring on Lieut.-Colonel Roberts the decoration of the New Zealand Cross, says:--"This gallant officer was awarded the New Zealand Cross, by His Excellency the Governor, Sir George Grey, for his resolute bearing on the 6th September, 1868, at Te Ngutu-o-te-manu, where, owing to a miscarriage of orders issued by Colonel McDonnell to retire, he and his men were left behind, and eventually had to fight their way back through the standing bush, closely pursued by the enemy. To Captain Roberts' coolness and determination on this occasion may be attributed the saving of the force under his command. And for the courage and judgment displayed by him at the battle of Moturoa, on the 7th November, 1868, when, having only arrived during the night, he with his young and newly raised division succeeded in covering the retreat of Colonel Whitmore's force, although greatly outnumbered, and at one time nearly surrounded. To his fortitude as a soldier, and the confidence he inspired, was mainly due the discipline of his men, who kept their ranks in a dense bush in spite of the repeated efforts of the enemy to close with them, and so enabled the force, encumbered with the wounded, to draw off in good order."
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An incident at the White Cliffs--Delivering a proclamation to the rebels--Humane behaviour of the chief Wetere.
IN September, 1865, the chief Wetere, in defiance of the Colonial force stationed at Pukearuhe, encamped his followers at the White Cliffs, the boundary line between Mokau and Taranaki, his main object being the plunder of the steamship Alexandra, as she then lay wrecked on the Sands. His followers made continued raids during low water, carrying off everything they could lay hands upon. This was the state of things at Taranaki at the time the Governor (Sir George Grey) offered the natives terms of peace under certain conditions, and had sent copies of his manifesto to each officer in command of a district, with instructions to have the same distributed amongst the rebels in their immediate neighbourhood with the least possible delay and risk to the party delivering it. As the only attempts to distribute it yet made--one by Mr. Broughton and the other by a half-caste--having proved fatal to the bearers, it was looked upon as a very hazardous undertaking. Major Baddeley, the officer in command at Pukearuhe, having received the proclamation, called for volunteers, whose duty it would be to go as far as prudence dictated towards Wetere's encampment, and after attracting the attention of the rebels to place the proclamation in a cleft stick, which they were to fix upright in the ground, so that the natives could see it. But Ensign Hutchinson, who had offered to conduct the party volunteering for the service, was anxious to do his errand effectually, and despite all previous warning he halted his men when within sight of the rebel camp, and, waving his white handkerchief as a flag of truce, bravely rode forward alone. As he approached the encampment Wetere himself came forward, accompanied by thirty or forty armed men, and ordered him back, wondering how he dared come on to his land without permission, and wanted to know what the soldiers were doing on his land at Pukearuhe. Hutchinson
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replied that, being only a junior officer, it was not for him to say, but he had brought a document from the Governor on the subject, and if after reading it he wished to reply and would display a white flag he would be sure of safety in approaching the camp and the officer in command would meet him. At this moment Wetere's men, who had all along been clamorous to kill the pakeha, asked Wetere and a chief, who were standing between them and Hutchinson, to move that they might shoot Hutchinson. Wetere, seeing the excited state of his men, cried out, "I am commander here; put up your guns; to kill him now would be murder, and I will only fight fairly." This speech somewhat pacified his followers, but it was as much as Wetere could do to control them, and taking the proclamation he hurried Hutchinson off, saying "Go back quickly, or I cannot answer for your life." This was the only instance of a proclamation being given into the hands of the rebels and the party delivering it escaping with his life; and although it led to a suspension of hostilities for a time, during which Mr. Parris, the Native Commissioner, was sent for, and obtained the interview desired by Sir George Grey of discussing the question at issue, Hutchinson (whose daring all must admire), instead of getting the New Zealand Cross for his pluck, received the warm congratulations of his friends, but his commanding officer gave him a good wigging for exceeding his instructions.
Wetere on another occasion saved the life of Mr. Wilkinson, the Government Native Agent, in defiance of his tribe, who had laid an ambush to destroy him. Wetere in this instance placed Wilkinson on his own horse behind him, and approaching the ambush called out, "If you want to kill Wilkinson you will have to shoot him through me, as I am much the stouter of the two." At the present day Wetere speaks of these occurrences with great glee, and shows the rings both Hutchinson and Wilkinson gave him in thanksgiving for his services, saying that having saved the lives of these pakehas he will always love them.
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Imperial services--His command on the West Coast--The story of the Wereroa Pa--Sir George Grey's bravery and narrow escape--Adventure of Colonels Rookes and McDonnell and Major Von Tempsky.
IN the year 1835, Colonel Rookes began his career as a midshipman in Her Majesty's Royal Navy on the China and West Indian stations, and from 1839 to 1841 was attached as a cadet, by special permission of the French Government, to the 6th Cuirassiers, at the Remount Military Riding School at St. Omer, eventually joining the 2nd West Indian Regiment, wherein he served for upwards of sixteen years, being ensign by purchase in March, 1842, lieutenant in the following December, and captain in 1846. He sold out to settle in New Zealand, in which colony he arrived in 1858. As an Imperial officer, he had received the thanks of the English, French, and Dutch Governments, of the Minister of War (Lord Panmure), the Commander-in-Chief (Lord Hardinge), and the Secretary of State (the Duke of Newcastle), for the able, judicious, and successful manner he had conducted the several military expeditions and operations entrusted to him, both in the field, on the Gold Coast, and in the Mori ah country. On one of these expeditions he was placed in command of a combined naval and military, English and French, force, and captured the town of Malegeah, and severely defeated the rebels at Labadee. During this period of Imperial service, he was (vide Army List, 1846) selected as Aide-de-Camp and Private Secretary to the several Governors of the Bahamas and Trinidad, viz., Mr Mathew and the late Lord Harris, and for many years was a member of the Legislature of the former colony. He had also been repeatedly thanked by the Colonial Governments--by that of Gambia, in 1843, for opening up the navigation of the river from Fort George to the Barraconda Tails, and by that of the Bahamas, in 1846, for successfully negotiating with General O'Donnell, Governor of the Havannah, for the surrender of several British subjects held in slavery by the Spanish authorities.
Soon after his arrival in Auckland, the Maori rebellion of 1860 broke out, and Colonel Rookes was employed by the Colonial Government in organising the War Branch (now the Defence Office), and in recognition of the able manner in which this duty
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was performed, the Fox Ministry placed him by their recommendation in command of the Wanganui district as the deputy of the Governor. While holding this command, he raised, organised, and personally drilled seven separate troops of cavalry in the Rangitiki, Turakina, and Wangaehu districts so successfully that these forces were repeatedly thanked on the field and in general orders by Generals Cameron and Waddy. The latter officer, a veteran of considerable experience in India and the Crimea, remarked "that he considered these troopers, in physique and fearless riding, the beau ideal of what irregular cavalry should be." Colonel Rookes, in 1865, further received the thanks of the Colonial Government of New Zealand for the successful manner in which, under that distinguished Governor and statesman (Sir George Grey) he led the colonial forces at the capture of the Wereroa Pa, completely nullifying the assertion made in General Cameron's despatches, "that it would require a large addition of Imperial troops to reduce that stronghold of the natives."
The following account of the events leading up to the fall of the pa and Colonel Rookes' connection therewith will be of interest:--In the early part of 1863, when in command of the Wanganui district, natives brought in word that the heights above Perikama, at the embouchure of the Kiwi stream, were being fortified by three hapus or tribes--Ngatiruanui, Taranaki, and Waikato. Dr. Featherston, who was Superintendent of Wellington, asked Rookes to accompany him with his interpreter to the spot, situated about twenty-five miles from Wanganui. During this visit he obtained valuable information concerning this position. On this occasion, just before Dr. Hope's and Lieutenant Tragett's murder at Taranaki, the natives offered no obstacle to the crossing or re-crossing of the river, but would allow no one to enter their works, which were in course of construction. The position then might have been taken by a handful of men, the works destroyed, and a redoubt erected and garrisoned, which would undoubtedly have altered matters and obliged the natives to abandon a site which General Cameron estimated as something more than strong. (See correspondence with Sir George Grey, published in the ex-Governor's biography.)
The second time Rookes visited the place, 1865, was in command of a scratch force of volunteer cavalry from the Rangitiki, Turakina, and Wanganui districts. They preceded a force of 800 regular troops with three guns, and with a brilliant dash up to the pas by the cavalry (which they all wished to try) might have taken the three pas before their defenders could have climbed up from the Perikama flats, where they were planting potatoes. General Waddy, who was in general command, would not permit it, however, as General Cameron had given him strict orders not to attempt the capture. About a month after a messenger came in from one of the pas, saying if a force of natives and settlers were sent they would surrender to them, but that they declined to do so to the regular troops. Colonel Rookes went out with 250 natives
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and a few cavalry, and the natives again agreed to give up the pas. At this juncture Colonel Logan made his appearance on the ground and took command, and the natives declined further negotiating and ordered the force to retire. To ride into Wanganui, charter a steamer and send the friendly chiefs to Wellington, with instructions to see and explain matters to the Governor, Sir George Grey, did not take long; and Colonel Rookes, acting on the encouragement given to him by the Premier, Mr. Weld, who approved of his action, again, on the invitation of a well-affected portion of the Wereroa garrison, marched a mixed force of natives, Wanganui Cavalry, Von Tempsky's Rangers, and McDonnell's Contingent to the pa. On arrival he camped the force about eight hundred yards in front of the pa, at an opening in the forest that commanded the approaches from Wanganui. He was anxious that the natives should not surrender the pas except to Sir George Grey, who had through Mr. Weld loyally supported the Colonel's action, and he communicated with Sir George to that effect. In the meantime, leaving the force in front of the pas in command of Major Von Tempsky and Captain George, he accepted an invitation from the chiefs to come inside their works and arrange for a surrender; Captain McDonnell volunteered to accompany him and act as interpreter. They remained inside negotiating for three days, when suddenly, just after Captain McDonnell's return from Putahi, which he had most gallantly visited at the risk of his life, the natives broke off the negotiations, and Colonel Rookes and his companion returned to the camp disgusted. It was then that Sir G. Grey, who had arrived during the parley, rode up, accompanied by Mr. Parris, Hori King, and another chief, to within ten feet of the pa, the rifle-pits of which were lined with a lot of howling fanatics armed to the teeth, with their passions inflamed by the exhortations of their chiefs; and had it not been that one of the Hauhau chiefs came out and placed his mat before Sir George, the brave Europeans and native chiefs would all have blown into eternity. As it was, Sir George and the others rode back to the camp safely, when he planned the advance, which took place next morning, and led to the fall of the position. The legislature of the Colony (both Houses) voted thanks to Colonel Rookes and the men under him, which he got from the Upper House twenty-one years after they were voted. It was the fall of this position which first gave rise to the policy of self-reliance soon after inaugurated by the Weld Government, and which enabled General Chute so successfully to march (with his rear and flank free) through the forest at the back of Mount Egmont to New Plymouth, reducing on his route the various pas in the neighbourhood, and for which he received the honour of knighthood. On the day of Major Von Tempsky's arrival at Wanganui a large picnic party was being held at Alexander's farm, the boundary line at that moment of the contending parties, when Colonel Rookes persuaded the Major and Colonel Nixon to accompany him on a reconnoitring expedition to the enemy's country. They consequently rode away from the picnic in the direction of the Waitotara,
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and arriving at a gully some miles inland they dismounted to water their horses. While doing so a mounted native appeared on the opposite bank, and looking down upon them quickly disappeared. A short council of war was held, and they determined to make for the beach and return that way. When returning they had again to dismount to lead their horses over some rocks on the way, and Colonel Rookes, in dismounting, sprained his ankle, just as a volley was fired at them from an ambuscade amongst the high cliffs overlooking the beach, which caused Von Tempsky and Nixon to remount and ride away. Finding that Rookes did not follow them, being unable by his sprain to remount, they returned to his assistance, and, defending themselves with their revolvers, got him with some difficulty upon his horse and rode away under a heavy fire, but it was a narrow escape for all concerned.
Colonel Rookes, who was one of the bravest and most experienced officers, was superseded before the end of the war, the authorities regarding his outspoken advice on military matters as somewhat dictatorial.
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