[Image of page 236]
[Image of page 237]
COLONEL GORTON joined Her Majesty's 29th Regiment as ensign in July, 1855, obtained his lieutenancy in November of that year, and his company in 1860. During this period he served in Burmah and India. He exchanged as a captain in 1860 to Her Majesty's 57th Regiment, and joined it at Taranaki in June, 1861, and served till June, 1863. While in the 57th Regiment he was appointed extra Aide-de-Camp to Lieut.-General Sir Duncan Cameron, and was present with the General at the action of Katikare on 4th June, 1863; and his services were mentioned in despatches. In July, 1863, at twenty-five years of age, he was appointed a major in the New Zealand Militia, and to the command of the Wellington militia district, to which were subsequently added the Wairarapa and Castle Point districts; the strength of the militia and volunteers under his command being nearly 1600. He was specially thanked for his services when accompanying Dr. Featherston to the Wairarapa in August, 1863; the prompt arming and equipping of volunteers on that occasion having prevented the breaking out of hostilities in the district. In September, 1865, he was promoted to the rank of lieut.-colonel, and was sent to command the Wanganui district, to which was shortly added that of Rangitikei; and, on the departure of the Imperial forces from the West Coast, the supplying and equipping of the colonial troops came also under his control. For his services in connection with these duties he repeatedly received the thanks of the Government. In January, 1869, he took the field with Colonel Sir George Whitmore, as his acting quarter-master-general; and, to ensure the field force receiving rations while marching (via the back of Mount Egmont), he rode the whole coast from Keteonetea to New Plymouth, a journey of eighty to ninety miles, much of the distance being through the enemy's country, accompanied by only two native guides, thus completing the contract to supply the force from New Plymouth, and returned to camp in four days. In April, 1869, he took up his appointment as inspector of the Government stores of the colony, but resigned his public duties in January, 1878, for colonial pursuits of a much more profitable nature.
CORNET A. SMITH.
[Image of page 238]
CORNET A. SMITH.
CORNET SMITH obtained the decoration of the New Zealand Cross for his bravery and great endurance at Opepe. On the 7th June, 1871, when the party of the Bay of Plenty Cavalry in charge of Cornet Smith was surprised at Opepe, by Te Kooti's band, and nine men out of thirteen killed, Cornet Smith, though suffering agonies from a desperate wound in his foot, received during his escape, set out with the object of finding the tracks of his commanding officer, and apprising him and his party of their danger, when a less brave or thoughtful man would have proceeded straight to Fort Galatea, which post he could have reached in forty-eight hours with comparatively little risk, and with the certainty of getting immediate medical assistance.
On his road, Cornet Smith was captured by the rebels, stripped of all his clothing, firmly bound to a tree, and left to his fate. He was in this position for four days, without either food or water, when he managed to release himself and proceed to Fort Galatea, which he reached on the 17th, being ten days without food or clothing, being, on account of the wound in his foot, obliged to crawl for a considerable distance on his hands and knees, and further had to risk his life twice by swimming the rivers. He is an old Crimean veteran, and had his medals on when captured.
[Page 239 is blank]
[Image of page 240]
[Image of page 241]
Defence of the post at Peperiki--Bottles asking reinforcements floated down the river--Ingenious fortification of the canvas camp with timber.
MAJOR BRASSEY as a young man entered the British navy, and served therein up to the year 1839. He then joined the East India Company's service, being present and taking part in all the operations in Scinde and Afghanistan, and subsequently in the Southern Mahratta campaign. He was acting Assistant Field Engineer at the siege of Panalla, Powenghur, Managhur, Mansingtosh, and Samunghur. He was five years adjutant of the regiment, and retired from the service on half pay, through ill health, with the rank of captain.
Being in New Zealand in the year 1865 the Government secured his services, and, with the rank of major, sent him in command of 400 Taranaki military settlers to take charge of the post of Peperiki, a native settlement sixty miles up the Wanganui river. Here the rebels tried to cut him off by taking possession in the night of the rising ground commanding his camp on the town side. He despatched a portion of his men under Lieutenant Cleary, and by a gallant dash they cleared the hill and rifle-pits, before the relief arrived from Wanganui, the garrison of that town having been apprised of Brassey's position by some bottles floating down the river from his camp, the writing inside asking for assistance. He was afterwards sent in command to the East Coast to avenge the murder of the Rev. Mr. Volkner, but being suddenly recalled to England on important private business, he on his return resigned his command. From the experience he had gained in India he was reckoned to be one of the best military officers.
RELIEF OF PEPERIKI.
[BY AN EYE-WITNESS.]
On the evening of the 17th July, 1865, when the Colonial troops under Sir George Grey were before the Wereroa Pa, a messenger arrived from Major Brassey, stationed at Peperiki, stating that the rebel natives had completely surrounded him, and that his post, being commanded on all sides, was in considerable danger. This circumstance hurried on the capture of the Wereroa, and on the return of the Colonial forces to Wanganui, they were ordered at
[Image of page 242]
once to proceed to raise the siege at Peperiki. The Commissariat officer had previously received instructions from Major Atkinson to keep the garrison rationed three months in advance, in case of extremities, which had been done. But as all the points of defence were now in the hands of the enemy, the relief was a work of some danger. Nevertheless, in spite of all difficulties, canoes alone being available for the expedition, the force started, and on the second day relieved the post, the corpses of several of the enemy half buried giving evidence of the gallantry of the attack and defence. When the enemy were first discovered firing down from the hills commanding the camp, which was in the valley, Major Brassey took measures for his defence, and ordered the church to be taken to pieces in sections. With this material he barricaded the tents, the tops only showing. The portions of canvas exposed were literally riddled with bullets. Having provided this temporary shelter, he ordered Lieutenant Cleary with a part of his force to clear the Cemetery Hill arid rifle-pits, which they did in gallant style, losing only one man. Lieutenant Cleary was wounded. Had the natives held their ground the loss would have been very great, but they fortunately took fright and bolted before our men were half way up the hill.
[Page 243 is blank]
[Image of page 244]
[Image of page 245]
The famous march from Wanganui to Taranaki--Narrow escape; a button shot off the General's coat.
GENERAL CHUTE, who assumed the command after the retirement of General Cameron, was a man eminently-fitted for Maori warfare, owing to his great energy and decision of character. He never saw or made a difficulty, neither did he allow a few lives to stand between him and his object. His memorable march from Wanganui to Taranaki by the back of Mount Egmont through the dense bush, and his return by the coast line, carrying by assault every obstacle before him, was the greatest success of the war, and something so new in European tactics to the natives that, towards the finish of his campaign, the mere knowledge of his presence in the neighbourhood was the signal for a general stampede of Maoris from the district. The force he took with him was three companies of Her Majesty's 14th Regiment, two companies of Her Majesty's 57th Regiment, under Colonels Butler and Hassard, 200 friendly natives, under Colonel and Ensign McDonnell and Lieutenant W.E. Gudgeon, and a company of Bush Rangers, under Von Tempsky. The fortified pas of Okotuko, Te Putahi, Otapawa, Warea and Waikoko were carried by assault, his only word of command being "Go on, boys." He was afterwards knighted, and most deservedly so. At Okotuku Lieutenant Keogh and several of his men were wounded; at Putahi he had two killed and twelve wounded, amongst them Colonel McDonnell, a bullet having entered the muscles of his foot; a friendly native was shot through the chest, the bullet sticking in the muscles of his back, just under the skin (when it was removed by the doctor the native took no further notice of the wound); Lieutenant Gudgeon through the thigh, as he was in the act of picking off the wax from around the nipples of his revolver while preparing for the attack. At Otapawa were eleven killed and twenty wounded, amongst them Lieut.-Colonel Hassard mortally and Lieutenant Swanson slightly. Here it was that General Chute had a narrow escape of his life, a bullet cutting away the one breast-button of his coat. His only exclamation was, "The niggers seem to have found me out."
[Image of page 246]
PAORA HAPE was a chief of Taupo, who had assisted us throughout the war, and in 1870, when Colonel McDonnell was in pursuit of Te Kooti, the tribes under Paora Hape rendered every assistance, and showed their loyalty to the last. Shortly after the engagement at Porere, Hape, with his tribe, crossed the Taupo lake for the purpose of making a raid on some of the rebel settlements in that quarter, and were so successful in killing and looting, that on their return they celebrated the event by a grand war dance. In the height of the dance, a brother-in-law of Paora Hape, who was in the front rank, by some mischance discharged his rifle, the ball lodging in the spine of Hape. Dr. Walker was immediately sent for from the camp, and on his arrival pronounced the wound fatal, the spine being nearly severed, although he lingered on for two or three days. This accident produced a great sensation amongst his followers, and there was an immediate gathering of all the tribes to hear the chief's last words. Paora Hape, as he laid on a stretcher under a flax awning, the tribes squatted all around him, began by saying "That his first words would be his last, which was to be strong, as he was strong in battle." (Here he mentioned the several events of his life, in which he had showed his strength, and continued:) "Be true to the pakeha. No good had ever come, or ever would come, by fighting against the pakeha. In the old days they were all strong, he was strong, but the strength only showed itself in the fighting Maoris. If any inferior pakehas come amongst you, you had better take no notice of them, but if they do wrong report them to the Government, who have good and righteous laws. The day of the Maori law had passed away--the pakehas and the Maoris could not live under two laws. The laws of the pakeha, being the best, must always be the law of the country," and repeating again his first words, "Be strong and be true to the pakeha," he turned over and died. He was afterwards buried with great ceremony on Moutiti Island, regretted as much by the pakeha as by his own tribe.
[Page 247 is blank]
SIR G.S. WHITMORE.
[Image of page 248]
MAJOR-GENERAL SIR G.S. WHITMORE.
[Image of page 249]
SIR G.S. WHITMORE.
Services at the Cape and in the Crimea--Arrival in New Zealand with General Cameron--Pursuit of Te Kooti--The disaster at Moturoa--Capture of Ngatipa---Successful campaign on the West Coast--Titokowaru's forces dispersed--Te Kooti defeated and pursued.
SIR GEORGE STODDART WHITMORE came to this colony as military secretary to Lieut.-General Sir Duncan Cameron, then in command of the Imperial troops in New Zealand. Prior to this he had served in the Cape Mounted Rifles, and held a position on the staff during the Kaffir wars of 1847 and 1851-1853, and also at the Boer insurrection of 1848. During these campaigns he had been repeatedly thanked in general orders and despatches, and was ultimately promoted when a junior lieutenant of his corps to a captaincy in the 62nd Regiment. He returned to England to join that regiment, in 1854, and finding himself attached to the depot, with little prospect of getting out to the Crimea, he accepted the appointment of Aide-de-Camp to Sir H. Stork, at Scutari, and subsequently took command of a regiment of cavalry in the Turkish contingent, and served in the Crimea and at Kertch until sent on special service, to procure cavalry, artillery, and train horses and material, in Austria and the Principalities. At the termination of the war, he was one of the officers chosen to wind up the affairs of the army in the Crimea, and, as in these capacities, great financial and administrative responsibilities were thrown upon him, he was gratified by the Auditor-General, in a special report, certifying that although his accounts were the last rendered they were the first and easiest audited of any that had reached the department, being so thoroughly satisfactory that no objection was taken. He then assumed command of his depot in Ireland, where he remained until his admission to the Staff College, where, during the Christmas of 1860, he passed first, after a brilliant examination.
In the following January, he left England for New Zealand with Sir Duncan Cameron, and served under him for two years, when Sir Duncan, feeling dissatisfied with the control placed over him, sent in his resignation, and Whitmore resigned with his chief. The Horse Guards declined to accept Cameron's resignation, but having no power to refuse the Colonel's, he, in December, 1862,
[Image of page 250]
became a settler in Hawke's Bay. In March, he was appointed Civil Commissioner for the East Coast, and on the murder of Hope and Traggett rejoined his old commander, as a volunteer, in the operations ending in the successful action of Katikare. Being appointed to the command of the militia and volunteers at Hawke's Bay, he returned to that district. He once more rejoined Cameron in the Waikato, and was with him at the taking of Orakau. In 1868, Colonel Whitmore was appointed to the Legislative Council, and has held a seat in that body ever since.
Being in England in 1865, he missed the operations on the East Coast, carried out by Colonel Fraser; but, in 1866, he commanded the force which completely defeated the rebels, under their prophet Panapa, at the Omaranui Pa, probably the most complete success obtained by our forces during the war, all the natives in the pa, to the number of 110, being either taken prisoners or killed. Our force, on that occasion, numbered 160, but many of them had little or no knowledge of the use of the rifle. His next military service was after Te Kooti's escape from the Chatham Islands, when the settlers of Poverty Bay applied to their fellow-settlers at Napier for help. Colonel Whitmore obtained the Government's permission to raise a small force of paid volunteers at Napier, altogether about thirty men, who with some friends were taken by Her Majesty's steamship Rosario to what is now Gisborne; but arrived too late to prevent the defeat at Paparata. Te Kooti, having on that occasion won a signal success, had pushed on to the Uriwera country with all the horses and camp equipage he had taken. Whitmore followed in pursuit, but could not induce the local settlers to join in the expedition until reinforced by No. 1 division of Armed Constabulary.
In the meantime, Te Kooti had achieved a second success over the Wairoa contingent, which attempted to bar his progress, and the rebels had six days' start. However, the Colonel pushed on, and after great difficulty, owing to the inclement weather, and the refusal of the Poverty Bay settlers to go further than the Whangaroa River, the boundary of their district, he overtook Te Kooti two days later, in the bush, and at once attacked him. The action began about three o'clock, in the bed of a stream, which had to be crossed seven or eight times, breast high, it being winter time and swollen with snow. Daylight was failing when the Colonel drew off his men, and at the same moment Te Kooti was being carried off into the bush, severely wounded. The colonial force had then been forty-eight hours without food, and to reach their enemy had been marching night and day, enduring hardship from hunger and cold unknown in any other incident of the war. Colonel Whitmore, being a man of iron constitution, could endure any amount of fatigue himself, and, unfortunately for his men, considered that they should all be made of the same metal. Consequently, in his anxiety to come up with the enemy, he often overtaxed their endurance, which at times led to a little grumbling, as Englishmen cannot keep their tempers on an empty
[Image of page 251]
stomach. The Colonel, much against his will, had now to retire, or rather retrace his steps, to save his men from actual famine, as supplies had not come up; and leaving his dead behind, but carrying his wounded, he did not meet the convoy until the following day.
The news of the disaster at Ngutu-o-te-Manu, on the East Coast, having now reached the ears of Colonel Whitmore, he hastened to the assistance of Colonel McDonnell, offering to serve under him as a volunteer. The force, by their defeat, was so diminished and demoralised that Colonel Haultain, the Minister of Defence, considered it necessary to order them back to Patea, and Colonel McDonnell tendering his resignation, the Government asked Colonel Whitmore to take the command. This he did at once, and proceeding to Patea, applied himself to reorganising the force, which was in a sad condition, both as to number and morale--one whole division of Armed Constabulary having mutinied had been disbanded, while the other two companies comprised few more men than were needed to tend the sick and wounded. The only division in number and discipline fit for service was the Hawke's Bay corps, which Colonel Whitmore brought from Napier with him, though at the cost of great unpopularity with the Hawke's Bay settlers for removing them. The Government now began to enlist recruits, both in New Zealand and the neighbouring colonies, while Titokowaru moved gradually forward, passing Patea in the bush on towards Wanganui.
Strictly speaking, Colonel Whitmore's command did not extend beyond the Patea district; but he threw himself with every available man between Titokowaru and Wanganui, and being joined that night by his first batch of recruits, namely, the No. 6 division of Armed Constabulary, he attacked the enemy at Moturoa. The natives were between six and seven hundred strong, entrenched in a formidable pa, so formidable that the Colonel was unable with his force to carry the works, which, being in the middle of a dense bush, and erected within the last few days, were not known to exist. The action was well sustained and very obstinate while it lasted; but, after three hours, the Colonel having personally examined the position, and finding no available point to force an entrance, drew off his men in excellent order, though with heavy loss. All the wounded were safely removed, though the dead had to be left on the ground. The retreat was conducted so as to leave no opening for attack, and the force fell back on Wairoa safely. Under the circumstances Colonel Whitmore resolved to fall back on Nukumaru, covering Wanganui, and strengthening Patea and Wairoa. This was soon accomplished, and a position taken up and fortified, where the expected recruits might be organised. But the massacre at Poverty Bay occurring in the meantime, the Government ordered him to fall back still closer to the township of Wanganui, namely, to the Kai-iwi River, and to proceed to Poverty Bay with the most reliable of his men.
[Image of page 252]
This he accordingly did, and after some delay in waiting for native auxiliaries he invested Ngatipa, Te Kooti's stronghold, on the 1st January, 1869. This unusually inaccessible and almost impregnable work was taken on the 5th January, and the loss during the operations was so heavy on the rebels as to intimidate Te Kooti from ever again making a raid on Poverty Bay.
Ngatipa being taken, Colonel Whitmore hurried back to the West Coast, where meanwhile a considerable number of recruits had assembled, thanks to the energetic exertions of the Government, and although this force was thoroughly undisciplined and hardly trustworthy, Colonel Whitmore resolved on an immediate advance, trusting to train his men as he marched forward. Great caution was used to prevent any possibility of another reverse, which for the time would have resulted in retarding the prosperity of the West Coast. Although urged by the local Press to action of the most reckless nature, he moved slowly on for the first fortnight, discharging men unfit for the duty, and gradually teaching the rest the use of their arms in the field.
Taurangahika Pa was taken after a feeble resistance, and Titokowaru driven across the Waitotara; and Colonel Whitmore, satisfied that his force might now with safety be actively employed, threw a flying bridge across the Waitotara and marched to Patea, where, having rested two days, he moved off in the night, and at dawn next morning attacked Titokowaru's position at Otautu, which he surprised and took with some loss.
Having removed his wounded to Patea, he followed up his success, pressing the enemy by bush paths, while supplies followed by the coast road. He surprised the settlement of Whakamara, the enemy beating a precipitate retreat, closely followed by the bush column, which several times overtook the rearguard and inflicted some loss upon them.
Following on northward, Titokowaru's retreat became a flight, and when the column emerged from the bush at Taiporohenui, all traces of him were lost. Colonel Whitmore, relying on information received from Major Kemp, resolved to push on to Nga re, a post eight miles in the bush, surrounded by a swamp, almost impassable to strangers. Having arrived opposite the position, the force was set to work to construct hurdles of supple-jack, on which they crossed over the treacherous swamp, and succeeded in surprising the settlement the following morning. It was here that the Wanganui natives prevented the destruction of the enemy by running into the native camp declaring the occupants were friendly people. Meanwhile Titokowaru and the remnant of his force escaped before the ruse was discovered, but so panic-stricken and demoralised that they did not again pause in their retreat until they had found shelter far inland of Taranaki, at the Upper Waitara. This concluded the campaign. The troops, marching by the inland route round Mount Egmont, now reached the Waitara, where they were shipped to Auckland, en route to the Uriwera country.
[Inserted unpaginated illustration]
[Image of page 253]
The operations on the West Coast were so successful that the war has never been resumed, nor a single shot fired since in the whole district, whereas settlements soon followed in the wake of the troops, and the coast was re-occupied by Europeans. So subdued were the natives at this time, that had the whole of the confiscated land been then offered by auction and occupied, no further trouble would have ensued.
The Uriwera expedition concluded the operations conducted by Colonel Whitmore. Finding Te Kooti established among the wooded mountains, from which apparent safe refuge he was making murderous forays on neighbouring districts, having just destroyed the Mohaka settlement, and murdered many settlers, the colonel resolved to follow him up. The country was then unknown. Provisions could only be carried on men's backs. It was dead winter, and the cold extreme. Nevertheless, he succeeded in reaching Ruatahuna with two columns from the north and east, jointly six hundred men, and in devastating the cultivations and stores of food collected.
Both columns engaged the enemy on several occasions, and caused, as well as suffered, considerable loss. But the expedition was otherwise eminently successful, by showing the natives that where they could go we could follow them, and the troops were withdrawn to Fort Galatea to await events. Colonel Whitmore confidently relied upon the retreat of Te Kooti to the open country of the interior through want of food; but unhappily the Colonel's iron constitution at last broke down, and he had to be carried to the sea, prostrated by dysentery. A few weeks later, having somewhat recovered, he returned to the field to hand over the command to Colonel St. John, and was directed by a medical board to seek rest and change of climate. On his recovery from dysentery, he found himself overtaken by rheumatism, and remained for several years in a crippled state.
A change of Government now occurred, and the policy of the former one reversed, their first step being to remove the Colonel from the command, he, notwithstanding his condition, being then about to proceed to Taupo to give Te Kooti the coup de grace, which in that open country could not have been doubtful, since, as the Colonel predicted, he had emerged from the mountains with a very reduced force. Unfortunately, the time was lost, and the policy of inertia and conciliation failed to restore peace, so nearly won by force of arms. This policy was adopted for eighteen months before operations ceased, and ended in Te Kooti taking refuge in the King Country. In six months Colonel Whitmore restored peace to the West Coast and Poverty Bay, never since broken, with a force hurriedly collected while the operations were proceeding. His services have been recognised by the Crown, the Queen having conferred on him the C.M.G. in 1869, and the K.C.M.G. in 1882. Of his further services in the Legislative Council it is unnecessary to speak. He was made Colonial Secretary and Defence Minister in 1877. On the resignation of
[Image of page 254]
the Grey Ministry in 1879, Colonel Whitmore resigned with his colleagues. On Mr. Stout's Government taking office in 1885, he was a Minister without portfolio for a few days only. On the accession to power of the Stout-Vogel Administration, he was appointed Commandant of the Colonial Forces and Commissioner of the Armed Constabulary, an office which he at present holds with the rank Major-General, conferred for the first time in New Zealand upon an officer of the colonial forces.
TE PUIA was Native Orderly, attached to the Native Contingent, then at Taupo, in 1869. Colonel McDonnell, having an important dispatch to send to Sir William Fox, who was then in Wanganui, organising an expedition of natives to co-operate with the forces under McDonnell at Taupo, was for the moment at a loss who to entrust it to, as no pakeha could be found who knew the road, the distance being upwards of one hundred miles, thirty of which would be through the enemy's country. Puia, seeing McDonnell's difficulty, volunteered to go. He knew it was important he should go by Hiruharama, on the Wanganui river, as being the shortest route, although the last thirty miles would take him through the country occupied by the enemy, where his life would be in peril every step he advanced. But, nothing daunted, the brave old man started on his journey, and got through unmolested. This is only one of the many brave acts Te Puia did while with us which equally deserve recording.
[Page 255 is blank]
[Image of page 256]
[Image of page 257]
CAPTAIN WILLIAM McDONNELL, a younger brother of Colonel McDonnell, was appointed to the Native Contingent, and served throughout the war, both on the East and West Coasts. He was always the first to volunteer for any undertaking of danger; and acted as guide to Sir Trevor Chute all through his campaign. He was severely wounded in the groin while leading his men at a night attack on Popoia, and probably never would have recovered from the injury, had not his native company carried him on a stretcher to the hot sulphur springs, a distance of at least one hundred miles, and immersing him therein for several hours each day brought him back perfectly healed. He was at both the attacks on Te Ngutu-o-te-Manu, and was the officer sent round to the other side of the pa, during the action, with orders for Von Tempsky and his men to retire. He was under fire so often, and behaved so courageously, that his company would have followed him anywhere. He had a narrow escape of his life during the skirmishing that took place in the clearings around Putahi, after the pa had been taken. A rather grandly dressed Hauhau had shot a corporal of the 50th Regiment, who had been standing only a few paces in front of McDonnell, just as the captain had fired at a Hauhau a little to the right. As the corporal fell shot through the heart, it brought the captain and his adversary face to face, and it now became a simple question of life or death between them, as neither would retire, and he who could load first would be nearly certain to kill the other. Both commenced to load at the same moment, and a strange and exciting race it was, for both were men of strong nerve and determination. McDonnell first fitted the cap on his rifle. It was a happy thought, though contrary to all rules of musketry. The Hauhau commenced to load, keeping the capping for the last. Both ramrods worked freely, and, as the native was in the act of capping, McDonnell felt he had no time to lose; so, leaving his ramrod in his gun, he took a snap shot at his adversary from the hip, just as the Hauhau was in the act of raising his rifle to his shoulder, and fortunately succeeded in hitting him, as both ramrod and bullet passed through his chest, and he dropped where he stood. It was a race for life, and only won by half-a-second.
S. BLACK AND B. BIDDLE.
[Image of page 258]
S. BLACK AND B. BIDDLE.
THESE two men, privates in the Armed Constabulary of New Zealand, were rewarded with the New Zealand Cross for their brave and gallant conduct during the siege of Ngatipa, in June, 1869. During the attack on Ngatipa, under Colonel Whitmore, the rear of the enemy's position was assigned to the custody of Major Fraser, who commanded Nos. 1 and 3 companies of Armed Constabulary and Hotene's Ngatiporous. The extreme right--a scarped stony ridge--was commanded from the enemy's rifle-pits, and a lodgment could only be effected by cutting out steps in the cliff for the attacking party to ascend. Knowing this, the enemy made several determined sorties to try and dislodge our men, so much so that it became extremely difficult to hold the position so essential to the success of the operation. But a party of twelve determined men, having volunteered for the duty, continued the work in spite of all opposition; and, although suffering considerable loss during their operations, they continued to hold their ground (after repelling some most resolute attacks) to the end of the siege. The most conspicuous for their bravery were the two men above mentioned, and were rewarded accordingly.
Captain Scannell also reports that, on the morning succeeding the partial investment of the Taurangaika Pa, and while preparations were being made for the attack, Constable Solomon Black, of No. 1 division of the Armed Constabulary, noticing the unusual silence that prevailed about the pa, which was partially hidden from view by a small scattered bit of bush, declared it was his opinion the natives had bolted, and, in spite of all opposition, jumped over the ditch and bank fence, walked through the piece of bush, and straight up to the pa, where he had the satisfaction of verifying his statement. Had any natives been concealed in the pa--and there were no sufficient reasons to suppose the contrary at the moment--Black, as well as several others of Nos. 1 and 2 divisions who rushed after him, would certainly have lost their lives. This, although exhibiting Black's natural bravery, being regarded as somewhat foolhardy, was not considered when recommended for the New Zealand Cross.
[Page 259 is blank]
[Image of page 260]
[Image of page 261]
The attack on Turi Turi--Major Hunter wrongfully charged and honourably acquitted--Gallant lead at Moturoa--His life sacrificed to disprove a false imputation--Colonel Whitmore's testimony to Hunter's bravery--Two courageous brothers who died in the war.
MAJOR HUNTER served through a portion of the war in command of a troop of the Defence Force Cavalry, and on the evening before the attack on Turi Turi Mokai (where Captain Frederick Ross and seventeen out of his force of twenty-five men were either killed or wounded), was stationed at Waihi, a post about two and a-half miles distant, where Major Von Tempsky was in command. Early in the morning of the 15th July the sentry on duty gave the alarm. He could not hear any report of firearms, but from the flashes around the Redoubt he could see that Turi Turi was attacked. Von Tempsky, being senior in command, immediately ordered his company (No 5 of Armed Constabulary) to stand to their arms, and marched them off to the rescue, leaving Major Hunter without orders. In the meantime Troop Sergeant-Major Anderson had got his men in their saddles and drawn up before Major Hunter's tent, expecting orders to follow. When the Major made his appearance he ordered them to dismount and feed their horses.
The circumstances which led to this order on the part of the Major have puzzled many to this day. Evidently, however, the Major thought his services were not required, and that had Von Tempsky wanted him he would have left orders to that effect, and under these circumstances he felt he could not risk the safety of his post by leaving it unprotected. The affair led to his being charged with having caused the destruction of fully half of the force at Turi Turi Mokai by not hurrying to their relief when he could have arrived in so short a time. The charge so irritated the force, that many officers and men who should have known better joined in his condemnation, instead of placing the blame on his superior officer, who had left him without orders. For it was no doubt the duty of Major Von Tempsky to relieve the beleaguered Redoubt; and as he did not take the troopers with him it argued that he considered his own company sufficient. Major Hunter was tried by court martial, and honourably acquitted. Those who knew the Major intimately knew him
[Image of page 262]
to be a brave man, although this affair had led many who did not know him so well to think otherwise. There is little doubt that those who blamed him so hastily must afterwards have felt they had a large share in the sacrifice he made of his life in giving the lie to an imputation under which he was unable to live, as his recklessness at the battle of Moturoa showed. This battle took place soon after the attack on Turi Turi Mokai. Major Hunter led the attack with, fifty men of the Armed Constabulary and some of the local forces. Coming to a clearing in the standing bush, he charged gallantly across the open ground and made straight for the palisading around the pa. When within fifteen yards the whole face literally blazed--at least two hundred Maoris had opened fire on their assailants. Major Hunter's men falling fast, and finding the palisading too strong and well defended to be carried by assault, took cover and held their ground, although half the force were either killed or wounded, amongst the latter being Major Hunter himself, mortally. The survivors held on for half an hour, and so much were they encumbered by the dead and dying, that it was not thought possible to carry them off the field. But at this critical moment Colonel Whitmore brought up No. 6 Division of Armed Constabulary in skirmishing order, and by drawing the enemy's fire, saved the advanced party from annihilation, and enabled Major Hunter and the rest of the wounded to be brought off the field. Thus fell Major W. Hunter, who undoubtedly sacrificed his life to save his honour, his last words being, "I must show the world to-day I am no coward," the unjust accusations made against him still rankling in his mind.
In Colonel Whitmore's report to the Defence Minister (Colonel Haultain) he thus speaks of his death:--"I must now reluctantly allude, because it is with so much grief, to the death of the gallant Major Hunter. This brave officer, whose career has been so long before the country, who was so efficient in the every-day duties of his profession, and so prominent before the enemy, fell, as I believed, and he doubtless thought, in a moment of victory, when the loss of his brother, two months before, and of so many other gallant fellows, was about to be avenged. The Constabulary can boast of no better officer, the colonial service no braver, than Major Hunter, and the gallant manner in which he sprang forward before his division and led them to the assault, will never be forgotten by me, nor the whole force in presence of which it occurred. Happily, all saw how an officer should lead his men, and the other officers proved themselves worthy of the example. In falling as he has done, Major Hunter has left behind him an illustrious name in our colonial history, and will be followed to the grave by the regret of all colonial forces."
The evening previous to the attack on Moturoa Major Hunter informed a friend that he had obtained permission from Colonel Whitmore to lead the attacking party the next morning, and that he would let the world see he was no coward, and would avenge his brother Harry's death. Requiescat in pace.
[Page 263 is blank]