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Monday, March 17th, 1862.
W. STIRLING LACON, Esq., Member of Council, in the Chair.
THE WAR IN NEW ZEALAND.
By CAPTAIN PASLEY, R. E.
THE CHAIRMAN: I have great pleasure in introducing Captain Pasley of the Royal Engineers, who is about to read a paper upon the War in New Zealand. Captain Pasley served in New Zealand during the war, and was wounded in one of the actions.
CAPTAIN PASLEY: Mr. Chairman, Ladies, and Gentlemen, --In order to make the remarks which I have to offer upon the war which has recently taken place in New Zealand intelligible to those amongst you who are not well acquainted with that colony, it will be necessary to give in as few words as possible a sketch of the previous history of the country.
New Zealand consists of two large and a number of smaller islands. The northern island, which contains nearly the whole of the aboriginal or Maori race, is considerably larger than Ireland. The other large island is about the size of England and Wales. The first European navigator who as far as we are aware ever visited New Zealand, was Tasman, who touched there in 1642. Captain Cook, who visited the islands in 1769, left behind him a permanent record of his presence, in the shape of pigs and potatoes, then for the first time introduced into the country. These gifts were of the greatest value to the people of a country in which indigenous animals and edible vegetables were very scarce. For many years subsequently to Captain Cook's voyage no attention was paid to the islands, but towards the close of the last century New Zealand began to attract notice in England, America, and Australia, as a favourable station for whaling. A large number of vessels was sent from those countries to cruise about New Zealand in search of whales, and depots of stores and provisions were established on the coast, the most important of which was Kororareka, in the Bay of Islands.
The natives gladly welcomed these settlers, who in the course of trade supplied them with many things, the value of which they readily learnt to appreciate. In all their dealings they showed an aptitude for improvement and civilisation which has been rarely observed among savage tribes. They cared nothing for coloured beads and trinkets, but iron in every shape found a ready sale amongst them. Blankets and tobacco were also great articles of trade, and soon became almost necessaries of life to them. Constant intercourse with Europeans soon created in the minds of the
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more enterprising of the Maories a desire to see foreign countries, and in 1820, Hongi, the principal Chief of the Ngapuhi tribe, made a voyage to England, where he was received with much honour, and introduced to King George IV. Up to this period the Maories had been entirely unprovided with fire-arms, but Hongi, on his return to New Zealand, procured 300 muskets, with which, having armed a portion of his followers, he commenced a career of war and conquest which spread desolation over the country for several years. His contact with civilisation in England does not appear to have done much towards refining his tastes, for, not content with slaughtering his enemies, he cooked and ate as many of them as he could. Traditions differ very much with regard to the origin of cannibalism in New Zealand, but it is supposed to have been first practised as an act of vengeance. There does not seem to be any reason to suppose that the Maories ever devoured human flesh merely for the purpose of satisfying their hunger. The practice was always connected in their minds with the idea of insult, triumph, or revenge. No Maori could offer a more deadly affront to another than to tell him that his father had been eaten. After every battle the prisoners were triumphantly devoured. Thus, war promoted cannibalism, and cannibalism promoted war.
The first result of Hongi's wars was a great demand among the Maories for fire-arms, the possession of which had become essential to the safety of each tribe. This demand gave a great stimulus to trade, and consequently to agriculture and other industrial pursuits. From this again arose a desire and demand for other European manufactures, such as clothing, cooking utensils, and agricultural implements. Notwithstanding these advances towards civilisation, petty wars and feuds raged for many years more violently than ever among the various tribes, to whom the possession of new and more formidable means of destruction appeared to have imparted a fresh desire for blood.
In the meantime the European settlers at various points on the sea-coast had been rapidly increasing in numbers. In 1838 the population of Kororareka amounted to not less than 1,000 souls, chiefly whalers, sealers, runaway sailors, and escaped convicts. These persons were under no recognised or lawful government whatever. The native chiefs did not wish or attempt to exercise any control over them, and no civilised power had as yet claimed any sovereignty over the island. The state of anarchy and lawlessness into which the settlement consequently fell soon became intolerable to the inhabitants themselves, who attempted to put a check upon it by the establishment of an institution somewhat similar to the famous Vigilance Committees of the United States.
In 1839 immigrants of a different character began to arrive, under the auspices of the New Zealand Company, by whom systematic colonization on a great scale was attempted.
Colonel Wakefield, the leader of the expedition, purchased an immense territory from the natives, on payment of goods valued at about 9,000l. It appears very doubtful, however, whether the natives understood the real nature of the bargain they were making, or that they ever intended to part with the fee-simple of the land. It had been an immemorial custom among them for tribes, families, or individuals, to make over land to others for temporary purposes, but the right of resumption was always
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reserved, and they probably had no idea of the real nature of the claim which the agent of the New Zealand Company was endeavouring to establish upon them. The formation of the New Zealand Company's settlement at Port Nicholson, together with the scandal caused by the lawlessness of the people of Kororareka and other whaling stations, at length compelled the British Government very reluctantly to interfere, and in 1840 Captain Hobson was sent to the Bay of Islands, as first Governor of New Zealand.
In the same year the well-known treaty of Waitangi, by which the great majority of the Maori chiefs ceded to Her Majesty the sovereignty of the islands, was concluded. One of Governor Hobson's first acts was the issue of a proclamation declaring that all future purchases of land from the natives, without the intervention of the Crown, should be illegal, and that the validity of all purchases already effected should be investigated, and Crown grants issued for such as might be proved to have been obtained for fair consideration.
The result of the investigation was that the great majority of Colonel Wakefield's purchases were annulled.
In the mean time a revolution of another kind had been going on in the country. The first missionaries of the Church of England arrived in the country in 1814, under a promise of protection from the great chief Hongi, a promise which, although not himself a convert, he faithfully kept.
They were followed by Wesleyan missionaries in 1822, and by Roman Catholics in 1838. The result of their labours has been very remarkable. I believe that at the present day at least three-fourths of the Maori race are baptized Christians, and professing members of one or other of these three denominations, and the great majority of the remainder can scarcely be called heathens, as, although not baptized, most of them attend church and school. Slavery and cannibalism have disappeared from the land as Christianity has taken root among the people. The eminently practical character of the native mind, which was evinced in the first instance by their preference for iron over the baubles which generally charm savages, had indirectly an important influence on the promotion of Christianity. The missionaries established not only churches, but schools, where children and adults were taught to read and write in their native tongue. The Maories at once appreciated the immense value of the art of writing, and were thus induced in large numbers to attend the schools, where they were also instructed in the truths of religion. They were thus gradually converted to Christianity, and, as far as it is possible to judge from outward appearances, they seem to be quite as good Christians as the average of Europeans.
It was estimated a few years ago that one-half of the native population of New Zealand belonged to the Church of England, one-fourth to the Wesleyan and Roman Catholic communions, and one-fourth unbaptized, although not necessarily or generally heathens.
At the period of the establishment of the British Government in New Zealand the northern tribes carried on a considerable trade, not only with the settlers of Kororareka, but with the Australian colonies, in which there was a great demand for Hokianga timber. Between 1840 and 1844 the prosperity and wealth of these tribes were greatly diminished owing to various causes, of which the most important were the cessation of the
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demand for timber in Australia, the removal of the seat of government from Kororareka to Auckland, and the establishment of customs duties, which interfered with the irregular but profitable trade previously carried on.
A strong dislike to the British Government consequently sprang up in the minds of many of the natives.
Heke, a Ngapuhi chief, who owing to his marriage with the daughter of Hongi had become one of the most influential men in his tribe, took advantage of this feeling, and persuaded a large number of the people that their losses were owing to British supremacy alone. As a practical illustration of this opinion, he and his followers cut down and burnt the flagstaff at Kororareka. He was soon afterwards persuaded to offer an apology to the Government, and the flag-staff was re-erected, but again destroyed by Heke, who apparently attached some mysterious importance to that symbol of sovereignty. A new flag-staff sheathed with iron was then put up and placed under the protection of a detachment of troops. A small body of seamen, with a gun from H. M. ship "Hazard," were also stationed near it.
In March 1845 Heke attacked the town, of which he obtained possession after a skirmish, which resulted in the embarkation of all the inhabitants and the destruction of the town by fire.
Nothing like a savage or bloodthirsty disposition was evinced by the Maories on this occasion. On the contrary they restored uninjured to their parents a number of children who had been left behind in the hurry of the flight.
Reinforcements having arrived from Sydney, a force was despatched from Auckland to the Bay of Islands on the 3rd of April under the command of Colonel Hulme. It was ascertained that Heke had established himself at a pa called Okaihau, 18 miles inland. The British force consisted of about 400 men, and was joined by an equal number of native allies under Waka Nene another Ngapuhi chief, who has always to this day proved himself a firm friend of the colonists. The expedition carried a few rockets but no guns. The weather being exceedingly unfavourable, and the troops having to carry their own provisions as well as ammunition, four days were consumed in making their way to the pa.
So little was known at that period of the character of these peculiar works of defence, that Colonel Hulme contemplated taking the pa by assault without having previously effected a breach, but he wisely allowed himself to be dissuaded from making the attempt by Waka Nene, who urged him not to sacrifice his men in a mad and impossible enterprise.
The Maories, emboldened by the hesitation of the attack, made a sortie, but were at once repulsed at the point of the bayonet by the 58th Regiment and the Marines. Colonel Hulme, seeing clearly that without artillery he had no chance of success, marched back to the coast and reembarked his troops, having lost during the operations 14 killed and 39 wounded.
Experience having now shown that the employment of artillery was necessary for the reduction of a strong pa, a second expedition was fitted out for the attack of a new pa which Heke had built at Oheawai, 7 miles inland from Waimate. The force consisted of 630 troops, seamen, &c., with 6 guns, under the command of Colonel Despard, and 250 Maori
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allies. The garrison of the pa was estimated at 250 men. The expedition arrived at Oheawai on the evening of the 23rd June, and on the following morning the guns commenced firing on the pa without result. Afterwards a thirty-two pounder was brought up, the fire of which produced so much effect upon the stockade, as to induce Colonel Despard (in opposition to the opinion of Captain Marlow, R. E., who did not consider the breach practicable) to risk an assault. A storming party was therefore told off, consisting of 200 soldiers, seamen, and volunteers, with hatchets, ropes, and ladders. The attempt was most gallantly made, but in a few minutes the troops were compelled to retire, leaving one-half their number killed or wounded at the foot of the stockade.
The enemy, safely esconced in their rifle pits, watched with mingled feelings of admiration and compassion the steady advance of the storming party to certain destruction, whilst our native allies made no secret of the indignation they felt at the useless sacrifice of the lives of so many brave men.
For several days subsequently, no movement took place on either side. On the 9th of July, fire was again opened on the pa, which on the 11th was discovered to have been abandoned by the enemy. On the 14th the troops returned to Waimate.
Both parties claimed the victory, and both with some appearance of reason. The troops claimed it on the ground that they had compelled the enemy to evacuate a strong position. The Maories claimed it, because, being opposed to a number far greater than their own, they had lost but few men, and killed and wounded a great number of their opponents. Such a result in their eyes constitutes a victory, and when we consider the rapidity and facility with which they are able to erect their pas, and the abundance of strong and commanding positions throughout their country, which makes the loss of a pa of very trifling importance to them, it must be acknowledged that they had the best of the argument.
An expedition on a larger scale was dispatched a few months afterwards against Ruapekapeka, a larger and stronger pa than either of those which had been previously attacked.
It was situated about sixteen miles inland from Kororareka, and contained a garrison of about 500 men under Kawiti, a friend and ally of Heke. The expedition consisted of 1,110 Europeans (including 280 officers and men of the navy) and 450 natives, with three 32-pounders, one 18-pounder, a few field guns, and some rockets. They arrived in front of the pa on the 31st of December. On the 2nd of January, 1846, the enemy made a sortie, which was repulsed by the friendly natives. On the 10th of January the guns, having been placed in position, opened fire. They fired all day on the pa, and succeeded in making two small breaches in the outer stockade. The following day being Sunday, the enemy, expecting a suspension of hostilities on that day, retired to the rear of the pa to cook their food and to carry on their devotions. Some of the friendly natives having crept up to the stockade and ascertained that it was deserted, beckoned to the troops to advance. A party of the 58th and some sailors at once entered the pa and established themselves there. The enemy, as soon as they became aware of the unexpected entrance of the troops into the pa, made gallant and repeated attempts to dislodge
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them, but in vain. Reinforcements poured in and the Maories were compelled to retreat. 1
The natives were now beginning to get tired of the war, which materially interfered with their comforts by stopping their supplies of tobacco, blankets, and other articles, to which they had become so much accustomed as to be hardly able to dispense with them.
Heke's predictions of the renewed prosperity which was to be the result of the war were so far from being fulfilled, that the poverty and misery of the natives increased every day.
Heke and Kawiti consequently soon found themselves almost without followers, and were compelled to sue for peace, which they readily obtained, with a full amnesty from the Governor.
In the same year hostilities broke out at Wellington (Port Nicholson). After several skirmishes, in which the natives were generally the assailants, they were forced by starvation to retire from the district. They removed to Wanganui, and succeeded in the following year in exciting the natives of that district to make war against the Europeans.
On the 19th May, 1847, about 600 Maories attacked the town of Wanganui, where 170 soldiers were stationed in small stockades. A heavy fire was kept up on both sides during the day. In the night the enemy plundered the town and departed. Hostilities were carried on during two months with varying fortune, and on the 23rd July the enemy sent a flag of truce and announced that they were now for peace, "being satisfied with the number of soldiers slain."
The effect produced upon the minds of the Maories by these hostilities was highly gratifying to their self-love. They were, it is true, profoundly impressed by the magnitude of the resources of England, as evinced by the constant stream of reinforcements which poured into the country, owing to which the available number of troops was, notwithstanding their losses, continually on the increase, and they felt the hopelessness of final victory in a contest with a power which became stronger after every disaster. Nevertheless, the ill-success which had attended most of the military operations led them to think themselves very superior to the troops, both in military skill and in personal prowess.
They acknowledged, indeed, that the superior arms and discipline of the troops rendered them very formidable in the open country; but they were in the habit of boasting, that, whenever war might break out again, they would draw the soldiers into the forest, where they would be able to do what they liked with them. Such being their opinion, it is not surprising that many of their young men should have been eager to take advantage of any opportunity of enjoying the excitement and gaining the honour which they confidently expected to follow a collision with the troops.
Although the peace was not actually again broken between the two
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races until the year 1860, signs of coming discord were visible as far back as 1854, in which year some of the chiefs of the Waikato tribe, the most powerful and warlike in the country, alarmed at the increasing numbers and power of the colonists, conceived the project of setting up a king of their own; their principal object being to put a check upon colonization, by preventing the further alienation of land. The history of this movement and its connection with the war which has recently taken place at Taranaki are clearly and succinctly described in the following extract from a memorandum drawn up by the minister for native affairs at Auckland, in April, 1860.
That the present crisis in the affairs of New Zealand may be properly understood, it is in the first place requisite to give some account of the views and intentions of the native agitators known in the colony as the Maori or Waikato King party. The contest in Taranaki between the British Government and the chief Wiremu Kingi and his followers derives all its importance from its connection with this movement, for without the sympathy and expected support of the Waikato league the Taranaki natives would never have ventured upon armed resistance to the British Government.
The first proposal for the erection of a separate native state under the Waikato chief Te Whero Whero (now generally called Potatau) seems to have been made as far back as 1854. There was at first considerable diversity of opinion amongst the promoters of the movement, and great consequent uncertainty as to its precise objects. Many well-disposed natives seem to have joined in it without any thought of disaffection towards the British Government, and purely, or principally, with a view to establish some more powerful control over the disorders of their race than the Colonial Government has found it possible to attempt. But there are others whose objects have been, from the beginning, less loyal. These men have viewed with extreme jealousy the extension of the settled territory and the increase of the European population. Various influences have combined to augment the effect on their minds of this natural feeling. The lower class of settlers, sometimes wantonly, sometimes under provocation, have held out threats of a coming time when the whole race will be reduced to a servile condition. Of late, a degraded portion of the newspaper press has teemed with menaces of this kind, and with scurrilous abuse of the natives, and all who take an interest in their welfare. False notions respecting the purposes of the British authorities have been industriously spread by Europeans inimical to the Government, and whose traitorous counsels enable them to maintain a lucrative influence over their credulous native clients; and there may have been some few honest friends of the Maories, who, looking only to the better side of the agitation, have given countenance to a movement which, in their opinion, promised to promote the establishment of law and order, and the advance of civilization, and to afford a beneficial stimulus to the languishing energy of the Maori people.
The Government at one time entertained a hope--a hope now deferred, but not abandoned--that the good elements in the King movement might gain the ascendancy, and become the means of raising the native population in the social scale. It must, however, be admitted that the agitation has of late assumed a most dangerous phase.
The two objects of the league may now be affirmed to be, first, the subversion of the Queen's sovereignty over the northern island of New Zealand, and, secondly, the prohibition of all further alienation of territory to the Crown.
As regards the first object, the more advanced partisans of the Maori king now distinctly declare that the Queen of England may, for aught they know, be a great sovereign in her own country, but that here, in New Zealand, she shall become subordinate to their native monarch, from whom the British Governor shall take his instructions. The utmost conceded to the Queen is an equal standing with King Potatau.
The absolute prohibition of further land sales is a necessary part of the new policy; for it is plainly seen that, unless the further colonisation of the country can be put a stop to, the Europeans will shortly outnumber the natives even in the northern provinces.
The general sentiment of the New Zealanders with respect to their territorial possessions entirely harmonises with the views of the king-makers. The Maori feels keenly the parting with his rights over the lands of his ancestors. The expressive words of the deeds of cession declare that under the bright sun of the day of sale he has wept over and bidden adieu to the territory which he cedes to the Queen. It is in vain to
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assure him that the land remains open to him upon the same terms as to the European settler. He cannot see the matter in this light. The soil, with all its memories and the dignity conferred by its possession, have passed over to the stranger; and in its place he has acquired only perishable goods, or money which is speedily dissipated. The land-holding policy of the King party is popular, because it secures to every native the occupation, in savage independence, of extensive tracts of wild land.
When the first emigrant ships arrived at Port Nicholson, and landed their hundreds of colonists, the natives are said to have wept at the sight. They had been told, but had not believed, that the foreigners were coming to settle in great numbers upon the land which the agent of the colonising Company had just acquired. They had not realised to themselves that their country was about to be occupied by a civilised race in such force as to be able to hold its ground in spite of native resistance. The New Zealanders had always been fond of having amongst them a few Europeans dependent on their goodwill, but they love to remain masters. It is the notion of the King party that the settlers in New Zealand should be placed much on the same footing as the European squatter in a native village, whose knowledge and mechanical skill procure for him a certain amount of respect and influence, but whose homestead is held on sufferance, and who is obliged to comport himself accordingly. "Send away the Governor and the soldiers," they say, "and we will take care of the Pakehas."
The old chief, Te Whero Whero, who has been a firm ally of the British Government, has been removed by his relatives of the new faction from his late residence at Mangere near Auckland to a place called Ngaruawahia, at the confluence of the Waikato with its principal feeder the Waipa. There his supporters have established the old man (who seems to lend himself unwillingly to the farce) in a kind of regal state. The deputation despatched from Taranaki to solicit support for W. Kingi were clothed for the occasion in a uniform dress. They approached in military order. At a given signal all fell on their knees, whilst some one in a loud voice recited the text "Love the Brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the King!" After the interview the deputation retired, facing towards the royal presence. They appear to have been well drilled in this ceremonial.
The absurdity of these pretensions does not render them less dangerous. Unfortunately they are supported in the minds of the natives by an overweening opinion of their own warlike skill and resources. It must be confessed that the imperfect success of military operations in New Zealand has given some countenance to the natives' fixed opinion of their own superiority. In the debates of the Maori council at Ngaruawahia, the experience of the wars against Heki and Rangihaeata, and of the Wanganui war, are constantly referred to as showing how little is to be feared from the prowess and the boasted warlike appliances of the Pakeha.
As regards the further alienation of territory, the received interpretation of the treaty of Waitangi recognises rights in the native proprietor which must be respected, however inconvenient those rights may prove; but it would not be politic, or safe, or right, to submit to the attempted usurpation of a power of obstructing the settlement of the country which the admitted interpretation will not warrant. The treaty secures to the native proprietor the right to part with to the Crown, or to retain for himself, lands which are his own. The King party would assert a national property in or sovereign right over the remaining native territory, and are ready to support all opposition to land sales, without nice inquiry respecting, and even without reference to, the merits of each particular case. In this they infringe at once upon the rights of the Crown and of the native proprietor.
It is by no means meant to assert that all who have joined or who favour the party of the Maori King propose to themselves ends so dangerous and unjustifiable. Potatau himself is probably sincerely averse to any proceedings hostile to the Government. It is, however, uncertain how far he may have power to restrain his people, and it is undeniable that sentiments quite as strong as those above described are freely expressed throughout the districts south of Auckland, and may be expected to shape the action of a large part of the powerful tribes of Waikato.
Such then is the party to whom William King of Waitara is looking for support, and, it is to be feared, with some prospect of success; and it now becomes necessary to give some explanation of the origin of the present disturbances at Taranaki.
The settlement of New Plymouth was founded in 1841 by the Plymouth Company of New Zealand, which subsequently merged in the New Zealand Company. There were at that time scarcely any natives in the district. Some had fled southward to Cook's Straits, to avoid the invading Waikatos. Many others, who had been captured on the
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storming of the Ngatiawa stronghold Pukerangiora, still remained slaves in the Waikato country. The New Zealand Company's agent had purchased of the resident natives, with the assent of some of their relatives at Port Nicholson and Queen Charlotte's Sound, a tract of country extending from the Sugar Loaf Islands to a place called Taniwa, between three and four miles north of the Waitara River. The block extended about fifteen miles along the coast, and contained 60,000 acres. It included the land now the subject of dispute. After the arrival of the settlers, the refugee Ngatiawas and manumitted slaves from Waikato began to return in great numbers, and disputed possession of the block with the settlers. So completely, however, was the Waikato right of conquest admitted, that their permission was sought and obtained by the returning Ngatiawas before they ventured to set foot in the district. The Waikato had, however, previously transferred their rights to the British Government by the deed of cession which will be presently referred to.
In 1844 the Land Claims Commissioner, Mr. Spain, investigated the New Zealand Company's title, and reported in favour of their purchase; but Governor Fitzroy took a different view of the rights of the absent and enslaved Ngatiawa, and refused to confirm Mr. Spain's award.
In consideration of an additional payment, the returned natives consented to surrender a small block of 3,500 acres, comprising the town site; and within these narrow limits the British settlement was for some time confined. Other small blocks were subsequently from time to time acquired, and the settlement now extends for a distance along the coast of about five miles in each direction, north and south, from the town. The European population amounts to upwards of 2,500 souls, greatly outnumbering the resident natives.
The northern boundary of the settlement is little more than four miles from Waitara; but on this side of the town the Crown lands are intermixed with territory over which the native title has not been extinguished. A singular spectacle is here presented of peaceful English homesteads alternating with fortified pas, which command the road to the town at many points, unpleasantly reminding the spectator that the savage law of might still rules in this fair district.
It need scarcely be said that the occupants of these pas do not regard themselves, and practically are not, amenable to British jurisdiction. Since 1854 they have been in continual feud amongst themselves, and there has been a succession of battles and of murders in close proximity to the settled territory. A chief has been slaughtered on the Bell block; skirmishing natives have sought cover behind the hedgerows, and balls fired in an encounter have struck the roof of a settler's house.
These feuds have arisen out of disputes as to the title of land. One native faction has been steadfastly opposed to the alienation of territory to the Crown; the other party has been not less passionately determined to sell, and the contest has been as to their right to do so. The sellers naturally carry with them the sympathy of the colonists, who feel that an extension of the settlement would bring, not simply a material prosperity which this unfortunate place has never known, but also the far greater blessings of peace, security, and the prevalence of British law.
It is obvious that in such a state of things the relations of the two races thus closely intermixed must be full of peril. The embarrassment to the Government is extreme. But without some knowledge of the native character its extent will not be fully apprehended. When a native has offered to cede land to the Crown, his pride (perhaps the strongest passion of a chief) is committed to carry the sale into effect against all opposition, and it may be equally dangerous to the peace of the country to accept or refuse the offer. If the offer be accepted, the Government becomes involved in difficulties with the opposing party; if refused, the seller will seek to revenge himself upon his opponent, or become disaffected towards the Government that has put a slight upon him. If his passion does not turn in either of these directions, he will probably persevere in his attempts to induce the Governor to purchase; thus keeping open a source of agitation and peril. Taranaki is by no means the sole seat of such difficulties. At the present juncture in the affairs of the colony the Government is in other quarters placed in a similar dilemma, and is in the greatest danger of alienating those chiefs who are friendly by the rigid scrutiny to which it is requisite to subject their offers of land. The truest policy would be a fearless administration of justice between the contending parties. Unfortunately to determine absolutely what is just is often impossible in these cases, and were this otherwise the British Government is not in a position to enforce its award.
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In March, 1859, the present Governor visited New Plymouth, and on the 8th of that month held a public meeting of all the principal chiefs of the district, the native secretary, Mr. McLean, acting as interpreter. The proceedings had reference to the establishment of British law throughout the Taranaki district, and in the course of his address the Governor said, "he thought the Maories would be wise to sell the land they could not use themselves, as what they retained would then become more valuable than the whole had previously been. He never would consent to buy land without an undisputed title. He would not permit any one to interfere in the sale of land unless he owned part of it; on the other hand, he would buy no man's land without his consent."
Immediately after this declaration by the Governor, a Waitara native, named Teira, stepped forward, and, speaking for himself and a considerable party of natives owning land at Waitara, declared that he was desirous of ceding a block at the mouth of the river on the south bank. He minutely described the boundaries of the block, stating that the claims of himself and his party went beyond those limits, but that he purposely confined his offer to what indisputably belonged to himself and his friends. Being a man of standing, and his offer unexpected by many present, he was listened to with the greatest attention, and concluded by inquiring if the Governor would buy his land. Mr. McLean replied that the Governor accepted the offer conditionally on Teira's making out his title. Te Teira then advanced and laid a native mat at the Governor's feet, thereby symbolically placing his land at his Excellency's disposal. Teira's right was denied by none except a native named Paora, who informed the Governor that Te Teira could not sell without the consent of Weteriki and himself. Teira replied that Weteriki was dying (he is since dead), and that Paora was bound by the act of his relative, Hemi, who concurred in the sale. William King then rose, but before addressing the Governor said to his people:-- "I wish only to say a few words, and then we will depart." Then, turning to the Governor, he said: "Listen, Governor! Notwithstanding Teira's offer, I will not permit the sale of Waitara to the Pakeha. Waitara is in my hands. I will not give it up; e kore, e kore, e kore [i. e. I will not, I will not, I will not). I have spoken;" and thereupon abruptly withdrew with his people.
William King was one of the Ngatiawa who had retired to Cook's Straits, whence he returned to Taranaki in 1848. Though a well-born chief, his land-claims are not considerable, and lie chiefly, if not wholly, to the north of Waitara. On his return to Taranaki, being still in fear of the Waikatos, he applied to Tamati Raru, Teira's father, for permission to build a pa on the south bank, which was granted. He put up his pa accordingly close to one occupied by Teira's party; but his cultivations are on the north side of the river. Rawiri Raupongo, Tamati Raru, Retimana, and the other members of Teira's party, have cultivated the block sold to the Governor; but King has been joined by a number of natives who have gathered about him since his settlement at Waitara, and these men have encroached with their cultivations upon the proper owners. This has been a source of dissension, and one reason determining the sellers to part with their land. King's particular followers, who have been enjoying the use of the land without any claim to share in the proceeds of its sale, naturally support him in his opposition.
W. Kingi's arguments against the sale of the land are stated by the District Land Commissioner in the following terms:--
W. Kingi avowed his determination to oppose the sale, without advancing any reason for so doing. Upon which I put a series of questions to him, which I called upon the Rev. Mr. Whiteley to witness, viz.--
Q. Does the land belong to Teira and party?
A. Yes; the land is theirs, but I will not let them sell it.
Q. Why will you oppose their selling what is their own?
A. Because I do not wish that the land should be disturbed, and, though they have floated it, I will not let it go to sea.
Q. Show me the correctness or justice of your opposition.
A. It is enough; Parris, their bellies are full with the sight of the money you have promised them, but don't give it to them. If you do, I won't let you have the land, but will take it and cultivate it myself.
This petty dispute was the proximate cause of the war. The Governor gave orders that the land purchased from Teira should be surveyed for
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sale, and gave instructions to the officer commanding the troops at New Plymouth to protect the surveyors, and to proclaim martial law if he should consider it desirable to do so.
W. Kingi and his followers having forcibly interfered with the survey, Lieut.-Col. Murray made use of the discretionary power entrusted to him, and placed the district under martial law on the 22nd February, 1860. Colonel Gold arrived soon after with reinforcements, and assumed the command. The whole military force at Taranaki, however, at that period amounted to no more than 340 men. With this force Colonel Gold attacked a small pa, which W. Kingi had built within the limits of the disputed land. The pa was abandoned during the night, and destroyed on the following morning.
On the 24th March information was received that the Taranaki tribe, who inhabit the country at the base of Mount Egmont and south of New Plymouth, were about to make an attack upon the town. On the 27th they arrived at Omata, within about 4 miles of New Plymouth, where they erected two pas. On the following day a body of troops marched out by one road and militia and volunteers by another, for the purpose of bringing in some settlers who had remained at Omata, and who were supposed to be in danger. Both bodies were soon engaged, and the militia and volunteers particularly distinguished themselves, and inflicted considerable loss on the enemy. Just before dark Captain Cracroft, of H. M. S. Niger, with a part of his ship's company, made a gallant attack upon one of the pas, of which he obtained possession, almost without resistance, the enemy being taken completely by surprise. On the 29th the Taranakis retired to Warea, about 25 miles south.
In the latter end of April Colonel Gold, having received reinforcements from Auckland, marched to Warea with about 450 men, including artillery and naval brigade. The numerous deep and swampy ravines which intersect the whole face of the country, generally at right angles to the coast line, render the sea-beach itself the only practicable line of march for troops, except in the immediate neighbourhood of New Plymouth, where some of them are rendered passable by means of bridges. This peculiarity, as well as the dense masses of high fern and flax which cover the country outside of the forest, is very favourable to the Maories, who are excellent skirmishers, and know well how to take advantage of the natural features of their country. On this occasion, being either taken by surprise, or not having quite made up their minds what course they should adopt, they offered no resistance, and the troops returned to New Plymouth after destroying several pas.
In the same month a reinforcement of 500 men arrived from Australia, and an entrenched camp was established near the mouth of the river Waitara, and garrisoned by a small detachment.
In June W. Kingi built and occupied a strong pa in a commanding position, about 2,000 yards from the camp, very near the boundary of the disputed land. The communication between this pa and the forest in rear was secured by a chain of smaller pas, all of which were occupied by the enemy.
Some of W. Kingi's followers having assumed the offensive, by firing upon a reconnoitring party, it was decided that an attack should be made
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upon the pa. Accordingly, on the 27th June, a force of about 350 men, under the command of Major Nelson, 40th Regiment, marched out of the camp with the intention of surrounding and capturing the pa. With this object Major Nelson divided his force into three detachments, one of which, accompanied by two 24-pounder howitzers, was to attack the pa in front, while the other two were to turn both flanks, and cut off the retreat of the enemy. Unfortunately the force employed was very much too small for the purpose. The howitzers failed to effect a breach in the pa, and the detachments, being too far apart to afford each other support, were unable to reply effectively to the close and destructive fire which was maintained by the enemy's skirmishers in the high fern. The troops were at length compelled to retreat, with the heavy loss of 30 killed and 34 wounded.
At that date the military force at Taranaki amounted to--
Troops and naval brigade. . . . . 1,188
Militia and volunteers..... 573
comprising about 1,500 effectives.
Colonel Gold soon afterwards left the colony, on his promotion to the rank of Major-General. In a speech addressed to the officers of his regiment on parting he used the following words:--
I need scarcely now inform you that the reasons for my not being allowed to attack William King for a considerable period were political ones; nor need I say that I do not regret having foregone my own aggrandisement and eclat as a military officer in the eyes of the world, rather than risk some 2,000 women and children being barbarously murdered by a sudden nocturnal onslaught of the ferocious and bloodthirsty savages, concealed in the closely approximating bush.
I think it is only due to an officer, whose conduct was the object of persistent and unceasing depreciation on the part of the newspaper press of New Zealand and Australia, to say, that, whilst it is more than doubtful whether any effort on his part, with the very limited force at his command, could have done anything material towards reducing the Maories to submission, it is certain that for the thoughtful and provident care with which he watched over the safety of the lives and property of the settlers, he merited from them a measure of gratitude which he was far from receiving.
When the intelligence of the unfortunate attack on Puketakauere reached Melbourne, Major-General Pratt, C. B. commanding H. M. forces in Australia, determined at once to proceed to the seat of war, taking with him every available soldier. The colony of Victoria was, with the consent of its government, entirely denuded of troops, and the other Australian colonies very nearly so. These troops were despatched as rapidly as possible during the month of July to Taranaki, where the General and staff arrived on the 3rd August. The force at the seat of war at that time occupied, besides the town of New Plymouth, four detached posts, two of which were to the north and two to the south of the town. Those on the north comprised an entrenched camp on the left bank of the Waitara, one mile from its mouth and about ten from New Plymouth, and a block-house, commonly known as the Bell-block Stockade, at the village
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of Hua, about four miles from the town. There was also a block-house at the mouth of the Waitara, which was garrisoned from the camp.
The posts on the south were the Omata Stockade, about four miles from New Plymouth and a little inland, and an entrenched camp on Waireka Hill, about a mile beyond Omata, and separated from that post by a deep and densely timbered ravine, which rendered a considerable force and extraordinary precautions necessary in escorting provisions and ammunition to the camp. 2 Within the town itself were two small but strong forts, Marsland Hill and Fort Elliott, and it was partly surrounded by a chain of small block-houses, but was unprovided with a continued enceinte of any kind; and as the forest approaches within a very short distance of it, and many deep and precipitous gullies, the sides and bottoms of which are thickly clothed with fern and scrub, extend from the bush through the line of posts into the town itself, the continued presence there of a large body of troops was indispensably necessary to guard against a night surprise, in which the town would have been burnt and the women and children in all probability murdered.
The total armed force at the disposal of the Major-General at this period amounted to a little over 2,000 rank and file, including the naval brigade and all the men borne on the muster-roll of the volunteers and militia. From these last must be deducted a large proportion necessarily employed in civil capacities, as boatmen, sailors, carters, bakers, butchers, &c. leaving about 2,000 for the whole available force. Of this number little less than one-half were stationed in the various outposts, and so large a proportion of the remainder was, as above explained, compelled to remain in the town, that only about 500 rank and file could be depended upon as available for active military operations at any distance from the town, except immediately in front of the Waitara Camp, where they might have been temporarily reinforced by a part of its garrison. It was found quite impossible to obtain accurate information as to the strength of the Maories actually in arms in the vicinity, but they were generally estimated at from 1,700 to 1,800, of whom it was supposed that about one-half, consisting of the Ngatiawas under Wiremu Kingi, and the Waikatos, had their head quarters in the Waitara district, their most advanced post being Puketakauere; while the remainder, comprising the Taranaki and Ngatiruanui tribes were engaged in an attempt to invest the Waireka camp on the south, by means of long lines of rifle-pits supported by pas. The base of operations of both these parties was the dense and almost impenetrable forest, which, spreading from the slopes of Mount Egmont, covers a great part of the province of Taranaki, and stretches all along the coast line to within a short distance of the sea-shore. For many miles north and south of New Plymouth, this great forest is only separated from the sea by a narrow belt, varying from one-and-a-half to four miles in width, of land either naturally free from timber or artificially cleared. A comparatively small portion even of this contracted space is under cultivation, the rest being generally covered with very thick fern, often from 5 to 10 feet in height, interspersed with brambles. The whole face of the country is intersected by a network of wide, deep, and often precipitous ravines, generally swampy at the bottom, and their
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sides covered with dense timber and tangled scrub. These ravines, most of which are not visible until their edge is reached, connected as they usually are with the forest, offer peculiar facilities for marauding parties of the enemy to prowl about at night, and lie in wait for and murder solitary European stragglers.
Under cover of the forest the two main bodies of the enemy were enabled to keep up a constant communication, and to concentrate their whole force in a few hours on any point which they might wish to attack, without giving the least warning, whilst on the other hand no movement of the troops could take place without the enemy being immediately aware of it. The real sympathies of most if not all the so-called "friendly Maories" were undoubtedly with their own race, and, as it was impossible to obtain any information of the position or intentions of the enemy so long as he remained in the forest, except through them, it is not surprising that the rebels had more perfect intelligence than the military authorities. In this respect the general found himself in a far worse position than that of the officer commanding the troops in the former war, who possessed a powerful and faithful ally in the Ngapuhi chief "Waka Nene." It was evident that the friendly Maories at Taranaki were not much to be relied upon, and it was quite certain that they were in the habit of giving information to the enemy; nevertheless, it was impossible to get rid of them. The only intelligence, imperfect and doubtful as it was, that could be obtained, came from them, and to have driven them away would have been tantamount to declaring war upon the whole native race.
Major-General Pratt on his arrival found a very difficult task before him. It was necessary at the outset to proceed with great caution. The enemy were well aware that all the reinforcements which had hitherto arrived were drawn from Australia, which was now drained of troops; and they had been led by designing persons whose interest it was to promote a war of races to believe that England was at war with France, and could send no troops from home. The traditions of Heke's war, in which the troops suffered several reverses at the hands of the Maories, and never succeeded in gaining any decisive advantage over them, led them not unnaturally to believe themselves well able to cope with and overcome an equal number of soldiers. They found an easy mode of inducing the Governor not only to withhold reinforcements from the real seat of war, but even to withdraw troops from thence, and thus to paralyse the general's operations at a critical juncture, by merely holding out vague threats of a descent upon Auckland. In the same manner, by actually and constantly menacing New Plymouth, which was full of women and children, they compelled the general to keep a large force always within the town. Thus they were enabled with the greatest ease at any time to bring into the field a much larger number of men than General Pratt was able to oppose to them. This, however, would have been of little consequence had it induced them to leave the shelter of their strongholds and to fight in the open country. This was far from being the case. They had no intention of fighting except in strong positions, judiciously chosen, and fortified with great art and ingenuity by themselves. The mere loss of one of these positions would not have been of much importance to them; but had the general, with all the little force at his command, been repulsed in an
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attack upon them, consequences of the most serious kind would have ensued. Indeed it appeared more than probable that any such failure would lead to a general rising of all the wavering tribes, not against Her Majesty's supremacy alone, but against the very existence of the European community. In such an event the war would have assumed a character and proportions little understood or contemplated by those who, in complete ignorance either of the nature of military operations or of the features of the country and the character of its population, spoke of the total subjection of the Maori race as no very difficult matter.
Little is known of the interior of the northern island of New Zealand, but it is certain that its inhabitants are not the least warlike among the Maori tribes; and it is probable that the complete conquest and subjugation of the country would be a task not very inferior in magnitude or difficulty to that which the Romans had before them when they undertook the conquest of Britain.
General Pratt was of opinion that the best mode of avoiding such a disastrous complication, and of bringing the war to an end before the great mass of the tribes should be committed to it, would be to afford them a practical proof, that, although the hasty attack on Puketakauere--undertaken before his arrival--had failed, it was in his power to take their strongest pas by a systematic and irresistible mode of attack, without much difficulty or loss on his part. In order to do this it was necessary to increase the strength of his moveable column. With this view he was desirous of abandoning the Waireka camp, the occupation of which was then useless, as the Omata stockade, which could be held by 50 men, was a sufficient outpost in that direction. This step would have given him an immediate addition of about 250 men; but there were serious objections to its being at once carried into effect. The camp was actually besieged by the whole force of the southern tribes, and to have withdrawn the garrison in the face of the enemy without a battle would have been looked upon by them as a confession of defeat; whilst to have attacked their formidable line of defences with the necessary certainty of complete success would have required a larger force than he could at that time employ, without leaving the town almost defenceless, and at the mercy of the Waikatos and Ngatiawas.
The general therefore determined upon the following plan of action: first, to hasten by every means in his power the departure, which had already commenced, of the women and children to the southern island, when a considerable portion of the permanent garrison of New Plymouth would be added to his available field force; and in the meantime to employ the troops in surrounding the town with a palisade and ditch, and in making gabions for siege operations, should they be required. Next, to attack and drive the southern natives from their position at Waireka. Then, reinforced by the garrison of that post, to march to the Waitara and to attack and capture Puketakauere, and the chain of pas which connected it with the forest. Then, in the event of the enemy taking refuge in the bush and refusing to submit, he proposed to follow them up to their strongholds by the system of operations which he afterwards carried out with complete success. Lastly, he intended to follow the Taranakis and Ngatiruanuis into their own country, and to inflict a severe and well-merited chastisement upon those tribes.
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The failure of a portion of this plan, and the necessary postponement for some time of the remainder, arose entirely from circumstances over which the general had no control. He proceeded to Auckland for the purpose of requesting the support and assistance of the Governor and Executive in effecting the removal of the women and children. This was promised, and steamers were despatched to New Plymouth to convey them to Nelson, in the middle island.
During the general's absence, which only lasted for a few days, the enemy adopted a most unexpected and unaccountable step, in suddenly and simultaneously abandoning their strong positions both at Puketakauere and Waireka. The Waikatos proceeded northwards to their homes, the Taranakis retired to Tataraimaka and Kaihihi, the Ngatiruanuis returned to their own country, W. Kingi and his followers fell back into the forest, and all the great works which had cost the Maories months of hard labour, fell into the hands of the troops. As the officers of the native department at Taranaki were of opinion that the Waikatos at least, if not the southern natives, would return in all probability in much larger numbers in about a month or six weeks, the general, on his return from Auckland, resolved to employ the interval in completing the preparations upon which he had previously decided, not, however, neglecting any opportunity which might offer of inflicting a blow upon the rebels who remained in the province.
An unexpected difficulty now arose in removing the women and children. The alarm which they had previously experienced, and which had induced them readily to consent to leave the province, disappeared with the main body of the enemy, and nearly all of them absolutely refused to embark. The general at length finding that it was out of his power to effect their removal without the use of actual violence, was most reluctantly compelled to abandon the attempt, and to allow about a thousand women and children to remain, thus depriving himself of the services of about half a battalion of soldiers. In the mean time, no chance of harassing the enemy was lost. All the pas, upwards of twenty in number, many of them very strong and of quite recent construction, which they had occupied outside of the forest, were destroyed, and in them large stores of provisions. Many attempts were made to surround the enemy in their pas and to prevent their escape, but these were always defeated by the accuracy of their information, their vigilance, and the rapidity with which they were able to move. It was said indeed at the time, and perhaps generally believed, that much more might have been done by a judicious use of the services of the militia and volunteers, whose knowledge of the country and of the natives would, it was thought, enable them to follow the enemy through the bush with advantage. This, however, was a mistake. Soon after the general's arrival he was waited upon by the major commanding, and all the captains of the militia and volunteers, who offered, if their men were relieved from garrison duty and from work in the trenches, to take them out in small parties every night, and lie in wait for the rebels. They undertook, in this manner, to clear the open country of their marauding parties, and to drive them into their pas in the bush. The general at once accepted this proposition, but on the following day, when the officers explained the arrangement to their companies, the men refused to carry it out. They said that they would of course go wherever they might be
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ordered, but they would not volunteer for such peculiarly hazardous service, and they did not think that they ought to be called upon to perform any service on which the troops were not also employed.
Without entering into a detailed account of all the operations which were carried on under these difficulties, with more or less success, but without any disaster, during the months of August and September, it may be mentioned here, that all the accounts of disastrous failures, disgraceful retreats, and misconduct on the part of officers high in command, which, having first appeared in some of the New Zealand newspapers, were copied and adopted by the Melbourne Argus, and subsequently by the Times, were wholly without foundation, and destitute of truth. It is true, that, for the reasons before stated, nothing very brilliant or decisive could be effected during that period, but much mischief was done to the enemy, and nothing like disaster or defeat occurred.
On the 18th September the Governor addressed a letter to General Pratt, in which he recommended a system of "sudden, secret, and constant attack when and where they least expect it," and urged that advantage should be taken of our superiority of force at the time, as the proportions might be reversed in a few weeks.
Perhaps the best illustration that can be given of the difficulties of the general's position, will be to quote an extract from his reply to that letter. He says:
During the past few weeks the troops under my command have destroyed between twenty and thirty pas, many of them very recently built, and provided with rifle-pits and other defences constructed in the most careful and elaborate manner.
The rebels did not venture to defend any of these places, but deserted them all on the approach of the troops, in some cases in such haste, that, on our entry, we found meat half-cooked on their fires. We have also destroyed a great number of "wharres," or native habitations, and a considerable quantity of provisions.
During the whole of this period the enemy have been suffering very severely from sickness, caused by privation and exposure; and I have certain information that they have lost a good many men, including several of their most influential chiefs, who have been killed in action, or have died of their wounds. The whole of our casualties, on the other hand, throughout all these operations amount to only one man killed, and four wounded. I cannot conceive that such a result can be looked upon as a success on the part of the enemy.
The plan which your Excellency proposes of harrassing them by secret, sudden, and constant attacks, by bodies of troops without baggage, is, in my opinion, impracticable. It is impossible to surprise them, as the scouts, who are constantly on the watch about their pas, will always give them sufficient notice to enable them to effect their escape should they be desirous of doing so, or to prepare for defence if they mean to remain. Experience has proved that to send troops unprovided with artillery to attack a pa entails certain failure, accompanied with an useless loss of men and of prestige. I consider it of the highest importance, not only to the successful termination of the present war, but to the future peace of the colony, that the Maories should become convinced of the superiority of the troops in warfare, and of the hopelessness of their endeavouring to gain any material advantage over us; and I cannot think that it would be wise or justifiable knowingly to place the troops in a position in which that superiority would disappear, or perhaps be converted into inferiority.
I arrive at a different conclusion from the opinion expressed by your Excellency, that the present excess of our numbers over those of the enemy in this province places us in a more favourable position for the prosecution of the war than we shall probably be in two or three months hence, when the proportion may be reversed. On the contrary, the principal difficulties with which I have now to contend arise from this very cause; and I am satisfied that any increase in their numbers, which might give them sufficient confidence either to defend a pa in an accessible position, or to accept battle in the open
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country, would lead to a much more satisfactory result than a lengthened continuance of the present state of affairs.
The justice of these opinions was signally verified by the event.
In the beginning of October the general received intelligence that the Taranaki tribe had built a couple of new pas on the river Kaihihi, about sixteen miles from New Plymouth. He determined to attack them. There were evident signs reported by a reconnoitring party that the natives intended to defend them, inasmuch as they had covered them with fascines of green flax. He looked upon this as a favourable opportunity for making a serious attack upon them. He left New Plymouth on the 9th of October with 800 men, and the following artillery, viz., one 8-inch gun, two 24-pounder howitzers, two cohorn mortars, and some rockets. To give an idea of the difficulty of moving in that country, I may mention, that the 8-inch gun, which was slung on a devil carriage, required eighteen bullocks to draw it. It was attended by six carts carrying the platform, carriage, ammunition, &c., requiring in all nearly sixty bullocks for one gun. The train of carriages for the whole column, comprising only 800 rank and file, was considerably more than a mile in length, although nothing unnecessary was carried. That night the force encamped at Tataraimaka, and on the following morning reached their destination.
The enemy's defences consisted of three pas, two on the north, and the third on the south side of the river Kaihihi. Their flanks were well covered by deep and impassable ravines, and the only way by which the pas could be approached was flanked by a line of rifle-pits on the margin of a patch of dense forest. The pas were sufficiently near for mutual support, and were well provided with flank defence. 3
The nature of the ground made it necessary first to attack Orongomaihangai, the strongest of the three.
On the morning of the 11th, a working party and guard of the trenches advanced to within 250 yards of the pa, and commenced the construction of a parallel. The enemy showed themselves during this operation, but did not for some time open fire. They appear to have misunderstood the nature and object of the work, and to have been in momentary expectation of an assault.
It was not until the breastwork was nearly completed, and the guns brought up, that they became aware of their mistake. They then opened a sharp fire from the pa and from the rifle-pits. The guns and mortars commenced shelling the pa before noon, and kept up their fire till dark, without making a breach in the stockade.
In the course of the night approaches by sap were commenced and carried on till morning, when it was discovered that the enemy had abandoned all their pas during the night.
It appears that, although the shells passed through the stockade without doing it any material damage, they searched the rifle-pits, and must have inflicted considerable loss on the enemy.
General Pratt's intention was to follow up this success by a march further to the south, with the view of attacking other pas belonging to the same tribe, but he was reluctantly compelled to abandon this intention, by the receipt of a letter from the Governor, informing him that a strong force of Waikatos was already on the march for the Waitara.
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Considering the nature of the country, the total absence of roads, and the impossibility of securing a communication with the town by sea, owing to the exposed and rocky formation of the coast, it could not be anticipated that any operations of importance further south could be concluded in a less time than several weeks, and in the face of the Governor's warning it would have been extremely imprudent to have attempted any thing of the kind at that time. A few days afterwards it was ascertained that the Waikatos had actually arrived at W. Kingi's pa, whence they sent a challenge to Mr. Parris, the land purchase commissioner, of which the following is a translation:
To Mr. PARRIS, . . . . . . . . Puke Kobe, 1 Novr. 1860.
Friend, I have heard your word--come to fight me, that is very good; come inland, and let us meet each other. Fish fight at sea; come inland, and stand on our feet; make haste, make haste, don't prolong it. That is all I have to say to you--make haste.
From WETINI TAIPORUTU.
From all the Chiefs of NGATIHAUA and WAIKATO.
On the evening of the 5th of November intelligence was received that the Waikatos had taken possession of Mahoetahi, an old pa in a strong position on the road from New Plymouth to the Waitara. Major-General Pratt immediately wrote to Colonel Mould, R. E., who was then in command at the Waitara camp, to inform him that he intended to attack the enemy early on the following morning, and to desire that he would make a simultaneous attack on the other side, with a portion of his force.
In pursuance of this plan, the general marched from New Plymouth with 700 men at daybreak on the 6th, and immediately on his arrival at Mahoetahi commenced the attack, without waiting for the detachment from the Waitara, which had been accidentally delayed, but which arrived in time to take part in the engagement before its close.
The Maories made a gallant but ineffectual defence, and were pursued for several miles, until they took refuge in the forest. The loss of the troops and militia on this occasion amounted to 4 killed and 15 wounded; of the natives 31 were found dead on the field and 5 wounded, and traces of blood were seen all along their line of retreat, proving that many of those who succeeded in reaching the bush must have been wounded.
The officers of the native department, who had means of obtaining intelligence on the subject, estimated their loss at about 100.
The Governor, on learning the result of this action, was of opinion that the Waikatos would very probably leave Taranaki and turn their whole force upon Auckland. Under this impression he called upon General Pratt to detach no less than 400 rank and file from his already small force to assist in the defence of the capital. The contemplated movement of the Waikatos did not take place, and the only result of the transfer of these troops to Auckland was entirely to cripple the general's operations, and effectually to prevent him from taking any immediate advantage of his success. About the end of the month, a portion of the 14th Regiment having arrived in Auckland, the troops that had been detached from Taranaki were sent back again, and the general determined to carry out the system of attack upon the enemy's positions in the bush which he had contemplated from the first; but, during the month
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of December the weather was so bad that nothing could be done, the country being flooded with rain.
On the 27th of December the general marched from New Plymouth to the Waitara with the whole of his available force.
The enemy had in the meantime established a new pa, Matarikoriko, in a very formidable position, about two miles and a-half from the camp, and nearly surrounded by deep, precipitous, swampy ravines, fringed with concealed rifle pits, the whole of the neighbouring country being covered with fern, from six to eight and even ten feet in height, and so dense that a horse could with difficulty force his way through it.
The general determined to establish an advanced post at Kairau, about 900 yards from Matarikoriko. From this point he proposed to attack the pa by regular approaches. On the 29th he marched to Kairau with 900 men, and immediately commenced the erection of a redoubt, the working party being protected on all sides by skirmishers. 4
The work proceeded without molestation until about 9 A.M. when a heavy fire was opened on the troops from the concealed rifle-pits, as well as from native skirmishers in the high fern. The work was completed about 6 P.M. and garrisoned, but the firing continued on both sides throughout the night. In the morning the enemy showed a white flag, and the day was spent in strengthening and improving the work. On the morning of the 31st it was found that the Maories had abandoned all their works in the neighbourhood, and had fallen back on the forest at Huirangi. General Pratt described their deserted position as "one of the most formidable he ever saw," and as "chosen with singular sagacity." The pa was demolished, and its site occupied by a block-house to contain 60 men.
The enemy now occupied a line of rifle-pits upwards of a mile in length, skirting the edge of the forest. These being entirely concealed from view it would have been a mere waste of ammunition to attack them by artillery fire, and they were so ingeniously arranged for mutual support that an attack by vive force could only have led to a useless waste of the lives of the troops. It was therefore determined to push forward the advance by a chain of redoubts to within about half a mile of the forest, and from thence to approach and pierce the centre of their position by double sap. 5 The sap was commenced on the 22nd January, and on the same night, or, more correctly, on the following morning before daybreak, the enemy attacked the most advanced or No. 3 redoubt in force, and with a degree of vigour, determination, and military skill, which few persons had previously given them credit for being able to command. The attack commenced some time before dawn, and was gallantly maintained until after the break of day, when it was seen that they had advanced in regular military order, with storming party, supports, and reserve. Although the
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redoubt was well constructed, and garrisoned by a considerable portion of the 40th regiment, it was not till reinforcements had arrived from the rear that the attack was finally repulsed, and the enemy driven back into the forest.
The sap was then pushed steadily forward, small redoubts being erected at intervals along the line to protect its head, until the 27th, when the enemy, finding their line of defence almost cut in two, abandoned the whole position, and fell back about a mile and a half into the bush, where they had established a similar but still more formidable series of works of defence. A few days were then occupied by the troops in constructing a strong work (No. 6 redoubt) at Huirangi, at the edge of the forest, and in clearing a road to the front, through a part of the bush. They then pushed forward about three quarters of a mile, and constructed another redoubt (No. 7) under a heavy fire from the front and both flanks.
In front and on the right of the redoubt lay a great amphitheatre of lofty rugged hills and deep ravines, thrown together in wild and picturesque confusion.
On the left was a rocky precipice overhanging the river Waitara, of which it here formed the left bank. The brow of each hill, at a distance of from six to eight hundred yards from the redoubt, was crowned by irregular lines of rifle-pits, so arranged as to flank each other and to command every ravine which an assailant would be compelled to cross, and so well concealed by the stunted bush which grew plentifully on the hills, that their position could only be guessed at by the smoke from the musketry of their occupants. 6 The right of the enemy's line of defence rested on the river at Pukerangiora, a commanding eminence, long famous in the annals of Maori warfare, and now crowned by the Pa Te Arei.
Immediately in rear of the enemy's position lay the great forest, stretching far away over mountain and valley into the distant and unknown interior.
From No. 7 redoubt the approach was carried on by single sap as far as No. 8, or about a quarter of a mile; from this point the double sap was recommenced, demi-parallels being thrown out to cut through the lines of rifle-pits on the left front of the attack. The whole of these works were carried out under great difficulties, owing to the incessant fire kept up by the enemy in front and on both flanks, and their repeated night attacks upon the head of the sap; notwithstanding which the troops suffered but little loss owing to the able and careful manner in which the works were designed and carried out by Colonel Mould, Commanding Royal Engineer.
On the 12th of March, a truce was granted to the Maories at the request of W. Thompson, a very influential Waikato chief, who had been deputed by the tribe to visit Taranaki and report upon the progress of the war there. Finding that his people had suffered and were suffering heavy losses in killed and wounded, and that they were compelled day by day to fall back before the steady and irresistible advance of the sap, he became anxious that hostilities should cease. The truce, however, only lasted for three days, the Maories having refused to agree to the terms offered them by the Governor.
On the morning of the 15th, three 12-pounder Armstrong guns, and
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two 8 and two 10-inch mortars which had just arrived from England, were moved to the front and placed in position. At 11 a. m. the enemy's white flag was lowered, and a red one hoisted, upon which firing recommenced on both sides.
On the night of the 16th, a last attempt was made to destroy the head of the sap, which was defeated by the explosion of an 8-inch shell which had been attached to the sap-roller for that purpose.
On the 18th the enemy finally sued for peace, and the war came to an end.
The Waikatos, having agreed to give up the whole of the arms and plunder they had taken, returned to their own country accompanied by Wiremu Kingi, whose immediate followers came in, and made submission.
Mr. RIDGWAY: It was stated by Mr. Buxton in the House of Commons the other night that the war was raging fiercely in New Zealand now. I should like to ask Captain Pasley whether it is in his knowledge that such is the fact?
Captain PASLEY: I do not believe there is any war in New Zealand at present. The Australian mail has just arrived, and there is nothing about it in that; on the contrary, everything appears quite quiet.
Mr. RIDGWAY: I am pretty well up in New Zealand affairs, and I beg to state that the assertions which have been made with reference to the prevalence of war in New Zealand are totally without foundation. General Pratt has accomplished the defeat of the natives. There has been no war in New Zealand since the arrival of General Cameron. If the time would permit, I would have asked some more questions.
Mr. FITZGERALD FOSTER: What is the greatest number of natives that ever met our troops during the recent war?
Captain PASLEY: It is impossible to state exactly. It is supposed that the number of natives engaged in the operations just detailed was about 2,000. It is impossible to say whether the whole of the 2,000 were actually engaged in action on any one occasion.
Mr. FOSTER: Did you ever hear it computed what number of men the natives could bring into the field at once--I do no not mean in the late war, but in future?
Captain PASLEY: It would depend entirely on the union of the tribes, which is a very unlikely thing to take place. In the first place, the Ngapuhi tribe and its chiefs appear to be as firm friends of ours as ever they were, and they constitute one of the most numerous and powerful of the Maori tribes. Taking the population of the northern island south of Auckland, that is, exclusive of the Ngapuhis, it might be about 40,000 altogether, and probably one-third would be adult males.
Mr. RIDGWAY: I can state that the population of adult males in New Zealand is 30,000; including men, women, and children, 56,000. The Europeans were 70,000, and since then the augmentation of the British forces has considerably increased that number.
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Friday, April 11th, 1862.
MAJOR-GENERAL the Hon. JAMES LINDSAY, M.P., in the Chair.
THE WAR IN NEW ZEALAND.
By CAPTAIN C. PASLEY, R. E.
IN a paper which I had the honour to read before this Institution a few weeks since, I gave a short account of the history of New Zealand down to the conclusion of the recent war. I propose on the present occasion to offer a few observations on the character of warfare in that country, on the kind of arms that the natives use, with their reasons for adopting them, and on the peculiarities of their defensive works, which, although inapplicable to European warfare, are well deserving of consideration as evincing a natural aptitude for war on the part of the Maories which would be remarkable in any nation, and the existence of which amongst a people, so recently rescued from total barbarism is probably unparalleled.
A great deal has been said of the apparent absurdity of a considerable number of troops being kept as it were at bay by a not very numerous body of semi-savages. In a leading article dated the 20th December, 1860, "The Times" contrasts the two pictures of British prowess presented on the one hand by the small allied force (chiefly British) dictating terms of peace to the Chinese Emperor "on the very walls of a capital containing 2,000,000 of inhabitants," and on the other, by "a force of 3,000 effective men commanded by a veteran general, and with an unusually large number of colonels and other officers amply equipped with artillery and with all the munitions of war, drawing its supplies by sea, and backed by a British fleet of six ships of war, which can hardly hold its own against a horde of naked savages never exceeding 600, and now probably reduced to some 120; armed with wretched flint and steel muskets and tomahawks, unprovided with the scantiest apparatus of warfare, and almost destitute of subsistence." The writer goes on to say that a force of 1,000 men under General Pratt "had already declined the siege of a pa of somewhat more than average strength."
As an evidence of the recklessness of assertion which characterised the article in question, I will simply observe, that the number of effective troops (including Naval Brigade) at the disposal of General Pratt at the period referred to was just one-half of the number stated; that, so far from there being "an unusually large number of colonels and other officers," the force laboured under the disadvantage of possessing unusually few officers of all ranks; and finally that the force under General Pratt,
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which was 800 (not 1,000) strong, so far from declining the attack of a pa, had both attacked and captured it, and an account of the capture had actually been published in "The Times" itself two days before the leading article appeared.
I need not continue the quotation. If any of my hearers wish to learn how the honour of our troops, and consequently of our nation, may be vilified in the eyes of the world on the authority of obscure and unscrupulous colonial newspapers, I would refer them to that article, and to some others which appeared in "The Times" about the same period. Did time admit of it, it would not be difficult to show the utter fallacy of the comparison between China and New Zealand, and it would be equally easy to show on the present occasion that the statements of comparative force, arms, &c. --in short, the whole of the supposed facts mentioned in the extract which I have just quoted, as well as nearly all those which follow, are founded entirely on false information. 7 I readily acquit "The Times" of any wilful falsification of facts; I only say, that, before giving the weight of its great name and influence to statements affecting the credit of the British arms, it ought to take at least as much trouble to ascertain the truth as it generally does before commenting on matters affecting the character of an individual.
In this particular case "The Times" had, in the monthly letters of its Melbourne correspondent, which were regularly published without being noticed, and apparently without being read, by the writers of the leading articles, the means of correcting many of the falsehoods to which, no doubt unconsciously, it gave a world-wide currency.
I have alluded to "The Times," not only on account of its great circulation and influence, but because it happens to have been the only daily London paper that I had an opportunity of seeing during the period in question. What sort of remarks may have been made by others I do not know.
I ought, perhaps, to apologise for offering these few remarks, which may seem to have no direct bearing upon the subject of which I have now to treat; my excuse must rest on the peculiarity of the case. New Zealand is sixteen thousand miles away, and nearly all the officers and men who were engaged in the war are still either there or in Australia, too far off to make themselves heard with effect. General Pratt, it is true, has received what I may be permitted to call a well-merited mark of honour from our Sovereign; but the public does not form its opinions from an announcement in the Gazette, but rather from what it reads in the daily papers, in which, as far as I am aware, no recantation or apology for the unfounded calumnies formerly published against the troops has ever appeared; nor has justice been done by the press in England, either to the gallantry and perseverance with which the troops carried on operations of the most harassing kind, under extraordinary difficulties, or to the conduct of the general, who, disregarding the ignorant clamour of newspaper writers, went steadily on his way, without turning to the right or left, until he had carried the war to a successful conclusion, in such a manner as to gain for himself, and for the troops under his command, the respect of the enemy.
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Before entering upon a description of the arms and mode of warfare of the New Zealanders, I must observe, that one of the most fallacious opinions ever entertained by reasonable men, is, that because savages have often been able to offer a serious resistance to regular troops, under favourable circumstances, therefore any other force, no matter what, colonists, sailors, gold-diggers from Australia or California, men of any kind in short, provided they have not been trained as soldiers, would be much more efficient, owing to some imaginary power that every man not brought up as a soldier seems to be supposed to possess of getting through dense scrub and "supple jack," and of doing without supplies of provisions, clothing, and ammunition. In short, discipline is imagined to be a mistake, and organised movements worse than useless. Nothing can be more unfounded than such a notion. The Maories are infinitely more formidable enemies than the North American Indians, or any other savages with whom the English nation has had to deal, with the single exception of the Kaffirs, because they possess discipline and military organisation in a very high degree. On the other hand, the Naval Brigade, formed of detachments from the crews of Her Majesty's ships on the station (with a contingent from the steam-sloop Victoria, which was lent to General Pratt by the government of the colony of Victoria), constituted a very valuable reinforcement to the troops, not because they were less under discipline than the soldiers, but because they combined that discipline with that readiness at handling tools, and turning their hands to any kind of unusual work, for which seamen generally are justly celebrated.
I mentioned the Kaffirs just now, as an exception to the rule that the Maories are the most formidable race of savages that we have met. They were undoubtedly, before the recent breaking up and dispersion of their tribes, much more numerous than the Maories, and quite as warlike in their habits. I have heard that a distinguished officer, who served in the last war at the Cape, considered the Kaffirs to be "perfect light troops," and I can easily believe that they were so, without supposing them to have been superior to the Maories in skirmishing, whilst they were certainly inferior to them in the art of constructing works of defence; indeed I believe the Kaffirs never attempted anything of the kind. Our troops had also much greater facilities for carrying on war in South Africa than in New Zealand. They had there a definite frontier, either to defend or to advance from, as they thought proper; and all the great centres of population in the colony were far removed from any danger. They were able also to penetrate the country in all directions without much difficulty, and even to employ cavalry. The absence of all attempt at fortification also on the part of the enemy made our artillery only useful as an auxiliary, instead of being indispensable as a primary part of our field force.
All these conditions are reversed in New Zealand. Cavalry cannot be employed. Artillery, indispensable as it is, is transported with the greatest difficulty, even near the coast, and cannot be conveyed at all to any distance in the interior. Instead of having a well-marked frontier, all our settlements are dotted along the interminable coast line of a large island, the whole of the almost inaccessible interior of which is occupied by the Maories. These settlements have no communication with each other by
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land, and but a very uncertain and precarious one by sea. We occupy detached spots on the circumference of the circle, whilst the natives have possession of the whole of the interior, and are able to throw themselves in force at any time upon whichever of our settlements may appear to be the most vulnerable.
I conceive, therefore, that in what I hope is the improbable event of a general war with the Maories, a large proportion of our settlements in the northern island will be untenable, and must be abandoned. It was this consideration, I believe, which induced General Pratt readily to acquiesce in the peculiar conditions under which the recent war was carried on. These were certainly very peculiar, and to my mind worthy of more than a passing remark, as evincing a sort of chivalrous feeling on the part of the Maories, which is, I think, deserving of our respect, and which ought not to be forgotten in carrying on negociations with them.
The Waikato nation, the most powerful, numerous, and warlike of the Maori tribes, and the promoters of the native King movement, decreed that there should be war at Taranaki, and nowhere else; that any of their young men who chose to do so might go and fight against the soldiers at New Plymouth, but that no settlers anywhere else were to be disturbed or molested in any way. Their decision was strictly carried out. There was war at Taranaki, and peace everywhere else in the colony. Although the friendly intercourse between the settlers and the Maories was occasionally a little interrupted by suspicions and even threats on both sides, it never ceased, except at the actual seat of war. Some two thousand Waikato warriors came down to the Waitara to drive the troops into the sea. They left about one-fifth of their number dead, and carried away (by permission of General Pratt) a ship-load of wounded, without having succeeded in killing or wounding amongst the soldiers anything approaching to the number they had lost themselves; and all this occurred in a position, or rather a series of positions, chosen and defended with admirable skill by themselves.
The war was a kind of tournament, or combat by champions; and if we except some outrages committed by the southern natives, and which were condemned not less strongly by W. Kingi and the Waikatos than by ourselves, it must be admitted that it was conducted on both sides with a humanity and consideration most unusual in civil wars, and which the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Chichester Fortescue) justly characterized in the House of Commons as being almost without parallel in the history of war.
The arms generally used by the Maories are double-barrelled guns (not "wretched flint and steel muskets," as stated by "The Times," but good percussion guns), and, for close quarters, tomahawks with long flexible handles, which enable them to reach an adversary's head over his guard. They are not ignorant of the value of the rifle, which is used by some of their marksmen, but as a general rule they prefer the double-barrelled sporting gun to any other arm.
In order to understand their reasons for this preference, it is only necessary to consider for one moment the peculiarities of their position. The interior of the island is very broken and mountainous, intersected by swamps, for the most part covered with dense forest, and entirely destitute
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of roads or tracks practicable for wheeled carriages of any kind. It would, therefore, be impossible for them to employ artillery without losing all the advantages they possess in being able to move freely through the forest, and to advance from or retreat on their almost inaccessible fastnesses at pleasure. The absence of this important arm renders it necessary for them, when they meet the troops under circumstances in which our artillery is available against them, to keep as much us possible under cover. Even the use of long-range rifles, requiring a steady and prolonged aim, would expose them to some extent, not only to the fire of our own rifles, but to the destructive effect of shells.
They therefore trust to the closeness and rapidity of their fire, rather than to accuracy at a distance, and their plan usually is to invite and await an attack in rifle-pits, covered from distant fire and protected in front either by natural obstacles or by the double stockade of a pa.
Against an attack by vive force, probably no system of defence and no kind of arms could be more thoroughly effective than those adopted by the Maories. It is exceedingly difficult to make a serious breach in the stockades of a pa by artillery fire, even at a short range; 8 and any attempt to climb over or cut them down must be made at a distance of only a few feet from the muzzles of the guns of the defenders, who, being themselves well under cover, are able to overwhelm the storming party by a close and destructive fire, to which no effectual reply can be given.
Owing to the rapidity with which they can be loaded and fired, double-barrelled guns are much more effective at close quarters than rifles.
It has often been suggested that pas might easily be breached by means of powder bags, and several experiments have been tried at the Royal Engineer establishment at Chatham to prove the facility with which this can be done. The operation would no doubt be simple and effective enough if the pa to be breached were unprovided with flank defence, but such is never the case in fact. No military engineer in Europe understands better than the Maories the importance of flanking fire, and none could show greater judgment in securing that advantage, or in arranging works with reference to the formation of the ground, in such a manner as to afford each other mutual support.
Such being the case, the chance of a bag of powder being successfully placed and fired against the stockade would be extremely remote.
There remained then two modes of attacking these works, viz. shelling them, and approaching them by sap.
The former mode was adopted with so much success against the Kaihihi pas in October 1860, that the Maories resolved no longer to trust to pas, which they began to regard as mere "shell-traps," but for the future to construct their rifle-pits for the most part in spots difficult of access from the front, but with a retreat always open, and concealed in such a manner as to be pretty safe against distant fire, whether of artillery or rifles. They carried out this design with remarkable skill in their successive lines of defence at the Waitara, in the latter part of the war.
An assault upon these lines must have resulted either in a repulse or, at the best, in the capture of a few empty rifle-pits, with great loss to the troops and little or none to the enemy.
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Such a success as this would have done nothing towards bringing the war to a termination, but would, on the contrary, have been regarded by the Maories as a victory on their part.
It was then that the approach by sap was adopted, with what complete success we have already seen. Their want of artillery rendered it impossible for the Maories to offer any effectual resistance to this mode of attack. Any attempt to check it obliged them to expose themselves to the fire of troops under cover; and the result of this reversal of their usual tactics was, that, whilst the casualties amongst the troops were few, the enemy suffered severe daily losses in killed and wounded, and eventually gave up the contest in despair.
A short description of the position before which the troops under Major Nelson were repulsed in June, 1860, may perhaps be of some interest, as that was the last occasion on which a pa was successfully defended. It comprised two pas, Onukukaitara and Puketakauere, about 200 yards apart, crowning the two highest points of a hill about two miles from the mouth of the river, and 2,000 yards from the British camp.
Like nearly every commanding height in the neighbourhood, these two points had been formerly occupied by native pas, which however had been deserted, and allowed to fall into decay.
Soon after the commencement of the war, the enemy having been driven off the disputed land, took possession of Onukukaitara, which they restored, and greatly strengthened. They subsequently commenced working at Puketakauere, but two 8-inch guns having been in the mean time landed from H. M. S. "Iris," and placed in position in the camp, the garrison were enabled, by occasionally throwing shells into the pa, to prevent them from carrying out their design, and, beyond placing a single line of palisading on the parapet, they were unable to effect any material restoration of the old work, which consisted of a redoubt surrounded by a double ditch.
At the period of its abandonment by the enemy, Onukukaitara (commonly but incorrectly called Puketakauere) contained a quadrangular earthen redoubt about 22 yards by 18, with a command of 14 feet obtained by scarping the sides of the highest portion of the hill. This redoubt formed a sort of citadel to the pa. At the foot of the escarp, and surrounding the redoubt on three sides, was a trench for musketry (usually termed rifle-pits), about 4 feet in depth, and varying in width from 3 feet to 20,. with traverses. Outside of the trench was a line of palisades partly double and partly single, but always sufficiently open to allow musketry fire from the trench to pass through it. At the northern angle was a palisaded outwork 26 yards by 10, containing a series of covered splinter-proof rifle-pits, connected by semicircular underground passages. A similar underground passage under the palisade of the main work connected the rifle-pits of the pa with the outwork.
At the south-east angle was an unfinished outwork, consisting of a breastwork and rifle-pits without palisading. From the south-western side of the redoubt an outwork, broken into flanks, and divided into several portions by interior palisading, extended for about 60 yards along the crest of the hill, surrounded by a double palisade with covered rifle-pits, some of which were incomplete. Beyond this again, towards the south, were a series of covered rifle-pits without palisading.
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The design of the work was well adapted to the site, the strongest and best flanked defences being on the south-western side, where the hill rises from the plain by a gentle ascent. On the north-west and south-east sides the pa was protected by deep gullies, and on the north-east it was covered by Puketakauere pa, which was also in the occupation of the enemy, and which, notwithstanding its defective palisading, was capable of offering a serious resistance to an assault, and was so well covered by swampy and almost impassable gullies, that it would have been scarcely possible to attack it at all until Onukukaitara should have fallen. Both the pas contained several native huts, or "wharres," which were generally covered from distant fire.
On the 27th June, 1860, when the pa was attacked, 46 shells were fired from two 24-pounder howitzers at a range of about 400 yards without effecting a breach in the palisading. The rifle-pits were constructed in a very simple manner. A series of pits 4 feet wide, 4 feet deep, and 8 or 10 feet in length, were dug 3 feet back from the line of palisades. These were covered for about three-fourths of their width with split timber, over which was laid a covering of earth and fern 3 or 4 feet in thickness, leaving openings for musketry 1 foot or 15 inches wide along the whole length of
the pits. Posted in these pits, the enemy were perfectly protected from horizontal fire, and in a great measure even from vertical fire, unless heavy mortars were brought against them. 9 The difficulty experienced in effecting a practicable breach in a pa is chiefly due to the mode of fastening adopted for the palisading. The inner line is a regular stockade consisting of unhewn timbers, of dimensions varying according to the nature of the neighbouring forest, sunk several feet into the ground, and further strengthened by two or three horizontal ribands, to which every timber is firmly tied with a peculiar tough fibrous grass. Intervals of a few inches are left between the timbers, to serve as loopholes for musketry The outer line is not so solid as the inner. It consists of strong posts firmly planted in the ground at intervals of 8 or 10 feet, and connected by two ribands, which carry a row of palisades raised about 2 feet from the ground, in order to enable the fire from the rifle-pits to pass under
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them. The whole is so firmly bound together by the tough grass before alluded to, that shot and shell pass freely through both lines, often cutting completely through the timbers without causing any portion to fall.
When an attack is expected it is the custom of the Maories to cover the outer palisades with bundles of the long leaves of the New Zealand flax, 10 which offers some resistance to musketry, and serves in a great measure to conceal any damage that may be done to the palisades or stockade by artillery.
The above may serve as a general description of the mode of construction adopted in all pas, but the ground plan varies very considerably according to the features of the country.
The plan of the attack on the Kaihihi Pas (Plate II.) shows some of these varieties. It will be observed, that, whilst Orongomaihangai, occupying a bend of the river, was traced in a manner somewhat resembling a bastioned front, with the faces of the ravelin prolonged to meet those of the bastions, Pukekakariki was almost a perfect square unbroken into flanks (see Plate III.). Nevertheless, flank defence was far from being neglected. Owing to the extreme difficulty of moving artillery across the gullies on the right of the enemy's position, the attack was necessarily made upon Orongomaihangai first, the ground in front of which was swept by the fire of rifle-pits dug in the patch of bush on the right, and cut out of the crest of the precipitous river bank.
The same remark applies to Pukekakariki, which was a veil flanked by detached rifle-pits. Only a portion of the rifle-pits in these two pas were provided with splinter-proof covering, probably owing to want of time. Had the whole of them been protected in that manner, it is probable that the artillery fire which rendered Orongomaihangai untenable, and led to the evacuation of all the pas, would not have sufficed for that purpose, and that they must have been taken by sap.
The nature of the soil at Taranaki is very favourable to the construction of earthworks, whether for attack or defence, as the sides of an excavation, even if vertical, will stand without any revetment.
The redoubts, eight in number, which were thrown up by the troops during the attack on the Waikato position at the Waitara, had ditches eight feet in depth, vertical and unrevetted. The parapets, about eight feet thick, and seven feet six inches in height, were formed of layers of fern mixed with earth. The advantage of this mode of construction was seen during the attack on No. 3 Redoubt, where the enemy's storming party, after gaining access to the ditch unperceived in the darkness, found themselves unable to clamber over the parapet, in consequence of the yielding nature of the mixture of earth and fern, in which they could not get a foothold. They then endeavoured to demolish it by pulling out the fern, but the interlacing of its branches inside the parapet, with the weight of the superincumbent earth, frustrated their efforts.
The accompanying map (Plate I.) shows the lines of sap and the positions of the various redoubts.
The sap, both double and single, was constructed in the usual manner with sap rollers and gabions, but, the supply of the latter being limited,
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the gabions were removed from the rear as the work advanced, and a revetment of fern and earth substituted. Thus, whilst the whole of the work remained secure, a sufficient stock of gabions was always kept on hand to push forward the head of the sap.
The opinion has often been expressed that the settlers, if left to themselves, would be able to defend themselves better than the troops could do it for them. This opinion appears to be founded on the example of the old Dutch settlers at the Cape, and the English in North America.
In both these cases the colonists had in the first instance the immense advantage of using firearms against tomahawks, spears, or bows and arrows. Every house was a little fort, and every man's rifle his constant companion. Thus, before the introduction of fire-arms amongst the natives made the terms more equal, the settlers had gained a prestige and a sense of superiority which they never entirely lost.
In New Zealand the case is entirely different. It is true that the whalers, sealers, and runaway sailors of former days, men accustomed to a life of vicissitude and hardship, prompt to strike on small provocation, and endowed with means of offence and defence which the Maories did not then possess, were able to make themselves respected. But the present race of European settlers in New Zealand is altogether different in character. At the close of Heke's war the European population of the islands was barely 13,000, of whom but a very small number had taken any part in the military operations. At the commencement of the recent war the number had increased to about 60,000, 11 almost wholly by immigration from the United Kingdom.
During this interval of more than twenty years, many of the Maori tribes had been engaged in constant wars amongst themselves, whilst the settlers had enjoyed profound peace. The result was, that the Maories never lost their knowledge of the art of war, whilst the Europeans, who were originally ignorant of it, never learned it. In short, they were very like people of their class in England, excellent material for soldiers, fine "food for powder," but altogether destitute, generally speaking, of the special qualifications for guerilla warfare which they were commonly supposed to possess. Game is scarce in New Zealand, and there is little inducement for men to acquire the habit of using firearms. At New Plymouth consequently, where the adult male population was scanty, the women and children comparatively numerous, where no facilities for defence existed, where there was not even a port by which communication by sea with the other settlements could be secured, and where the people, who were generally quiet peaceable agriculturists or tradesmen unaccustomed to war, were surrounded by half-savage enemies brought up from childhood to skirmishing and the use of fire-arms, I have no hesitation in saying that the place could not have been held without the presence of a large body of troops.
There can be no doubt that the military qualities of the Maories, whilst they have been greatly overrated by themselves, have been equally underrated by Europeans. It was a generally received opinion among the settlers, not only before the recent war, but for some time after its commencement, that, however expert the Maories might be in building pas
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and constructing other works of defence, they were too timid to adopt offensive operations, and that they would never venture to attack a military post. I cannot find that there ever was any ground for such a supposition. On the first occasion on which the Maories met the troops (the attack on Korarareka in 1845) the former were the assailants. In the war near Wellington they were almost always so, and at Wanganui in 1847 they repeatedly attacked the stockades in which troops were posted.
In the recent war also, their well-planned and most gallant assault of No. 3 Redoubt, as well as their repeated attacks upon the head of the sap, have shown that when occasion requires it they want neither courage nor capacity to undertake offensive operations even upon a considerable scale.
Their habitually defensive tactics, instead of being due to timidity, are really proofs of sound judgment and good generalship.
The attack on No. 3 Redoubt was caused by their finding themselves in the presence of a commander whose tactics were superior to their own, and whom they could not induce to fall into their trap, or to lead his men up to their fastnesses to be shot down helplessly and unavailingly, as had been done on more than one previous occasion.
The enemy were much more ready than the British public to acknowledge the ability with which the attack against them was conducted. In the former war, whilst admiring the bravery of the troops, they regarded the tactics of our commanders with contempt and derision. They now say that General Pratt is "tohunga," which means a master of his art or calling; and they confess that they were confounded by the operation of the sap, and that its slow, but certain and irresistible advance, wearied, depressed, and disheartened them.
Towards the close of the operations an altered tone began to be perceptible even in the colonial press, which had previously been loud in vituperation of the general and troops, and, as I am not aware that any answer has been given in England to the ignorant and unfounded depreciation with which "The Times" was in the habit of speaking of the behaviour of the troops, perhaps I may be permitted to quote one or two short extracts from colonial papers. The correspondent of the "Taranaki News," writing from the Waitara on the 21st February, 1861, speaking of the country about "Te Arei" pa, says--
Beyond is a grand semi-circle of hills and tremendous gullies. One noble hill, which commands the whole on our extreme left, sloping off thence to the valley, is partly cleared; but the remainder is clothed in a beautifully variegated skirt of dwarf bush, amongst which the graceful mamaku is very prominent. The fern and dwarf bush on the other hills have been partially burned by the retreating enemy, that it might not afford a cover to our approach; and the summit of every hill from left to right, a distance of not much less than a mile, appears to be one range of rifle-pits. If I have succeeded in conveying any idea of our position, it will be seen that the vantage-ground still belongs to our pertinacious and resolute enemy. Under a desultory fire, which happily has not yet much harmed us, although continued with but small intermission from daybreak to dusk, our brave fellows have been labouring somewhat slowly from the last week's bad weather, but surely approaching the fastness of the Maori; but there is no hope of our being able to move with the celerity, promptitude, and all-subduing energy of those gentlemen who conduct their warlike operations in theory from an easy chair. The more we see and learn of the obstinate enemy in our front, the greater the difficulties appear in the prosecution of the struggle in which we are engaged to a
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successful issue. Do not misunderstand me. I write not this in a desponding spirit; for with the above assurance increases our confidence in the master spirit directing matters here.
A Melbourne newspaper in April, 1861, published the following very just observations:
It is most instructive to observe that the forces in New Zealand have gained their successes just by the very means which have been ridiculed by our colonial amateurs and by "The Times." The general was slow and regular in his movements, --the amateurs were all for energy and dash. According to "The Times" and his imitators, savages, forsooth, have learnt "to despise regular warfare;" and it appears that we have the best weapons, but do not know so well as the savage how to put them to the best use. "The consequence is," says "The Times," "that we retire in discomfiture before foes whose superiority, although they are savages, actually lies less in numbers than in wisdom. If the Maories had borrowed our shakoes and pipeclay, and drawn themselves up in line to receive our attacks, we should laugh at their folly. Unluckily it is we who show ignorance of the conditions of fighting, and the laugh is on the savages' side." We question whether there is, even in the lucubrations of the colonial press, anything so excessively absurd as the above, which in fact is probably unsurpassed in the annals of literary or military criticism.
The self-evident folly of the statements renders all commentary superfluous; but it is only justice to the gallant general to quote the following remarks by one of the repentant sinners who wrote some of the reports which doubtless misled "The Times." The remarks are those of the correspondent of a Taranaki newspaper, and refer to the attack on the last Maori stronghold:--
"It is only when one has seen this position that he can appreciate the cautious manner in which the general has approached it. Most of the troops have often expressed it as their ardent wish to take it by a charge, and your correspondent always thought it the best and safest plan till to-day; but I now perceive, that, to have charged this position, would have been like ordering brave men to commit self-destruction. Even the natives, before they could find footing on it, were obliged to dig away a narrow strip from the brink, thus forming a ledge for themselves to stand on; and even this shelf is so narrow that not more than one row of men in single file can occupy it. Therefore a line of soldiers charging it must, in their eagerness to meet their foes, either fall over the precipice and be dashed to pieces in the shallow river beneath, or, what would be as bad, they would have to retire defeated before the destructive fire of an exulting foe. Neither could an attack in flank be ventured upon along this ridge, as only one man could advance at a time. It follows, therefore, that whatever might be won by charging an enemy on ground presenting but ordinary difficulties, to order a rush on such a position as this would be universally denounced as wilful murder, for the result could only be a terrible catastrophe. I make this statement, because truth prescribes it, in justice to a general whose plans have been too hastily censured."
All honour to General Pratt for the skill with which he has rooted out the savages from a line of defence of such unparalleled strength; but, in our humble opinion, his greatest glory consists in the firmness of mind he displayed, in disregarding the vituperations of his "civil" critics, and his perseverance in spite of all calumny in the despised system of regular warfare--a system which it is now clearly demonstrated could alone have been successful.
On a former occasion I expressed an opinion that the complete subjugation of the Maories would be a task little inferior in magnitude and difficulty to that of the Conquest of Britain by the Romans. In some respects it would be even more arduous. The difficulty of communication and transport, owing to the natural features of the country, would be infinitely greater than they can at any time have been in England, which nevertheless cost the Romans many a long year of hard work and hard fighting to subdue.
From the mountains of Scotland they retired baffled, and were even compelled to protect their territory in the south by immense entrenchments from the attacks of the wild tribes inhabiting the Caledonian Hills.
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Moreover, the introduction of fire-arms has greatly diminished the superiority of regular troops over savages in a difficult country. The power which fire-arms have given them of projecting deadly missiles from invisible hiding places has immensely increased their facilities for resistance, and, as the country in the North Island of New Zealand becomes more and more impassable as you advance towards the interior, it would require extraordinary care and precaution to prevent an invading force from finding itself in a position from which to advance would be impossible, and to retreat disastrous.
Let us hope that it may never be necessary to undertake anything of the kind, not only on account of the enormous difficulty and expense which must attend military operations on a great scale in that country, but for the sake of the brave, high-spirited, and interesting race whose destruction would in all probability follow.
The British Government is now in a far better position to promote a durable pacification than it was at the close of the former war. At that time the Maories considered themselves with much show of reason to have been the victors in the contest, and they believed then, and continued to believe until very recently, that it was in their power if they chose to drive the whole of the European population into the sea.
The idea, once prevalent in England, of our superiority to the French, which found expression in the old saying, --"On every pair of English legs do march three Frenchmen," fell short of the opinion of their own prowess entertained by the Maories, who made no secret of their conviction that one Maori was equal to three soldiers in the fern and to nine in the bush. This flattering notion has now been rudely dispelled. They have learned by bitter experience the superiority of a comparatively small number of troops, when skilfully handled, even in positions peculiarly favourable to native tactics.
The Waikatos, the proudest and most powerful of the native tribes, now acknowledge the utter hopelessness of a contest with the power of England; but they would probably not shrink from war, even to the death, rather than abandon their rights of property in the soil.
It is easy to point out the absurdity of some 50,000 semi-savages requiring a fertile territory as large as Ireland for their support, but we can hardly blame the Maories if they take a different view of the question. They have much pride of race, combined with a full knowledge of the superiority in arts and civilisation of the Europeans. Although they probably do not suspect the British Government of any deliberate intention to treat them with injustice, they are very naturally alarmed by the rapidly increasing numbers and power of the colonists, which they cannot help associating in their minds with an impression of the impending downfall and dispossession of their own race. The possession of the land is the only means of safety that they see before them, and it is, perhaps, to be expected that they will cling to it with desperate pertinacity.
We are fortunately now in a position to practise conciliation towards them without being suspected of timidity, and we may treat with gentleness and consideration a high-spirited people, suffering under the humiliation of unwonted and unexpected defeat.
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MILITARY FORCE in the province of TARANAKI, including Naval Brigade, Militia, and Volunteers, from June, 1860, to January, 1861.
MILITARY FORCE in the province of TARANAKI, including Naval Brigade, Militia, and Volunteers, from June, 1860, to January, 1861.
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APPROXIMATE POPULATION IN 1858.
Since that date the European population has probably increased to about 100,000; but this increase is mostly due to the development of Canterbury as a pastoral or "squatting" country, in competition with Australia, and to the discovery of the great goldfields of Otago, which have already drawn off many thousands of gold-diggers from Victoria and New South Wales. The increase therefore is chiefly confined to the Middle Island, where the Maories are insignificant in number. -- C. P.
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