| Our Empire Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. Traces the development of the British colonies from days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Includes stories of the five chief portions of the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. Ages 10-16 |
THE "HEAVENLY DAWN" AND THE "WILD CABBAGE LEAF" MAKE WAR
"Rauparaha's war chant,
Rauparaha's fame song,
Told on the harp-strings,
Tuned by the stranger.
No wild hero of romance,
Born in dreamy poet's trance,
Cradled in some mythic fane,
Built up in a minstrel's brain
On imagination's plan!—
No such hero was this man.
He was flesh and blood and bone,
Standing forth erect, alone,
High above his fellows known!—
Hist'ry paints what he hath done,
Maori valour's bravest son—
Te Rauparaha, Te Rauparaha!
Quick of eye and lithe of limb,
Warriors bent the knee to him!—
Bold of heart, strong of hand,
Formed to rule and to command
Suckled on a breast that gave
Milk of heroes to the brave!—
Richest fruit of Toa's seed,
Scion of heroic breed,
Born to conquer and to lead!
Strongest branch of noblest tree
From Hawaiki o'er the sea,
Te Rauparaha, Te Rauparaha!"
AFTER the signing of the treaty of Waitangi the Maoris
lived in peace with the white people. The only quarrels
were about land, but these were bitter indeed.
In the north of South Island there lay a beautiful
valley called Wairau. This valley Colonel Wakefield
claimed; but the chiefs, Rauparaha (the Wild Cabbage
Leaf) and Rangihaeata (the Heavenly Dawn), to whom it
belonged, declared that he had no right to it. "We
have never sold it," they said. "And we never will
sell it. We want it for our sons and their sons for
ever. If you want our land you will have to kill us
first, or make us slaves."
But Colonel Wakefield paid no attention to what the
chiefs said. He called Rauparaha an old savage, and
vowed soon to put an end to his rule. This, too, in
spite of the treaty of Waitangi, by which the white men
had promised to protect the Maoris.
Bent on having his own way, Wakefield sent men to mark
out the valley of Wairau for farms. But Rauparaha and
his followers turned the men off. They were quite
polite and gentle about it, but quite firm. They did no
harm to any of the white men, or to their belongings.
They simply carried all their instruments and tools to
their boats and left them there. Next the Maoris pulled
up all the flags and stakes with which the land had
been marked out, and burned them. They burned the huts
which the white men had built, too. "I have the right
to do this," said Rauparaha, "for they were built of
wood grown upon my own land. So they are mine."
Very angry were Wakefield's men when they returned to
Nelson. There they went to the magistrate and told
 him of the treatment they had received. From him they got
a letter or warrant to take Rauparaha and Rangihaeata prisoner,
for having burned their houses.
Armed with this warrant they went back to Wairau,
accompanied by the magistrate and some workmen. Workmen
and gentlemen together, they numbered about fifty; only
about thirty-five of them, however, had guns. But even
so they thought they would be a match for any number of
When they came to the mouth of the Wairau river,
however, they were met by a Christian chief. He warned
them to be careful what they did. But they would not
listen, and marched on up the river, until they came to
where Rauparaha was encamped on the other side.
A few of the party boldly crossed the stream and asked
"Here I am," he said, rising, "what do you want?"
"You must come with me, to Nelson," said the
magistrate, "because you have burned a house, which
you had no right to do."
"I will not go," replied the Wild Cabbage Leaf.
"But you must," said the magistrate. "I have brought
the Queen's book," he added, showing him the warrant,
"that says you must go."
Then Rangihaeata sprang up. He was tall and handsome,
his dark face was fierce with pride and anger. Behind
him stood his wife Te Ronga, the daughter of Rauparaha.
"Are we not in our own land?" he cried angrily. "We
do not go to England to interfere with you. Leave us
And so the quarrel waxed, and angry words were bandied
back and forth. A pair of handcuffs were brought out.
Rauparaha put his hands under his cloak and cried again
that he would not go to be a slave.
 Then from among the white people a shot was fired. It
struck Te Ronga where she stood beside her husband, and
she fell dying to the ground.
In a moment all was wild confusion. Volley after volley
was fired. "Farewell the light! Farewell the day!
Welcome the darkness of death!" cried Rauparaha.
Before the wild charge of the Maoris the British fled.
A few stood their ground, but at last, seeing
resistance useless, they waved a handkerchief to show
that they surrendered.
Rauparaha then ordered his followers to cease fighting.
But Rangihaeata was mad with sorrow and hatred. "Do
not forget that they slew your daughter, Te Ronga!" he
cried, and the unresisting Britons were slain where
they stood. In all, twenty-two were killed: the rest,
some of them sorely wounded, escaped.
As soon as the heat of fight was over Rauparaha began
to fear the white man's vengeance. He had few followers
in South Island, so, taking to his canoes, he and they
rowed over Cook's strait to North Island, where his
The weather was stormy, and the waves dashed over the
canoes as they sped along. But the Maoris were the
vikings of the south. Little they cared for the dangers
of the deep, for their hearts were hot within them, and
as they bent to the oars they sang, their wild voices
rising above the roar of the storm.
Wet and weary, Rauparaha landed, and with the salt
spray still on his lips, with the song of the storm
wind still in his ear, he spoke to his countrymen. Such
wild, stirring words he spoke that they were ready to
rise and sweep the white man into the sea.
"Now is the time to strike!" he cried. "Now we know
what the smooth talk of the Pakeha is worth. You know
 now what they mean in their hearts. You know now that
you can wait for nothing but tyranny at their hands.
Come, sweep them from the land that they would water
with our blood." And as Rauparaha spoke, he jangled the
insulting handcuffs in the ears of his people.
Fortunately there were white men in New Zealand who
both knew and loved the Maoris. They soothed the hurt
and angry souls of the savages, and the white men, who
had begun the quarrel, were told that what they had
done was "unlawful, unjust and unwise."
When the new governor, Captain Robert Fitzroy, arrived
in New Zealand, he went to see Rauparaha and
Rangihaeata, and heard from themselves the story of
their wrongs. He listened to all that they had to say,
then he told the Maoris that they had committed a great
crime in killing men who had surrendered, but because
the white men were wrong in the beginning he would not
punish them for their deaths. In this way peace was
made. But many of the white men were angry that the
blood of their brothers had not been avenged. Some of
them were so angry that they wrote home and asked that
this new governor, who so favoured the Maoris, should
be called home again.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics