Topic: The Diaries of George Brier (1864 - 1866)

Topic type:

This article has the text of the three George Brier Diaries of 1864 - 1866. It also has scanned versions of the originals. The original diaries as well as high quality scans are held by the Tauranga City Libraries.

George Brier was born in 1846, at Southowram, West Yorkshire, England. On 23 May 1864 he enlisted in the 68th Durham Light Infantry, at Leeds. In 1865 he left England as part of a reinforcement draft to New Zealand. In 1866 Brier returned to England with the regiment and took his discharge there, returning to his former occupation of stonemason. He died in 1881, aged 35 years. His son, Ernest, later emigrated to New Zealand, where he was engaged in farming pursuits until his death in 1960, aged 85 years.

(Auckland War Memorial's Biographical Note to MS 1732). 

 

The transcript of this diary was published in the Historical Review, Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society (5:2-11) with the following forward.

 

THE BRIER DIARY,
Foreword by the Editor


In 1864 a young English lad enlisted in the British army and after a very brief period of training was sent out to New Zealand as a reinforcement draft to the 68th Durham Light Infantry, then on active service here eventually joining the regiment at Tauranga.  Fighting had ceased six months earlier, peace had been made but the Durhams were doing garrison duty


For the information of his family, George Brier kept an extended diary which he wrote under three headings :

  • My Travels to New Zealand as a Soldier
  • My Travels in New Zealand
  • My Travels in New Zealand & Home again

 

This simple account has the great merit of being written from the ranks. Hence to have details of rations equipment, and discipline not common in official sources or from commissioned men.

Copied from the original manuscript, it has been edited only as to punctuation and several misspelt words which, while making for easier reading, have not altered either the sense or the form of the original.

 

GEORGE BRIER.

 

My Travels to New Zealand as a Soldier


I listed in Leeds on the 23 of May 1864 in the 68th Durham Light Infantry. Went from Leeds to Liverpool on the 28 of May 1864. We got into Liverpool about 11 o'clock got our dinner at 12 went on board A Steamer at 3 & set sail at 4 o'clock for Cork in Ireland. After giving us our dinner in Liverpool they gave us nothing else to eat until the following morning. We had no bunk nor hammock to sleep in & their was only Sleeping Room for first & Second Class Passengers excepting we slept on the deck. I passed the night as best I could Sleeping some of the time & the other I was walking about to keep myself warm. I had a very good appetite for my Breakfast which I got at 6 o'clock. Some Coffee & dry bread which tasted very good. It had been A fine night & it was A beautiful morning. It kept fine all the day which was Sunday. I was not troubled with Sea Sickness.

It was the first night I had spent with my clothes on & the first Sunday I had spent among so much wickedness. & I felt very uncomfortable. I thought how much better I Should have been if I had been at a Sunday School, for I had attended School very well. We got into Queenstown harbour at about 6 in the evening, went on to (undecipherable) & we had to wait there for the tide coming in 2 or 3 hours. There we could see the Irish Jauntin Cars manning about in the Street & we could talk with the People that stood on the Shore for we were very near land.

We could have jumped from the steamer on to the land but they would not let us, We got into Cork about half Past eleven at night. We were very encious to go on shore but the man that had charge of us would not let us so we walked about the Ship untill 4 in the morning. Then we went on shore & got our Breakfast which I relished very well for it was served in the Regular Irish style. Some slices of loaf cut very thick & well Buttered with good butter & some coffee for which we paid 5 pence. We stayed in Cork untill 8 o'clock then we went by rail to Fermoy we had to go before the Depot Battalion Doctor & all those whom he passed were sent to a Room belonging to their Regiment & them that he did not pass were sent back to the Place where they had listed & there discharged. When I got to the Room I was told to go to I was very well received by the men in the Room. The first question was where do you come from. There was none that came from Halifax only me so I was a Stranger to them all. After I had got my dinner the Pay Sargeant gave me my bounty money. That was one pound. Then I was invited by a few of the men to go to the Canteen to spend my bounty money in ale & Porter. A Canteen answers the purpose of a Public House but their ale was 6 pence per quart & porter 4 pence per quart. When my bounty money was finished I soon lost my friends for their friendship went with the money.

Our daily food was 12 ounces of beef, a pound & a half of bread, one pound of Potatoes 1/6 of an ounce of tea, 1/3 of an ounce of Coffee:, 1/30 of an ounce of Pepper, 2 ounces of Sugar, 2 ounces of salt.   A few more vegetables for which we paid 8 pence per dozen. We payed half Penny per doz. for washing, 2 Pence per month for Sheet washing & 1 Penny per month for hair cutting. If there was anything Broke or damaged about the Barracks we had to pay for it. We had 4 Pence per day spending money. We balanced our accounts every month & what was left out of 13 Pence per day after the Barrack damages were payed we could either draw it or leave it and have it put down to our Credit.  

We had to go to a Place of Worship on a Sunday but we had only 3 different sects to choose out of Presbyterian Roman Catholic or Episcopalian.    I went to the Presbyterian Church as they are called in Ireland, for all Roman Catholic churches are called Chapels in Ireland & all the discenters Places of Worship are called Churches. In Ireland the Catholics go to Church with their Rifle & Bayonet & all their belts. The discenters goes with their waist belt & Bayonet on. One afternoon when we were at Squad drill the Sargeant asked us our names commencing at the left hand man. His Name was Moss, the 2nd Furze and the third Brier.   Well he said Moss, Furze & Briers, He did not ask for any more names but joined in our laugh. In fine weather we had to turn out to drill 3 times a day. Private Soldiers had to do orderly man in their turns, 2 at once. That was to sweep out the Room the first thing in the morning, then to fetch the bread, then the beef, and take it to the cook house. Then to put the potatoes into a net & take them to the Cook house then to Set the table ready for Breakfast then to fetch the Coffee & get our breakfast. Then wash the Breakfast things and clean the table. At dinner time we had to fetch the dinner & Serve it out but each one had to Pear his own Potatoes for they were boiled with the Jackets on. After we had got our dinner we had to wash the dinner things & scrub the table & forms. At tea time we had to fetch the tea. After we had got our tea we had to clean the tea things, then we had to go with the orderly Corporal to carry the groceries & vegetables for the following day & we had to attend to drill 2 a day besides.

Every Saturday we had to take all the forms & tables out of the Room & give them a good scrubbing with soap and water. While one lot was cleaning the forms out side the other men were washing the Room floor & cleaning the windows.

We went on guard at 10 in the morning & we were inspected by the Adjatant before we marched to the guardroom. When we got to the Guard Room we stood outside untill we were numbered & divided into three Reliefs. Then the Corporals, one of the new & one of the old guard, marched off the first Relief & relieved the Centries of the old guard & the Corporal of the new guard had to read the orders of each post to the Centry that went on that Post.

While the Corporals were relieving the Centries the Sargeant of the old guard was giving over the prisoners & telling the Sargeant of the new guard which of them wan to be taken before the Commanding officer to receive their Punishment. When the Centries were all relieved & the guard Room orders & Prisoners all given over to the new guard, then the old guard marched away & the new guard marched into the guard Room. When a man is on guard he is not allowed to take his belts or his clothes off and if he sleeps any he has to sleep on boards and a wood pillow.

A Private has 2 hours on centry & 4 hours off. For a guard he as to be on Centry 8 hours & 16 hours off. In the night time when a man is on Centry he has to call out the number of his Post & alls well every half hour. The Centry on the guard room is No. 1. He calls out first, then 2, then 3 & so on untill all have called out. Then the Centry on the guard Room Calls out alls well if they have all called out, but if not he tells the Sargeant of the guard what number it is that has not called out. Then the Corporal as to go & see what is the matter. If the man on Centry is a sleep or doing anything Contrary to the orders of his Post then he is relieved & punished for it, & another man has to come on guard in his place. The watchmen in Fermoy call out every hour what kind of weather there is at 12 o'clock at night. If it was a wet night they would call out. 12 o'clock A wet night & alls well. Of a fine night their cry would be 12 O'clock A fine night & alls well.

I was made Lance Corporal on the 16 of September 1864. I had been on guard 3 times as a Private but I had no Sentry go to do after I got promoted. After I had heard my name Head out of the orderly book I went to the tailors Shop & got 2 stripes Set onto my Goat one on each arm. A lance Corporal is the lowest rank of a noncommissioned officer. He has the same duty to do as a full Corporal but he gets no extra Pay untill he is made a full Corporal. Then he has four Pence Per day extra.

We used to be orderly Corporal a week in our turn. That week I was orderly Corporal I had to go Round to each Room and ask if there was anyone sick. If there was a man sick I had a Sick Report to write out & at 9 0'clock whan the Sick Call Sounded I had to take him out to be marched to the hospital. If the doctor thought there was nothing the matter with him that he was sceaming some times he sent them back & ordered them so many days of heavy marching order drill. At this drill they had to march 4 hours Per day at the Rate of 3 mile Per hour with their rifle & a Full kit on their back.

When the orderly man's Call sounded I had to see that an orderly man turned out of each Room & march them off for the bread & beef & to run all errands during the day, and to serve all the letters out after they Came from the Post office. After tea we had to go & buy in all the vegetables & groceries, then we had to show the officers the orders. Then at tattoo to go round with the orderly Sargeant & Call all the men's names. The Sargeant marked the men's names who were absent down, & all who did not answer their names before tattoo Sounded he reported them as absent.

If anything happened during the night time I had to attend to it. On 6 October 1864 we went from Fermoy to Cork onto a Small Steamer. Went in the Steamer to Queenstown got of the Steamer onto a Sailing Ship Called the Nelson for New Zealand. When we had all got on board we were all served out with 2 Pair of white trousers, 2 white Jackets, 3 Pair of white socks9, A Pair of leather slippersa Red Cap, a tin Plate, a tin Can & a few Pounds of fresh water Soap & a few pounds of Salt water Soap, & a bag to Put them in. The Soap & Clothes were to fit us for the voyage. With Salt water Soap we could wash anything either in Salt water or in fresh water but with fresh water Soap & Salt water we could neither wash our Skin nor our Clothes.

Our rifles & belts were put into wood frames made for the purpose of holding them Safe. We were then divided into messes. There were 8 in the mess that I belonged to. In some of the messes 5. some 6 & 7. others 9 & 10 but no more than 10 in a mess. Our mess tables & forms were fixtures. Between decks was divided in to three compartments. There were about 300 Soldiers & 70 Emigrants, besides Sailors & first & Second class Passengers. In the fore hatch way there were a draft of the 40 & 57 Regiments. In the main hatch way there were a draft of the 14, 18, 43, 65, & 68. In the stem hatch way there were 70 emigrant men, women & children.

After we had got our dinner we were divided into 3 watches. We were 4 hours on watch & 8 hours off, except at dog watch. Then we had 2 hours on & 6 off. The dog watch was from 4 o'clock till 6 & from 6 till 8 in the evening. They have dog watches so that every man will get an equal share of the night watches. Every third morning we were on watch from 4 in the morning till 8. Then we had to wash the deck & bulwarks with swabs & salt water, & during the day the watch had to keep the deck clean with sweeping & scraping.

After we had got our tea we were served out with a hammock & a blanket each. We fastened our hammocks to hooks that were fastened to the top of the deck, & to get into them we had to take hold of the hooks & Spring into the hammock. We had to have our hammocks down by Seven o'clock in the morning & Put them away for the day.

We set sail for New Zealand on the 7 of October 1864. Our daily food was as follows. 3 days a week we had a 1/4 of a Pint of Peas & 12 ounces of Salted Pork boiled together. 3 days a week we had 6 ounces of flour & 2 ounces of Raisins made into a Pudding & boiled with 12 ounces of salted beef and once a week we had meat in cans like the meat that comes from Australia. We got tea to drink morning & evening & a Pound of buscuits each day, but they were not so nice to eat for there were Plenty of little lively things running about the biscuits, and we could either Pick them off or eat them. Every day at 12 o'clock we got 1 dram of Rum, 1 ounce of lime juice, 2 ounces of sugar & 1/4 of a Pint of water mixed together to drink to prevent scurvy. We had to parade before the doctor twice a week to be inspected with our Shoes & Socks off & our trousers rolled up to the knee, and our Shirt sleeves Rolled up above the elbow, our Shirt neck loose & turned under the braces. We had to Put a clean Shirt & Socks on twice a week & we had to wash our own clothes & we had to have them washed before 7 o'clock in the morning.

We had Prayers Read every Sunday by the Senior officer. We Passed the time in Playing at different games, Some at Chess & drafts others at dominoes & cards. I was sea Sick 3 or 4 days. After I had got over my Sea Sickness I enjoyed good health all the Remainder of the voyage. Before we got to the Cape of Good Hope we was not so many days without seeing a Ship of Some kind. The first land we saw after leaving Ireland was the Azores Islands. The next land we came in sight of was the Cape Verd Islands. When we got into the tropics we could see the flying fish flying about in all directions. When we got within a few miles of the equator we lay in a calm 10 days. It was very hot while we were becalmed. At 12 o1 clock at noon we could see no shadows for the Sun was right above our heads. While we lay in a calm we had a machine to pump air down between decks, & it was worked both night & day by the men on watch.

On the evening of the day we passed the equator the Sailors dressed themselves in different coloured dresses & marched Round the Ship with a Can of tar & a Brush, & all who did not give them some thing were according to their Rule to have their head & face covered with tar & scraped of with a bit of old iron. The first that was tared was an emigrant. After they had tared him they threw him into a tub of water & some one threw a swab in it & it got round his head. I said you are smothering him. Then they took him out of the tub. He was a long while before he came to himself, & it was a week after that before he was quite well again.

It put a stop to the tarring.

After we had Got Past the Cape of Good Hope the Captain of the Ship Put us on 3 Pints of water Per dozin, instead of 6. The quantity we should have for Breakfast dinner & tea was served out to the Cooks. The remainder was put into a iron tank & a centry Placed over it to See that no one wasted any of the water. Any one was allowed to drink as much of it as 'he liked but not to take any of it away with him. The tank was allways empty before 12 o'clock. If it commenced to rain we caught the water any way we could to drink. The water we had was salt water filtered by a little engine. The water after it was filtered ran into iron tanks & the Salt ran into the Sea. The Captains excuse for Putting us on Short allowance of water was that he had no coals. We said one to another, why didn't he call at the Cape of Good Hope & get Supplied with coal.

The officers had fresh meat nearly every day during the voyage. When we set sail there was a stock of about 40 young pigs & sheep & some poultry. They killed them as they required them untill they were all killed. There was also a cow on board, but with being confined and tossed about from one side of its wooden house to the other it got thinner & thinner untill it died. One day after we had been sailing about six weeks it turned out that there was a man on board who was a stowaway. He had a brother on board who was a soldier & he got some thing to eat along with his brother & the other soldiers. There was a quarrel among the men in the mess about him living on what they should have to eat. The Captain got to hear about the man so he had to go before the Captain. He made him work & found him some thing to eat.

We had 2 Robberies on board during the voyage. The first was that some of the soldiers got into the hold and stole 8 dozen bottles of bottled Ale & Porter. The second time they stole 12 dozen bottles of bottled ale & Porter. Each time all the men who had any sign of beer about them were Confined & Punished for it. We had a Few weeks of very ruf weather during the voyage. On the 18 January 1865 we passed very close to 3 ininhabited islands. The sailors called them the 3 King islands. There was a very large quantity of birds flying about. There was one kind that I noticed very much. They appeared to be about the size of a Pigeon & very light coloured. I thought I should never be tired of watching them dive into the sea & bring up a small fish in their mouth.

We could see New Zealand on the 19 of January & we landed in Auckland the Capital of New Zealand on the 21 of January 1865, after being on board 107 days. 

My travels in New Zealand & home again I will tell to you at some future time if it be agreeable to you & God gives me health & strength to do so.

 

My Travels in New Zealand.

[Jan 1865 to Jan 1866]

[The transcript of this diary was published in the Historical Review, Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society (5:2-11 and 6:1-5).


We landed in Auckland the Capital of New Zealand on the 21st of January 1865. We marched from the quay to the Barracks. They were wood houses. There was no room in the wood houses for us so we had a tent pitched in the Barrack Square & three Blankets Served out to us. We could not sleep so well at night for with sleeping on the ground our blankets got full of dust & sand flyes. With the exception of having to sleep on the Ground I liked Auckland very well for it was a very Pleasant Place. The streets are broad & there was plenty of gardens to look at & Churches & Chapels to go to & the Public houses where Closed the whole of the Sabbath day.

While I was in Auckland I saw very few of the Maoris as the Natives of New Zealand are called. The first I saw he had a White Blanket thrown over his shoulders which came down to his heels. His colour was bronze & his look very determined. They go about Auckland selling fish & eels & peaches. They are tall well made & active people. On the 10 of February 1865 we went on board the Schooner Tauranga for Tauranga.

 

 

While we were sailing from Auckland to Tauranga we saw a few canoes full of natives. Their canoes are of different sizes. When they are in the water empty they Rock about the same as a Cradle & they look as if they would be up side down if anyone got into them they are so narrow. They look very well when they are full of men and women about 20 in a canoe all Paddling with their Short Paddles 10 on each side all Striking (together. They can soon Paddle their canoe a few miles. We landed in Tauranga on the 12 of February 1865. We formed our Regiment there. When we had all landed we were told off to different companies. When I got to the Room I was to stay in I took my belts & knapsack off & lay down on the top of one of the beds for I was tired for I had not had my clothes off for 4 days & 3 nights, I had only been off guard an hour when we got orders to go on board the Schooner & the first night we were on the Schooner it Rained & we had no where to shelter. I lay down on the deck to Sleep but I was so wet & cold that I could not sleep. So I got up and walked about. The next night the Sea was so Ruf that we could not sleep.

I felt very comfortable when I was laid on the top of the bed but I had not laid there long before I was disturbed by a man giving me a good shake & asking me if I wanted anything to eat. I said yes for I had had nothing since dinner & it had got about 8 o'clock at night. So he fetched me some hot coffee & dry Bread* While I was eating it the men were asking me questions about my voyage & where I came from & how they were going on in Ireland when I left there.

We had wood huts to live in. We had to make our own Brooms. We made them of Rushes out of the Swamps which were around Tauranga. There was not a dozen houses in Tauranga besides the houses belonging to the troops. Some of them were built of wood & covered with galvanised iron. Some of wood & some of mud & sods & thatched with Rushes which grew in the swamps.

There was a Missionary School at Tauranga but after the battles of Puke hina & Teranga it was made into a hospital for the wounded. We had Prayers read on Sunday by an old Church of England Missionary Named John Brown [Note here George has got the name wrong, he means Alfred Brown]. There was also a Roman Catholic Missionary who read the Prayers at the Catholics. They both had to read them in the open air for there was no Church or Chapel in Tauranga.. The Church of England Missionary had a good house to live in & a large garden round it well stocked with fruit trees. He had a native man servant. One of our guard tents was just outside his garden. The centry was placed there to see that no enimy came across the warter from the opposite shore for they could wade the warter when the tide was out. The Catholics paid their Priest 1d. Per month.

We had a lot of Natives Prisoners who had been taken in battle & it was no nice job to be on guard over them. We had two drams of rum allowed to drink every daiy one at 12 o'clock at noon & the other at 4 in the afternoon. There was a small graveyard in Tauranga where the Soldiers were buried that were killed at Pukehinahina & Teranga. Over each grave there was a piece of wood put up to answer as a head stone with the names of the men who were buried in the grave & their Regimental Number & the No. of the Regiment they belonged to, & the Place & date where they were killed at cut into the wood, & it was fenced round with Wood Railings.

 

[This section of the transcription was published in he Historical Review, Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society (6:1-6)]

We had no fighting while we were here but if the enemy were anywhere near we had to rise an hour before day light & stand under arms till day light with our rifles loaded & caped for instant action. It is the custom of the natives of New Zealand to alarm their enimies at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning when their enimies is hard asleep as they think. But when they came to the British troops they were met by a shower of Bullets & the steel bayonets instead of finding them asleep. When there was 6 or 7 hundred of us stood under arms we could have heard a clock tick all was so quiet & if any one struck a light he was entitled to fifty lashes.

We marched from Tauranga to Pukehinahina on the 7 day of April 1865. It was only 3 miles from Tauranga so we got there in about an hour. There was 50 of us & three officers. There was only 6 houses then at Puke hina hina. One of them was built of wood & covered with galvanised iron. The man that belonged to this was an old sailor. He kept a small stock of all kinds of goods that were wanted in a house for general use. One of the 6 was built of wood, it was the officers mess house. The other 4 was built of sods & thatched with rushes. 2 of them was occupied by 2 married men & their wlfes. One was built close to the store keepers house, & he used it for to sell us beer in at 10 Pence Per quart. The other sod house was occupied by a horse soldier. His duty was to go to Tauranga any time our Captain sent him either day or night.

We where in a redoubt in bell tents. There was 8 of us in the tent that I was in. Some of the tents had more men in them some less. The officers had each a tent to them Selves. We got 3 Blankets served out to us & an oil sheet. The oil sheet we spread on the ground to keep the damp from Striking up through the blankets & the oil sheet was useful to keep the blankets Clean as well as to keep them Dry. We dug a small trench Round the tents to keep the water from Running in. We had no table to eat of no chair to sit on. Our blankets where not white they were a Bark Brown colour. We rose about 6 o'clock in the morning Rolled up our Blankets & had to be out at drill at half past 6 for an hour. We paraded again at half past 10. We were then inspected & dismissed for the day. Private Soldier were on guard every third night. Us noncommissioned officers had 6 out of 8 nights in bed on the ground one of the 2 nights we were on guard the other on outline Picuet.

There was a noncommissioned officer & 9 Privates mounted guard every night at 6 o'clock. The day we were on guard we had to relieve the Centries every two hours & in the night time we had to see that all was right & that the Centry kept alert on their posts & to turn out the guard for inspection when the orderly officer came round once in the day time & once in the night.


The night we were on out line picquet there was one noncommissioned officer & 3 Privates. Our duty was to march Round the Redoubt every hour of the night when it was dark. It was a duty I never liked for all round as far as we had to go the land was covered with fern. Most of it was about 1 foot high & some of it was 3 or 4 feet high. When we marched round we had our rifles loaded & caped & our Bayonets fixed. If we came across an enemy your duty was to fire then Retreat to the Redoubt of we could. The out line Picquet was sent out so that the troops in the Redoubt should not be taken by surprise. It did not matter if they got killed if the other troops were alarmed in time to be ready for the enemy.

The Redoubt we was in was made by digging a trench about 8 feet wide & 6 feet deep. The dirt was all thrown up on to one side of the trench so that when it was finished if any one wanted to get into the Redoubt they had to jump down into the trench & then they had to climb up the other side of the trench which was 5 yards hight before they could get into the Redoubt. We had a wood bridge accross the trench to get into the redoubt that we could drop into the Redoubt. If an enemy attacked us we had two Rows of sand bags all Round the top of the Redoubt. They where about 2 feet long & between each bag there was a open space left for us to fire through. We had a foot path Round the inside of the Redoubt about 5 feet from the top of the Redoubt wall & 3 feet from the bottom of the Redoubt where our tents where pitched. There was 7 artillary men with us & they had one gun an 112 Pound Brutch loader.

We had to cook our vituals on a wood fire in large tin cans called Camp Kettles, We had nothing in the pottery line. All we had was our mess tins & a tin plate. We had our coffee in the morning to our Breakfast in our mess tins, then at 12 o'clock we had a Dram of Rum in it, at one o'clock we had our Broth in it, at 4 o'clock we had our tea in it. So, you see that we made very good use of our mess tins. We were allowed 12 ounces of beef or mutton per man a day 6 days in the week. Once a week we had either 12 ounces of Salted beef or Salted pork. The day we got salted meat we got 1 ounce of lime juice & 2 ounces of brown sugar. We put the lime juice & the sugar and aboutt half a gill of water & mixed them together, then it was ready for drinking. We had to drink the lime juice to Prevent us from having Scurvy. We got a pound & a half of Bread per man per Day & 1 pound of Potatoes.

2 or 3 days a week the natives used to bring us eels & fish & we gave them bread for them. They also Brought us Plenty of Peaches & in the honey season they brought us honey. We spread the honey on to our bread instead of butter & treacle. The natives where very fond of tobacco, men, women, boys & girls all used to smoke when they could get any tobacco so we gave them tobacco for their Peaches & honey & they were all very well satisfied. The natives who traded with us were what we called the civil natives. The clothes they wore were old clothes they had got from Europeans. The natives in their wild State wear no clothes, only to cover their nakedness. They are very dirty & lazey. Some of them cultivate the land & trades with the settlers who have emigrated to New Zealand, others Roam about tha Country living on what they can get by any means whether right or wrong & when they can get nothing else they live of fish eels & Bread that they make of fern roots. When it is made it as a dark gray Colour & a great deal courser than our course flour. All the houses I saw of the natives were very low & thatched with Rushes. I cannot say anything about their furniture for I never saw inside of their houses. I saw not even any thing to answer as a bed only the ground covered with rushes & fern.

Our Redoubt was on the top of a hill & all round as far as we could see their was no houses to be seen only a small native village & we had to cross an arm of the sea before we could get to it. We had strict orders not to go to this village but I went across once in a boat that we took without leave, belonging to our Captain. There was a small Missionary school there. It was going to ruin fast for the windows were broken and the grass was growing on the floor. It was built of wood and it had been very pretty inside once, for it was covered with different coloured Matterials all Plaited together the same as Basket work. The land was all in a wild uncultivated State as far as we could see but it was very rich. It was 3 or 4 feet deep of good soil and there was no stone in the land. At night there was generally 2 or 4 large fires to be seen lighted by the natives who were traviling about the country & if they were within a few hours walk of us we had to stand under arms an hour before daylight.

We had all our own clothes to wash and mend and every Saturday we cleaned out our tents and put fresh fern and rushes in them. We had Blue serge clothes to wear and a white Cap Cover to keep us from being Sun Struck. The Climate is warmer than ours and it is our winter when it is there Summer and our night time when it is there day time. One day I saw a man and a woman with their tongue in each others mouth and rubbing their noses together. I watched them a few minutes and then I asked one of our men what they meant by doing so. He told me that they always did so when they met any of their friends whom they had not seen for a long time and the longer they rubbed their noses together the better friends they where considered to be. When they were having their war dances they shout out as loud as they can and put out their tongue and there is no part of their eyes to be seen, only the white and they keep dancing round and making themselves look as ugly and frightful as they can. Some of the women wear green stones in their ears. Some of our officers bought a bit of the Green stone from the natives but they had to pay very dear for it. The men of New Zealand has their face tatoed when they are young. The women get tatoed on the face after they are married so it is very easy to know when they are married. There was no wild animals in New Zealand only Pigs So the offioers belonging to our Regiment to keep up their Practice of hunting, used to have what they called a Papper hunt. They cut out the Paper into little bits and one of them used to start off two hours before the others. He had two large bags full of bits of Paper and as he rode along he threw the bits of Paper out of the bags. Then the hunt had to find him.

I went down to Tauranga one day and the officers where having a shooting match. They were shooting at rats. There was a boundary line drawn round where the officers stood, with a Rat trap and a rat in it, and at a signal from the officers he opened the trap door & when the rat commenced to run the officer fired at it. If it got beyond the boundary line without being hit there were two men there to Pick them up who had been employed to catch them. There were a great deal of laughing for some of the rats were a long while before they would venture out of the trap.

We had a large dog with us at Puke hina hina. It belonged to four of the men. They used to catch wild Pigs with-it. The dog seased the Pigs by one of their ears & stuck fast untill one of the men killed the Pig, then the men sold it to the other men at 4d Per Pound. At Puke hina hina Butter was 4d per Pound, eggs 4 pence each, milk 8 pence per quart, and Bacon 1/6 per pound, Beef & Mutton about 6 Pence per Pound.

On the 12 day of October 1865 I was on guard & at tea time the orderly man came & asked me if I wanted any fried eels to eat & I said yes. Well he said come to our tent and get some. The tent I had charge of was only about 10 yards from the guard tent, so I went. I was away about 5 minutes and when I got back to the guard tent the orderly officer for the day was there, so he placed me under arrest and there was a non-commissioned officer placed over me, to take charge of me. My crime was absent from his guard at or about 5.15 p.m. the 12 day of October 1865. The next day I was taken before the Captain. He had a letter in his hand, he gave me a good Repremand about being so careless and then he said look here, showing me the letter he held in his hand, I got this letter this morning for your promotion to the Rank of a full Corporal but as you have missbehaved yourself you will miss your turn at promotion. When he told me I felt very sorry for my missconduct for I had lost 4 Pence per day besides my character. But I had got Out of it very easy for they could have given me fifty lashes besides reducing me to the Ranks.

I was promoted to the Rank of full Corporal on the 20th day of December 1865. We had 3 Pence more per day in New Zealand than we had on home service, so after I was made full Corporal I had 11 Pence per day clear money. Our beef and mutton came to Tauranga a ship load at once. When they were landed they were turned on to the land and there was a Butchers fatigue Party told of every day, 8 men and 1 Corporal, There was a large Place fenced round by a mud wall where the cattle were drove in and caught and killed. There was a bull killed one day and 8 sheep the next day. The fatigue party had to drive one of the bulls into the Place fenced Round, then it was shot and the Butchers assisted by the fatigue party Bled the bull and cut it up. The fatigue party the next day had to drive a lot of Sheep in and then had to catch 8 of them and carry them to the Butcher to kill.

For the first two months we were at Puke hina hina we had no women to look at except only 2 old women besides the natives. Then one of the married men had two of his daughters come to live with him. One of them was about 18 years old and the other 16. Their father was a Sargeant belonging to the militia of New Zealand. They were two Irish girls but very good looking and as they were the only young women within a dozen Miles of the Place they had plenty of admirers and applicants. When they had been there a few weeks there was two men came from Tauranga on horse back and each of them had a Spare horse with him. They learnt the young women how to ride on horse back and about 3 months after got married to them.

 

My Travels in New Zealand and Home Again

[1864 - 1866]

[The transcript of this diary was published in the Historical Review, Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society (7: 11-17]

In my last account of my travels in New zealand I finished by giving you an account of how we were situated at Pukehina-hina. I shall now give you a short account of how we fared after leaving Pukehinahina.

After we had got our dinner on the 24 of February 1866, we got orders to strike our tents and pack them up ready for carrying away on the bullock cart. It was drawn by four bulls and they were slow travilers. I had often noticed their speed while I was at Tauranga and they always seemed to go at one speed whether they were going up the hill or down the hill or crossing a River or Swamp. When we got all the tents ready for carrying away we packed our things into our knap sack, put our belts and knapp sack on and took our rifle and waited, outside the Redoubt ready for a company of the 12 Regiment who had come to relieve us.

Marching into the Redoubt we then marched off to Tauranga. There we Joined 5 more companies of our Regiment who were all ready for going on board a Steamer which was waiting for us. It was called the Ladybird. When we had all got on board with our luggage it was about 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Some of the civil natives that we had traded with were on the Shore watching us off.

After we had got out to sea the Pilate left us. The evening was a very fine one so we had pleasant sailing. The steamer was only a small one so we had to pass the night as best we could with our clothes on, for there was not bunks sufficient for half of us. I was sea sick for a few hours during the night but with walking about I soon got over it. I had a very good appetite for my Breakfast the following morning which we got before 7 o'clock in the morning, some dry Bread and Coffee which tasted as sweet as honey to me. We got into Auckland harbour about 8 o'clock in the morning and landed about 9 o'clock in the morning of the 22 day of February 1866.

When we had all landed we-marched to Albert barracks, and when we got into the Barrack Square we halted and took off our Knack sacks. After we had got our dinner we got orders to pile all our knap sacks together. The Colonel who had given this order had been thinking as we all had been thinking that as the sun was so very hot it was too much for any man to march 9 miles with a full Kit on his back, so the knack sacks were taken by horses.

At 1. o'clock we started on the march from Auckland to Otahuhu. As we marched along we could see the settlers houses scattered about and their land well cultivated and a few of the Richer Class had large gardens round their houses well stocked with fruit trees especially Peaches and apples.

We got to Otahuhu at 5 o'clock. The houses we had to live in were made of wood. In the centre of each house was a space about 2 yards wide, the whole length of the room. It was neither flagged nor boarded, nothing but the bare ground to stand on. Each side of the Room 2 yards wide and 2 feet above the ground, was,boarded the whole length Of the Room. This was our bed and it answered also for our table and chairs. We had two sheets and two blankets and 1 Rug. It was a very hard bed and the blankets were well stocked with sand flyes so it was very seldom we got above two or three hours rest during the night time. Every time we wanted to wash ourselves we had to go a quarter of a mile down to the sea shore.

We had come to Otahuhu to wait for the ship getting ready to take us home. The Colonel we had over us was a yrant. He had us out at drill at half past 5 O'clock in the morning in heavy marching order for 2 hours. Then we paraded again in the afternoon and some times he gave us three or four hours in the heat of the sun and he took a delight in seeing men flogged. He would tell the men who were flogging that they were not striking hard enough. The last two men I saw flogged was on the morning of the 1 day of March 1866. One of them was flogged for being drunk. When they are going to be flogged they are tied to a Triangle, that is pieces of wood about three yards long each of them. They meet together at the top and are spread out at the bottom. The man who is going to be flogged had his boots and socks and trousers on. His hands are tied to the top of the triangle and his legs are tied to the bottom, one to each side leg of the triangle. All the soldiers who are not on duty stand round the triangle with their bayonets fixed. The doctor and a Colonel stands on one side, the bugle major and the two men who is going to flog the man stands on the other side. When all is ready the Bugle major counts 25 in slow time and every time he speaks the man strikes until he had counted 25. Then the other man takes the whip and the bugle major counts another 25. After the man has got flogged he has his back washed with salt and water.

All the time I was at Otuhuhu I had a little Diarraha and I could eat very little. I got very thin and weak so one morning I put my name in the Sick Report. When I got to the Doctor I was a little excited so my Pulse beat quick and my face was red. When he had felt my Pulse and looked at me he told me that I was sceaming and that there was nothing the matter with me. When he told me I felt my blood warm but I dare not say anything. I went out to drill the following morning. When I got back to the hut I lay down on the top of the wood bed. It was a good while before I had strength to Rise up again.

The next dayn we had General Inspection before going on board Ship. We were inspected by General Schute. We were formed a strait line front and rear rank. I was in the rear rank. There was one band in the centre and the bugle band was in two lots, one at each end. When the general came to inspect us we got the word to Present arms and has he commenced to inspect us the band at that end played the General salute and has he got nearer the other commenced to play the General salute and has he got nearer the other end the other played the same. When they got to where I was trembling from head to foot they stopped and looked at me. I expected being placed under arrest but they passed on and said nothing. We marched from Otahuhu to Auckland on the 12 day of March 1866. When we had got about 2 miles from Otahuhu I heard the Sargeant Major calling out my name. So I fell out and went to him. He gave me orders to take charge of a man who had fallen out and said that he could march no further until he had had a rest. I had to get him along the best way I could the remainder of the way to Auckland which was 7 miles. We sat down on the side of the road and watched the troops march past. When the baggage guard came up to us the sargeant wanted to know what we were doing there. I told him. He said come along with us I will carry your rifle, another said I will carry your knap Sack, two more said they would carry his belts. He got up and marched about half a mile then he sat down. The baggage guard left him what they had been carrying for him and marched on and left us behind them.

I felt very uneasy for I could not tell how to get him along. After resting a bit further I carried his rifle and we went a bit further. Then he stopped again. It was only 1 o'clock in the morning but still I thought that we should never get to Auckland before dark. We had not been stopped long before a man came past with 2 horses and 2 carts. He said he was going to within a mile walk of Auckland and he gave us leave to ride. The soldiers had halted at some houses on the way side, to drink, so we rode past them. When we got out of the cart after riding 5 miles we waited for the troops coming. When they got to us we took our places again and marched with them to Auckland down to the quay.

While we were waiting ready for to go on board Ship we saw plenty of men who had emigrated out to New Zeland to better themselves if they could. There was not work in Auckland for all of them and with the country being in an unsettled state they were afraid to go where they could get work, so there was scores of them half starved for want of food. One of them said he would give one of his ears of he could get to England by doing so. When we had all got on board the ship we were told off into messes and divided into three watches.

We set sail for England on the 15 day of March 1866 in the sailing ship Percy. We had 4 hours on watch and 8 hours off. Duty while on watch was to assist the sailors to pull the ropes. When we were pulling the ropes one of the sailors was singing a song and when he got to a certain word in the song we used to pull all together. Their chief song was

Haul away the bowling, our ship she is a rolling, haul away the bowling, haul away Joe.

Every time he got to the word Joe we pulled the rope. In the morning watch from 4 till 8 O'clock we had to wash the deck and bullworks with salt water and to keep the deck clean during the day time.

We had all our own clothes to wash twice a week. All Noncomissioned officers who were in charge of messes had to send a certificate every Monday and Thursday morning certifying that all the men in their mess had changed their shirts and socks that morning.When the weather was very cold neither the noncomissioned officers nor the men liked to wash their clothes for we had to have them washed before 7 o'clock in the morning. Just fancy getting up out of a warm hammock and going on deck to wash your clothes. When you have got them half washed over comes a wave and wets you to the shins and you have no more clothes to put on. Then you would do as we did. That is wear your shirt a fortnight if you could.

One morning after the certificates had gone to the colonel he sent for all of us noncommissioned officers, and when we got to the poop he said — Where are the mens clothes you have certified has been washed this morning? There should have been two or three hundred hung out to dry but there was not 5. He said you know the punishment I could give you for telling me lies and not doing your duty. I could reduce you to the Ranks and give you 50 lashes besides, but I will look over it this time, but if it occurs again I shall give you the full punishment. We thought he would keep his word so we did our duty afterwards.

One night when I was on watch from 8 to 12, at 10 o'clock the Captain was relieved by the 1st mate. The captain went to his bunk to sleep for the night, but he could not sleep. He was so much troubled that he got up and looked at Ms chart and where ne was at 12 o'clock at noon, when he looked at the sun with an instrument he had for the purposs of telling him by looking at the sun with it what part of the globe the ship was in. Then he looked at the direction we had been sailing since noon and the speed we had been sailing at. We had & strong steady 3 quarter Breese and the ship was going at the rate of 18 miles per hour. When he had reckoned all up according to his Reckoning we were sailing direct for a large rock and in 15 minutes more the ship would have struck the rock and gone to the bottom so he came running on deck and called ahout ship.

There was something in his voice which made us all quick to the ropes, and in less than 5 minutes we were sailing in the opposite direction. This was the work of God, my young friends, to save us from a watery grave. Some of us felt thankful to God for his loving care for us, others cursed and swore at the Captain's Neglect as they called it. On the morning of the 8 day of June 1866 we saw land. It turned out to be a large mountain in the western islands. We could see it right above the clouds.

Soon after dinner the captain signaled for a Pilate. He came in a little boat and when he got to the Ship he called out, what is your cargoe? The Captain said, gold. We looked at each other when he said gold, for none of us knew that there was any gold in the Ship. Where are you from? New Zealand. Where are you bound for? England. Then he came on board and took command of the ship until we got into the harbour of the town of Fayal in the Azores Islands and we cast our anchor in 80 fathom of water. The Pilate then asked the Captain if he had a Certificate from the Doctors of Auckland certifying that there was no fever in Auckland when he left there. The Captain had no certificates to show the Pilate, so he ordered him to hoist his yellow flag as a signal that there was fever on board, when we were all well and hearty except two or three who were sick. When the yellow flag was hoisted on a ship there was no one allowed to go on shore. The officers begged hard of the Pilate to let them go on shore but he stood firm to these laws. They brought us fresh meat and vegetables and fresh water and coals and all colours of birds and other things for sale. If any of the officers tried to get into their boats they pushed them off from the Ship. The officers and captain were so enraged because they could not go on shore that we weighted anchor the following morning and left the place.

One Sunday morning while the senior officer was reading the Prayers to us we could see 6 whales. It was a pleasant sight. They moved like a way boke of a ingine. First their head went down into the water, then we could see their backs, then their tails and when their heads came up again they sent the water right up into the air like a fountain.

We sailed into Plymouth Sound on the 24 day of June 1866, sailed out again on the 25, sailed into Spithead on the 27 of June. While we lay in Spithead we could see Asbourne House in the Isle of Wight. We landed in Portsmouth on the 30 day of June 1866 after being on board 110 days.

We marched to Clarence Barracks. While I was at Portsmouth I went on guard over men who had been transported. There was then about 11 hundred of them in Portsmouth. Soon after 7 o'clock in the morning they marched out of their prison into the dock yard to work. There was about 20 of them in a gang and a keeper to each gang. As they marched past me I saw that some of them had one side of their dress one colour and the side another colour. I asked the reason for this. I was told they had done something wrong while they had been in prison and were marked so that anyone could tell them. I saw others that had chains up each leg and round the waist. This was for trying to run away from Prison, I got my discharge on the 5 day of September 1866 and I went from Portsmouth to London that night. I stayed in London all night and I came home on the 6 day of September 1866 and so ended my travels.


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The Diaries of George Brier (1864 - 1866)


Year:1864