Art. II.—Old Redoubts, Blockhouses, and Stockades of the Wellington District.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 21st September, 1920; received by Editor, 21st September, 1920; issued separately, 27th June, 1921.]
The amount of interest displayed by Wellington folk in the story of the settlement of the district is exceedingly small, and very few possess any knowledge of the anxious times passed here by early settlers during the Maori disturbances of the “forties” of last century, and, in a lesser degree, some fifteen years later. Probably no man could locate the sites of all the blockhouses, stockades, and redoubts erected in this district in the early days, hence it has been deemed advisable to put together the following notes pertaining to those posts. The stockade-sites marked on Collinson's little map are approximate only, but fortunately the writer was enabled to fix them definitely ere the old generation of settlers in the Porirua district passed away.
Wellington Redoubts, etc., of the “Forties.”
The general feeling of uneasiness and apprehension that followed the Wairau massacre led to the erection of two defensive positions in Wellington—one on the Thorndon Flat, as it was called formerly, and one at Te Aro, on the north side of Manners Street. The former was situated near the junction of Mulgrave and Pipitea Streets, and was known as “Clifford's Redoubt” and “Clifford's Battery” among the settlers, but appears as “Thorndon Fort” in official documents. Mundy calls it “Clifford's Stockade,” but that name was usually applied to the post at Johnson's Clearing, now known as Johnsonville.
In the New Zealand Journal of the 1st March, 1844, appears a report of the Committee of Public Safety, of Wellington, appointed at the public meeting held on the 19th June, 1843. Among other items of interest in this report occurs the following: “Your committee have also to report that a battery has been erected on Clay Hill, under the superintendence of Captain W. M. Smith, R.A., and three guns placed therein. Another battery on Thorndon Flat was in progress at the period of the arrival of the military from Auckland, but has not been proceeded with since.”
Clay Hill was the name of the bluff headland, known otherwise as “Clay Point” and “Windy Point,” above the junction of Lambton Quay and Willis Street. Its native name was Kai-upoko
In the same Journal of the 6th January, 1844, containing Wellington news up to the end of July, 1843, appears a statement that at 9 o'clock on Sunday, the 2nd July, 400 Wellington Volunteers mustered for inspection on Thorndon Flat. At a meeting of the military sub-committee on the 6th July, there were present Major Durie (president), Captain Sharp, Major Baker, Major Hornbrook, and Dr. Dorset. “It was resolved that a public notice be issued calling upon all parties to assemble on Thorndon Flat on
Monday morning next at 9 o'clock, provided with spade and pickaxe, to assist at the erection of the battery now in progress, the completion of which has been retarded by the late unfavourable weather.”
The following is a copy of district orders issued in May, 1845:—
Wellington Militia.—District Orders.
By virtue of a commission issued by His Excellency the Governor of New Zealand, dated April 10, 1845, appointing me Major in command of the Wellington Battalion of Militia, I hereby assume command of the troops stationed in the southern districts of New Zealand.
Captain Russel, of the 58th Regiment, will take charge of and direct the detail of the garrison of Wellington.
Captain Wakefield will take charge of and direct the detail of the Wellington Battalion of Militia.
Captain Baker will take charge of and direct the detail of the Mounted Volunteer Corps when organized.
Lieutenant Rush, of the 58th Regiment, will hold the local rank of Captain in this division of the colony, to bear date the 10th April, 1845.
His Excellency the Governor having been pleased to appoint the undermentioned gentlemen to commissions in the Wellington Battalion of Militia, they are posted to companies as follows:—
No. I Company: Captain William Wakefield, Lieutenant Charles Sharp, Ensign Nathaniel Levin.
No. II Company: Captain David Stark Durie, Lieutenant Hugh Ross, Ensign George Hunter.
No. III Company: Captain George Compton, Lieutenant James Watt, Ensign Edward Abbott.
No. IV Company: Captain John Dorset, Lieutenant Robert Park, Ensign George Moore; Ensign Samuel Edward Grimston to be Aide-de-Camp to the Major commanding.
Captain Arthur Edward Macdonogh, Adjutant. Quartermaster, Alfred Hornbrook.
On the alarm being given, the troops will assemble at the following places:—
The detachment of the 58th Regiment will fall back upon Thorndon Fort.
No. 1 Company of Militia will assemble at Thorndon Fort.
The detachment of the 96th Regiment will fall in under arms at the Barracks, Te Aro, when they will be joined by No. 2 Company.
No. 3 Company will proceed to Fort Richmond, on the Hutt, and join the detachment of the 58th Regiment stationed there, under the command of Captain Rush.
No. 4 Company and the Cavalry will assemble in front of Thorndon Fort.
The Captains of Nos. 1 and 2 Companies will enrol the names of any volunteers who are desirous of giving their aid in case of emergency, and station them within the forts of Thorndon and Te Aro, for their defence, to render as many men of their companies as possible available to resist any attack that may be made upon the town.
The companies of the Militia stationed in the town of Wellington will patrol every morning from 5 o'clock till 7 o'clock a.m. No. 1 in the district from Thorndon Flat to the station of the 58th Regiment; No. 4 from Kumutoto Stream to Thorndon Flat; No. 2 from Te Aro Flat to Kumutoto Stream.
These patrols will consist of a non-commissioned officer and four men, and will move in the rear of the town.
The detachments of the 58th and 96th Regiments will protect the flanks, and patrol at the same hours, the former in the direction of Wade's Town, the latter towards the signal-station and Evans Bay.
The Cavalry Corps, when formed, will patrol the roads leading to Karori, Porirua, and Petoni.
A guard of the Militia consisting of a sergeant, corporal, and twelve men will mount daily at Thorndon Fort. The companies of Militia will assemble at their private parades for exercise every morning at 8 o'clock, and 4 in the afternoon, until further orders.
Definite instructions have not yet been received relative to the pay of the Militia, but for the present it will be the same as the non-commissioned officers and privates of the line. Those working at the batteries between the hours of drill will be allowed 10d. a day extra.
The Militia volunteer for three months, or 28 days.
M. Richmond, Major Commanding.
In the New Zealand Journal of the 10th October, 1846, giving Wellington news up to the 27th May, is the following: “An address has been issued by Major Richmond stating that, in the event of any alarm, two guns will be fired. The guns at Thorndon Fort have been put in order and placed in charge of a gunner from Her Majesty's ship ‘Calliope.’ The carriages of the two guns at the head of the bay will also, by direction of Captain Stanley, be repaired by the carpenters of the ‘Calliope,’ and the guns will be rendered fit for service.”
Colonel Mundy, who was in Wellington in 1847, wrote: “On the plain of Thorndon is an old field-work called Clifford's Stockade, mounting a few guns …. and intended as a place of refuge in case of an attack. With a little repair and deepening of the ditch this trifling earthen fortalice might be made quite efficient against a coup de main; and, by a very simple contrivance, which may perhaps have never occurred to an engineer, or other defender of a fortified post, might be rendered impregnable against bare-footed savages—namely, by throwing into the ditch all the broken bottles which, in a short period, have been so lavishly emptied by the Company's colonists !”
The above writer has another entry, as follows: “January 18. Inspection of the 65th Regiment on Thorndon Flat, an excellent parade-ground, like an English village green. It is pleasant to see the truly British appearance of the troops of this country—no pale faces, no dried-up frames. Here was a corps 900 strong, including detachments, so increased individually in bulk and healthiness of aspect since I saw them a year ago at Sydney, after a long voyage from England, that it was difficult to believe them the same body of men.”
Te Aro Fort.
In Mr. Brees' illustration showing the old Wesleyan Chapel in Manners Street appears a part of the earthworks of the redoubt at Te Aro, which was situated on the north side of Manners Street, opposite the above chapel. Brees remarks, “The house occupied by the late Mr. Brewer is on the right of the road, and the large trench and mound which were formed immediately after the Wairau massacre, for inclosing certain spots as places of refuge in case of Wellington being attacked by the natives.” The illustration shows a bullock team and dray proceeding along Manners Street.
In the New Zealand Journal of the 15th January, 1848, giving Wellington news up to the 14th August, 1847, appears a short item from the Wellington Independent, as follows: “The mechanics and artisans employed in the erection of the new barracks lately completed at Mount Cook were on Monday evening regaled with a substantial supper by the contractor, Mr. Mills. The evening was very pleasantly spent. We have much pleasure in noticing this event, because the buildings have given great satisfaction, and reflect credit upon all engaged in their construction.”
The Thorndon Barracks were situated on the eastern side of the old Queen's Head Hotel, where Fitzherbert Terrace now is. They have long disappeared, but two of the four cottages built for the officers at the junction of Park Street and Grant Road, eastern side of Park Street, are still standing. The wood-trails on the hillside above Park Street, where the soldiers used to throw the wood down, are also still in existence.
The Thorndon Barracks witnessed a lively scene during the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh to Wellington in 1869, when a party of Maori performed a war-dance on the flat. They were armed with Enfields that were kept in store there
The site of this post has been fixed on the map. It was erected on Mr. Chapman's land at Karori in the “forties,” as a rallying-place and refuge for the surrounding settlers. It was erected under the supervision of Mr. A. C. Strode, on the high ground south of the main road and about opposite the English Church. It was apparently never utilized as a refuge.
Colonel Mundy wrote of Karori in 1847, “Here are several hundred acres partially cleared, and the remains of a stockade built for the defence of the rural community.”
Hutt Posts of the “Forties.”
This was the principal defensive post in the Hutt district during the troubled “forties,” and was situated near the old bridge, which was somewhat down-stream from the present bridge.
Brees tells us that Fort Richmond “was constructed under the direction of Captain Compton, an enterprising settler of the Hutt. It is planned on the model of those in the United States of America to guard against incursions of the Indians. The stockade is arranged in the form of a square of 95 ft., with towers of defence, or blockhouses, at two of the opposite angles, which command the bridge and river on both sides. It is composed of slabs of wood 9 ft. 6 in. high, and 5 in. to 6 in. thick, and is musket-proof. One of the blockhouses is 15 ft., and the other 12 ft. square. The fort was erected at a cost of £124, independent of the value of the timber, which was presented by Mr. Compton, and voluntary labour to the amount of £54 10s. is included in the above statement of the cost.
“The excitement which was felt at the Hutt when a party of the 58th Regiment took up their quarters in the fortress on the morning of the 24th April, 1845, will not soon be forgotten. The settlers having brought all their energies to their assistance in the erection of the stockade, had just completed it on the evening of the previous day (Sunday), when an attack was expected from the natives. The settlers accordingly determined to hold possession until the arrival of the military, which took place at about 3 o'clock in the morning, amid the acclamations of the settlers.”
This post was named after Major Richmond, who was then in command of the district. A woodcut of the fort appeared in an early number of the Wellington Independent (now known as the New Zealand Times). A contemporary remarks of those crude woodcuts, “They are apparently the work of no trained artist. The ground is black and the delineation white, reversing the usual process.” Brees gives a good illustration of the fortress.
Wellington papers of October, 1846, state that, “We are informed that the late flood in the Hutt has done considerable damage in the district. The south-western corner of Fort Richmond, where a detachment of the 58th Regiment is stationed, has been thrown down.” Ere long the river had swallowed the site of Fort Richmond, which fortunately was no longer needed.
Colonel Mundy, in Our Antipodes, made the following remark on Fort Richmond: “It is a small baby-house kind of fortress built of timber, with a couple of carronades on corner turrets, one of which, impinging on the river, has been carried away by a freshet.” This writer visited the Hutt in 1847.
[Footnote] * Not shown on map, but situated on the opposite side of the river to the blockhouse above Hikoikoi pa.
Boulcott's Farm Post.
At this place the troops were camped in tents and farm buildings without any protection, hence we have no defensive works on which to remark. The attack of the 16th May, 1846, was the natural sequence of establishing this singular form of military post. The site of it was near the spot marked on the map issued by the Lands Department, and entitled, “Wellington Country District: showing Native Names.”
The Taita Post.
As this place is always called “Taitai,” which, according to Mr. Buck, a surveyor, of Hutt, is its correct name, our early settlers must have formed their own ideas of how it should be spelt. The name of Nainai appears to have suffered in a similar way.
The Wellington Spectator of the 28th February, 1846, remarks, “The stockade and barracks to be erected in the Hutt district will be 90 ft. square, and will be composed of trees 12 in. in diameter placed closely together and loopholed all round; the stockade is to be splinter-proof. When completed it will be capable of accommodating eighty men and two officers. The site fixed upon for the stockade is near Mr. Mason's house, or rather beyond the present encampment. It is intended to have it completed in a month's time.”
The post was, however, established a considerable distance above Mr. Mason's place, its site being on the western side of the present hotel at Taita. A local paper remarked in May, 1846, after the attack on Boulcott's Farm (see New Zealand Journal of the 10th October, 1846), “After getting rid of the Maoris on the Hutt, His Excellency decided on building a blockhouse, and maintaining a post of a hundred men somewhere about Mason's section, considerably in advance of the picquets surprised by the natives (i.e., Boulcott's Farm). Instead of this being done, the Superintendent and his coadjutors objected to the amount of the tenders for building the blockhouse, and, the Governor yielding to them, the soldiers fell back to Boulcott's barn, where they were attacked.”
Shortly after the above appeared we find the following in a local paper (see New Zealand Journal, 21st November, 1846): “The troops and the native allies in the Hutt have been forming an entrenched camp at Taita in the shape of two squares connected at an angle of each, and having a communication from one to the other.”
It would appear, however, that a number of Militia were stationed at Taita when the attack on Boulcott's Farm took place, 16th May, 1846.
In Captain Collinson's report we find several statements concerning this post: “The flat part of the Hutt Valley is about eight miles long and two broad, covered with forest. About two miles up it the New Zealand Company's road crosses the river; here a small stockade called Fort Richmond had been erected some time before, and was occupied by a party of 58th under Lieutenant Rush. Two miles farther on was a settler's house called Boulcott's, in a clearing of some twenty acres, and two miles farther was another house called the Taita.” (See Plate I.)
Collinson tells us that Maori depredations caused the Governor to take action: “He proclaimed martial law, and (under the usual fiction of considering the natives as rebels) he sent a herald to inform them of it, and at the same time ordered the Taita farm to be occupied by a company of the 96th…. In March, 1846, there were three detachments occupying this little valley, fifty men at Fort Richmond, fifty men at Boulcott's,
and about a dozen militia at the Taita.” Wellington papers of October, 1846, reported, “A sergeant and ten men of the Hutt Militia have been kept on by His Honour Major Richmond, and stationed at the Taita, so that the settlers may have some little force to fall back on in case of accident.”
Porirua District Military Posts of the “Forties.”
Quite a number of military posts were established in the Porirua district. These were to serve three purposes: the protection of settlers, as at Johnsonville; defensible camps for military roadmakers; and, in the case of the Paremata and Paua-tahanui posts, the keeping of a watchful eye on the turbulent Ngati-Toa folk, and to act as an outpost for the defence of the Hutt Valley. Fort Strode seems to have been a small police post, another being situated at Waikanae. All these posts pertained to the lively “forties”; in the disturbed times of the “sixties” no posts were established in this district, though some troopers were stationed for a while at Paua-tahanui.
Clifford's Stockade at Johnsonville.
In the journal kept by Captains Wilmot and Nugent during their walking-tour from Wellington to Auckland, via Taupo, Galatea, and Rotorua, in 1846, occurs the following entry: “March 17, 1846. Started from Wellington in company with the Reverend G. on our road to Whanganui. At about 11 a.m. arrived at Johnson's Clearing on the Porirua Road, where about forty of the Volunteer Militia were stationed, under the command of Captain Clifford, and were constructing a stockade as a protection to the few settlers in the neighbourhood. The road thus far is good; afterwards there is a mere bush path to Jackson's Ferry.”
The Spectator of the 7th March, 1846, remarks, “On Thursday His Excellency, attended by a guard of thirty men under Major Last, proceeded on the Porirua Road to examine the stockade erecting under the direction of C. Clifford, Esq., and returned to town again in the evening.” Other statements in local papers of that month inform us that the Porirua settlers had been armed and placed under the command of Mr. Clifford, under whose direction a stockade had been commenced on Mr. Johnson's section. The site was a hillock on the north side of Ames's accommodation-house at Johnsonville, east of the main road and railway, and on the south side of the road running eastward to the old Petherick farm. We are told that this post was “for the defence of the settlers, and for the purpose of preventing any predatory incursions of the natives, and a company of sixty men has been formed for the protection of the district.” For some time sentries were kept on Sentry Hill and Mount Misery to guard against a surprise by Maori. Lieutenant L. R. Elliott, of the 99th Regiment, was in charge of Clifford's Stockade in October, 1846.
When the military roadmakers pushed on beyond Johnsonville each of their camps was surrounded by a stockade, in case of any attack being made by Maori. The men also carried their arms every day they proceeded to work. It is not stated whether they worked under covering-parties or not, as we did in the Taranaki District in later years.
The first defensive post or camp north of Johnsonville was Middleton's Stockade, named after Ensign F. Middleton, of the 58th Regiment; it was situated on Section 26, west of the main road and about half a mile north
of the old Half-way House. It stood on the spur just above the road-line at the corner and rock-cut formerly known as “Pyebald's Corner,” “Byass's Corner,” and “Gibraltar Corner.” This post was built and occupied by men of the 58th Regiment. Each of these stockades from Johnsonville to the Ferry (or Jackson's Ferry), just north of the Porirua Railway-station, was named after the officer in charge of the post.
Named after Lieutenant F. R. McCoy, of the 65th Regiment. It was situated on Section 36, on the eastern side of the main road, about where the house of the late Mr. James Taylor stands, on the left bank of the Kenepuru Stream, just below its junction with the Takapu Creek.
Also known as “Fort Leigh.” Named after Lieutenant C. E. Leigh, 99th Regiment. It was situated on the west side of the road, about where the northern boundary-line of Section 41 cuts the road. The short road extending past the school is a part of the road-line as originally surveyed.
Also known as “Fort Elliott.” The original stockade stood on the flat on the left bank of the Kenepuru Stream, about 7 or 8 chains south of the hotel (now closed) near Porirua Railway-station. Late in 1846 flood-waters overflowed this flat and rendered the post untenable, destroying 4,000 rounds of ball cartridge. A new stockade was built on the bluff or low hill on the western side of the road, Section 62—a much better site.
In October, 1846, two officers and twenty-four men of the 58th Regiment and two non-commissioned officers and thirty-four men of the 99th Regiment were stationed here under Captain A. H. Russell (father of the late Sir William Russell, and grandfather of the present General Russell who served in the Great War) and Ensign F. Middleton.
This post consisted of a stone blockhouse (or barrack, as it was usually called) surrounded by a stockade. It was situated at Paremata proper, at Porirua Harbour. The name of “Paremata” applies properly only to the flat north of the railway-bridge; the railway folk are to blame for having transferred the name to the railway-station across the water. The station should have been named “Whitianga” or “Horopaki,” both names of places within a few chains of the station. The remains of this stone blockhouse at Paremata are still to be seen at Paremata Point, west of the railway-line (Plate II, fig. 1), and it was here, at the narrow channel between the outer bay and the inner arm, that the first ferry was established at Thoms' whaling-station.
In Collinson's report on the Wellington Military District (published in the papers of the Corps of Royal Engineers, 1855) appears the following: “On April 8  220 men under Major Last were sent round to Porirua, and, after lying a week under Mana Island from stress of weather, they landed and pitched their tents on Paremata Point.” The Wellington Independent of the 15th April, 1846, mentions this movement. On landing at the point tents were erected, and a large whare near Thoms' whaling-station was also occupied. Men were set to work to form a trench and
rampart defence, of which some signs may still be seen. The building of the blockhouse was a slow affair. Wellington papers of October, 1846, stated that “The first stone of this building was laid on Friday, the 23rd instant, by Captain Armstrong, the officer in command at Porirua. As usual on such occasions, various coins of the present reign were deposited in the stone.” The Spectator of the 14th August, 1847, remarks, “Last Saturday [7th] the new stone barracks at Porirua were delivered over by Mr. Wilson, contractor to the Ordnance Department.”
A plan of this post made by V. D. McManaway in 1852 (fig. 2) shows the blockhouse almost surrounded by a five-angled stockade, the water-front being left open. Within the stockaded enclosure are shown a number of huts, including a sergeant's hut, three men's huts, a hospital, guard-room, and commissariat. A well is also marked inside the enclosure, while outside are the canteen, bakery, and two other huts.
The walls of the blockhouse were built of undressed stones laid in cement. Many are waterworn boulders apparently obtained from a pit near by, and a few bricks are worked into the walls. The portions of wall still standing are about 30 in. in thickness and up to 10 ft. in height. The dimensions
of the building are about 60 ft. by 36 ft. inside, and the ground-floor was divided into two rooms. The men's quarters were in the upper story, to which access was gained by means of an outside stairway. The place is only about 35 yards from high-water mark. The earthquake of 1848 so shattered the upper parts that the men were moved out into huts, and the shake of 1855 brought down the upper story. The post had been abandoned before the latter date. Turrets had been built on it, apparently to accommodate cannon of sorts, but the first shot fired at a passing canoe manned by hostiles so shook the fabric that the gun was not used again. Powers tells us that the stockade was a very inferior one.
The Wellington Spectator of the 27th May, 1846, gives the strength of the force stationed at Paremata as follows: 58th Regiment—seventy-eight men, under Captain Laye and Lieutenant Pedder; 99th Regiment—seventy-four men, under Captain Armstrong and Lieutenant Elliott; Royal Artillery—nine men, under Lieutenant the Hon. A. Yelverton; also twenty-five Royal Marines from H.M.S. “Calliope,” under Lieutenant Fosbrooke.
This post was established at the Matai-taua pa at Paua-tahanui after its evacuation by the hostile Maori on the approach of the force of
[Footnote] * Mis-spelt “Paua-tananui” on map.
Militia and Maori auxiliaries from the Hutt in August, 1846. This force occupied the pa on the 1st August, Governor Grey arriving there in the afternoon of the same day, accompanied by Captain Stanley, of the “Calliope.”
The post was situated on the spur on which the church stands at Paua-tahanui, just above the creek, and above the bridge. A rude sketch of the Maori pa appeared in a Wellington paper of that time, but the reproduction of the stockade is decidedly eccentric. A sketch in the writer's possession is much more reliable. The name Matai-taua is one of the few local names of which we know the origin. This pa was built by the Rangihaeata when he retired from Motu-karaka some months before. When the Imperial troops advanced from Paremata fortress to join the Militia and Maori contingent in the advance up the Horokiri Valley Lieutenant De Winton occupied the pa as a military post. On the 10th August he was reinforced by a detachment of police under Sub-Inspector Strode. In October, 1846, we find that the post was garrisoned by three officers and one hundred men of the 65th Regiment. These officers were Captain R. Newenham, Lieutenant T. F. Turner, and Assistant Surgeon T. E. White.
In 1848 Captain Russell and a detachment of the 58th occupied the post. They were engaged in roadmaking. The post was finally abandoned in 1850. Apparently the 58th advanced to this post in 1847, for a traveller passing down the coast in that year describes it as follows:—
“The strong pa of Pawhatanui (?) belonging to Rangihaeata, Rauparaha's fighting-man, had been seized the year before by our forces, and was now occupied by a detachment of the 58th. I stopped at the blacksmith's outside the pa to have the horse shod, before taking him on the hard metalled road into Wellington. During the process an officer happened to pass. We entered into conversation, and the result was that Captain R., the officer in command of the detachment (for he it was), invited me to pass the night at the pa. Mounting the hill on which it stood, we entered the gate.
“The strong palisade, about 15 ft. high, which surrounded the original pa, remained undisturbed, but nearly the entire space within was now occupied by neat wooden huts, painted blue and shingled. Captain R., with his wife, a lieutenant and the assistant surgeon, with their wives, and an ensign, formed the society of the pa, and a very lively and agreeable society it was. The ladies were all young and pretty, and on the best terms with each other; Mrs. R., with her frank gaiety, being the life and soul of the little party. As for the officers, they did not, with the exception of Captain R., get through their time so easily—in fact they were mortally bored. What, indeed, had they to do? The doctor, in that provokingly salubrious climate, had no patients to cure, and the subalterns, since the Maori war was over, had none but routine duties to perform, which on detachment service are usually light enough. There was no hunting, and nothing to shoot but parrots, pigeons, and tuis. However, they did what they could; they fished and boated, pulled down almost daily to Paremata Point, where there was a detachment of the 65th, to compare notes with the major and the ensign, the latter of whom ingeniously contrived to kill a good many hours in the education of a talking tui, and laid schemes for obtaining leave to go to Wellington, which was another London or Paris to an unfortunate subaltern buried in the bush at Pawhatanui.”
In Wakefield's Handbook, published in 1848, is a short description of the eastern or Paua-tahanui arm of Porirua Harbour, in which occurs the statement, “Two stockades, one of which is called Fort Strode, at different points of this north arm, have been occupied by small military detachments.”
One of these posts was that described above; the other, Fort Strode, named after Sub-Inspector A. C. Strode, of the Police Force, was situated on the terrace-like point of Motu-karaka, on the northern shore of this eastern arm of the harbour. The earthworks of the post are still to be seen near the point, which on some old maps is marked “Police Point,” on account of some police having been stationed there, under, I believe, Mr. Tandy. This post was built on the site of the position occupied by Te Rangihaeata after he left Taupo (Plimmerton) and prior to his removal to Paua-tahanui. His sojourn at Motu-karaka was rendered uncomfortable by young McKillop, a midshipman of H.M.S. “Calliope” (afterwards McKillop Pasha), who mounted a gun on the long-boat of the “Tyne” (wrecked shortly before at Island Bay), and strolled up and down the harbour bombarding hapless hostiles, and puncturing the atmosphere with cannon-balls.
In those days of the “forties” the ferry charge from Paremata to Jackson's Ferry was 1s. 6d., to Paua-tahanui the same, to Fort Strode 9d., and to Cooper's, at Whitireia, 9d.
We have now enumerated all the posts established in the Wellington District in the “forties,” and explained their situations. Other details and remarks concerning some of them, as Fort Richmond, Paremata, and Paua-tahanui, are not given here, not being necessary to a paper that is designed merely to draw attention to these places of interest. Further notes on some of them were published in a series of papers on “Porirua and They Who Settled it” in the Canterbury Times of 1914.
Native Disturbances of the “Sixties.”
Two Blockhouses erected in the Hutt Valley in 1860–61.
When these troubles arose in the land public uneasiness caused the erection of two blockhouses in the Hutt Valley, one at McHardy's clearing, Upper Hutt district, and the other near the Hutt Bridge, where the Post-office now stands. The latter has disappeared, but the former still stands (1918). The old post at the Taita seems to have disappeared about twenty years ago.
The Spectator of the 21st March, 1860, gives an account of the balloting for the first draft of the Militia at Mount Cook Barracks in the presence of Major Trafford.
Old Blockhouse at Upper Hutt.
Half-hidden by tree-growth, this old refuge of sixty years ago stands lone and unknown in a paddock half a mile from the Wallaceville Railway-station, in the Upper Hutt district, some twenty miles from Wellington City. Of the few who know of its existence some have curiously erroneous ideas as to its origin and age. It was built in the latter part of the year 1860 as a refuge and rallying-place for the settlers of the district, in case of a Maori raid; for at that time many of the Maori of the Otaki district were hostile to Europeans, and the King flag was hoisted in the village
[Footnote] * Not shown on map, but situated on the point immediately west of Paua-tahanui, north-east of Paremata.
at the Roman Catholic end of the settlement. The Wairarapa Maori were also disturbed, and some of the settlers in that district had asked that blockhouses be erected there, though curiously enough the sheep-run men, the most isolated and exposed of the settlers, did not sign the petition. The Wairarapa Maori strongly objected to soldiers being sent to their district, and, as a matter of fact, none were sent.
Rumours of Maori raids in 1860 led to the erection of two blockhouses near Wellington, the one herein described and another near the bridge at the Lower Hutt. A number of Volunteer corps were also formed, and these became numerous in the land. The blockhouses were not actually utilized as refuges, simply because those raids never came off The Wairarapa Maori never became openly hostile. They probably remembered the answer given by a local chief to Te Rangihaeata in 1846, when the latter wanted Wairarapa to join him in a raid on Wellington—“Kei a wai he tahurangi maku?” (With whom is a tahurangi for me?) Tahurangi was the Maori name of the old-fashioned red blankets. The wise chief knew that to slay the pakeha would be to cut off the supply of European products, hence the red blanket saved Wellington. The memory of those old-time fears and dangers has passed away now, and no one worries about Maori raids.
The following is taken from the New Zealand Spectator, of Wellington, for the 5th September 1860:—
Sealed tenders in duplicate will be received at this office until Wednesday at noon of the 5th September next for the erection of
Stockade and Blockhouse
at the Upper Hutt, on McHardy's Clearing, according to plans and specifications No. 1 and 2.
Further particulars can be obtained upon application to Corporal Tapp, Royal Engineers, at this office.
Persons may tender for either Plan No. 1 and No. 2, or both. The lowest tender will not necessarily be accepted of.
W. Rawson Trafford,
Commanding Wellington Militia and Volunteers.
The defences consisted of a stockade and trench, with a two-storied blockhouse in one corner. The stockade, which has long been pulled down, was 9 ft. high and bullet-proof, as described below, though its form of loopholes is not given. The blockhouse projected outside two faces of the stockade so as to act as a flanking angle, the opposite corner being provided with a bastion as shown on the plan: thus each covered two curtains or faces. The northern and western curtains were each commanded by eight loopholes in the blockhouse, four on each floor. The western and southern sides of the stockaded area still show a parapet on the outer side of the fosse, or trench. Presumably the stockade occupied this low parapet, while the defenders would occupy the fosse inside it.
The space enclosed inside the trench, is 30 yards east and west, and somewhat more north and south. The measurements given in the report would douhtless be those of the line of stockade. The trenches now contain a considerable amount of debris, but were probably 2 ½ ft. or 3 ft. deep originally, the width being about 5 ft. at the bottom. The spoil from these trenches was evidently used to form the parapet, of which, however, we now see no sign on the north and east sides. The entrance to the enclosure was probably at the side of the blockhouse where for a space of 18 ft. no signs of a trench are to be seen.
The blockhouse is in a good state of preservation, the timber sound and still showing in places the marks of the circular saw; it was probably cut in Cruickshank's mill, the first to be erected in this vicinity, which produced some fine totara timber, The ground floor is divided into two rooms, the larger one containing the staircase, as also a small room in the south-west corner, like the sergeant's cubby-hole in a military barrack-room. Four sides of the ground floor present loopholed walls, the two interior walls being blank, save for the doorway and two windows as shown. There are twenty-four loopholes, as marked, not including three higher up to be occupied by persons stationed on the staircase. These loopholes are rectangular, formed with 1 in. timber, with the smaller end outward, the inner and larger orifice being 8 in. by 6 in. Some are still plugged with the original tompions—solid blocks of timber. The walls are flush-lined with 1 in. boards, and the outside weatherboarded with the same; studs, 6 in. The interior space is filled with fine gravel.
The upper floor is in one room, and is pierced with loopholes all round, on all six faces. The southern end has but two loopholes, but the two windows there are probably modern and not a part of the original plan. The west and north faces have each eight loopholes. The two interior walls have three each, two long vertical ones and a small square one between them. Two of these appear in the illustration. Not being a disciple of Vauban, the writer is unable to explain why these elongated loopholes should appear in two walls only, and those both interior faces. On the outer side these loopholes are 36 in. by 3 in., but the inner part is wider.
The blockhouse is built on piles, and roofed with corrugated iron; height of walls, 18 ft.
The magazine was a small building, 9 ft. by 5 ft. in size, originally lined, and probably with gravel-filled walls. Outside the blockhouse is a small ditch of unknown use, for presumably the stockade did not extend along outside the north and west sides of the blockhouse. The place seems to have been used as a residence at some time, and a stove has been used in the upper floor. Again, the place seems to have been utilized as a chicken-ranch at no distant period.
The well was covered over with timber, as it appears in the photograph (Plate II, fig. 2). The bastion shows no signs of having contained any small flanking blockhouse, such as we constructed in Taranaki as late as the “seventies.” From the trench outside the bastion a covered drain runs to a stream-channel, evidently designed to carry off storm-waters from the trench. A part of the outer scarp of the trench at the south corner of the bastion has been neatly faced with stones, reminding one of the Koru pa at Oakura.
No trace of a parapet is seen on the eastern and northern faces of the defence; the interior of the defended area is level ground, which extends far out on all sides.
(An outpost of singular form was erected at Taita in 1846, and was occupied by Militia for some time. The following appeared in the Wellington Independent at the time: “The troops and native allies in the Hutt have been forming an entrenched camp at Taita, in the shape of two squares connected at an angle of each, and having a communication from one to the other.” The main post of that period was Fort Richmond, at the Bridge, Lower Hutt.)
The Australian and New Zealand Gazette of the 17th October, 1860, contains the following: “The natives in the Wellington district still continue quiet, but the settlers are, as they ought to be on the alert. The
Militia has been called out both in Wellington and Whanganui, all the disposable rifles have been distributed, and two stockades are being erected in the Hutt district.”
The same publication in its issue of the 24th November, 1860, giving Wellington news up to the 7th September, quotes the following from the Wellington Independent: “A stockade is about to be erected at the Upper Hutt, and the one now erecting at the Lower Hutt is rapidly progressing. Recently, at the request of several gentlemen of the Hutt, the contractor supplied them with a target made the exact thickness of the sides of the stockades and filled with screened gravel, which was carted to a suitable place under the superintendence of Captain Carlyon, Lieutenant Ludlam, and Corporal Tapp, of the Royal Engineers. The firing commenced at 120 yards, shortening the distance until within five paces, when several rounds were fired from three different descriptions of rifles, likewise from one of the percussion muskets. On examination of the target the result proved very satisfactory, sixteen having struck the centre, but not one had passed through, the balls flattening as soon as they come in contact with the gravel, thus proving the efficiency of the present works.”
“A memorial for the erection of stockades has been sent to the Governor from about sixty of the residents in the small-farm neighbourhood of the Wairarapa. It is worthy of note that none of the sheep-farmers whose homesteads are scattered over the valley, and whose property would have to be abandoned should an outbreak occur, have consented to sign it.”
The Hutt Stockade.
The following particulars of the blockhouse and stockade erected at the Lower Hutt at the same time is culled from the Spectator:—
“Through the courtesy of Corporal Tapp, of the Royal Engineers, who has been sent down to superintend the works, we have been favoured with an inspection of the plan for the stockade and blockhouse to be erected at the Hutt. The site selected is a paddock opposite Jillet's Hotel, known as Plowman's land. The stockade will be 95 ft. square, with walls 9 ft. high, rendered bullet-proof to 6 ft. by the interstice between the inside and outside planking being filled with shingle. The blockhouse, which will be in the south-west corner, the nearest the bridge, will be two stories high, with galvanized-iron roof, and rendered bullet-proof throughout by the same means as that used for the stockade. Its dimensions will be 30 ft. by 30 ft., with outside flanks of 15 ft., with loopholes on all sides and in both stories. In the opposite or north-east corner will be corresponding flanks or loopholes. The magazine will be 8 ft. by 4 ft., by 7 ft. high. The blockhouse will be built so as to protect the Wairarapa and Waiwhetu Roads, the bridge, and the ferry. Mr. W. Taylor's tender, £725, has been accepted, and the works will be commenced next week, the contract time for their completion being three months from the acceptance of the tender.”
In this extract we see what the nature of the stockade was at the Upper Hutt, the two being constructed on the same plan. Some of the loopholes are plainly seen, while those blocked with tompions are scarcely discernible.