Topic: A visit to the Cemetery at Te Papa

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This article appeared in the New Zealander on 1 June 1864. It was reproduced in The Sydney Morning Herald on 11 June 1864

The place of interment of the heroes who fell nobly leading their men in the memorable engagement of the 29th April is one well worthy of a visit.

Te Papa, the mission station of the Venerable Archdeacon Brown, is situated on the southern peninsula of Tauranga harbour, and presents the appearance of a fertile pastoral district. The cemetery is on a point overhanging the entrance to the harbour, and is a really picturesque spot for the sacred purpose to which it has been allocated. On the opposite side of the water stands the mammoth Maunganui Mountain, rising some 850 feet from the level of the sea. Conspicuously, too, may be seen the Mayor Island; and the low level plains on the north and south, stretching far into the distance. Te Papa comprises only some half-dozen European residences, and these have been, for the most part, deserted by their occupants in consequence of the commencement of hostilities in that vicinity. The church and parsonage of the Archdeacon are in close proximity to the cemetery, and serve to heighten the beauty of the locality.

The burial-ground has evidently been used as a place of interment by the natives for some considerable period, for it is dotted here and there with time-honoured mementos of Maori graves. Here is a decayed vault of plain wood, at the head of which we perceive, through a crevice wrought in it by time, the remains of a blanket and spear. At another place may be seen the skull of a human being, lying loosely on the soddened mount of earth which denotes the last resting-place, probably, of a chief of notoriety. Some are of opinion that he met an untimely end at the hands of an assassin, and that the skull of his adversary has been procured by his relatives and laid there as a memorial of his fate. Plain wooden head-posts, indicating the name and tribe and date of demise of the deceased, in rude, uncouth carvings, are scattered over the place. Other graves have simply a rude block of stone, to mark the resting-place of a deceased native.

The cemetery is not without the remains of European settlers, although they are few in number. Conspicuous is the tomb of a Mrs Faulkner, with the crude words inscribed thereon - "Here you see the mother of a large family."

In the midst of the ground, and having two weeping willows, bowed down with time, at the upper end, is palisaded off the place of interment of the brave men who fought and died in the Gate Pa engagement. The palings are neatly ranged and painted white, with a wicket in the centre. The whole is unique and perfect in its arrangement. The walks consist of sand, and are tastily laid out by men of the 43rd Regiment. The graves are ornamented with shells from the seashore, and borders of white shells brace the walks. On the greater part are arranged emblems of a cross and a vase of flowers underneath. At the upper end stand four tombstones to the memory of officers of the navy.

The first we will notice is to the memory of Commander Edward Hay, who not long ago came out here to relieve Captain Sullivan, of H.M.S. Harrier. The deceased was formerly on this station as a subordinate officer of the Havannah, in 1847, under Captain Erskine. Commander Hay fell a victim to the noble daring of the enemy, on the occasion of the attack in front of Gate Pa, Captain Jenkins, although his senior officer, gallantly serving under him at the time. The tablet bears an inscription on the effect that he died of wounds received in the attack on Pukehinahina Pa, on the 30th of April.

Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton, of H.M.S. Esk, lies by his side. It is much feared that his brave officer was cruelly deserted by his men, who were seized with a panic and fled back to our position after being gallantly led as the forlorn-hope to the attack. It is true it was a critical moment, but if the men had displayed half the courage and daring of their officer, a very different result would have to be chronicled respecting this unfortunate encounter. The tablet simply indicates that he was killed in the action at Pukehinahina, on the 29th of April, 1864.

Side by side is the body of Lieutenant Charles Hill, of H.M.S. Curacoa, whose loss is doubly deplorable from the fact that he was a survivor of the ill-fated Orpheus, and was appointed to the Curacoa after going home on the loss of his vessel. His body was found in the interior of the Pa after its desertion by the enemy. He led on the men of the Naval Brigade, and fell in the thick of the engagement, bravely doing his duty.

There is also side by side with this the tablet to the memory of M. Watts, Royal Marine Artillery, of H.M.S. Miranda, who was also killed in the same struggle for possession of the Gate Pa. Like the former, it bears a notification that he was killed in the attack on Pukehinahina Pa, on the 29th of April.

Closely adjacent is the mound over the remains of Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Jackson Parking Booth, who died of wounds received in the attack, whilst leading on the men of the 43rd Light Infantry.

At another part lie the remains of Captain Robert Coke Glover, who met his death whilst leading his men who composed the storming party, up to the breach made in front of the pa. He died shot through the head by a bullet.

Lieutenant Charles Langlands of the 43rd Regiment, is the next, and he, too met his death inside the pa. This gentleman had only been three years in the service, having obtained his ensigncy in May, 1861.

Captain Charles Reginald Mure, of the 43rd Regiment, likewise rests in peace near his brother officers of the same regiment, who met their deaths in this illustrious encounter.

Next follow the mortal remains of Captains Hamilton and Utterton, of the same regiment.

Closely adjacent is a tablet to the memory of a noble host of men of the various vessels of war engaged, chronicling their names and ages, ships and positions. Amongst these are: - James Harris, ordinary seaman of H.M.S. Curacoa; William Leigh, stoker of H.M.S. Esk; Robert Fuller, ordinary seaman of Esk; William Dalton, O.M. of Esk; Henry Clarke, a boy; George Young, A.B. and Andrew Greenhow, stoker, all of H.M.S. Harrier; Sergeant Harding, Royal Marine Artillery, of H.M.S. Eclipse.

The remainder of the ground is occupied by the men of the various regiments who were killed in the attack.

Not far from the Cemetery is the place where the dead bodies of the enemy, who were found lying inside the pa when it was occupied by our troops, are interred.

The number of our dead within the precincts of this cemetery is more than double the number of the enemy thus buried almost by their side. Te Papa contains the graves of forty illustrious dead. 

 

Reference: Trove

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