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AN INCIDENT OF THE MAORI WARS.

[Written for the Nelson Evening Mail.] The appended narrative of an incident of the Maori war, written for the "Evening Mail" by Mr Dore, who lives in the Wood, Nelson, is of much interest, as it is told by the chief actor therein. The facts have bean narrated in various works on the war, but we believe this is the first time they have been penned by the man who endured the hardships and made the wonderful escape by which ■the incident became historical, Of the many disastrous conflicts in which we have engaged with the natives perhaps there is none more so than the affair of Te Nguto OTo Manu of 1868, when of a force of about two hundred men engaged twenty-four men wero killed, and 20 wounded, about one-fourth of the number of those engaged, the whole of the dead and a number of the wounded being left in the hand3 of the enemy. On a subsequent visit to the pah the great heap of calcined bones showed unmistakeably the manner in which the Maoris had disposed of their victims. Among those who fell that day perhaps the most lamented and widely mourned was the gallant Von Teinpksy, and among the wounded of the rank and file was he of whom this is written. Left in the bush, being unable to follow his comrades through loss of blood, when it was found that our arms had met with a roverse, wandering through that dense bush with a shattered arm, without food or clothing, in frosty weather, and not reaching camp till four nights and five days had elapsed, his mind almost a complete blank — but lest we should do ill justico to his story of those five terrible days we will let him give them in his own words. He says ; — During the engagement I had climbed up a rata tree broken off some twenty feet from the ground, and pretty hollow inside. I was afterwards joined by a Sergeant Davoy, of, I think, the No. 5 Division of Armed Constabulary. We had climbed that tree in ordoi that we might see into the pah, it beinjj close to tho pallisading. Sergeant Davej had left me somo time when I heard th< bugle sound the retire. ' I could not thinl it meant our Division, so continued in my position firing and being fired at. At last, noticing a slackening of tho firing, and that it was becoming more distant, I descended from the tree and found myself alone, but some little distance from me a few of the friendly natives who formed part of our force. Making my way in the direction of the filing, which just now had got to be pretty brisk, I came up with a body of our men under Captain Koborts, among whom I noticed Volunteers Livingstone and Blake, and Corporal Russell, who having been unable to recover the bodies of Major Von Tempksy, and Captain Buck, were endeavouring to overtake Colonel McDonnell. Being told off to protect and cover our rear from the heavy fire of the enemy, I was in the act of getting up from the prostrate position when a ball from my right passing, across my chest went through my left arm, shattering it close to the shoulder, catting the main artery, aa also some of the sinews.

Soon they came rnshing, screaming, yelling past, but some few following on behind came across me. I was fully expecting to be tomahawked, but I suppose my ruse was effective and deceived them. Quickly and unceremoniously ihey possessed themselves of revolver, ammunition and clothing, and hastened on to join their fellows. In divesting me of my clothing they must have dragged me some few yards while on my face, during which time I could have screamed with agony of pain of the wounded arm. When things had quietened down and nothing but the distant firing could be heaid, I went some little distance as I thought further from the pah, and came across a large hollow tree, into which I crawled . Soon it begau to get dark, and soon after the enemy began to return to their pah. Mauy passed quite close to me, and I soon found that I had wandered quite close to the pah. The horrors of" the early hours of that night I would fam pasß over ; of the sounds that fell on my ears I care not to speak. Late at night by the faint light of the moon, before the noises had ceased in the pah, 1 left my hiding place and began a journey, 1 Jcnew not in what direction, hojiing to find my way out of the bush and so reach the camp at Waihi. For three successive days my ■wanderings in that dreadful bush were fruitless, for at the close of each, and sometimes through the day J found myself close to the pah I was endeavouring to flee from. By this time I was so weak from loss of blood, hunger, want of sleep, and dread of my impending faie that I could scarcely keep ou my feetj whicahad,, »s also my legs, swollen to a fearful size. At last early in tho morning of the fifth da-y I came upon the clearing in the front of the pah, which I recognised, having been with the party under Colonel McDonald when we partially destroyed it. I soon found the track leading to the Waingongora river, and hope inspired me with fresh strength, so that I was able to traverse that long dreary zigzag track to the river without halting, although the day before I could scarce keep on my feet for more than a few minutes at a time. Dropping my cwbine, I picked my arm up from my side and rejoined the retreating force. By this time I began lo feel very weak from lobs of blood, and meeting Mr Livingstone, he, seeing my condition, gave me a drink of biandy from a flask ho had with Mm. I was, however, feeling very thirsty, and crossing a shallow creek just then 1 asked him to give me a drink. But they being in such a desperate condition themselves by the near approach of an overwhelming number of the enemy noue seemed to heed my appeal, till calling one by name, a youDg man named Goddard, tie, taking off his cap, gave me what I required. He also holpedme up the opposite bank — where, feeling unable to proceed farther, I seated myself against a large rata tree— Goddard asking me if he should stay with me, Believing that in a few seconds at most the Maoris would be down on me, and not wishing that another life besides my own should be sacrificed uselessly, I bade him go on, which he very reluctantly did, turning round several times to take a last look at me, he himself just then getting very slightly wounded. The memory of the events of the next few moments, even after all these years, crowd themselves in upon me with startling reality. Wounded— deserted— alone in the dense bush. Expecting bnt small mercy from the mob of maddened, bloodthirsty savages, who, bent on the total destruction of the few white men who were retreating before them would in a few seconds come across me in my helpless condition, '.thoughts came and wont with astonishing rapidity, the past, the present, the.future, home, and family. Having my revolver still, I thought to empty some of its chambers on the advancing horde, and then — But thinking they might pass me By if they thought me to be dead, I lay me down on my right side, the head in the hollow of the arm. Having arrived at the crossing, a new danger confronted me, and one I must confront before I could reach the camp. Hero before mo was a rushing, swollen river, in whose waters but few men in good health could hope to keep their footing— am ull chance for one in my condition— (and jet it must be attempted). There was fern growing all around, and the sun was well up in the horizon, which at no period of my life was ever so welcome to

me for its warmth as then. Feeling there was but little hope of successfully crossing the stream, being iu bo weak a condition, ii nd yet knowing it stood between me and perhaps life, i thought a little sleep might give a little additional strength. So laying me down in the fern I slept for the first time since being ■wounded (now five days) and awoke to find that the sun must have set for some hours, it being very dark and the fern wet with dew, and bitter'y cold. Oh ! the thought of that dark hour which, in all probability, might be my last ! Oh 1 for some friendly hand to put me over that swollen, roaring stream that stood bet-ween me and safety 1 Alas, there was none ! So, commending myself 10 Him, who alone could help me in that trying hour, I entered the stream, and with the newly-piven strength soon reached tho opposite bank, Whether in reality ot fancy I know not — but I thought 1 had been seen and fired at while crossing by Maoris, so on ascending the steep bank t crawled to the shelter of some bush, being unable to stand from the extreme coldness of the water. I must at this time have lost consciousness, and remember no more till shortly before daylight, when, after again wandering some time, having missed thetrack leading to the camp, only two miles distant, I found myself on the edge of the Retemarae clearing in the rear of camp, on emerging from which I oould see the white tents in the redoubts. How (long I was going that mile I know not, but I know that many times I sat down by the way, feeling I never more could rise; but eventually I struggled up to the dooi of the tent in which I had camped to the surprise of the Mess Orderly, who, coming out on the instant with tin bucket, plates, and dishes, was so overcome that he let them go clattering away. Being led by him and others to the whare used us a temporary hospital, the surgeon on outting open the sleeve of the only garment I wore (remains of a shirt) found the wound to be lull of maggots. My strong nerve having borne me up to this time, now forsook me and a long spell of unconciousness followed. lam thankful to those doctors and others who attended upon me, and to whose kind attention I owe, by the Grace of God, a speedy recovery to health, save, of course the permanent injury to the limb." Mr Dore is still living, although not in the beet of health. His terrible experiences of those long days and nights of exposure having aged him prematurely. He is, however, enjoying the liberal pension bestowed upon him by the Government, and he is glad at all times to see those who were his associates in those days.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NEM18970304.2.20

Bibliographic details

AN INCIDENT OF THE MAORI WARS., Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XXXI, Issue 53, 4 March 1897

Word Count
1,878

AN INCIDENT OF THE MAORI WARS. Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XXXI, Issue 53, 4 March 1897

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