North Waikato Sites Today

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North Waikato Sites Today

Postby Rural53 » 01 Oct 2012 07:46

Last week I was reading Adam Brown’s post about Pre WWI memorial practices for British war dead. As I was heading north to marshal at a winch challenge (4WD competition) near Mercer on the weekend, I thought I would do some quick research to find out what Boer War memorials I could take photos of in the area. I ended up identifying several Maori Wars sites as well. One was about a kilometre from the venue of the competition!

I ended up visiting several sites and taking some pictures. I’ll post one site at a time. Please point out any factual errors and I’ll go back and edit the post.

Note: Text in italics are quoted from the source listed below them.
Last edited by Rural53 on 04 Oct 2012 09:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Alexandra Redoubt - Tuakau

Postby Rural53 » 01 Oct 2012 07:47

Alexandra Redoubt above the Waikato River at Tuakau. Not to be confused with the Alexandra Redoubt at Pirongia. This one was constructed by the 65th Regiment in July 1863.

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To the right of the monument, about half way between the river and the hill in the distance is the location of Camerontown, a supply depot on the river edge.

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View from across the Waikato River. Arrow indicates location of the Redoubt
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Alexandra Redoubt - Tuakau

Postby Rural53 » 03 Oct 2012 09:45

In July 1863, soon after Governor George Grey ordered the invasion of Waikato, a detachment of the 65th Regiment led by Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Wyatt fortified the high ground overlooking the Tūākau landing.
Alexandra Redoubt covered about one-third of a hectare. The rectangular fortification featured flanking bastions on diagonally opposite corners. It was named after the popular Danish princess who, in March 1863, married the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). By September 1863, the redoubt was garrisoned by 150 troops of the 65th under Captain Richard Swift.

Of great strategic importance, Alexandra Redoubt was intended to safeguard Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron’s right flank on the Waikato River. It protected the British naval fleet that transported troops and provisions for the Waikato campaign, and helped to secure the south Auckland region against Kingite Māori forces.

Alexandra Redoubt became part of a river-based British supply chain that was operational by mid-August 1863. Provisions were brought from Onehunga to the Waikato Heads by steamer. They were then transferred to smaller vessels and taken upriver to Queen’s Redoubt at Pōkeno, the British military headquarters for the Waikato invasion.

Camerontown was the halfway point in this supply chain. Named after Lieutenant-General Cameron, this army depot was situated a few kilometres downstream from Alexandra Redoubt. It was protected by pro-government Ngāti Whauroa.
On the morning of 7 September 1863, Camerontown was ransacked by a party of some 100 Kingite, mostly Ngāti Maniapoto, warriors. The raiders then surprised the reinforcements sent from Alexandra Redoubt, 50 troops led by Captain Swift. In the skirmish near Camerontown that followed, Swift and three other men were killed and Swift’s second-in-command, Lieutenant Butler, wounded. Colour Sergeant Edward McKenna assumed command, leading the detachment back to the redoubt the following morning.

Several troops were decorated as a result of their actions. McKenna and Lance-Corporal (possibly Private) John Ryan were awarded the Victoria Cross (VC). Sergeant (possibly Corporal) J. Bracegirdle and Privates William Butford, Talbot, J. Cole and B. Thomas were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).

McKenna survived the New Zealand Wars and went on to have a career with the Railways Department. However Ryan never received his Victoria Cross. He drowned in the Waikato River just over three months later while attempting to save a comrade.


Information from: 'Alexandra Redoubt NZ Wars memorial', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo ... s-memorial, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 30-Aug-2012

The sign board on site says it is believed Cpl. Ryan (VC) is buried in the cemetery surrounding the site in an unmarked grave.
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Re: North Waikato Sites Today

Postby Albert J » 03 Oct 2012 13:11

Rural53,

Thanks for sharing. I am fascinated by the remnants of the fortifications, and your commentary is quite informative.

James
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Alexandra Redoubt

Postby Rural53 » 04 Oct 2012 09:14

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Map of Alexandra Redoubt, Tuakau, [ca 1920s]
Reference Number: 1/2-025237-F
Photograph taken from a map of the Alexandra Redoubt on the Waikato River (New Zealand Wars, 1860-1872), probably sketched by James Cowan in the 1920s.

Source: Alexander Turnbull Library http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=44968
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Whangamarino Redoubt

Postby Rural53 » 04 Oct 2012 09:51

This one is about 15 km upstream of Alexandra Redoubt. It is not nearly as well preserved as Alexandra Redoubt.

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Heaphy, Charles 1820-1881 :Mere-Mere from Whangamarino Redoubt [1863]
Reference Number: C-025-011
Shows view from above fortification with three cannons in foreground. The left one is firing out over river and plain. River bends at extreme right, or may join another. The gunboat (Pioneer) is in the river in the centre distance, neat the fortification with the flag flying.

Source: Alexander Turnbull Library http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=4343

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Based on the watercolour above, probably the site of the seige guns.

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Location of Meremere Pa under the arrow as viewed from the Redoubt
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Meremere Pa

Postby Rural53 » 12 Oct 2012 10:10

Meremere Pa is better preserved than Waimarino Redoubt.

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Arrow shows location of Waimarino Redoubt

Below is a link to a Google Maps aerial photo of the site showing the layout. Note the protruding corner bastions enabling clear fire into the ditches in the event of an attack
https://maps.google.co.nz/maps?q=meremere&hl=en&ll=-37.318477,175.070399&spn=0.000643,0.001549&sll=-37.693421,176.316928&sspn=0.327633,0.793076&hnear=Meremere,+Waikato&t=h&z=20
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Meremere Pa

Postby Rural53 » 12 Oct 2012 10:20

At its peak the Māori force at Meremere numbered perhaps a thousand men under the overall command of the Ngāti Haua leader Wiremu Tāmihana. Every tribe which acknowledged the authority of King Tāwhiao had warriors at Meremere.

The Māori force had three ships’ guns which had been given to Ngāti Tahinga by a trader many years earlier. These guns were carried overland from Raglan, then brought downstream by canoe. A former East India Company gunner living in the Waikato was forced to train Kingite warriors to fire these weapons. But Māori had no ammunition for these guns. They were forced to fire improvised shells made of iron chain, nails and pound weights that had little effect on armoured vessels.

Cameron assembled an armoured river fleet to carry men and supplies for the assault on Meremere. The paddle-steamer Avon had been readied for war at Onehunga in 1862. It was armed with a 12-pounder ship’s gun and a Congreve rocket tube, and iron-plated for protection from enemy fire. Four armoured barges were also prepared as troop carriers. This fleet was boosted by the arrival in October 1863 of the Pioneer. Capable of carrying 300 men, this ‘rifle gunboat’ was the first naval vessel built for the New Zealand government.

On 31 October 1863, 600 men of the 40th and 65th regiments and two 12-pounder Armstrong guns were loaded onto the Pioneer, the Avon and the four barges, which were towed by two steamers. The convoy was fired at as it steamed past Meremere, but landed 10 km upriver. Cameron’s plan was to cut off Meremere from its support at Pukekawa on the other side of the river and attack the Māori position from both north and south. Meremere’s defenders were outflanked and had little choice but to withdraw to the east. The next day the British occupied the abandoned position. The first major obstacle on the river had been removed, but Cameron had been unable to draw the Māori force into a costly battle. He would have to move further south to Rangiriri to achieve a decisive victory.


Information from: 'The opening phase - war in Waikato', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/war-in- ... ning-phase, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 30-Aug-2012
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Re: North Waikato Sites Today

Postby colsjt65 » 16 Jan 2013 21:09

Today an exciting new New Zealand wars resource was launched -
http://www.thewaikatowar.co.nz

It contains a driving tour commentary (app and mp3) and maps to download the main points of interest on the route from Auckland to Pirongia.
I was involved (without knowing it) when I advised the artist who did the paintings on the site about the uniforms and equipment.

For one I 'corrected'
Heaphy, Charles 1820-1881 :Mere-Mere from Whangamarino Redoubt [1863]
Reference Number: C-025-011

There were, in fact two 40-pounder Armstrong guns - the third one was a 12-pounder. :D
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Alexandra Redoubt - Pirongia

Postby Rural53 » 30 Dec 2013 03:06

This redoubt was built in 1872 above the settlement of Alexandra (Pirongia), after its residents pleaded for protection “in event of an outbreak” by Maori from the nearby King Country. Alexandra Redoubt was never attacked but the Armed Constabulary continued to guard it until 1886, when it was abandoned.

The redoubt is rectangular with bastions at each corner. The internal dimensions of the redoubt is 33m x 22m with the bottom of the ditch to the top of the ramparts being over two metres.

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Aerial off the information board.

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Looking west, Mt Pirongia in the clouds.

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Looking west.

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Looking south.

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Looking back at the redoubt from the west.
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Orakau Pa

Postby Rural53 » 01 Jan 2014 01:47

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Today, the site remains private farmland and road reserve. No traces of the pā are visible.

The Ōrākau battle site memorial obelisk is located on Arapuni Road, 4 km south-east of the Waikato town of Kihikihi, which is 4 km south of Te Awamutu on State Highway 3. The memorial marks the site of one of the best-known battles of the New Zealand Wars, popularly remembered as the last stand of Rewi Maniapoto.
A Ngāti Maniapoto chief, Rewi was a prominent military leader in the Kīngitanga – the Māori King Movement – throughout the Waikato War. In March 1864, Tūhoe and Ngāti Raukawa allies persuaded Rewi – against his better judgement – to make a stand at Ōrākau on a site that lacked a water supply and could easily be surrounded. Despite his misgivings, Rewi led by example against great odds.
Ōrākau pā was situated roughly on the midline of a low ridge that runs from Kihikihi to Ōtautahanga and Maungatautari. It was built in great haste 350 m east of the village of Ōrākau. Although unfinished, the low-profile modern pā was deceptively strong.
About half of Ōrākau’s 300 defenders were Tūhoe and Ngāti Raukawa. The rest were from Waikato, East Coast and Hawke’s Bay iwi. Only a few were Ngāti Maniapoto. Up to one-third of the pā’s occupants were women and children.
On 30 March, the Māori activity at Ōrākau was spotted from Kihikihi. Brigadier-General George Carey, in command of the forces based at Te Awamutu, immediately assembled some 1100 imperial and colonial troops. The British forces marched overnight and attacked the pā at dawn on 31 March. Three frontal attacks were driven back, with the loss of five dead and 11 wounded.
Carey now encircled the pā, cutting off the defenders’ access to water. He ordered an artillery bombardment by Armstrong guns positioned on the highest point of Karaponia ridge about 350 m south-west of the pā. When the shelling caused little damage to the earthworks, Carey ordered the construction of a sap (a covered zig-zag trench along which infantry could approach the pā in comparative safety).
Over three days, Ōrākau’s defenders repelled five British assaults. However shortages of food, water and ammunition meant that they could not hold out for much longer. Early in the afternoon of 2 April, after the arrival of Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron, the officer commanding all British forces in New Zealand, a ceasefire gave the defenders a chance to surrender. They responded with their now famous declaration of defiance: ‘Ka whawhai tonu mātou, āke, āke!’ / We shall fight on forever! (Some attribute these words to Rewi, but accounts vary. In 1888 a veteran of the battle, Hitiri Te Paerata of the Ngāti Te Koheroa hapū (sub-tribe) of Ngāti Raukawa, gave an account of the conflict at Parliament buildings. He attributed the words collectively to Hapurona, Rewi, and his father. Although Rewi may not have spoken these words at Ōrākau, they reflected his attitude to the British invasion of Waikato. Earlier, at Ngāruawāhia, he is reported to have said: ‘Kāore ahau e whakaae kia mutu te whawhai, ko taku tohe ano tenei āke! āke! tonu atu!’ / I will not agree that the fighting shall cease, I will maintain this for ever and ever.)
Soon afterwards, Ōrākau’s defenders left the pā and broke through the British lines. At least half of them escaped through a swamp and crossed the Pūniu River into Ngāti Maniapoto territory; others were not so lucky. Colonial Defence Force cavalry, mounted Royal Artillery troops and Forest Rangers hunted down and killed many, especially women and the wounded.
Māori casualties were heavy. Although British estimates were much higher, Rewi later said that 80 Māori were killed; at least 40 more were wounded. Total British casualties during the battle were 17 killed and 52 wounded. Most of the British dead were buried in St John’s churchyard at Te Awamutu.
Ōrākau proved to be the last battle of the Waikato War. After the war, the land on which the battle was fought was confiscated by the government and sold to settlers who soon developed farms. The pā site itself was split in two by the construction of Arapuni Road.


Source: 'Ōrākau NZ Wars memorial', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/orakau-nz-wars-memorial, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Mar-2013
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