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THE capture of the Maori position at Te Ranga was the closing scene in connection with the Waikato War. The Ngaiteranga tribe surrendered unconditionally, and Sir George Grey promised them that not more than one-fourth of their lands should be confiscated.
It having been deemed advisable not to penetrate further into the interior of the country, the boundary marking the confiscated territory was drawn outside the posts already in the occupation of the military, and the troops were ordered into winter quarters. Along the frontier in the Waikato, redoubts were thrown up and strongly garrisoned, for although the Tauranga natives and Wiremu Thompson's tribe had surrendered, the Maori King, Potatau II., with the chief Rewi and his Ngatimaniapoto tribe still assumed a hostile attitude across the Puniu river-- the confiscated boundary--but without powerful aid from their southern neighbours they were too weak to attack the troops with any chance of success. Te Awamutu, where but one short year before Rewi incited his men to destroy the Government Printing Establishment and Press, was the spot fixed upon for the Head-Quarters of the military in the Waikato.
A wooden township of considerable size soon sprang into existence, and the bandsmen of the regiments having once again obtained their instruments, the hills and dales of the Waikato resounded with the inspiring strains of martial music. To relieve the ennui of garrison life a rough theatre was erected, where some capital amateur performances were given. These entertainments were graced by the presence of the fair sex, many of the officers having been joined by their wives. Balls and concerts were of frequent occurrence, and the races, under the able direction of Captain Baker, of the 18th Royal Irish, became an institution.
At Te Awamutu was the military prison, the triangles and cat-o'-nine-tails being often in request. As the winter passed away the regular troops were gradually withdrawn, and their posts occupied by the Waikato Militia, the different regiments being located in the districts where it was decided they should receive their land and serve the remainder of their military term according to the conditions under which they had enlisted. The 1st Regiment of Waikato Militia, under Col, Harrington, were located at Tauranga; the 2nd Regiment, under Colonel Haultain, at Alexandria; the 3rd Regiment, under Col. Lyons, at Cambridge; and the 4th Regiment, under Colonel Moule, at Hamilton. The Forest Rangers had their land apportioned to them at Harapipi and Kihikihi. The Defence Force, who did good service during the war, were not allotted any land. This corps was raised before the Waikato Militia, but on the formation of those regiments a verbal promise was made to the men of the Defence Force that they should have the same land privilege as the military settlers. No record having been made of the promise it was afterwards ignored. At the present time the old members of the Defence Force are petitioning the New Zealand Parliament to inquire into their long standing grievance.
In recognition of the services performed by the forces, a vote of thanks was passed by both Houses of the New Zealand Legislature to General Cameron and the troops under his command; also to Sir William Wiseman and the naval forces who operated with the troops; to General Galloway and the colonial forces, for their gallantry in the field. General Cameron
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was made a K.C.B., and upon leaving Auckland for England was presented by the citizens with a very handsome sword, as a token of their appreciation of the services that he had tendered the colony at large, and the Auckland province in particular.
After the assault on the Gate Pa a newspaper published in Auckland, called the New Zealander, in commenting upon the affair, accused the men belonging to the Naval Brigade of cowardice in deserting their officers and leaving them in the pa. The men forming the brigade having rejoined their several vessels, arrived in Auckland and demanded from the editor an apology, which was refused. A few days afterwards about 200 sailors, having obtained leave, assembled in front of the newspaper office, which was situated at the top of Shortland-street, and again demanded an apology, which was refused a second time. The men then declared their intention of pulling the edifice to the ground, for which purpose they had brought the necessary ropes and tackle. A number of the sailors, entering the building, proceeded to carry their threat into execution. Ropes were passed through the upstairs windows, the purchase tackle rigged, and all made ready, when the newspaper people, seeing affairs looking so serious, agreed to apologise, which they did, and saved their establishment from instant demolition.
Referring to the engagement at the Gate Pa, Dr. Manly, of the Royal Artillery, was stated to have been the last to leave the enemy s works. He was so busily engaged in one of the trenches, binding up the broken arm of a soldier who was wounded, that he did not observe the assaulting column retiring. As soon as he discovered his dilemma he hastily ran out of the pa, and succeeded in reaching the British lines in safety.
Captain Jenkins, of H.M.s. Miranda, who in the attack on the Gate Pa found himself left alone in a part of the enemy's works, was so situated on account of chasing a native up one of the trenches, which were constructed in zigzag fashion. Captain Jenkins, finding that he could not overtake the native, threw at him a telescope which he had in his hand just as the native was about to disappear round a corner of the trench. The telescope was afterwards discovered amongst the debris of the pa by Mr Rice, interpreter to the forces, and forwarded home to its owner, who duly acknowledged the receipt thereof.
The following anecdote, in which Captain Jenkins was a principal actor, will not be amiss: --During the war, when H.M.s. Miranda was anchored in the Manukau, Captain Jenkins, coming on shore, went into the private parlour of the Royal Hotel, then kept by Mr. Hallimore, for some refreshment. Upon looking round he discovered one of the Onehunga Naval Volunteers lying stretched on the sofa, breathing heavily. Such a state of things was of course infra dig in the presence of one of Her Majesty's naval officers, so the gallant captain at once stepped over to the sleeper and shook him rather roughly. Christy, the name of the sleeper, after a few growls, uncoiled six feet of humanity and stood before Captain Jenkins, who, looking up fiercely at him, ordered him to leave the room. Instead of obeying this order, Christy, who had been imbibing, saluted the astonished captain with a tremendous volley of adjectives, that would have annihilated any officer but the one in question. Captain Jenkins, becoming excited, placed his hand on his sword hilt, but before he could draw it Christy darted forth a hand as large as a shoulder of mutton, and, grasping the handle, whipped it out of the scabbard and flourished it over the head of the astonished captain, and, in anything but choice language, threatened to cut off the owner's head, and so deprive Her Majesty of the services of a valuable officer for ever. At this juncture Captain Jenkins, seeing that affairs were looking serious, requested Christy to put down the sword and have a drink. This happy thought ended the dilemma in which Captain Jenkins found himself placed. Christy accepted the invitation, and, throwing to the gallant captain his cheese-knife, as Christy called it, drank to his health and prosperity in a glass of brandy. Many incidents that occurred during the war might be enumerated, but they would fill a volume of themselves.
The number of troops engaged in the Waikato War, amounting altogether to about 15,000, has been deemed by many as out of all proportion to the number required; but when the disturbed state of the country at that time is taken into
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consideration, the above number of troops was necessary to secure the protection of the settlers and to assert the supremacy of the Queen. The fact of so many soldiers being in the country deterred a number of native tribes from open hostility, and the power of the British, which had hitherto been but imperfectly understood, was made patent to all the tribes, both friendly and disaffected. The allegiance of the friendly tribes was strengthened, and the disaffected, to a great extent, deterred from overt acts--the Queen was acknowledged in a way that she had never been before. Of the 15,000 troops enumerated, 6000 were Militia, undrilled, and hastily collected after hostilities had commenced, and were only in a fit state to take the field when the war was nearly finished. If it had so happened that the powerful tribes in the Whanganui district had commenced hostilities and attacked the colonists whilst the Waikato War was in progress--which it was suspected they would have done-- General Cameron would have been hard pushed for men; and at that time any serious reverse to the British arms would have driven a number of tribes, both north and south, into the ranks of the hostile army, and placed the position of the colonists in serious peril. These facts were known and considered by the Imperial Government before they decided to despatch the force they did to protect the colonists and uphold the supremacy of the Queen in New Zealand. The Government return of the number of natives in New Zealand at the time of the war in 1863 was put down at 38,807; of this number only some 1,500 resided in the South Island, the remaining 37,307 living in the North Island. Looking at the then strength of the Maoris it is reasonable to suppose that if they had been so minded they could have arrayed against the colonists in the North Island a force of at least 10,000, as their women, in time of war, were very active, performing commissariat duties, and many of them fighting as savagely as the men.
Several years after, when the Imperial troops had left the colony, the success that attended the operations of the Colonial Forces, under Colonel Whitmore, against certain native tribes, was no evidence as many have thought that the first struggles with the natives could have been fought as well, or better, with Colonial troops than Imperial. At the time of the Waikato War the conditions were different, and whilst according every praise to Colonel Whitmore and his men for their bravery, it must be borne in mind that it was on account of what the Imperial troops had before done that enabled the Colonial Forces afterwards to do what they did.
The expenses incurred by the colony in the Waikato War amounted to no less a sum than £3000,000, besides numerous other expenses charged to the colony on War Account by the Imperial Government. It was thought at the time that the sale of the lands confiscated would meet the above debt, as may be seen by the following extract from the Colonial Treasurer's speech delivered on the second reading of the Loan Bill:--
"If we take the total area of land in the rebel districts, it will be found that it amounts to eight and a-half million acres, and we have obtained information from persons well acquainted with the districts and the quality of the land, that one half of it will be available for settlement; therefore we have for settlement 4,250,000 acres. If we deduct from that the quantity required for the location of European settlers and natives, there will be a balance of three millions for sale, reserves, and for the preservation of the territory of those loyal natives who may not be desirous of disposing of their lands. I said there was a balance of 3000,000 of acres, and supposing we set apart 500,000 acres for roads and reserves, and 1000,000 for land that may be retained by the loyal natives, it would not be desirable, if it were even possible, to dispose of this land at once; but by bringing it into the market judiciously, it appears that 1,500,000 acres, economically dealt with and properly sold, will realise, at the very least, £2 per acre, and £3000,000 will be obtained at the time these arrangements are completed."
When the intelligence reached England that the lands of the rebellious natives were about to be confiscated, those no doubt well-meaning but misinformed individuals presided over by Samuel Gurney, M.P., and styling themselves the "Aboriginal Protection Society," at once took active steps to prevent it. An influentially-signed memorial was presented to the Duke of Newcastle, her Majesty's Principal Secretary for the Colonies, stating that they regarded with the
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utmost alarm, &c, &c, the passage of such a bill through the Legislature of New Zealand and humbly praying that his Grace would advise her Majesty to withhold the Royal assent from the bill. If the so-called Aborigines Protection Society instead of interfering with affairs that they knew very little about, had formed themselves into a society for the protection and amelioration of the starving poor in London, some good might have resulted from their labours and much valuable time and annoyance to the colonists of New Zealand saved.
It will be sufficient to say that Her Majesty did not withhold her consent, for the bill became law and the lands were confiscated. The price obtained for the land when sold did not, however, fetch near the estimated amount, and the major portion of the debt was afterwards generously written off by the Imperial Government.
If anything, the Maoris were treated too generously, for the broad and rich lands of the Ngatimaniapoto, who had been actively engaged in hostilities from the commencement of the war, were not touched. Neither was the extensive district owned by Wiremu Thompson, and the Ngaiterangi at Tauranga, where a large number of our soldiers' lives had been sacrificed, were promised that only one fourth of their lands should be confiscated. The principal portion of the land confiscated comprised the Lower Waikato district, and the natives belonging to that part were repeatedly offered large tracts for settlement, but persistently refused to accept any without they could have back again the whole, preferring to remain as exiles with the Ngatimaniapoto. A short time back, however, they accepted from the Government, at the hands of the Hon. Mr Whitaker, a valuable block of land suitable for all their requirements at Onewhero.
The losses that the settlers sustained during the war were to some extent mitigated by the Colonial Government, but the effects of the war were severely felt for several years afterwards on account of the great stagnation in trade that ensued.
The settlement and cultivation of the Waikato by the Military Settlers did not progress so satisfactorily as could have been wished. The majority of the men, as soon as their military term had expired, sold their land for what they could get, many 50-acre lots changing hands at as low a figure as £5. The same land at the present time is worth more than that per acre.
The loss of the troops--Imperial and Colonial--in the Waikato War, including the Gate Pa and Te Ranga, from July, 1863, until July, 1864, amounted to 110 officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates killed; and 460 officers, non-commissioned officers and privates wounded --total killed and wounded, 570 men. To this number must be added about 100 (including 18, settlers who were murdered by the natives) who met with their deaths by drowning, 'sickness' through exposure in the field, and various other causes incidental to a campaign. The casualties on the part of the natives it is difficult to ascertain, but if their loss is put down at 800 killed and wounded it will not be over the number. In addition to the above, 220 prisoners were taken by the troops, making altogether a total estimated loss on the part of the Maoris of l,020 killed, wounded, and taken prisoners,
It is much to be regretted that the New Zealand Government, out of the vast sums of money that this last few years have passed through their hands, did not apportion a small amount that would pay for the erection of a suitable monument in memory of those who fell, both Imperial and Colonial--on behalf of their Queen and country, so that peace, law, and order should reign. throughout these fair isles.
The majority of the soldiers who fell were young men in the prime of life, their ages averaging from eighteen to thirty years. The bones of these once brave men lie scattered over the country, and when gazing on the well-trimmed cemetry grave, or the rough mound, unpaled and overgrown with fern, on some bleak hillside, that marks their resting-place, let us bear in mind that it is not the living, but the dead, who gained the victory.