Station Amusements in New Zealand
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Categories: Books, Open Access Books Tags: Country Life, Description and Travel, New Zealand
Camp Fire Yarns of the Lost Legion
Camp Fire Yarns of the Lost LegionTo begin with, let me speak of their courage, which was displayed in such a marked degree during the long wars that lasted from 1860 to 1871, for the whole of which period the Maoris were hopelessly outnumbered and, as far as armament went, were equally outclassed. Yet these brave fellows fought on and on, and even when the end came, and the shattered remnants of the so-called rebels took refuge in the King Country, the New Zealand Government, fearing to risk further war with the powerful Waikato tribes, resorted to what was called the blanket-and-sugar policy, rather than follow Te Kooti or demand his extradition from King Tawhiao, who at that time was just as independent of English rule as France was.?The first fighting took place in 1860, and soon General Sir Duncan Cameron had over 1000 Imperial troops under his command, as well as an equal number of Colonial Militia and Irregulars, and also a powerful Naval Brigade. He had also a strong force of Artillery, and was well supplied with ammunition and stores of all kinds. Yet perhaps you will scarcely credit me when I tell you that never at any single moment had he more than 2000 natives in arms against him, and that he was never opposed in any single action by even 1000 men.?It must be borne in mind that Sir Duncan?s force was one of the most powerful that England, up to that time, without the assistance of allies,[Pg 3]?had ever put into the field; that the men who composed it were all of them good, seasoned men, many of them being veterans of the Crimea and Mutiny; that the Militia were highly trained, most of them old soldiers, under the command of ex-Imperial officers; that the Irregulars proved themselves to be second to none in the field, and that the natives only possessed old muskets and fowling-pieces.?Now these numbers are staggering, but absolutely correct, as it is also that the above force made but small headway against this handful of savages; for although Sir Duncan forced his way into the Waikato and held a chain of forts there, yet on the west coast, especially in the districts of Taranaki and Wanganui, the settlers had to abandon their homesteads, the women and children being sent for safety to the South Island, and no man?s life was safe beyond rifle range of the forts. This was the state of New Zealand in 1866, after six years of incessant war, and it can only be accounted for in the following way:??To commence, the General and his officers were hidebound with the old traditions and maxims of the British army. They simply would not or could not adapt themselves to the exigencies or tactics of irregular warfare, nor could they be made to understand or believe that a regiment that could march in line like a brick wall might easily be worsted by a mob of savages in a New Zealand bush. Then again when attacking pahs: the General considered that the correct way to do so was, after a sharp bombardment, to rush the place with the bayonet.? Who could imagine for a moment that natives[Pg 4]?could hold their flimsy stockades against men who had stormed the Redan and taken Delhi at the point of the bayonet. Yet they did. Rangiriri was assaulted three times, and on each occasion, notwithstanding the splendid devotion and courage of our gallant Tommies, they were driven back with great loss. Yet on the following day the 180 defenders marched out and laid down their arms. Why? For three days they had been without one drop of water. The General knew they had no water, then why did he risk the lives of his splendid men by ordering futile assaults? Rangiriri took place in November 1863, and one would have thought that the General might have learned something, by its lesson, of the ways how best to deal with a Maori pah; but he had neglected to do so, for in April, the following year, he invested Orakau Pah, the defenders of which exhibited gallantry seldom equalled and never surpassed in all the annals of human warfare. Let me try and give you a brief account, as I heard it some years afterwards from the mouth of one of its defenders:
With Axe and Rope in the New Zealand Alps – Scholar’s Choice Edition
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Brighter Britain! Or, Settler and Maori in Northern New Zealand;
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