Topic: Evening Star (14 July 1864)

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In 2011 Tauranga man Jeremy Gordon discovered the remnants of a newspaper article on the Battle of Gate Pa whilst he was working on the Blackfriars Bridge refurbishment. Blackfriars Bridge is a Victorian era railway bridge spanning the River Thames in London. Once the newspaper was dried out Jeremy sent images of it back home to New Zealand.

Evening Star (14 July 1864): Front Page


Evening Star (14 July 1864): Gate Pa Article 


Evening Star (14 July 1864): American Civil War 



I have very distressing news to communicate. Our arms have suffered a very serious reverse. If we go on much longer at this rate, it will be impossible to speak of hostilities in New Zealand as "one of England's little wars." This unhappy war is assuming proportions alarmingly at variance with the prevailing idea - that a contest with "savages" cannot be of dubious issue. By last mail I reported the investment of Orakau. So completely was the pah surrounded that the general had already telegraphed, "Escape impossible." But old Arma, the leader of the beleaguered Maories, thought differently. At all events he did not despair. Finding it impossible to hold the pah, he invited his followers to prayers. He led their devotions as he had led their defence. After reading a portion of the Church of England Service, and concluding by an extemporaneous prayer, he pointed to the spot which he considered most capable of being forced and said: "Let us rush out there; if we are to die, let us die by the hands of brave men." The sortie was made and as you have already been told the majority ... defenders of the pah made ... It is impossible to do other ... of admiration of these men ... condemn their unruly ... while .. and deplore their misguided zeal, we can hardly refrain from expressing sympathy. They deserve a better fate than that which probably awaits them. But I have much to narrate, therefore I must not moralise. Wiremu Nera, the principal chief of Waingoroa - in which district the rising town of Ragland is situate - has been our staunch friend throughout. He yearns for the restoration of peace. As might naturally be expected he views with deepening sorrow the protracted struggle and the waste of human life. After the fall of Rangariri, he offered his services as "Kai-wawao," intercessor, and negotiations were commenced but ended fruitlessly. Again, after the fall of Orakau, he interfered and sought to bring about a peace. On this occasion it was expected that his efforts would succeed. It was rumoured that a large body of rebels were willing to surrender and give up their arms. Our camp was on the tiptoe of expectation. On the anticipated day some five or six men only made their appearance. Great disappointment was expressed. But hope was rekindled by the assurance that these few were only the harbringers of the many. The main body of the humbled rebels were to come by water. So said the wily few, who had evidently misled both Nera and our people. When patience was well-nigh exhausted, and every one began to think that their hopes of a surrender and a consequent peace, were ill-founded, sure enough a small fleet of canoes was descried paddling towards the camp. But on their near approach it was discovered that they were freighted, not with stalwart warriors but with decrepit old women, helpless as young children, and infirm old men, garnished with a few rusty muskets, and worn-out tomahawks. These - the people I mean - ... surrendered to the care of the general, who, it was known, could better provide for their sustenance and safety than could their fighting friends and relatives. No doubt he was greatly disgusted at this unlooked-for termination of the negotiations for peace. I question, however, if he could altogether avoid doing homage secretly to the clever tactics of the enemy. They had two objects to gain: they wanted time to make good their retreat to Tauranga, and they wanted to safely dispose of all whose presence was an encumbrance. They accomplished both objects. As soon as it was definitely known that the main body of the rebels had fallen back upon Tauranga, the base of operations was altered. A line of posts was established to hold the Waikato, while a body of our forces returned to Auckland, and thence embarked for Tauranga to join the detachment already there. The rebels strongly reinforced by detachments from various tribes on the east coast hastily constructed a formidable pah. It was planned with even more recondite skill than Meremere or Rangariri. At the latter place the Maories had learned by experience that the ditch, while it has been a protection to them, had also afforded shelter to their assailants. On this occasion, therefore, a ...... On ... for the ditch, ..... was a much more difficult ... obstacle. This pah was ... by our men the ..."Gate Pah." The general having completed the disposition of his forces on Friday, 29th .... at daylight he opened his fire upon the rebel position. Three batteries continued to play upon the pah until very near dark. The Maories - as it afterwards became known - had constructed a series of casemates, by excavating the floor of the pah and roofing the pits with branches of trees - covered over all with raupo. There, during this terrible cannonade, they lay as it would appear comparatively safe and unharmed. Long before dusk it became apparent that a breach had been made but of what extent could not be accurately ascertained. Whether the intricate galleries and tortuous inner defences had been laid open was a question not to be solved by the most careful reconnaissance. A soaking rain had been falling nearly all day. The evening was approaching. It was determined to storm the pah. An eye-witness thus describes the assault:-

The officers leading the covering party received their orders, and two companies of the Flying Column marched out to the right, under cover of the batteries. They lay concealed in the fern until the storming party and support, composed of the Naval Brigade and 43rd Light Infantry, were formed into line and advanced from the centre battery. Commander Hay, of the Harrier, led the storming party, composed equally of blue jackets and marines, and companies of the 43rd Light Infantry. When they made their appearance on the slope, the covering party advanced in front of the pah, within 100 yards of its outer face, and opened fire. The defenders of the pah replied most instantly, and the face and flanks of the position were enveloped in smoke. The rebels had leaped from their cover to defend their works, and gallantly and well they fought. While the fire in front was at its height, the stormers advanced in column at the double, and with a cheer which was re-echoed by the spectators in the camp and batteries, dashed through the smoke and bullets and carried the breach. The stormers were in the pah, and now a fierce conflict took place. Nothing could be seen but the flash of the pieces and the smoke; nothing heard but the cheer of the stormers, and the counter cheer of the defenders, mingled with the sharp roll of musketry.

The general, who was in the advanced trench of his position, ordered up the supports almost immediately after the storming party rushed through the breach; and the second division of blue jackets and the gallant 43rd, led by Captain Hamilton, of the Esk, advanced with a ringing cheer to the support of the forlorn hope.

They arrived at a critical moment; the storming party exposed to a murderous fire on all sides, and from hidden assailants beneath, and without an officer left to lead them, were wavering; parts were outside the pah. Captain Hamilton sprung upon the parapet, and shouting "Follow me, men" dashed into the fight. That moment was his last. He fell dead, pierced through the brain by a bullet, and many of his officers shared the same fate. One-half of the reserve stood outside the works. And now I could see from the battery where I stood the cross-fire in the pah suddenly slacken. The resistance was apparently weakened, and soon only from the corner of the breach were there any shots sent in return to the continuous fire from the other sections of the pah, which appeared to be held by a large body of men. That resistance almost immediately ceased, there was a momentary lull, broken only by a dropping shot, which was a kind of relief to the almost agonising feeling of suspense at that moment in my breast. "The pah is taken," said a voice behind me. "Thank God! but no - we are repulsed - see, our troops are retreating;" and at that moment a large body of men poured out of the pah through the breach, and a destructed fire was opened upon them from the pah and rifle pits. Could it be our troops, or was it the enemy, out off in the rear by the 68th, attempting to force their way through our lines, weakened to the utmost to make up the gallant column who had so lately rushed into the breach, full of hope and courage? I wished so, but it was not the case. The stormers had been repulsed in front with severe loss; and in the rear the 68th had also been compelled to retire. Thrice I saw the column of the 68th attempt to charge up to the proper right of the enemy's position, to take it in reverse; and thrice they reeled and fell back. This was not produced by any resistance on the part of the natives, but solely from the cross-fire of our own men.

During the night the rebels evacuated the pah, and breaking through the lines of the 68th succeeded in making good their retreat, only to select another strong position, and await another perhaps equally fruitless and fatal attack. 

At day-light on Saturday morning the deserted pah was entered by our troops. A sickening sight was then disclosed. Colonel Booth was lying mortally wounded in the spine - Lieutenant Hill, of the Curacoa, and many other officers dead. The troops had not penetrated beyond the open space at the breach used for cooking purposes by the natives. Their officers had all fallen in advance. The following is the official list of killed and wounded:-

H.M.S. Curacoa - Killed: Lieutenant Hill, late of the Orpheus; James Harris, ordinary seaman. Wounded: Thomas Terram, O.S., hip, very severely; William Fox, O.S., left jaw, severely; Charles Ween, marine, lower jaw, severely; Johan Watson, O.S., left knee, very severely; Amos Smith, O.S., groin, dangerously.

H.M.S. Miranda - Killed: M. Watts, R.M.A., Wounded: Lieutenant Hammick, right shoulder, very severely; John Nokes, boatswain's mate, left shoulder, very severely; M, Bryan, A.B., left leg, severely; James English, captain of maintop, left thigh, severely; Samuel Ruihven, A.B., left lung, and fracture of left arm, very dangerously; George Charmbold, left leg, severely; Levi Keano, left thigh, dangerously; George Alton, R.M.A., left thigh, severely; Alexander McAlister, A.R., arm, severely.

H.M.S. Esk - Killed: Captain Hamilton, head; William Leigh, stoker; R. Fuller, O.S.; William Dalton, O.M. Wounded: Lieutenant Duff, back, two places, very severely; Edward Martin, A.B., right hip and loins, very severely; Thomas Roberts, A.B., abdomen, dangerously; Alfred Bowden, A.B., right heel, severely; James Lawrence, A. B., scalp wound, severely; James Knight, captain forecastle, very severely, right shoulder; Robert Ward, Marine Artillery, very severely, right thigh; William Toser, bombardier, severely, left arm .... O.S., slightly sprained leg; W. Allison, dangerously, thigh.

H.M.S. Harrier - Killed: Henry Clark, boy; George Young, A. B.; Andrew Greenhow, stoker. Wounded: Commander Hay, dangerously, abdomen, ball lodged; Alfred Lockie, A. B., very severely, right jaw; James Pullett, slightly, finger; Charles Barrett, O.s., very slight, left thigh; W. Burchill, O.S., very severely, right leg.

H.M.S. Eclipse - Killed: Sergeant Harding, R.M.A.

68th Regiment - Killed: Sergeant James Hanmer, accidentally, chest. Wounded: Private John Moffatt, very severely, shell, right-knee joint; Private William Sloane, severely, shell, right foot; Private Edward O'Neill, dangerously, left thigh; Private Daniel Sweeney, very severely, right thigh and hand; Private Patrick McDonald, dangerously, chest and left arm; Private William Johnson, severely, mouth and neck; Private William Ashton, dangerously, right elbow; Private Henry Black, slightly, right elbow; Private John Platt, very severely, left chest and neck; Private James Byenter, slightly, head; Private Hugh Toner, right forearm; Private John Baxter; Private William Watson, slightly, shell, right hand.

43rd Regiment - Killed: Captain Robert C. Glover, head; Captain C. R. Muir, tomahawk, right ...; Us....., neck; Lieutenant C.....chest; Sergeant-major John V......; Private Philip Fitz.........Private Charles Lane, left side chest; Private S Holbrash, chest; Private Henry Goff, left side, chest; Private S. Hornby, left breast, Private John Bradhurst, abdomen, Private Fred Travers, Tomahawk, right head and shoulder. Wounded: Lieutenant-Colonel Book, dangerously, spine and right arm (reported to be since dead); Lieutenant T. G. E. Glover, severely, abdomen, not penetrating; Ensign Wm. Clark, severely, right arm; Ensign S. P. T. Nicholl, slightly, scalp; Sergeant Edwin Young, severely, left jaw; Sergeant John Hurley, very severely, right forearm and shoulder; Sergeant Thomas Collier, very severely, left arm; Sergeant John Cain, slightly, right forearm; Corporal William Everett, left shoulder; Private William Bridgman, very severely, both arms; Private John Bryant, very severely, right shoulder; Private John Nocie, severely, left shoulder; Private James Warburton, severely, right side of face; private Robert Phelan, head, Private George Clark, severely, left shoulder; Private James Clark, Slightly; Private John Simmonds, severely, left arm above the elbow; Private John McFarlane, slightly, upper lip; Private John Livescy, very severely, right jaw and chin; Private Bernard Conroy, severely, left thigh; Private Michael Casey, dangerously, right temple; Private William Sargeant, very severely, right thigh; Private Martin Walsh, very severely, right shin; Private George Robins, very severely, scalp and right shoulder; Private Thomas Madden, very severely, chest; Private James Audley, very severely, tomahawk, head.

14th Regiment - Wounded: Sergeant William Armstrong, severely, right thigh; Private William Power, severely, both shoulders; Private John Ruth, slightly, shoulder.

65th Regiment - Wounded: Private Halliwell, severely, left nates.

12th Regiment - Wounded: Private Andrew Mitchell, severely, right arm/ Private Patrick Monaghan, severely, right thigh.

To counterbalance in some measure this terrible disaster a signal advantage has been gained at Taranaki. About the same time that General Cameron was attacking the "Gate Pah" at Tauranga the natives surrounded and attacked the redouble at Sentry Hill, New Plymouth. In short, by judiciously concealing his ... and orderly ... the sentry to promenade as usual as the approach of the Maories had not been no..., succeeded in drawing them out until comple.... within his power. They were repulsed with... great loss, leaving thirty-four of their dead and wounded on the field. Only one soldier was wounded on our side. I think I told you in my last ... Captain Lloyd's head had been preserved and .... by the rebels to Wanganui, with the same ... that the fiery cross was wont to be sent in days of yore from clan to clan in the Highlands. If our last reports from Wellington are well ..ounded we may conclude that this stratagem ... not been without effect. It is reported that ... Wanganui natives have risen, and that the town is in jeopardy. The truth of this report, however, still admits doubt.

Before I conclude I must say a word or two on the confiscations sc...e It is now known that the Colonial Office will not oppose the plan. The Duke of Newca...'s dispatch, however, seems to be destitute .. anything like cordial approbation or even confident reliance upon the success ... the experiment. It is within the .... of possibility that what I am about .. say may reach his Grace's eye. It is usel... at present to say a word in disparagement .f the confiscation scheme to a colonial audience ... is almost universally regarded as no... just but wise policy. It is fancied .... and valuable territory will fall in ... hands, ....cient not only to locate the  intending military settlers but to replay, by sale of the reald..... war. But perhaps it may not be .... to state, hypothetically, what many years experience of the Maories and Maori customs ... me to think as most likely to ensue. Assuming then that this war shall happily .... before it degenerates into a war of wholesale extermination, I consider it very doubtful ... the confiscated land will be worth much to ... when we get it. There are hundreds - perhaps I may say thousands - of natives scatters up and down the North Islands, living amongst our friendly tribes, who have latent claims to portions of land in Waikato - claims that would never probably be advanced so long as they Waikatoes remained in possession, but which will be immediately preferred when it is known that Government intends to seize ... These claims will be sure to be embraced ... of the soil, and as they will be .... loyal natives, they cannot be well .... could almost venture to predict, ... ground of past experience, that .... have been preferred to several hundred ..... of acres of the confiscated land ... - and their name will ... investigated it will be a t.... process. If admitted, they .... all the really valuable portion.... ...cated blocks. Thus, the large ... pudding which has already caused .... mouth to water in anticipation, will turn ... be only a hard and indigestible N.... dumpling. If the claims are not admitted, we shall at once have laid the foundation for another war. The Duke of Newcastle might well be diffident in his expressions, and uncertain whether to approve or condemn the scheme.

Great excitement has prevailed in this province during the last week or two on account of the discovery of gold in Pelorus River. A great rush has taken place. Several thousands have left Otago for the new diggings. It has yet to be seen whether the new field will be extensive enough to support a large population.

The Melbourne papers contain the following telegram of late news:- Sydney, Wednesday, May 26.

We have Auckland newspapers to the 11th instant ... Newcastle.

There is no further news from Tauranga.

In General Cameron's dispatch to the Governor, as to the attack on the Gate Pah, he is at a loss to explain the cause of the repulse, otherwise than by attributing it to the confusion created among the men by the intricate nature of the interior defences of the pah, and the sudden fall of so many of their officers.

Sir George Gray was to proceed to Tauranga in H.M.S. Falcon on the 11th.

One hundred rebels have given up their arms within a few days, and are quietly located at Kihi Kihi. They are portions of various tribes which have been fighting against our troops in Waikato. Several others are waiting to surrender on receiving an answer from the Governor to proposals made by them.

A number of influential and friendly chiefs have had an interview with his Excellency, to request his permission to visit Thompson and the rebel chiefs serving under him. They state that their mission is one of peace. Leave was granted them to proceed on their journey to the front.

The members of the band of the 40th Regiment have volunteered to do duty in the ranks.

The 70th Regiment are under orders for Tauranga, as well as the entire corps of Engineers.

The blockade of the east coast has been abandoned by the Government.

(Transcribed by Debbie McCauley, 2 December 2014)



Stephanie Smith (personal communication, 2014).

Sunlive (22 December 2011).

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Evening Star (14 July 1864)