1887 - Gudgeon, T. W. The Defenders of New Zealand - [Pages 174-198]

E N Z B       
       Home   |  Browse  |  Search  |  Variant Spellings  |  Links  |  EPUB Downloads
Feedback  |  Conditions of Use      
  1887 - Gudgeon, T. W. The Defenders of New Zealand - [Pages 174-198]
Previous section | Next section      


[Image of page 174]


[Image of page 175]


The fight at Rangiaohia--How Colonel Nixon fell--Another of Rusden's statements refuted.

CAPTAIN WILSON, who came out to this colony in 1832, first served as a trooper in the Otahuhu Volunteer Cavalry, under Colonel Nixon, and in July, 1863, was made Sub-inspector of the Government Mounted Defence Force. He was one of our most active officers. He accompanied the Thames expedition, and was present at the actions of Paterangi, Rangiaohia, and Hairini; was close to Colonel Nixon when he fell mortally wounded, and one of the first to render him any assistance. In 1865, the war having moved from the Waikato district and broken out at Wanganui, Captain Wilson resigned his commission, and was made captain of militia. The appended account of the fight at Rangiaohia, by an eye-witness, narrates very graphically the services rendered by Captain Wilson and the troops who participated in that engagement:--



"The picture of the fight at Rangiaohia, lately presented to the Auckland Free Library, is so vigorous and life-like that it carries me back to the Sunday morning (the 21st February 1864) when our colonel (Nixon) fell mortally wounded, and two of our corporals were killed--McHale, inside the whare, and Alexander, at the door. Corporal Dunn received a bullet, which I believe he carries to this day. Two of the 65th Regiment were wounded, one mortally, and one of the Forest Rangers. The night before, we paraded at 11 o'clock at Te Rore, and then moved off quietly. We knew that something was to be attempted, as we were ordered to get round the enemy and take him in rear, or something of that sort. The way was led by Von Tempsky's Forest Rangers, followed by the 65th and 70th Regiments, the Naval Brigade, the Mounted Artillery, and the Defence Force, while Jackson's company of Rangers brought up the rear. The night was dark, and we groped our way along a Maori track, passing pretty close to the enemy's position at Pikopiko. At cock-crow we entered Te Awamutu. The bridge had been

[Image of page 176]

destroyed, but the planks were there, and to relay them was but the work of a few minutes. This done, the order was given 'Forward, the cavalry,' and away we went, the Defence Force and Rait's mounted artillerymen following. It did not take long for the cavalry to clear the enemy out of Rangiaohia, our infantry being far in the rear. Having accomplished our work, we had turned about and were taking prisoners as we came along, when Captain Wilson's attention was drawn to a whare, near which a struggle was going on between Corporal Little, of ours, and a huge Maori. Little having secured his man, Captain Wilson ordered Corporal McHale to make prisoners of the other Maoris inside the whare, who we could hear talking. McHale entered the hut, but no sooner had he passed the door than two shots were fired, apparently from the Corporal's revolver, when Captain Wilson called out, "What the--are you shooting the Maoris for?" and jumping from his horse was into the hut in a moment. The door was so low he had to stoop to get inside. The place was full of smoke, and as Captain Wilson entered he found under him McHale's body, his feet towards the door, and face down. The captain could not see anyone else for the darkness and smoke, consequently he soon backed out, calling out that McHale had been shot, which the men no sooner heard than with their carbines they commenced to riddle the house, which was built of slabs. The firing soon brought together the whole of the cavalry, and after a while some of the 65th and Forest Rangers, also the general and staff, came up. It was after General Cameron's arrival that Colonel Nixon was shot from the door of the whare. Then, as the Maoris did not surrender when challenged for the second time, the infantry fired the house. I saw one Maori walk out of the blazing hut, his blanket singed on his back. Poor fellow! he fell within ten paces of the door whence he and his compatriots had so wantonly shot our colonel and many other good men. There was nothing now to prevent us from recovering McHale's body, but its condition was such that we could hardly distinguish it from the Maoris around him. We succeeded in identifying it, however, and bore it away.

"The sun was overhead and baking hot as we moved slowly with our dead and wounded back to Te Awamutu. The wounded suffered much from fatigue and heat, and the enemy followed us up and fired at us along the way. I may mention that, in the pursuit before the whare was attacked, the Maoris, men and women, were jumbled together running away, and, being so much alike, the women were in danger of being killed. Captain Wilson, who had command of the advance guard, called to the women, telling them to sit down, 'E koutou, e nga wahine e noho ki raro, kei mate koutou.' They obeyed, and we passed them; they then got up and ran on. I heard some days afterwards that the big Maori, whom I mentioned before as having been taken prisoner, had said that his life was saved by a man who wore a silver band round his cap, meaning Captain Wilson. I write this simply to show that we did

[Inserted unpaginated illustration]


[Image of page 177]

try to save the natives. It was a sad day, of course, for all concerned; but, as they have asserted that we kohuru (murdered) them, I have endeavoured to show how they brought about their own destruction by wantonly killing our men at a time they were surrounded and had no chance of escape. At the great Maori meeting at Kopua, twelve months last May, Captain Wilson met two gentlemen--Wesleyan ministers--who informed him that there was but one thing the natives were sore about; namely, the kohuru at Rangiaohia. The captain replied, 'I can explain all about that affair, for I was present. It was I who sent the man whom the Maoris shot into the hut to make prisoners. Our man was dead inside the hut before the attack commenced.' After the action at Hairini, Captain Wilson made a rough sketch of the ground where Colonel Nixon had fallen, showing the position of the huts there; and the picture of the fight at Rangiaohia is based upon this sketch. Our old colonel's revolver is now the property of Captain Wilson, while he slumbers in the cemetery at Auckland, awaiting the great reveille, when those who fell in that hut will bear witness to the truth of this statement.

"21st February, 1864.--After the skirmish at Rangiaohia, the troops returned and camped at Otawhao, the Rev. John Morgan's missionary station (now known as Te Awamutu), bringing with them their dead, wounded, and prisoners. It was slow work carrying them under a broiling sun; no refreshment had been allowed since leaving Te Rore the night before. The wounded suffered much from heat and dust, and were glad to get the shelter of the mission station. Here the troops refreshed themselves with a bath in the stream, and the food given them. Then, as it was Sunday, they paraded and attended divine service at the mission church to hear Bishop Selwyn, who preached an appropriate sermon. The sermon and chanting of the service seemed rather a contrast to our morning's work. The slain were buried; the Maori wounded and prisoners kindly cared for, having tents pitched for their use."



The statements made in Rusden's "History of New Zealand," that women and children were wantonly shot and burned in their houses at Rangiaohia when that place was surprised by the troops, having been told to the Kingites, one of them, named Potatau, who is at present residing at Korokonui, has sent a statement of the facts as they came under his own observation. He was a little boy at the time of the Rangiaohia affair. The statement was written down in the presence of Potatau, and the translation was made by a half-caste who lives with the natives.

[Image of page 178]

The translation is rough, but accurate, and it is given as it was received. First, I quote from the second volume of Rusden's history, page 199, his account of the Rangiaohia affair. He says:--

"At daybreak the general pushed on from Te Awamutu to Rangiaohia. 'The few natives who were found in the place were quickly dispersed, and the greater part escaped, but a few of them taking shelter in a whare made a desperate resistance until the Forest Rangers and a company of the 65th Regiment surrounded the whare, which was set on fire, and the defenders either killed or taken prisoners.' This was the official method of telling, or concealing, that women or children were burned to death. For the credit of General Cameron it may be hoped that when he thus wrote, four days after the occurrence, he did not know the truth, which was subsequently notorious. Of what avail was it to preach peace to the Maoris, and tell them to be merciful when a British force, commanded by a general and accompanied by a bishop, burned women and children in a Maori house? Was it to be wondered at that a grief came upon the bishop when he heard afterwards that a plot was laid by the enemy to take his life? The successful general returned to Te Awamutu with twenty-one women and children, who were not burned.....

The Maoris had not dreamed that heavy guns and a large body of troops would be turned aside against women and children. Their rage at being outwitted by the flank movement which left them idle, and destroyed their food and plantations, was exaggerated by the burning of their wives and children."

Potatau's statement:--"It took place on Sunday morning. Early in the morning I had reason to go outside the house. I then saw some troopers passing behind the house. I at once ran to my father's house. I had not been long there when my grandfather came to the same house. His name was Hoani. It was because he knew we were there that he came, so that he might die with us--Ihaia, Rawiri, and his son. At this time myself and my mother went outside the house, and sat at the door of the house. I heard my father say to my grandfather: 'Let us lay down our guns and give ourselves up as prisoners.' My grandfather said: 'Am I greater than your uncles who were taken at Rangiriri?' My father again said to my grandfather: 'Let us go in peace, and according to law.' My grandfather would not agree. At this time the soldiers came to us, and asked my mother in Maori: 'Are there any Maoris in the house?' She replied: 'No, there are no Maoris in the house.' My father at once said: 'Yes, there are Maoris here.' The European who spoke Maori came to the door of the house, and caught hold of my father, and handed him over to the soldiers. The European went inside of the house. My grandfather shot him and killed him. Some of the others dragged the body in the house. At this time my mother and self arose and went through the soldiers and between the troopers. They did not interfere with us, but allowed us to pass. We went to the house of

[Image of page 179]

Thomas Power, who had a Maori woman to wife. After we left we heard the soldiers firing. Whilst we were at the house of Thomas Power, the Government interpreter came there. I may say that by this time a large number of women and children of our people had come to Thomas Power's house. What the interpreter said to us was that the general would have to deal with us. If he would allow us to take our departure it would be well; we could do so; if he sent us to Te Awamutu it would have to be so; but he told us to remain at this house. After this the interpreter left us. At this time the firing had ceased. We at once left the place and ran off to the bush, and made for Rangitoto."

The object of the march to Rangiaohia was to cut off the supplies which maintained the natives in the great pa at Paterangi. The above narrative (by one who was then a boy) shows that the Europeans desired to save all who were at Rangiaohia, and would have done so, but that one of the Maoris shot a man who was endangering himself to save life and opened fire on our forces. Not a shot was fired by the troops until this European was killed. The woman and children were protected, as far as possible, and some of them, like Potatau and his mother, got away and rejoined their friends.


[Image of page 180]


SIR ROBERT DOUGLAS was born in July, 1837. He was educated at first in Jersey, completing his studies in Hampshire. He was gazetted into the 57th Regiment in 1854, and very quickly entered on active service in the Crimean war. He was present at the storming of Sebastopol, and the capture of Kinburn, receiving the Crimean medal and clasp, and the Turkish war medal. He next served against the Arabs at Aden, and was present at the capture of Sheikothman. From Arabia to India was but a short step, and the young officer took part in the suppression of the terrible Indian mutiny. The 57th were afterwards despatched to New Zealand, and Sir Robert nerved in the campaign on the West Coast, being present at various skirmishes, and at Nukumaru, receiving the honour of mention in general orders. For ten years he commanded a company of the old "Die Hards," finally retiring by sale of commission to settle in this colony. He was exceedingly popular in the regiment, the men looking upon him as a fearless leader and a considerate and liberal officer. From his residence in the North Island during a stirring period, he naturally made many warm friends.

Sir Robert Douglas was also a public man, well known in political circles. For many years he was a member of the Auckland Provincial Council, and at the general election of 1876, he was returned to the House of Representatives for the district of Marsden, which he represented until 1879. During this time he distinguished himself by great activity and energy, and perhaps did more than any other man in the House to keep the Opposition from falling to pieces during the ascendancy of Sir George Grey. He was never disheartened, and fought a losing battle perhaps better than any man in the House. He was a man of the most generous and kindly disposition, sparing no exertions to serve his party or his friends. The news of his death, which took place at Wanganui recently, was a source of deep regret to all, while the members of his old regiment, who had settled in New Zealand, testified their sincere sorrow at the early death of their late commander.

[Page 181 is blank]


[Image of page 182]


[Image of page 183]


Services in the Waikato and East and West Coast wars--Pursuit of Kereopa--Attack on Ngutu-o-te-Manu--Engagement with Te Kooti--Forty times under fire and four times wounded--Letter from General Cameron--Story of Ngutu-o-te-Manu by eye-witnesses.

LIEUT.-COLONEL THOMAS McDONNELL, eldest son of Captain McDonnell, of the Royal Navy, immigrated to this country about the year 1840. He received his first commission in August, 1863, as Sub-Inspector of the New Zealand Defence Force, under Colonel Nixon. Served in the flying column at Drury, Burt's Farm, Mauku, and Queen's Redoubt. Volunteered with Major Von Tempsky in the reconnaissance of Paparata, returning successful after a narrow and providential escape from the enemy, for which service he received letters of thanks in general orders, both from General Cameron (the Commander-in-Chief) and Colonel Nixon. Accompanied the Thames expedition, under Brigadier-General Carey. Was present at the taking of Rangiaohia on the 2nd February, 1864 (where Colonel Nixon fell mortally wounded), and in the action fought on the following day. Received his captaincy in 1864, and soon after was appointed Resident Magistrate for Upper Waikato. Was sent to the East Coast as second in command of the friendly Arawa tribes (being a good Maori linguist), where he encountered the enemy in several severe skirmishes, in one of which he was slightly wounded. Promoted to the rank of Brevet-major in July, 1865. Soon after received orders to take the command of a native contingent at Wanganui; became the moving spirit in the capture of the Wereroa Pa, under Major (now Colonel) Rookes; and accompanied the force in the relief of Peperiki on the following day. Was sent to Opotiki, under Major Brassey, where he defeated the Hauhaus, inflicting severe punishment on them by capturing their settlement and destroying their stronghold of Kiore Kino, with a loss to the enemy of thirty killed. Was in command of the force at Waimana, and in the pursuit of Kereopa, taking his village and killing seven of his men. Captured the Pua Pa, and defeated the enemy at the fight that took place at the gorge. Recalled to Wanganui with the Native Contingent, and served as advance guide to Brigadier-General Sir Trevor Chute, K.C.B., throughout his campaign; taking part in the actions at

[Image of page 184]

Moturoa, Putahi, etc., where he was again wounded. Was made Colonel in April, 1867; and was at the taking of Ketemarae and Keteonetea, under Colonel Butler of the 57th Regiment. While protecting the surveying parties in the Patea district, he defeated the Hauhaus at Pokaikai, Pungarehu, Ketemarae, Waihi, Te Umu, Keteonetea, Tirotiro, Moana, Ahipaipa, and other places, at times against great odds, and always with many difficulties to contend against. He embarked again for the East Coast, and with the valuable assistance of Henry Tacey Clark, Esq., Civil Commissioner, succeeded in inflicting a heavy blow on the rebels at Hiria, above Lake Rotorua.

He was recalled to Patea, en route for Hokitika, on the West Coast of the Middle Island with 100 men to quell a political disturbance amongst the mining community. In July, 1868, he received his commission as Inspector of Armed Constabulary, and in the following August made his first successful attack on Te Ngutu-o-te-Manu. The second attack, made a few weeks later, was not so successful, he having been overpowered, with a loss of 50 killed and wounded, including five officers. This failure led to his resignation, which he was induced soon after to recall, and serve under Colonel Whitmore, who succeeded him. He fell into an ambush, and was again wounded. After taking part in the operations against Titokowaru, at Tauranga-ika and the Karaka Flats, he again resigned.

In July, 1869, he was requested by the Government to take command of the forces against Te Kooti, in the Taupo and Uriwera country, where, after enduring many privations from cold and hunger, through want of provisions in an unexplored and nearly impenetrable country, he was successful in defeating the rebel chief at Tokano, and at his favourite position at Porere, where he stormed the pa, and killed 40 of Te Kooti's best men. He afterwards continued the pursuit to Patetere and Te Papa, when, after again defeating Te Kooti, with a further loss of seven men, the Government recalled the European force from the pursuing column.

To sum up these important services, we find that Colonel McDonnell was under fire upwards of forty times; that he was wounded on four separate occasions; that he risked his life continually in reconnoitring, and in conferences with the enemy, sometimes in the very heart of the Pauhau country, being subject to treachery and ambuscades, from the orders he had to carry out, and from the peculiar position he was so often placed in; that, for these brilliant services, extending over a period of ten years, he repeatedly received the thanks of the Governor in Council, and of the Ministers of the day, of Sir Duncan Cameron, and Sir Trevor Chute (the generals commanding), and of the colonial officers he served under; that these thanks were indeed well deserved, as he never shrank from danger or failed in any duty, however disagreeable, but performed the work entrusted to him to the best of his ability. The colonial forces under his command

[Image of page 185]

materially aided in the restoration of peace to New Zealand. For his personal bravery Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell has been awarded the New Zealand Cross, and received the following congratulatory letter from Sir Duncan Cameron on the occasion:--

11th May, 1886.
DEAR COLONEL McDONNELL,--I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 20th March last, and I assure you that it gave me sincere pleasure to hear that the Minister of Defence had taken up your case, so long and so unaccountably neglected by his predecessors in office, and that on his recommendation the Government had decided that the Silver Cross should be conferred upon you in recognition of the act of bravery which you performed more than twenty years ago, when under my command in the New Zealand War. You have had to wait a very long time for it, and yet among all those on whom that honourable decoration has been bestowed, I cannot conceive that anyone can have been more justly entitled to it than yourself in undertaking a reconnaissance which took you into the midst of the Maoris, from whom, if you had been taken by them, you could expect no mercy. You and that gallant officer, Captain Von Tempsky, gave proof of that cool, deliberate kind of courage which is so much more rare than the bravery displayed in the heat and excitement of an action, and for which such rewards as the Silver Cross are most frequently bestowed. I congratulate you most heartily on the occasion.--Believe me, very sincerely yours,

As some difference of opinion existed at the moment of the Colonel's defeat as to his judgment in conducting the retreat from Te Ngutu-o-te-Manu I give verbatim the written statement of Adjutant Scannell, Lieutenant Hirtzel, and of the wounded he brought out:--


That, during the retreat from the second attack and repulse at Te Ngutu-o-te-Manu, on the 8th September, 1868, Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell, who commanded the expedition, used the most heroic efforts to have all the wounded safely brought out of the bush. That he remained in the rear of the force the whole time, encouraging his men, and fighting his way. That, if it had not been for his exertions and the assistance given him by Father Roland (a Catholic priest from New Plymouth, who accompanied the party for the purpose of administering spiritual comfort and consolation to the wounded and dying of all denominations), Captain Rowan, who was dangerously wounded in the lower jaw, would have been abandoned. That he saw Colonel McDonnell when the retreating force had reached the first clearing, on their way out of the bush. That the Colonel had then only a few of the constabulary and volunteers acting as a rear-guard, and very few fatigue men to carry off the wounded; while the hostile tribes were keeping up a heavy fire from every part of the surrounding bush. That, when the fatigued bearers, who could get no relief, and the

[Image of page 186]

hard pressed rear-guard were for a moment inclined to waver, he again saw the Colonel (he was then on a high stump in the most conspicuous part of the clearing) calmly announcing to his men that, happen what would, he would not stir from that spot until every wounded man had passed on. That, how he escaped twenty deaths is more than the Adjutant could tell, for he was plainly visible to the enemy, being not more than fifty yards' distant, surrounded on every side as a clergyman in his pulpit is by his congregation. That his heroism and devotion were effectual, as the few brave fellows around him rallied, and checked the enemy, while the wounded were rapidly borne forward. That during the whole time occupied in the retreat along a bush track four miles in length, Colonel McDonnell remained altogether in the rear, killing several of the enemy with his own hand; the retreat lasting four hours. It is only fair, and no exaggeration to say, that it was mainly owing to Colonel McDonnell's exertions that so many of the wounded were brought off. That, near the edge of the bush, a few of the wounded were laid down, the carriers being fairly knocked up, and, to induce the men to persevere, Colonel McDonnell, the late Major Hunter, and many other officers placed themselves amongst the rank and file, to be told off as bearers in their turn. That the Colonel never left his post in the rear until long after the enemy had given up the pursuit; and that he was the last man to cross over to the Waihi side of the Waingongoro River.


The wounded in the hospital wrote as follows to Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell, commanding Expeditionary force:--

SIR,--We the undersigned officers and men, serving under your command at the front, but at present lying wounded in the Hospital at Wanganui, desire to express our sincere thanks for the kindness you have always endeavoured to show us, and to thank you for the support given us notwithstanding the difficulties and troubles by which you have been harassed. Having heard that a Court of Inquiry is to be held into the circumstances attending the fight at Ngutu-o-te-Manu, we wish to express our entire trust and confidence in you as a leader, and to state our firm conviction that but for the courage and presence of mind displayed by you and your brother officers, the casualties must have been much greater, inasmuch as the wounded would have been left on the field to the mercy of the enemy. We request you to forward this document to Colonel Haultain, and with respectful sympathy we beg to subscribe ourselves,
WILLIAM G. BEST, Assistant Surgeon, and eight others.

[Page 187 is blank]


[Image of page 188]


[Image of page 189]


MAJOR STUART NEWALL enrolled for the Waikato militia, at Dunedin, in December, 1863, and joined Colonel Lyon's regiment, the 3rd Waikatos, on the 18th of the same month, at St. John's Redoubt, Papatoitoi. He did garrison duty at Drury, Papakura, and Queen's Redoubt with portions of the various Imperial regiments stationed there, and was appointed Colour-sergeant, in July of the following year, and in 1865 became Regimental Orderly-room Clerk, and so remained till the 9th March, 1868, when the regimental records were wound up. He afterwards joined the Armed Constabulary, No. 4 division, as a sergeant, and proceeded to Wanganui in February, 1869. He took part in Colonel Whitmore's West Coast campaign against Titokowaru; was present at the engagements at Otauto, Whakamaru, and Te Ngaire, thence through the bush from Ketemarae to Waitara, on to the East Coast, with Colonel Whitmore's expedition into the Uriwera country. He was present at the taking of Ahikeruru, and was on the following day with the column when Taranaki Jim, the half-cast, received his mortal wound from the ambuscade. He joined the force under Colonel St. John, at Tata-hoato, in the Ruatahuna valley, and took part in the various skirmishes of the next few days. He received his commission as Sub-Inspector in June, 1869, at Fort Galatea, after his return from the Uriwera country, and was ordered to Waikato in August, and, in January, 1870, accompanied Colonel Herrick's expedition to reinforce Colonel McDonnell, at Tapapa, where Te Kooti had shown himself with the intention of a descent upon Waikato. In 1871, he received a valuable gold watch from the Government in recognition of a military report and sketch map of the Waikato district. He was in charge of a party of Armed Constabulary at the opening of the Ohinemuri goldfields, where he remained for nearly a year, and with his party did good work in the formation of tracks and roads to Whaitekauri and Owharoa, as also towards

[Image of page 190]

Kati Kati across the Waihi plains. He received a valedictory address of a highly flattering character on leaving from the miners, settlers, and others.

On recall to the Waikato, he was employed with a party of Armed Constabulary on the construction of bridges and the formation of roads towards Taupo, and continued at this work until June, 1880, when he took a party of men to Taranaki, Te Whiti having commenced his trouble at Parihaka. He, in command of the 4th company of Armed Constabulary, and Captain Gudgeon, of the A company, were the two officers selected to go in and take Te Whiti, Tohu, and Hiroki prisoners. After this he was constantly employed with his company road-making between Stoney River and Opunake until 1882, when he received the appointment of District Adjutant of Volunteers in Canterbury, which appointment he holds at the present time.

[Page 191 is blank]


[Image of page 192]


[Image of page 193]


The old Fencibles--Threatened invasion of Auckland--Services in Taranaki and Waikato.

THE HON. COLONEL WILLIAM HENRY KENNY, M.L.C., came of a race of soldiers. He was the son of Major W. Crowe Kenny, of Her Majesty's 73rd Regiment, who carried one of the colours of that corps at the storming of Seringapatam, and grandson of Lieut.-Colonel Kenny, of the 11th Regiment, who was mortally wounded leading the storming party at the siege of Gawilghur under Sir Arthur Wellesley. The subject of this memoir entered the 2nd battalion of "The Black Watch" (then the 73rd Regiment) in 1828, at the age of sixteen, and, after doing duty in the Mediterranean for nine years, proceeded with his regiment to Canada, where he served during the rebellion in the Dominion, being part of the time on the staff of General Sir John Colborne, the commander of the forces, and being present at Colonel Wetherall's brilliant combat at St. Eustache and in some minor affairs at Napierville and elsewhere. Colonel Kenny returned to England with the 73rd at the conclusion of the rebellion, and served in the northern district and Wales during the Chartist disturbances in those localities. In 1844 he became Staff Officer of Pensioners at Sheffield and he brought the first detachment of New Zealand Fencibles to this country in 1847. In 1849 he succeeded to the command of that force, and, after the threatened invasion of Auckland by the Ngatipaoa in 1851, he received the thanks of Governor Sir George Grey and of Colonel Wynyard, the officer commanding the forces, for the prompt manner in which he concentrated and led the Fencibles to Auckland for the protection of the town. The war of 1860-61 found him in command of the garrison of Auckland, which at first consisted, besides the militia and volunteers, of only a few sailors from the Iris and recruits from the 65th, together with small detachments of Artillery and Engineers; but, in consequence of the threatening attitude of

[Image of page 194]

Waikato after the battle of Mahoetahi at Taranaki, it was reinforced by two companies of the 40th and three companies of the 65th from New Plymouth. In 1863 Colonel Kenny again commanded the Auckland garrison until relieved by Colonel Carey, 18th Royal Irish. In August, 1863, Colonel Kenny sold out with the rank of Regimental Major and Brevet Lieut.-Colonel, and being then a Lieut.-Colonel in the New Zealand Militia, he was appointed Quartermaster-General to the colonial forces, in which capacity he served on the staff of Major-General Galloway until the conclusion of the war of 1863-64. In 1867 he was appointed Colonel of the New Zealand Militia and Inspector of Volunteers for the North Island. Colonel Kenny died suddenly at Ponsonby, Auckland, on the 17th August, 1880. At the time of his death he was the oldest member of the Legislative Council, his warrant of appointment bearing date 26th March, 1853. Colonel Kenny was a stern old soldier, of commanding appearance, a fine drill, and a strict disciplinarian.

[Page 195 is blank]


[Image of page 196]


[Image of page 197]


Surveying under arms--Baptism of fire at Orakau--Attack on settlers at Opotiki--Hunting the rebels down--Services in the Native Department.

MR. WILKINSON arrived in New Zealand in 1864, and, having joined Major Heaphy's staff, who had received orders to make a survey of the confiscated lands, started at once for the Waikato; and it was while marking out the boundaries of the township of Kihikihi, that the natives were discovered erecting their memorable pa at Orakau. Here it was Wilkinson received his "baptism of fire." Surveyors in those days, for their own defence, armed themselves with breech-loading carbines and revolvers; and, as Major Jackson's Bush Rangers, with Captain Ring's company of the 18th Royal Irish, marched to the assault of the pa, they having had conceded to them the post of honour, Mr. Wilkinson joined them as a volunteer, and during the melee which followed the rushing of the pa he had a lively time of it. Mr. Wilkinson continued with the surveying party on the frontier for some time, assisting in the surveys, and at times making raids into the enemy's country as far as Kopua, and even beyond, at great personal risk. He went from Waikato to Tauranga, and, with Mr. F.J. Utting, assisted in laying off the township of Te Papa; but soon after settled down on land at Waioeka, near Opotiki, with Messrs. Livingstone, Moore, and Biggs, where he had the most wonderful escape of his life possible from a sudden attack of Maoris, two of the party (viz., Moore and Biggs) falling victims to the attack. He returned to Tauranga. The surveyors being stopped in their work by hostile natives, formed themselves into an engineering company, with Skeet as their captain, and Gundry their lieutenant; and. smarting under the massacre of his two companions, Wilkinson Joined forthwith, and was present at the engagements which took place at Te Akeake and Taumata, beyond Pye's Pa, some sixteen miles from Tauranga. It was all bush fighting, the natives having given up the foolish idea of meeting the pakeha on open ground. Being well and suitably armed, the engineer company generally led the van, and were left to discover and dislodge the enemy, who were always well planted, and who would allow our force to get pretty near to them before they discovered their presence by a volley.

[Image of page 198]

At Te Akeake Mr. Woolley was shot in the groin, and Mr Wilkinson had to defend him from being tomahawked until assistance arrived. He was also present at the skirmishes at Te Irihanga and Te Whakamarama; at the latter place they lost Mr. Jordan, who was shot in the groin, and died a few minutes after. The firing was very heavy for the first half-hour. The advance guard who sprang the ambush had a very narrow escape, more especially Mr. Goldsmith, of Tauranga; their knowledge of how to spread and take cover alone saving them.

The Hauraki goldfields having been discovered, Mr. Wilkinson proceeded to that district, and his knowledge of the Maori language gained him the appointment of interpreter to the Resident Magistrate's Court, where he was called upon to translate the goldfields deed of lease to the Ohinemuri natives, and he was complimented by the late Sir Donald McLean for so doing. The Government, wishing for correct information respecting the native feeling at Te Kuiti (the Maori king's headquarters), sent Mr. Wilkinson up soon after the outrage committed on Mr. Mackay, which service he performed very satisfactorily. In 1878 he was appointed Assistant Land Purchase Officer to the late J.W. Preece (who then held the districts of the Thames, Ohinemuri, and Coromandel), and was subsequently appointed principal Native Officer for the Waikato district.

Previous section | Next section