V. New Zealand: the Waikato Campaign, 1863-65
New Zealand: the Waikato Campaign, 1863-65
[Introduction omitted as it is in copyright]
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Next morning early we were sailing out of Port Phillip with a topsail breeze, and I had enough to do to get things in order. Each man was allowed two glasses of Rum each day and this necessitated a Companies Roll being made out, Mess Rolls also. The first few days I was kept occupied, being about the only Sergt who understood these matters. We were very liberally provisioned, Cask of Biscuits being placed along the decks, good Butter served out in fact the rations were very good. Every day I had to drill a Squad on the Poop, so with one thing and another my time was well occupied. In fact I was glad to have plenty to occupy my time. I could scarcely realize my Position or believe I had come to be soldiering again, and as there was plenty of Grog, I often used it freely to drown dull care. I could not reconcile myself to the Position I occupied. I was almost afraid to think.
On the eleventh day from Melbourne we sighted the New Zealand Coast. This morning we had a strong Breeze, and on going on deck, every one seemed as something was the matter. The Captain of the Ship was on the fore top, two men at the Wheel and the Mate passing orders to the men at the Wheel. I looked around but could see nothing unusual on the Sea. I went below to get Breakfast. Just as I got seated in the Sergts Mess with my coffee only about four of us out of twelve Sergts and as we got seated and commenced to take our Breakfast, the Ship struck a Reef and it sent her on her beam ends. Myself and others went head first into the Scuppers, Coffee Buckets, Biscuits, Meat Butter Tables and everything broke clean away. The next moment tons of Water came down the after hatch and flooded the tween decks. In fact for a short time I thought the Ship was turning over. Myself and others were slightly hurt, and on account the Vessel was heeling over so much we could not get up. All tables all along the starboard Side was carried away and the Breakfast lost. Forward hundreds of men were huddled together. I certainly thought it was the finish of my career, but presently the good ship commenced to right herself and every timber in this Ship of 1750 Tons shivered again and righted herself. I managed to go on deck, every one I met Crew and all could not answer my inquiries. There was the Captain still on the foretop all the Crew waiting for orders, but presently the Captain came down to the deck and said all danger was over but the Ship had [had] a narrow
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squeak. I went forward and looked over the port Bow, and between the Bow and Midship about 10 feet of the Ship's copper covering was torn from the Ship and swinging about in the water, and out as the Ship rolled along astern I could plainly see a reef and broken Water. It appeared the Captain knew of this reef, but he was certain he could weather it, but just struck South West of it. In a short time all danger was over. That morning I shall never forget.
Towards Night we were making for Auckland and on Saturday Night 12th September 1863 1 we anchored in the beautiful Harbour of Auckland doing the trip in 12 days, a very good Passage. It generally took a Steamer 10 days from Melbourne to Auckland. The next morning being Sunday we had to pass the time as well as we could. During the afternoon we noticed a Funeral. This was Captain Swift of the 65th Regt 2 being buried he having died from Wounds received from the Natives fighting at the Battle of Cameron Town near Tuakau on the Waikato River. All kind of Rumours came on Board, about the New Zealand Natives killing the Soldiers, some of the 40th Regt being killed and losing 40 Stand of Arms. In fact we expected to be fighting the Maoris in 24 hours. Next morning we disembarked in the Govt Steamer Sandfly a small Steamer carrying 2 guns (small ones). Auckland appeared a poor dirty sludgy Place. We went straight up to the Barracks. Here we stopped about one hour to get refreshments at the Canteen, and we indulged rather freely, before proceeding to our first Station Otahuhu. We formed advance Guard. This I had charge of and as I was a Stranger to Otahuhu I took a man (a [Military] Pensioner) who had only been out of Auckland about six Months, to show me the way to Otahuhu Barracks. We marched on, and this old Scoundrel took me and the advance Guard straight to Rogers Criterion Hotel Otahuhu passing the turn to the Barracks about half a Mile. Directly I found I had passed the Barracks I turned my men to the right about and went into the Camp, about half an hour after the headquarters. I was told off to a hut with 20 men and a Corporal.
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Each of us was marched to the Canteen and received one Pint of Ale. This was my first interview with Captain Hunter our future adjutant. Next day we were served with our Regimentals and in two days from landing we were soldiering in earnest.
The third day I was drilling a squad and that night had charge of the outlying Picket. Next day at drill. In a few days I made too many Visits to the Sergts Mess, and about the sixth day we got our Pay. I went down to Otahuhu and got in Company and got locussed, managed to get to Barracks all right, and lay down on my bed and missed Staff Parade. Every night all non commissioned officers paraded at 9 o. c. Tattoo, this Parade I missed being fast asleep on my bed. Another Sergt who I found out was afraid of me being made Colour and Pay Sergt brought the Sergeant Major to my hut and told him I was drunk. This the Sergt Major told me himself next day, and next morning I was brought to the Orderly Room and Major St John spoke to me very sharply, and I answered him back, saying not to speak to me like that, I did not care about the Stripes. This of course was too much for the Major and I was told off for a Garrison Court Martial, tried next day and reduced to the Rank and Pay of a Private Sentinel [soldier]. The dose I got when locussed made me very bad for about a Week. The very day I was reduced another 400 came from Melbourne and the next day we marched on to Papakura. I was very bad this day. Here the glass of Rum was served out twice each day as we were considered in the Field.
After two days Papers came into Camp reporting that Doctor Pollen, 3 a Member of the New Zealand Parliament then sitting in Auckland, in a speech, he referred to the Volunteers from Sydney and Melbourne as the scum and riff-raff of the Streets. This riled every man, and we went to Captain Goldsmith and demanded an Apology from Dr Pollen. Our Captain took the matter up rather warm and in a few days Dr Pollen sent apologies which was in the Papers, and read out in Orders. One man on Sentry threw his firelock and Bayonet away from him, in fact if Dr Pollen had not apologized a Mutiny would have taken place.
In a few days some more Volunteers landed in Auckland from Melbourne and Hobart Town and we marched on to Drury. This was a muddy Camp. About 200 of the 18[th] Royal Irish Regt were
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stationed [here]. One morning on turning out (it had been a wet Night) the form of my body was plainly seen in the Mud I had been lying in all night. We dug a deep trench around the tent and got more fern and made sleeping more comfortable. 20 men in a bell Tent is too many. However we had to put up with every inconvenience. I have seen men fall down with their great coats on in the Sludge and could not get up again without assistance. Drury was a muddy Place so much traffic, about 100 transport Horses and 50 carts were here to take Provisions to the Troops as General Cameron advanced.
We had not been in Drury a Week before the Maoris were reported in force at the Mauku about 10 Miles distance. About 200 were told off to go and strengthen the Mauku Volunteers as it was said the Natives had surrounded them in the small church. Our Company was told off for Martins Farm, 4 about 5 miles nearer to Queens Redoubt, General Camerons headquarters. During our Stay at Drury the 3rd Waikato Regt was formed, and our Company being 127 strong we furnished the odd 27 towards forming the 3rd Regt. I was entrusted to pick out the 27 men. One man offered £5 to let him stop but I did not take it, he had to go. Although I had been reduced still I was treated well by both officers and men. The Officer went Second in Command to the Mauku was on Picket with me the night before he went to that Station and when I seen him leave the Camp with a brace of Pistols and Tomahawk also Sword I remarked he looked as if he intended to slaughter all the Maoris. The day after Part of our Company went to Martins Farm. Here we found 50 of the 18th Regt and 50 of us making 100 in a small redoubt. This redoubt overlooked the Great South Road the Main Road to the Interior or Waikato Country where General Cameron intended and did do, take about 4000 of British troops. We arrived at Martins Farm on Octr 20th 1863 and four days after a Battle took place at the Mauku, 5 and our men were decoyed into an Ambush by the wily Enemy, and the officer I referred to being too well armed, was killed and another one and 9 Men killed. The Mauku was only about 3 Miles from Martins Farm. During the fight about 50 of us went into the Bush, intending to intercept the Natives but
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they did not come our way, and we returned to camp with the loss of several Bayonets, being drawn out of Scabbards by the Supple Jack that grows in the New Zealand bush.
Martins Farm was about the best Station on the Great South Road. I was told off as the Engineer to the Redoubt, that is I had the charge of the Redoubt to keep in good repair, and strengthen it where required. I also made a fine bathing place for the Men a few yards outside. All the Bridges on the Great South Road were guarded every night by orders of the General. About half mile from our Redoubt was a Bridge and every night a Guard of 12 men 1 Sergt 1 officer took charge of this Bridge. 4 Sentries were posted at each Corner, remainder remained under the Bridge, a miserable place it was running Water and Sludge under the Bridge, and every hour Artillery men galloping over the Bridge with despatches from the General, on to Drury and Auckland. As they crossed the Bridge the Sludge came down on our heads and [we were] not allowed to strike a light to have a smoke on Sentry. Each one stood still, anyone approaching did not answer the Challenge 'Who comes there' at once we had orders to fire. This lasted some months as it was reported the Natives intended destroying the Bridges to prevent the Convoy of Horses and Carts loaded with Provisions for the Troops at the front.
Every day a large Convoy went with Provisions. One day I was sent for to go and assist a Man with Dray and two Horses who was proceeding to the front with 3 large barrels of Ale in the Dray. About half mile from our redoubt the heat of the Sun burst one of the Ale Barrels, and the Horses took fright and ran the dray into a ditch. I had to return to the redoubt to get some men to assist, but I knew the best Preventative to prevent the other Barrels from bursting was to draw a Bucket of Beer from each Barrel so I got the Men to take 2 Buckets and large Gimlet, being the Engineer I had plenty of Carpenter's tools and off we went. I persuaded the Carter to have a bucket of Ale taken from each Cask, and on filling the Buckets one was drunk and by a little dodging I drew the third Bucket full and then we got the Cart on the Road and the Barrels in, and sent the drayman on his way. We returned to the redoubt intending to fill some bottles with part of the Beer, but the troops seen us approaching with two Buckets and they concluded what we had in them, and rushed us. The Ale was soon all disposed of without bottling it.
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One morning myself and 11 others came off Bridge Guard and as usual we got our 12 o'clock Grog early in the morning, about 6 o. c. a.m. Being under the Bridge all night each Guard coming off had Permission to have their midday Grog on coming off Guard. This morning we noticed a peculiar leathery taste and weak about our tot of Grog. I went to the officer and on inspection it turned out the Batman to the acting Sergt Major was a Shoe Maker and the Guards' Grog was left in charge of the Sergt Major and the night before his Batman or Servant got at the Grog and drank some of it and replaced it by water he had been soaking his leather in and so spoilt the Rum. For this offence which was proved against him he was tried by Court Martial and got 50 Lashes and two months imprisonment.
On Christmas Eve 1863 we went into the Bush and got a quantity of evergreens and decorated the Redoubt for Christmas day. The Redoubt looked splendid as the New Zealand Bush has splendid evergreens for such Purposes. That afternoon I made a large Plum Pudding. I got the flour Raisins Suet etc from Mrs Martin (the Farm House formed one side of the Redoubt). I was a favourite with Mr & Mrs Martin. We had received no Pay since September and all of us were short of Cash. Our Captain had our Pay at Drury and I wrote a letter to the Daily Southern Cross Auckland Paper complaining about the way we were left without Pay etc Signed my name Biddle. 6 On Christmas eve I had the large Pudding boiling in
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a Copper Boiler lent by Mrs Martin, and some of us considered a few head of Poultry would be very good for our Christmas dinner. We made a small party of four, and left the boiling Pudding in charge of others. After making it all right with the Sentry about 10 p.m. we four slipped out of the Redoubt for the Purpose of visiting two Farm Houses about two miles away being between us and the Mauku. These Houses we had seen during the scouring expedition we made on the 24th Octr (the day of the Battle at the Mauku). Being dark we made very poor Progress through the high Fern and Scrub, besides we lost our right track. About Midnight we came in sight of one Farm house. For the two Miles we must have travelled six. On approaching the house dogs commenced to bark and lights flitting about, so we had to withdraw and make for another house. We approached near to one about one o'clock a.m. These People were on the alert also. Here we did not know what to do. We had to retire into the Scrub, and not one of the Party knew of any other house, and after travelling till approaching daylight through a rough Country, we came in sight of the Redoubt at Williamsons Clearing occupied by 100 troops. This Redoubt was about two miles nearer Drury than our Redoubt at Martins Farm. Here was a pretty go, if the Sentry had seen us we certainly would have been made Prisoners and a nice plight we were in. The Sole of one of my Boots had parted Company with the upper [and] my feet very sore, all our clothes torn more or less. When daylight had fairly come, we cut a sorry Plight. When we got well clear of the Redoubt we examined each other and we came to the conclusion we had been fools, and got into our Redoubt as quickly as possible. This we did and was laughed at for our Pains. When we considered over our expedition we agreed by a little forethought that all houses in the district was guarded every night to prevent being surprised by the Natives. This Christmas day turned out glorious, the large Plum Pudding was done to a turn having been kept boiling all Night, and we passed a merry Christmas.
I must return back for a few Weeks. About the last week in November I had been on Pass to Headquarters at Drury to try to get a Pass to Auckland. I done it in this Way. I wrote a letter as if I had received it from a Brother just arrived in Auckland and I showed the letter to our Colonel and adjutant, and from them to the Garrison Adjutant. It passed Muster with all and I got the Pass for three days. This was on a Saturday. That day on my way to
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Auckland I had to pass several redoubts. About 10 miles on my way I met a man I knew in Maryborough Victoria. Some years previous this man was delivering to me several Barrels of English Ale, Bass's. About the third Barrel being put down my Cellar this Barrel would not aright itself on its end. This man put his feet on the end of the Barrel to put it upright, he being half down the Cellar with his feet on the Barrel and when I put force [on his shoulders] the head of the Barrel gave way and the Man went into the Barrel of English Ale Value about £14 (54 Gal) and of course the ale had to go back to the Merchant. On meeting this man on my way to Auckland he was very much surprised to see me in Militia dress knowing me two years previously as a Man in a good business and in good Circumstances. We had a Jollification all night. Next morning we arrived at Otahuhu 9 Miles from Auckland and about 9 o'clock this Sunday morning after getting several Drinks we were in a merry mood and who should pass us on horse back but Major St John (our Major). He knew me and in half an hour I was taken into Barracks.
Next morning I was given in Charge of a Sergeant of the 2nd Waikato Militia to be taken back to Drury. This Sergeant called at every public house on the Road and drank at my expense. We had emerged from the Papakura Hotel about 3 Miles from Drury, he appeared to be getting tipsy. We passed a redoubt about half mile from the Hotel. All of a sudden he seized my firelock and marched me a Prisoner into the Redoubt. The officer could see the state of the Sergt and would not keep me a Prisoner but retained my Firelock. So we proceeded on our way minus my firelock. I considered this very bad Conduct on the Part of the Sergt after drinking at my expense to put me in Chokey to save himself. I was determined to have revenge if possible. We had to pass two Hotels as we entered the straggling Town of Drury, and we called into each of these and when we arrived in Camp my beautiful Sergt was as tight as possible and your humble Servant sober. As we approached our Orderly Room the Adjutant met us. He asked me where my firelock was. I referred him to the Sergt. He was so unsteady the Adjutant in an instant called the Sergt Major to take the Sergt to his Tent a Prisoner. He was marched there and when I explained matters to the Adjutant, he said you must get your firelock. I told him if he would let me go for it I would be back in 3 hours with my firelock. He laughed, as much as to say I do not
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think so. In a Second he said do you promise to be back in 3 hours with your firelock. I say I do Sir. Off you go and fetch it. I did and was back in 2 1/2 hours with my Arms.
Next day Bailey my Melbourne Mate who I got made Corporal in Otahuhu had been Pay Sergt of our Company, but had misbehaved himself and the day I reached Drury got reduced to the Rank of Private. This morning he came to me and showed me a large Roll of bank notes, saying are you game for a trip for Auckland. I consented at once and off we went. We got into an Hotel about two miles on our way. We had stopped here fully one hour, Bailey had gone into the Yard I was in the Bar talking to the Landlord when who should come in but 4 men and a Corporal. I was taken Prisoner and on they inquiring for Bailey, I told them he had gone on to Auckland. They took me back to Camp, and Bailey got to Auckland.
I did not see him again for 11 months when I met him on the Waikato River, Engineer for the erection of a large Bridge and receiving 22/6 per day Pay. After his Spree in Auckland he being a Surveyor and Engineer, he got put on the Staff, and got his present Position. This time we had another spree.
During my stay in Drury I put my name down as a Volunteer to take provision boats up the Waikato River to follow General Cameron, and all the troops at the front. I was anxious to see the Country and more active Service. Still I was very comfortable at Martin Farm Redoubt but the Sameness Week after week, inactivity did not suit me. I regretted this Step afterwards. For my trip with Bailey I got 10 days Grog stopped, and joined my detachment at Martins Farm. The letter I [was] supposed to have received from my Brother he [having] just arrived in Auckland caused many a laugh afterwards.
Three days after Christmas after we all gave a days Pay to erect a Monument over the men killed at the Mauku an officer and one man came into the Redoubt to take me with about 50 men from Drury to the Mangatawhiri Creek that was the headquarters for the Boats plying up the Waikato River. Commodore Wiseman and 100 Sailors belonging to Men of War Vessels on New Zealand Station were stationed here and we had come to relieve them. I forgot to mention the 25 Octr 1863 the day after the fight at the Mauku, an expedition went out to bring in the men killed the day before and on arriving at the Place, where the fighting had been, all the killed 9
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Men and 2 Officers, Lieuts Percival and Norman. 7 The dead bodies had been placed in a row and an officer at each end, the dead officer on the right had his right arm erected in upright Position and the one on the left his left Arm, and all of them had their throats cut open and their tongues pulled through on their breasts, and so left by the Maoris. Their bodies were buried at Drury and a Monument erected over them each man paying a days Pay all officers also. This same Monument can be seen to this day.
The following morning after our arrival at Mangatawhiri Creek the Sailors left and our laborious duties commenced in earnest. Up at 5 o'clock load boats then have Breakfast. On Board by 6.30 and off to Meremere. Here a great fight took place a few weeks before. We did this trip twice each day. Going to Meremere was very hard Work having to pull against the Waikato River running against us at the rate of 4 Miles per hour. 8 Boats loaded for each trip on Convoy, the Creek was always very muddy and the Ground knee deep in Mud. We did this for about two months. During the last week in Jan[uar]y 1864 our boats Crew was sent to Waikato Heads near the open Sea to fetch a large Boat [of] 16 Oars. Many of these were built afterwards. The one we went for was the first built. From the Manga Creek to Waikato head is about 25 miles [and] with the Stream going with us we did not require much pulling and beautiful Scenery to be seen. About 2 miles below Tuakau, a Redoubt of 100 men, is Cameron Town the Place a great fight [took place] in Augt 1863. Captain Swift that was buried in Auckland on the Sunday 13 September that we seen from the Ship Star of India was killed at Cameron Town (named after General Cameron).
This morning as we were passing under the waving branches of the drooping trees on the Banks of the River, I noticed a man's Body on opposite Side of the River to Cameron Town, alongside of an old small Canoe, and as we approached the Body we disturbed the Water. The Body bobbed up and down and [I] could see the red stripe in the Soldier's Trousers. We got alongside, the hair was off the Crown of the head the part out of the Water. We tied the Body to our Bow rope on Painter. Myself and Jack Appleton done this.
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This body was decomposed and gave a frightful Stench. Our officer [was] noted by the name of Bully Fraser, he was only 'Ensign'. He got on the Seat of the boat and commenced to shout Come on you B...... Maoris we fight you--you murdering D..... S..... his Language was frightful. One fine looking fellow Dick Williams fainted with fright. In a town he was all boast like our officer. If the Maoris had come and fired into us I expect Bully Fraser would have soon taken Shelter ashore. We had the body secure and proceeded on our Journey. A few miles further we came opposite Kohanga Mission Station of the Rev Maunsell. 8 This Station is about 8 miles from Waikato Heads our destination, and from this to the heads is a Succession of mud flats. None of us knew the Channel and we frequently got stuck. The River ran towards the Heads and every time we got stuck the Body came alongside smelling very bad. After several hours, we got to our destination and the Eclipse Man of War was inside the Heads. We called alongside and informed them of the dead body. The Captain sent a boats Crew on Shore with us. On landing the body I was examining the Socks expecting to find a Regimental number or some mark to denote what Regiment the body belonged to. As I was doing this one foot came off from the ankle. In the trousers Pocket was a Purse containing £5.2.9d. This the Captain of H M Ship Eclipse took he being the senior officer at the Waikato Head. Here was stationed 150 of the Second Waikato Militia. While this was going on the Sailors dug a hole and we put Branches of trees into it and lowered the body in a few more branches and then the body was covered over with the Earth, and so the body of (as was ascertained afterwards) Corporal Ryan of the 65th Regt [was buried]. The poor fellow lost his life by trying to save the Life of a drowning Sergt of the same Regt, both were drowned the Sergt body being found a few days after. Poor Ryans body had been in the water between 3 & 4 Weeks. A few months after the Victoria Cross arrived from England for Ryan and Lieut Talbot of the 65th for Gallantry at the fight of Cameron Town for rescuing the wounded body of Captain Swift of the 65th Regt.
On going to quarters provided for us we noticed a Maori Pah a few yards distant with a Notice No Europeans Allowed Inside. The Barge we came for had not arrived but was expected next morning so we made ourselves comfortable and passed the Night very well.
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Next morning after breakfast we seen a Steamer coming seaward making for the Heads. As she came nearer we could see the Barge in tow. The Entrance was very rough and on the Steamer crossing the Bar or entrance the rope that held the Barge broke and the Barge went adrift was washed ashore and got broken up. All we got was two thwarts Mast & Sail, anchor & chain.
That morning I felt very anxious to have an inspection of the Maori Pah, and I made the acquaintance of a Pakeha Maori (that is a white man living amongst the natives). He told me how to get into the Pah and I did so. I had been in about half an hour when who should come towards me but our officer Ensign or Bully Fraser. He was half drunk and he had no more business in the Pah than myself, and if he had told me to clear out in a just and proper manner I should have done so, but instead of that he got hold of me and was going to strike me. I cautioned him not to do it again [and] when he was going to strike me again, I parried his blow and struck him. He ran away. In a few minutes he appeared with a Corporal and four men of the Second Waikato Militia and I was made a Prisoner for striking my superior officer. I certainly gave them some trouble before they got me to the Guard Tent. Bully Fraser gave me such a Character that I was chained with my hands handcuffed behind my back to a strong Stake drove well into the Ground and left there all day in a January Sun which nearly made my face as black as a Native's. At Night I was taken from the Stake and put into a bell tent by myself with my hands in front of me with the manacles on.
For the information of the reader I will describe this Bully Fraser. By some fluke Colonel Pitt when recruiting in Sydney for men for New Zealand [heard] Fraser had been in the Army and Colonel Pitt made him Ensign. He had the appearance of a fighting man or a dog fancier 9 a brutish countenance and he had often been on the Wallaby (or tramp) about the various Gold Fields and Squatters Stations. On joining the boating Corps on the Waikato he took a fancy for the boat I was in as we were all old Australians and officer & men when on the River always fraternized together. He particularly boasted about his abilities, and when he took freely of Grog he let us know that and boasted six Months before he was
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Coal heaving in Sydney but now he was Captain of the Waikato. On one occasion we were going with Provisions to Rangiriri a travelling Jeweller (a Jew) took a Passage in our boat. About half way to Rangiriri after Bully Fraser had got several Glasses of Grog in him he commenced at this Jew. You B----- Jew you crucified Jesus Christ and by G-- I'll crucify you if you don't hand me some of that Jewellery. He kept at this poor fellow for two hours and then he got a valuable Meerschaum Pipe from him. Of course we would not let Fraser hurt the Man. This was very near getting him into trouble. On another occasion we that is a convoy of 7 boats Crews were returning from Rangiriri empty boats and stopped at an old Maori Village to loot anything we could get, and get some fine Peaches. Our boat was some distance from the others and we were amongst the Native huts. All at once a Native Woman appeared. I could just see her head above a bush and for a moment could not tell if it was a man or Woman, but directly I drew Fraser['s] eye to the object, he let a Yell out of him and ran as hard as he could towards the boat. Myself and another stood laughing at him. The Woman only had one eye. Poor thing she would not leave the Village on account of some of her children being buried there. A few weeks after her and another Native Woman we found in another Village. We subscribed a few Shillings and bought enough cotton Print to make each one a Skirt with Needles, Thread etc. Shortly after this we persuaded them to come with us to a Native Settlement near Rangiriri.
To return to Waikato heads, the day following my adventure with bully Fraser, as the boat or Barge was smashed up, Captain Parnell of the Steamer Lady Barclay intended going up the Waikato with the Steamer a small one of about 30 Tons and we was to return to Mangatawhiri Creek our headquarters. There were also as Passengers the Rev Maunsell and his large Family returning to the Mission Station as the War had removed 70 Miles from Kohanga Mission Station. During the afternoon I was marched a Prisoner on board had a bayonet Sentry over me, and off we went with our boat in tow. We got stuck in the mud many times and when I could see help was required to give a hand to push the Steamer off the Mud Bank I always assisted. At last we landed Rev Maunsell and Family at the Station, 4 fine buxom Girls and one Son. We got no further that night. The Pakeha Maori I referred to before came on Board as interpreter to a Maori Chief as Pilot.
During the second day since we left Waikato Heads as we lay
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stuck in the mud opposite Tuakau Redoubt the Pakeha Maori Jack Duncan by Name came to me and said he was surprised to hear I was a Prisoner and he considered Bully Fraser should be the Prisoner not me. He said he had seen the whole affair between me & Fraser in the Pah and had seen Ensign Fraser strike me first. This was good news for me because the Crime I was charged with by the officer who I had struck if I could not prove my Innocence would be a General Court Martial and perhaps 10 years Penal Servitude and a flogging besides. Myself and Jack Duncan talked matters over and he said I will see Captain Parnell and see what we can do for you. That Evening was a fine Moonlight, and I had noticed Ensign Fraser looking half Tipsy by 7 p. m. He had two of the Crew one playing a Concertina and the other playing a Banjo and Mr Fraser on aft of Vessel in his Shirt and Trousers only in a State of intoxication and dancing Nigger breakdowns, bare Head & bare feet. During this time plenty of Grog was handed round and I had received my several refreshers. About 8 p.m. Captain Parnell and Duncan came to me, and after a little talk about how I was made a Prisoner, Capt Parnell told me he had got the Steward of the Steamer to draft a Petition to Capt Fraser signed by Captain Parnell and all the Crew. Shortly after I was called to go down [to] the little Cabin. On my descending there was Bully Fraser quite drunk. Captain Parnell introduced the matter and after explaining a few words to Fraser Captain desired the Ship's Steward to read the Petition. On finishing it a Silence occurred for a few Seconds, and Bully Fraser turned to me and said--You D----- B----- you know I don't want to hurt you, you are released, and go on deck and enjoy yourself. So I was got out of this Scrape by two Strangers and I was very glad to have such Friends. Afterward I could not make any Freedom with Ensign Fraser. I considered he had took a mean advantage of his Commission. That night and next day on our way Home in our own boat we all got gloriously drunk, how we got Home to Mangatawhiri Creek I know not officers & men alike.
After this we commenced duty to take Provisions to Meremere. This Place was the Scene of a Fight with the Natives on first of November 1863. On this occasion as the Steamer Pioneer 10 was
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passing with General Cameron and a Load of Troops the Natives had a small Cannon and in the absence of proper Shot loaded the Gun with a Steelyard Weight about 4 lbs and fired it at the Steamer and it passed through the Bulwarks and lodged in a Cask of Salt Meat, hurting no one. The Maoris were soon drove out of Meremere (pronounced Merry Merry). On the 20th of the same month the great Battle of Rangiriri was fought. At this fight which lasted two days and nights the Natives gave the British Soldiers enough to do. General Cameron had about 1200 Troops and two Gun boats, and on the second day the Troops & Sailors charged the Maori Position three times and were compelled to retire after severe loss each time. 11 On the afternoon of the second day, an assaulting Party got under the earth Walls of the Maori defences, and during the Night were making Preparations to blow it up. The Maoris being surrounded by the British Troops and Sailors and ascertained they were hemmed in. At day light they hoisted a flag of truce, and the whole lot was taken Prisoners, about 183. Several hundreds must have got away by the Lake close to the left front of their Position. These Prisoners were all marched off to Auckland and put on board a Hulk in the Harbour. Myself formed one of the Escort on their way to Auckland. A few weeks after I was in the small Maori raupo Church, and it was perforated in many Places by the 12 lb Shots from the Gun boats on the river, and Blood was plentiful about the altar. People may say what they like about the New Zealanders (Maoris), if they are properly handled they make as good a Soldier as any in the world. If they had the same appliances as the British they would have made it very warm to the troops under General Cameron. As far as my memory serves me the 40th 57th 70th Regts besides Sailors from H M Ships Curacao, Miranda & Eclipse 12 were represented at the Battle of Rangiriri and many of these sailors officers afterwards lost their life at the Great Gate Pah fight near Tauranga in April 1864. This Place is about three miles from where I am writing this Narrative.
To return to Bully Fraser at the Water Transport Corps, about a
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Week after our return, a large Supply of Ration Rum came by drays from Auckland to be taken up to the various redoubts along the Waikato River. On this night a Guard of the 18th Royal Irish as usual arrived from the Queen Redoubt about one and half miles away relieving the old Guard of the 43rd Regt. A Bridge that spanned the Creek contained about 26 Hogsheads of this fine Jamaica Rum and as usual a Sentry was posted to take Charge. Next morning about 5 o'clock we commenced to load our various Boats. This task we had to do every morning at 5 a. m. At six Breakfast at 6.30 man boats two trips each day to Meremere and back, very hard work and this hard work we volunteered to do. When we did so we all understood that it was to sail boats not to pull. After a few days at the pulling Boats our arms ached a Pain from your back right through to your chest. Lumps came on the muscles of your arms, in fact we became Slaves. When at Martins Farm Redoubt I was a Gentleman compared to what I was in the water transport Corps. Still the life was exciting and that suited me, as when left alone I would get thinking about the Position I held in Victoria only 18 months before and gave me much anguish of Mind. This morning on loading the boats with the Rum several Barrels appeared light or partly empty but one Cask we could not remove and no Wonder. Some one had got under the Bridge and with a inch auger bored through the Planks of the Bridge into the Rum Cask and either carried away or spilled about 25 Gallons. A report was made but no one knew anything about it. This could not have been done without one if not all of the three Sentries knowing who did it but we found out afterwards it was a frequent occurrence. I have seen all the Guard officer & men drunk Prisoners included. I knew for a fact, and did participate in it myself. Every evening a new Guard arrived from the Queens Redoubt and during the night if any Rum Casks were waiting to go up the River that night the Guard (always after midnight after Guard had been visited by the Visiting Rounds from Queens Redoubt) would let one man take all the canteen[s] and empty bottles and with the assistance of the Sentry fill the lot, draw off as much as a 3 Gallon Camp Kettle for present use and the Canteens and Bottles would be taken about half a mile up the Road towards Queens Redoubt and planted amongst the Scrub of a small bush close to the Road and after the men dismounted Guard would return from Queen Redoubt and spring the plant at the Queen Redoubt. If you did not
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care about drinking it you could sell it at 10/- Per Bottle and after reducing the Strength very much one quart would make two good Bottles of Rum, each canteen held three Pints.
I now return to Bully Fraser. About three Weeks after he had released me, one morning in February it being very hot Weather and all of us were as black as the Maoris working in the hot Sun Mr Fraser sent for me. I could not understand this as he had since we returned from the Waikato Heads took his trips in another boat. Mr Fraser's duty was to go with each Convoy of boats as officer in Charge. He had made another boat his quarters. I suppose being frightened of me for the shabby affair at the Waikato Heads. However this morning I goes to him. The Officers occupied a small redoubt formerly Commodore Wisemans quarters. I made my appearance before Mr Fraser. He received me very civilly and pointed to a Bottle of Rum for me to help myself. This I refused to do, telling him in a respectful way I did not care for it just then. Then he said I have sent for you to shave me, my face is so tender my Servant is afraid to do it. I looked at him and he showed me the shaving apparatus. I noticed one of his Cheeks was more Sun burnt than the other. I would not use his Razors as I suppose they wanted sharpening so I returned for my own and I commenced operations. The good Cheek I finished very well and Part of the Chin. He wore his Moustache. On my operating on the other Chin, the Razor being a sharp one took hair and Skin the Skin being badly Sun burnt the blobs of Skin came off before I was aware of it. In a few seconds one side of his face was streaming with blood and I could not stop it. In a short time the Blood commenced to drop on his Shirt. He roared out what the Devil are you doing by heavens you have taken half my Cheek away. He jumped up and commenced to abuse me swearing I had done it on Purpose for the Waikato Head affair. I quietened him and at length he asked me again to have a drink. I took one and left him [in] a fine fright with a Patch of hair on the lower part of one Cheek and part of his Chin. He always believed I did it on purpose. To finish with him, in the following August we all joined Headquarters in Tauranga, his Wife with two small children had arrived from Sydney and were waiting for him at Tauranga and by his cruelty and unsoldierly Conduct Colonel Harrington got him cashiered. What became of him I don't know, perhaps Coal heaving again in Sydney.
The Provisions arrived at Mangatawhiri Creek so fast, at one
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time fully 100 Tons were heaped up under Tarpaulins that many tons rotted. About middle of March we were relieved by another company and we went to Meremere. Now our Work was to go to Rangiriri each day 20 miles and back, the Peach in abundance along the Waikato River particularly so near deserted Native Settlements or Villages, and all splendidly ripe. I sent several Casks to my mates I left behind at Martin Farm. Our Work at Meremere was even harder. Each man was allowed one and half full fresh Rations by General orders (the men of the Water transport Corps). We also had received very large boats of 18 Oars the same kind we went to Waikato Heads for, carrying about 20 Tons each Boat. We had three of these boats and several smaller ones. At this time I rather liked the Work only for many of the men were great Blackguards their Language and thieving Propensities were almost unendurable. Myself and four others kept to ourselves and had a tent of our own, so we were rather comfortable and well respected by many of our superiors in Rank. I could do a Jollification but not amongst many we had to call mates, in fact us few could always command respect from the biggest of the Rowdies.
The 68 Regt two companies were stationed at Meremere. On our arrival the Triangles were often in use flogging their men. A few Weeks after the 18th Regt replaced the 68th. After being at the Work from Meremere to Rangiriri a few weeks we had been working on Sundays also. At last 26 of us would not work on Sundays. Captain Breaton wanted us to go up the River on Sunday again and we went to our Captain and told him we must have one day in each Week to do our mending and washing. Captain Hill said quite right my men and who wants you to work tomorrow. We told him and he said I don't see any occasion for it and the least Captain Breaton could do was to acquaint me about it. Men I hope you won't be made more slavey by Captain Breaton. This was enough and to work on Sunday we did not go. During the afternoon Captain Breaton comes and has us all put into the Guard Tent as Prisoners for mutiny. In about two hours Major Turner orders us to parade in front of the Guard Tent and on getting into line read us a Lesson on Mutiny in the Field before the Enemy etc and advised us to go to work. We told him we had been worked like Slaves and we must have a half day on Saturday to do our washing and mending, that Provisions were plentiful at the front. That as long as there was any fear of the Troops getting short of Rations at the front with General
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Cameron we had worked like horses. He then asked all who would go to work to take two Paces to the front. Not one man did so and we were marched back to the Guard Tent as Prisoners. We sent for our Captain Hill and told him he would be doing us a great Service if he would report the State of Affairs to General Callaway at the Queen Redoubt. He said my men I have done so already and I intend to have your Work made more easy. Next day an Order came from General Callaway for us to be released and to have half Saturday and all Sunday to ourselves, when our Services were not specially required for Urgent Service and Captain Breaton who had been Acting Commodore over all boats was removed so we done a good thing for ourselves backed up by our Captain.
We often seen Soldiers receive a flogging from the Cat o Nine tails. The Volunteer Militia used to boast that being Volunteers they could not flog them but several afterwards were flogged. A case of theft always received a flogging. One Militia man for striking a Corporal got 50 lashes. At the time we were at Meremere loaded drays commenced to go over land to Rangiriri and in March our Company were shifted to be stationed at Rangiriri the scene of the great Fight. Here also were stationed Detachments of the 70th and 18th Regiments. Our duty was to take loaded boats up to opposite the Coal Mines at Taupiri and then to discharge our Cargoes into the fine Steamer Pioneer who took the Cargo to Ngaruawahia (name[d] afterwards Newcastle). This Place was before the War the Residence of the Maori King, King Potatau. The present King's Father was buried here a small wooden Building was erected over his Grave. On one occasion three boats Crews took three portable Engines up the Waipa River to Te Rore to saw Timber for the Purpose of building a Barracks for the Troops. On my first Visit to Ngaruawahia (Newcastle) I had heard so much about Green Stones and other precious relics of the Natives being buried with the late Maori King, 13 I was determined to try to get some of these relics so I gave my Mates the Slip and made for the King's Tomb. I had some difficulty to find an opening. At last I discovered a small door and after using some force I slid the small door back. It left a hole about 18 inch square and into this hole I went. As I got partly through the Grave was not about two feet from the Entrance so I put my hands on each Side of the wood
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framed Grave and when I was through I only had to draw my feet up and into the Grave I dropped. About 18 inch of fine Sand was in the Grave and I commenced to grope into this, scraping away all over till the Perspiration ran off me and after working at this for some time I did not find anything and left it in disgust. On reaching the boats I found I had lost my Sheath Knife. I was very much disappointed.
At this time the Kings Palace stood near the River with a large flag staff in front. This Palace, as it was called, the late Residence of the Maori King, was nothing more than a large Raupo Whare or hut with several carved wooden figures, very ugly. At this Visit no Soldiers were stationed here but shortly after it became Headquarters of the Field Force and then you dare not go within 50 yards of the King's Grave and when I called here a few Weeks after the King's Palace was made the depository of all the Wheelbarrows Shovels Picks etc belonging to the Pioneers of the troops, and a Sentry on the Maori King's Grave. On removing the flag staff a large Green Stone was found at the butt.
In April 1864 a Township was surveyed here and sold. Some quarter acre lots realised £325. This day June 1885 these lots are not worth half the money in fact the land about Ngaruawahia is inferior, nearly all Pumice Stone. About 10 years since the Railway was made from Auckland to this Place. The Township stands at the Junction of two Rivers, the Waikato and Waipa, and I certainly expected it would have been a large Township before this, but this Place has not gone ahead, like Townships 20 to 30 miles farther into the interior.
At last we started with our Engines up the Waipa River and after two days hard pulling we arrived at our destination Te Rore. One of the Engines we left at a Station half-way between Ngaruawahia and Te Rore, Whatawhata. We put the Engines ashore and walked to the Camp. The 12th Regiment was stationed here and two Sets of triangles were erected for a Punishment Parade, some poor devil to get the Cat. The quarter Master of the 12th Regt refused to issue to us the usual Ration and half for each man. We were nearly rebelling. We got it after this trip with the Engines took us about 12 days and all that time we often got wild Pigs and vegetable Marrows and other Vegetables from deserted Maori Villages, and out of a Crew of 16 13 of us had a severe attack of Diarrhoea. Some of us were very bad.
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The day after arrival at Te Rore the great fight of Orakau where the Chief Rewi 14 and about 300 Natives stood the attack of about 2000 Troops for 10 days and five days without Water. The Troops had to sap the Hill the Maori Pah was on. Here the Natives stood the attack of this superior force with the usual Rifles, big Guns Mortars and hand Grenades and after six days fighting the Maoris were asked to surrender and they shouted out Ake, Ake, Ake, 'Never Never Never.' At last the Sap got so close to the Pah hand Grenades were thrown over the Parapet, making it [so] warm for the Natives that they got out down a steep cliff and broke through the lines of the 40th Regt but many of them lost their lives by the Cavalry cutting them down. Old Rewi the Chief got clear. I met him in Tauranga some years after, he was then suffering from asthma and looked a small puny man to have been such a great Warrior. This same Chief Rewi at present has as much Power over the Natives as the so called Maori King.
This fight at Orakau was the last of the Maori War of 1863 & 4 15 and about one month after we were not required on the River to carry provisions to the troops. Roads had been made and small steamers built and the boat Corps were not required. On our return to Whatawhata Colonel Wyat of the 65th Regt was suffering from Gout and he was on his way to Auckland and on leaving Whatawhata he was put on board our boat. He lay at my feet as I was the Stroke Oar. On arrival at Ngaruawahia myself and another man went on Shore to have a look at the Township allotments of Land which had been recently surveyed for Sale. We were told 30 minutes to stop. After seeing the lots on our return the boat had left. Here was a fix. If my mate had consented as I proposed for us to go over the Ranges to the Town of Raglan on the West Coast, but it was not to be and we travelled 15 Miles to Ruapekapeka Redoubt at the Taupiri Coal Mines. Here I went straight to the Bakehouse and got a loaf of Bread and bought Sardines and had Dinner.
Fortunately a Canoe was going down the River to a native Village
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3 miles from Rangiriri, here some hundreds of British troops were stationed. When the Canoe got to the native Settlement we went on Shore, and I had the Pleasure of again seeing Princess Sofia, 16 a Daughter of the late Maori King and Sister to the Present King. Her knee was all but well since I had seen her at Rev Barton Station up the Waipa River. After a short Stay we proceeded on to Rangiriri, this is the Place where the Natives repulsed the British Troops three times when trying an assault on their stronghold. Here were stationed several Companies of the 70th & 18th Regt besides a company of transport Corps (Colonials) and a company of the Royal Artillery. Here again we wanted some tea and I went straight to the Baker, but got disappointed as there were no Bread on hand.
I applied to Captain Trench of the 70th Regt the senior officer for a ration order on the Commissariat Stores. After telling him how we got left behind at Ngaruawahia he answered the sooner we made tracks for our headquarters 4 miles farther on at Meremere the better it would be for us. However for all that we got Plenty to eat and returned to Meremere with a Convoy of returned empty Provision Drays. I met this same Captain Trench at Tauranga the following year and I reminded him of his treatment to me at Rangiriri. Many of these British officers holding a little Power with the Rank of Lieut or Captain were ten times worse to deal with than a General or a Commodore or Admiral.
On arriving at Meremere we reported ourselves to Captain Hill and got well laughed at for being left behind and had such a long trip for our negligence. Next day I missed the iron Plough (new) I had looted also the boat Anchor. Some one had considered they had more right to them than I had, worth about £15 was gone. No use grumbling over such small things. A few days after I was off again up the Waikato River and Waipa river to Whatawhata. On arrival one of our men were a Prisoner for striking a Corporal. Next day he was tried by a garrison Court Martial and sentenced to 50 lashes with the Cat and one month's imprisonment. A detachment of the 18th Regt were stationed here and their Drummer was the flagellator. We all paraded to see the Punishment inflicted. The man was ordered to strip, the triangles were ready close by and the Culprit was in a short time pinioned to them. He was a fine robust
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well made man and we considered him one of our best men, by name Barnett. We all considered the sentence too severe. As the Corporal being related to the Captain commanding our Company we also considered that the British officers should not sit on trial of Militia men. This Corporal we knew very often had been very insulting to some of the men. In a few minutes the flogging commenced. I certainly expected to see some Blood fly about to see the attitude of the flagellator and the way he handled the Cat. On the word one down went the Cat on his fine broad back, not a quiver. Two, and so on to the end and not the sign of a drop of Blood. About the 30th stroke the Commanding officer called out Drummer do your duty, but the Drummer took no notice but went on just the same. When all was over the man's back was very little marked considering he had received 50 lashes, and all expressed their satisfaction at so light a Punishment as it was considered a trivial Crime. I was told Barnett only pushed the Corporal. When a man is flogged two Drummers are generally told off and each administers 25 lashes each. After the Punishment the two Drummers were made lions of by Militia men. The Corporal got his deserts after and he had to be transferred to another Company.
Shortly after this I went on a Pig hunting expedition and only got a few young ones. During this summer of 1864 we certainly had some very hard work. At the same time we had some very pleasant times. Now and again on a foraging expedition we ran some risks as when ransacking a native Village. Often we came across men and Women who could have popped us off. One day a Lieut Mitchell was shot dead when passing up the river. On one occasion several of us had left the Boats and gone about two miles inland and was ransacking a native Village when the Alarm was given and some Natives were in front and showed fight, but on us showing a bold front they ran away and we returned to the boats. This was the Place where the Militia Settlement of Haripepe near Alexander on the Waipa River is at present.
My Boots had cried enough and parted company with one foot and at Whatawhata not a Pair to be got. I could not knock about bare footed and I persuaded a Maori to sell me his boots for 5/-. These would only last about a Week. By that time I might be able to get a Pair of military boots or what was called Ammunition Boots about the best Boots for travelling. Through eating Wild Pork, Vegetable Marrows and other food, several of us was attacked
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again with Dysentery but by this time I had got some of the Native recipes for various Complaints and by taking a concoction of Koromiko this shrub grows plentifully all over this Part of New Zealand and is a sure cure for dysentery. The roots of the supple Jack, a cane like wiry stick that is very common in the Bush is capital for regulating the system and blood cleanser.
On one occasion I had a smart Engagement with the Maoris, about 50 of us were sent to reconnoitre a Native Strong hold, about 22 miles from the River. We approached the Pah and the Natives let fly several shots. We had to cross a Ravine and scale a steep bank. When near the top of the bank an awkward German or Dane was near me. I had just loaded my Gun again when by some means the awkward fellow handled his firelock that it struck me with considerable force on my forehead. However he did it I know not. For a few seconds I was stunned and then I found the Blood running down my face in streams, being very warm with running the blood was hot and ran the more freely. My mates thought I had been shot and came to my assistance. The Dane swore it was not him. I believe it was not purposely but accidentally. However I had a wound 3 in[ches] long on my forehead. If it was a shot as I was facing the enemy I should have thought it would have gone through my head. However in a few minutes with my handkerchief tied round my head I was onwards again and then we ascertained the Enemy had flown and we retired to our Boats after looting several articles. One man got a set of Draft Harness and another Plough Harness. I had enough to carry my head all right. This wound troubled me for week[s] after and a large Scar was left to disfigure my frontispiece. Shortly after this we got orders to return to the lower Waikato as our Services were not longer required. The War was virtually over. The Natives were satisfied for a time. At any time it never took us above one hour to ship all our wordly goods from a Station and the following day we had bid the upper Waikato goodbye for good and our Company stopped at Wangamarino about half way between Mangatawhiri Creek and Meremere on the lower Waikato River. Wangamarino Redoubt stands on an eminence about 300 feet above the Waikato and Wangamarino Rivers, a fine commanding Position. Here was erected the Battery for the 40 Pounder Guns that came from Sydney for the Purpose of firing [on] the Native Stronghold of Meremere and these Guns took a prominent Part in dislodging the Natives from Meremere
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on the Ist November 1863--20 days before the great Battle of Rangiriri.
On our arrival at Wangamarino we found No 3 or Captain Stacks Company of the Ist Waikato Regiment, Colour Sergt Jackson acting Sergt Major. In a few days I was all at Home. I was exempt from all ordinary Drill Parades as it was considered I knew enough Drill and several other little indulgences. All our rations came by the Waikato River and a nice little Job it was to get the horse feed and our own Rations up the Cliff. Twice each week rations arrived and fatigue Parties told off to carry these Rations up the Hill. These Parties each second man carried an empty sack, so as to divide the sack flour or sack of Oats. The only occasion I was on this fatigue duty I scouted the idea of dividing a 200 lb sack of flour and shouldered it myself to take it up about 100 steep steps up the Cliff and some of these steps were farther apart than others which made it more difficult to ascend with a heavy weight on one['s] back. However I undertook the task and about the Centre of these steps two was I found farther apart than wanted and caused great exertions on my Part to ascend. I managed to carry my sack of flour up to the Top and down I went Sack and all as I had not strength enough left or I was afraid to jerk it off my back. I considered this was the easiest way to get quit of my burden. When I got up about 20 men were there belonging to the Contractor building a Bridge across the Wangamarino River and they hurrahed and clapped their hands at what they considered my wonderful achievement. A Gentleman came up to me and said you are a wonderful strong man but advised me never to try the like again as I might hurt my back. I told him I thanked him for his advice and if I had known the steps were so irregular and wide apart I should not have attempted to do it.
That day I found my old Melbourne friend Bailey that joined the Militia with me he being a Surveyor for the last 7 months he had been at his Profession at 22/6 per day. This is the man that was reduced from Pay Sergt at Drury in Decr 1863 who started to Auckland with me. I had not seen him since 9 months ago. Here he was Clerk of Works for the Government over the erection of the Bridge. He had a Tent to himself and we passed several jolly hours in it talking over our adventures since last December. He had plenty of fine pale Brandy and we considerably reduced the Stock before we parted. The following day a Hogd of Rum had to be got
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up the Cliff and I stood watching the men get this up the Cliff. Plenty of ropes and men and Rum was soon on top. To get to the Redoubt we had to go round a small Gulley. The Road was on the edge of this Gulley and when the Hogd of Rum was going along this road a quarter of the men could get it along. By some means or carelessness the Cask took a wrong turn and down the Gulley it went dragging the ropes out of the men's hands and on reaching the bottom it busted into nearly separate staves and all the Rum in a few seconds running like a small Rivulet. Before it actually got to the bottom several men were running helter skelter down the Gulley some distance below the Barrel and on to their bellies and meeting the Rum with their mouths. Others saw what these men intended and down goes a lot more men on the same errand and there they lay as thick as herrings in a barrel sucking the rum into their mouths. Some got more than they could conveniently carry. How they got up I don't know as I left.
Shortly after this word came that several fat Bullocks were up the River behind Meremere and any Bullock so seen straying about was considered good loot for the troops and 5 of us went up the River in an old Canoe with firelocks and Ammunition. In a short time we brought one of the huge animals down the first shot. 3 men jumped out and soon had his hide off and with the entrails buried in the River after cutting it into quarters we shipped it and took it down about half mile from the Redoubt, took it on Shore and planted it in a small Plantation until night and so as to let the meat set, it would be better for carrying. That night 4 men took the Canoe and brought down the Beef. Myself and others were waiting in readiness to carry it up to the Redoubt this time a different way, very few steps but a steep round about road. Just under the big Gun Battery I took an hind quarter and before I got to the Redoubt I had a very hard tussle. When I appeared at the entrance to the Hut I could not get in. In a few seconds plenty of hands took it from me and right glad I was to get shut of my burden. Amongst us we had Butchers Bakers Builders Publicans Tailors Shoemakers Confectioners and all known trades Baronets Sons, Lawyers, Parsons from all quarters of the Colonies. The Beef was soon cut up and hung up in Joints. Early next morning we sent a nice Plate of Steaks into the officers Hut, no questions asked.
That day the route came for us to prepare to go to headquarters at Tauranga, we must do something with the Beef. I should say the
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Beast was fully 1000 lbs dressed, so after having a talk over matters we concluded to send me to sell Part of the Beef to yon Bridge Contractor and I went there and another man went to some men making a Road about 1 1/2 miles [away]. By this and giving some away and cooking some for the Road we got shut of the lot and laid in a good stock of Rations Tobacco etc for the Road. Next morning we bid farewell to Wangamarino and Mr Bailey and got to Queen Redoubt that night, a beautiful night but very frosty, 26 Aug' 1864 two days after in Auckland. The last day my boots blistered my feet. On the Road I was in the Advanced Guard with the Acting Sergt Major Jackson. Every few miles he would call the Baggage Cart. This Cart carried a small Keg of Rum and every few miles he gave us a refresher. Several years after this same Jackson became a storekeeper and made a fortune and lost it again by Quartz Reefing. At present Octr 1885 he is storekeeping again and buys largely in Gum and is doing very well.
On reaching Auckland we had a day to ourselves and on the 31st Augt 1864 we arrived in the fine Harbour of Tauranga, about 3 miles from Mount Maunganui the entrance on right hand on west Side is the Town of Tauranga. Here Vessels drawing 14 feet can lay alongside of the two Wharves, about 2 chains from Shore. The first object of interest is the old Cemetery, here lies some hundreds of [remains] formerly belonging] to Native[s] & Europeans. On the north west is the last resting Place of those poor fellows who lost their lives fighting for their Queen and Country at the Battles of Gate Pah and Te Ranga 1864. A little further south is the Landing Places. At the time I first landed the only Building[s] of Note were the College and on either end a Gabled Residence of Church of England Missionaries. The College was turned into an Hospital and the Residences were occupied by Colonel Green of the 68 Regt and Colonel Harrington of the first Waikato Regt. Adjacent to the Hospital were several large Indian Tents occupied by wounded Natives and British Soldiers and Sailors the result of the two recent Engagements. On north end of Township near and opposite the entrance was the Residence of Archdeacon Alfred Nisbet Brown. This Gentleman had been a Resident in Tauranga for 30 years previous to the War of 1863. There is no denying the fact these missionaries had suffered great hardships in the early days of their Labours in New Zealand. Arch. Brown had a fine Residence and a splendid orchard. At this time I estimate the Strength of all Troops
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in Tauranga at 2000. A few storekeepers done a roaring trade making their fortunes fast. Detachments of 100 men each were stationed at Judea, across an inlet of the Harbour on west Side of Town, the Gate Pah, 100 Men 50 Soldiers 50 Militia 3 Miles out on Main Road named after General Cameron, at Maketu, 20 miles South East 200 men, 100 Soldiers 100 Militia. My first impression of Tauranga was far superior of the Waikato Country and I remarked 5 acres of Land in Tauranga before 50 acres in Waikato.
Next day after the Bustle of landing and settling in our new quarters I applied to quarter Master Tunks for my Box I left in his charge in Otahuhu Septr 1863. We were directed to a large heap with Tarpaulin as cover. About 20 men were anxious to get their Boxes and after a long search not one of us got our Boxes. The answer we got was those are the only Boxes we have. My Box contained some valuable documents clothing Boots etc but I did not get them nor never shall. This was a great disappointment to me.
A regular mixture of Troops, Royal Artillery, Sappers & Miners Commissariat Corps, British Soldiers and Militia, 3 canteens, in Camp. Here we met our new Colonel who had been appointed in place of Colonel George Dean Pitt. Colonel Harrington looked every inch a Soldier and a fine Drill, and the first few months Drill twice each day was the order and to see some of the officers at Battalion was something to look at considering they had been in the field for 12 months. Some of them did not know right flank from left and could not do their facings. The Colonel had the Patience of Job. In a few months he had them fairly drilled. I must say the Ist Waikatos were a fine body of men. Our right hand man was 6 feet 6 inch and the whole front Rank averaged 5 feet 10 inch.
In October Horse Racing were got up. This brought the Military to the front, money appeared no object with some of the officers. The Races were held about 1 1/2 miles out of camp half way to Gate Pah, and gave us a grand holiday and the Races were a grand Success, the splendid Band of the 68[th] Light Infantry playing nearly all afternoon. Several officer Jockeys got a Tumble in the hurdle races. At this time Tauranga was a good business place. For myself I could have got a man in my place for £5 but I never thought of this. If I had done this and went into business I could have done well. I was a maker of all kinds of Cordials and could brew good ale. These goods came from Auckland and sold at 150
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per cent above cost. It became known amongst the officers that I was a rough Carpenter and in September 1864 an officer came to me and asked me if I could make a Clothes Press. I said I could if I had the tools. He said he could get Tools and I went to work. In 3 days I had the Job finished and then had another to make for Major St John. One Job after another kept me going and I was doing well, erecting wooden Buildings, making rough Furniture. I was making 4 to 5 Pounds per week besides my Pay. I worked very hard. In Novr I built for myself a small House of Wood and Sod Chimney the first house in Camp. I recollect the Colonel, Quarter Master & his Sergt coming to look at my House and the Colonel remarked he must have an Orderly Room like it. About middle of Novr I had a contract to cut out a frame of a Building 25 x 15 feet to go to Maketu. I finished this in one and quarter days with a Labourer to assist. I received £2.10s. [and] out of this I paid my man 15/- leaving me 35/- for a day and quarter's work. In a few days a Pass was put into my hand signed by the Colonel to go to Maketu to build this frame I cut out. Mr Foley got this Pass, unbeknown to myself, and he would have me to erect the Building.
I expected and wanted to go to Auckland having money [and I] wanted to see a little of the great City. I was disappointed and went to Maketu. I took Passage in the Schooner Herd and arrived at Maketu next day. I found the Place under Martial Law, everything military 200 Troops in Colville Redoubt. Myself and Mate had use of a native Whare or native house. The Chief placed cups saucers knives forks Plates etc at our Service and for 5 weeks we had a loose leg from military restraint. We only visited the Redoubt when we wanted Rations. By Decr 21 my contract was finished and I returned to Tauranga on foot. On my arrival I found one of the Militia had took possession of my House. This I objected to and made him clear out. Next day I set to Work and brewed 15 Gallons of Ale for Christmas & New Year. Having half a Barrel and 2 Buckets and a fire Place in my Residence I could do many things that could not be done in a tent. I bought Malt at 16/- Bushel hops 4/- lb Sugar 8 Pence lb and in a few days on Boxing Day 1864 I had about 14 Gallons of the best ale in Camp which did not require a very good article to be best in Camp as at this time no draft ale to be got. It soon became known I had the ale and I bottled some and sold it at 1/6 Per Bottle and by New Year's day 1865 I was sold out. It got abroad about me using Malt and for months I made hop beer
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using Bran & Maize instead of Malt and made a good wholesome beer. In a few days I had plenty of Work and done very well.
I often visited the Scene of the great fight of Gate Pah and 3 miles further Te Ranga, the 140 odd Natives killed here were buried in the Rifle Pits they had made to fight the British Troops. The Trenches crossed the only road from Gulley to Gulley about 80 yards and on the level ground east Side of Road the dead Bodies were buried and you could in 1864 smell the Stench half a mile away and till today March 1886 the spot is noted by the fern growing higher on the line of the trenches than any other Place.
On April Ist 1865 [there was] a rumour in Camp that the Natives were assembling in numbers and intending having another fight at Te Ranga. 150 of the 68 Regt 150 of Ist Waikato Regt with two 12 pound field Pieces paraded. Myself was right hand man of the Militia with Captain Stack on my flank and as we marched along we were in great Spirits. When we came near Te Ranga two mounted men went ahead to reconnoitre and returned stating no natives to be seen but many had been there and evidently got cowed and retired. We piled Arms and rested for some time, and about 3 p.m. we march[ed] back halting at Gate Pah for Refreshments. The day was unusually hot and dusty and we appeared like so many Sweeps, the dust being dark and perspiring freely we certainly looked a Picture. However we were disappointed at not having a brush. I never was anxious to fight in the field, but when you commence then all else out of mind. I was glad when [we] arrived in Camp. We did nothing only being tired.
On the 7th April 186$, the detachment stationed at Gate Pah were changed and my Company was the one told off to relieve that Post and we were stationed here. I did not like this as I was doing very well at my trade as a Carpenter and had an unfinished Contract on hand. However the Colonel kindly allowed me the Privilege of going to Te Papa name of Town of Tauranga each day and return at Night until my Contract was finished, about 3 Weeks. This Contract was building a Store on the beach road Tauranga now called the Strand, and I had to purchase horse Saddle and Bridle. I lived outside the Pah and built a small house for myself and took in as mate the mounted orderly who was stationed here to take and bring dispatches to and from head quarters. We drew our rations together and lived very comfortable.
I made some bricks for the fire Place and sun dried them which
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answered very well. About 6 months before I shifted to Gate Pah a Victorian mate of mine got Permission to make Bricks about one mile from Gate Pah and he had a kiln of Bricks burning when the Natives were becoming dangerous and when the Bricks were about half burnt Colonel Green of the 68 Regt ordered all hands into the Redoubt and the Kiln of Bricks was left to spoil. Captain Tunks our Quarter Master paid this man 20/- per 1000 for the bricks he finding all firewood, a very good thing for Ned Lea and his mates. However the first and only Kiln was left and spoilt. Some of the bricks turned out fairly good. We required some bricks for to line the fire Place in the Sergt Mess and Sergt Burns a big strong Irishman was continually boasting about his strength and I challenged him, we to take a Wheelbarrow to this brick yard and load it with as many as we could and we would take turn about to wheel them to camp, a very rough hilly road. To get these bricks we had to carry them up a hill [and] load the barrow. We put 72 Bricks on and off we started and it was a tremendous load. We had accomplished about two thirds of the distance when Mr Burns had enough and I had to wheel them to camp. It is a light Brick that don't weigh 5 1/2 lbs so you may calculate the load we had. This Ned Lea the Brickmaker was my mate shortly after and a canteen was outside of the Pah and Mr Lea was engaged by the Canteen Manager to attend to the Beer Counter. The Canteen was opened one hour before Breakfast & Dinner and 6 to 8.30 p.m. One night I went in for a Pint of Ale, cost 6 Pence I put down one shilling and Mr Ned Lea gave me the ale and 2/6. After the Canteen was shut I told him what he had done and he answered and very good Change too. I did not approve of such swindling and never did so again.
During May I was pig hunting and came across 110 lb Shell unexploded half buried in a Swamp about half mile from the Pah on south Side. The Battery where these Shells were fired from were about 1000 yards north of the Pah, it being a Concussion Shell falling on soft mud did not explode. Here was a chance to get a Stock of Powder for pig hunting and I pulled off coat and hat, went into the Swamp and after a lot of trouble I extracted the Shell and got it on dry Land. The next thing was to get it to camp. To do this I had a steep hill to get up and a Shell 110 lb. If I should let it slip from me as I tried to put it on my shoulder, it may explode and blow me piecemeal into Kingdom Come. I looked at the Gentleman, rolled him over several times and at last I said if he does slip I
[Inserted unpaginated illustrations]
11 The Mayor of Tauranga, 1888-89.
12 'Bradgate Villa', Tauranga, James Bodell's house.
13 James Bodell and his family at Bradgate Park, 1883.
14 James Bodell, his mother and sisters during his 1890 visit to England.
15 Detail from a typical manuscript page of the reminiscences.
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try and let him fall on the flat end. These shells are about 8 inch in diameter and 24 inch long and a pretty good lift to shoulder one. So there was a possibility of letting it slip. However the thought of such a trophy was too much for me and I put on my coat and after a tussle I had him on my shoulders. I found it a hard task to get up the hill, the roundness of the shell made it more difficult. When on the road I was all right and soon had his Shellship in Camp. For a while I was advised to bury it. One of the Royal Artillery came forward with a wrench and took the Cap or nut out and then the shell was harmless. I found the Powder nearly as hard as wood and difficult to get out. I got 2 to 3 lb of Powder out and then buried the Shell near the ditch of the Pah.
I was a particular friend with the Royal Artillery and they asked me into their hut and as several of us were enjoying ourselves with refreshments the Bombardier Scotch Jock put the nut from the Shell into the fire. We did not notice this being done and as we sat talking all of a sudden this nut exploded with a loud report sent all the fire out of the fire Place, smothered us all in Ashes hot & cold, and caused a Panic in Camp. It sounded to me like a large Piece of ordnance going off. No one was hurt and when it became known what caused the explosion a general Laugh took place and Bombardier Scotch Jock acknowledged he was the Culprit who had caused the explosion.
Some months after when I was up the Waikato the second time an old friend of mine named Harry Mathews found one of these shells unexploded and on that occasion he used a Hammer and Screw driver to knock the nut out, he having the shell between his legs and this monster of destruction exploded and blew poor Mathews into bits tearing the upper Part of his body from the knees upwards into fragments. He was one of the Melbourne Volunteers. The following year some Volunteer Artillery came from the Thames to do duty here. They got hold of one of these shells and not understanding them commence[d] to hammer them, exploded and killed the man. On another occasion a Settler near headquarters got one of these shells and had as he thought took all the Powder out, he having the shell in a Wheel barrow and he put a fire stick into the shell and ran away. He did not get far before the Shell exploded sent the barrow into small Pieces and the man did not stop for half a mile. The explosion was so loud that the Buglers in headquarters and detachment at Judea sounded the Alarm, and all
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troops under Arms. This man was not connected with the troops but was Manager for Mr Samuel Clark's Mission Farm and supplied fresh milk in Camp at one shilling per quart.
I passed away the time very well at the Gate Pah. Several times I made about 20 Gallons of Ale and gave my friends a small spree. The Natives were not allowed near the Pah but when they brought anything for sale would be allowed to come to a small hillock about quarter of a mile from the Pah and wait there until some of us would go to them to barter. They had Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes principally, some times fish. On the 18 July 1865 word came to the Pah that 300 Rank & file were ordered to the Waikato and our company was amongst them. Preparations made for a move and 8 a.m. we paraded and marched into Tauranga the Headquarters. We had made ourselves very comfortable at Gate Pah and I did not care for leaving.
One little incident I must relate. During the month of June 1865 the first European child was born and today March 1886 he is a fine young man out of his apprenticeship as a Painter and doing well. The other incident was many sheep was grazing within half a mile of the Pah belonging to the Govt Meat Contractor and I came to the conclusion that the contractor could well afford to lose one so I got a Mate and off we started, having a couple of good Knives and made for the Sheep. We selected several to separate from the Mob and one in particular to a race by himself and me after him. We were going at a fast Pace and I had hold of the wool on his rump and being in a thick Scrub I did not notice the direction we were taking. All at once down we went together rolling down a steep declivity and only for a bush we should have rolled into a deep river. I stuck to the bush and after great exertions I got on to the level land. What became of the sheep I know not but I seen my mate fast hold of another and assisted to kill & dress it. When dressed and the Skin and offal buried I took a good look at the Carcase and I upbraided my mate for not selecting a better one. The one we killed would not weight much above 40 lbs. However we cut it up and put the Carcase into a sack bag and off we went homewards. We had to cross a Swamp then the main Road into another swamp and along this swamp till opposite the camp. Here we planted our Mutton till dusk and then took it to our Hut and gave our friends the Royal Artillery and others a Joint each. Next day Mutton was plentiful in camp.
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On July 19th 1865 300 of us embarked on Board the S S Egmont, several hogsheads of Ale was put on board also and these were presents from the Canteens for the troops on their Passage to Auckland. When at Sea these Barrels we opened and the Liquor was quite thick. The Head of each Cask was taken out and the Beer ladled out. To get a drink you had to strain the Beer through your teeth. Next day arrived in Auckland. Here we stopped till next day and then on to Otahuhu. We stopped here 4 days and the day we arrived at Otahuhu I tramped back to Auckland determined to have a couple of days in Auckland. Next day I suppose 150 men out of the 300 were in Auckland. On the 3rd day I with many others returned to Otahuhu and a good Job we did it was in Garrison orders any man absent that day after 3 p.m. was to be put into the Guard Room. Many of us were on Parade at 3 o'clock and so escaped Punishment.
Next day off to Mercer on the Waikato. Here were two Steamers waiting for us and it was very dark as we embarked. One poor fellow not seeing the Gangway of the Steamer walked straight into the River with all his accoutrements and 60 Rounds of Ball Cartridge. Much Rain had fallen and swollen the River which was running fully 5 miles per hour. I was near to the man as he went over but I never heard him cry out and he was drowned. About a week after his body was found some 7 miles farther down the River. The Arrangements were very bad for a dark night, it was a miracle more was not drowned. My experience has been look after yourself first and others after but many men at times act like small children being so very careless.
We had two miserable days trip up the Waikato River the steamers made such slow Progress. We arrived at Hamilton after dark, late at night remained on Board all night. Our company was to have remained here but as our Captain remained behind (courting I believe) he being the Senior Captain was commander but another Captain having Command he ordered us to go on to Cambridge and his Company stopped at Hamilton. We knew this was wrong as the Post near Cambridge 4 miles away on top of the Mount Maungatautari Southern end [was] the worst station in the whole of the Waikato called the Crows Nest. On arrival at Cambridge we complained to our Lieut and he telegraphed to our Captain at Auckland and we waited his return, when we returned to Hamilton and the other company went to the Crows Nest. We
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found Hamilton a fine station, good barrack accommodation much better than the Crows nest. Here we remained for 14 months. I was carpentering, making ginger beer for the Hotels and as usual making money and spending it as fast. The reason we came to the Waikato was to relieve the 2nd 3rd & 4th Waikato Regiments from military duty so as they could go on their Farms. Many of them did not like this as they would sooner be on Pay. For myself I would have given £20 to remain at Tauranga. However we passed our time away very pleasantly. During our stay here many single Women from Lancashire arrived in Auckland and married dozens of Militia men particularly the 4th Regt at Hamilton. Each morning as we went for the Rations you would meet Dozens of these Women. 17 I was sent down to Ngaruawahia to repair the general hospital and waited about 7 days when word came not to repair it, and I had to return.
In September 1866 we got orders to return to Tauranga and arrived there 14th October and found the 12th Regt. The 68th had returned to Auckland and left for England the War being over. On my going to my House that I had built I found it occupied but soon had possession also the Hut I built at Gate Pah had been sold and removed. A few days after returning the Natives were inclined to be troublesome about 12 miles away. An expedition was sent out and returned reporting no Natives to be seen.
At this time my three years was expired and I went to the orderly Room to claim my discharge, and the Colonel at first refused, but I stuck to him, and at last he told me to give my Arms and accoutrements in and bring a ticket. I had done so. In one hour I had my ticket and in another ten minutes I had my Discharge and I was again a Civilian. A fortnight after the Natives again mustered in force and for the next six months another little War was carried on and several Engagements took place within 14 miles of Tauranga. 18 In about a month we had 800 men composed of the 12 Regt Militia
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and native allies, the tribe known as the 'Arawas' professed to be Queen Natives, and fight for her Majesty. On several occasions sharp engagements took place and several militia men were killed. All native Villages that we came across were burnt and their Crops destroyed. The Natives never made a Stand but took to the Bush and we never seen above 20 at a time. Every European in the District was compelled to take Arms and all men under 40 years of age went to the front. The 3rd class Militia men married over 40 years protected the Town. At this time I was 36 although I did not belong to the force, still I had to carry Arms and do duty. All Europeans had to do military duty. One Native Settlement we looted a fine lot of Poultry and the best Potatoes I had seen in New Zealand. We destroyed several Villages, could not tell how many of the Enemy we killed, they being in detached Parties, being in dense Bush. Their Presence were made known by the Ping of their
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Bullets and a loud report. One of our men were killed who had volunteered, a Storekeeper, he left a Wife and 6 children. I was told by a Native Chief some years after the enemy did not muster above 50 to 60 and they harassed fully 800 men for months. About July 1867 this little war ended and Peace reigned supreme.
I should have mentioned about Jan[uar]y 1867 the Native allies became aware that a European named Peter Grant was living with the Rebels, with a young Chieftainess and was the Father of one child. The Commander gave orders to the Native allies to take this man Prisoner and after a few weeks he was taken and brought into Tauranga a Prisoner. This man Peter Grant came from Melbourne with myself and belonged to the same company, and on the occasion of 300 of us leaving Tauranga in July 1865 for the Waikato as already related, he belonged to the Company that went to the Crows Nest Redoubt on the south end of the Mount Maungatautari. Here the Captain in command and some of the non commissioned officers made it rather warm for Peter and he ran away into native territory. At this time the Maoris were very proud to have a European in their Tribe, and Peter became a great favourite amongst them and took the Chief's Daughter to Wife, and as related was taken Prisoner. I went to see him in Prison and he told me all about his desertion, the tyranny of his superiors and his life since then. That same body is an able bodied man now living in the country of Tauranga. Peter was tried by a General Court Martial and received 50 lashes with the Cat, and two months imprisonment. At present March 1886 he is a boniface of an Hotel in Tauranga but still inclined to be unsettled. The Maori Wife still hangs about Tauranga although Peter has been married to a European Woman for 17 years and has 6 of a Family.