| 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 |
TO THE SOUND OF THE WAR-SONG
 THE peace was a mere truce. Things seemed drifting again to
war when the government at home recalled Browne, and
sent back Sir George Grey, who had already proved so
good a ruler.
Sir George Grey, when he came, decided that the land at
Waitara had been unjustly taken, and must be given
back. But it was now too late. Misunderstandings and
blunders grew worse and worse, and the second Maori war
broke out. From India and from Australia, troops came
to help the settlers, while the Maori tribes gathered
to the sound of an old war-song.
Soon the fight began. The Maoris fought well and
fiercely. It was the story of Oheawai and of the Bat's
Nest over again. In a night the Maoris would build a
fort strong enough to keep the British for a month at
For days they would defend it, and when it seemed about
to be taken would forsake it and flee to another as
strong or stronger. They were always far outnumbered by
the white men. Yet never once did the white men gain a
It seemed of little use to capture or destroy a pah,
for the Maoris fled to another a few miles off, where
the attack had to be begun afresh. The whole country
seemed dotted with strong fortresses.
 But at length at Rangiriri, a strong fort surrounded by
a river and by swamps, many of the Maoris were
captured. From dawn to dark on a wintry July day the
thunder of war lasted. Shot and shell were poured upon
the fort from every side. Again and again the British
soldiers dashed at the walls, only to be thrown back
again like waves broken upon a rock. But when night
fell, the fort was completely surrounded. And when day
dawned the Maoris hung out a flag and surrendered.
Governor Grey would have been glad now to make peace.
But his advisers would not listen. So still the war
At Orakau, one of the bravest defences of the war took
place. Here two or three hundred badly-armed,
half-starving Maori men and women bid defiance to more
than fifteen thousand British soldiers.
After trying in vain to storm the fort, the British
leader resolved to mine it and blow it up. But he knew
that both women and children were within the pah. He
wished to save them, so he sent a messenger with a flag
of truce, asking them to surrender.
"We will fight to the end, for ever and ever," was the
"Then send out the women and the children," said the
"Nay, the women and children, too, will fight," they
So, worn with fight and watching, weary, hungry and
thirsty, the Maoris still fought on. They had no food,
they had no water, their shot was almost done. Yet they
would not yield.
Then in their need they turned to the Christian God. He
would help them. And through the crash and roar of
cannon, the plaintive notes of a hymn arose. They
 looked to heaven, but from the once clear sky now
darkened with the heavy clouds of war, no help came.
Then fiercer, wilder thoughts laid hold of the Maoris.
The Christian God was the God of deceivers, they cried.
He was the God of those who sought to rob them of their
land. They would have no more of Him. They would turn
again for help to their ancient god of War. Then fierce
and loud above the clangour rose the sounds of a "Karakia,"
a chant of curses, a chant long unheard in
Now the mines began to burst all around them. In noise
and flame their pah was shattered. The earth shook with
death. No longer could they hold the fortress.
Then, still chanting their wild and terrible song,
under the eyes of the British, they marched calmly and
steadily out of their fort. "As cool and steady as if
going to church," said one who saw.
For some minutes all watched in wonder. No one knew
what was happening. Then, "They are escaping! they are
escaping!" came the cry, and the chase began.
For six long miles the way was red with blood, and
strewn with dead. Yet steadily onward the Maoris
pressed, now pausing to fire, now to lift a wounded
comrade, until at last a broken remnant reached the
wild refuge of the hills, where no white man could
The war was nearly over. But at a place called the Gate
Pah, the Maoris once more beat back the British troops,
who fled, leaving ten officers and twenty-five men dead
upon the field.
But again, in the darkness of the night, the Maoris
slipped away. How they went no man knew, for the pah
was surrounded by British troops. Only in the morning
it was found that the pah was empty. And yet they had
gone in no wild haste, for beside each
 wounded British
soldier was a cup of water, placed there by the Maoris
before they fled.
Only a few miles off the Maoris again made a stand. But
here they were attacked before they had time to build a
pah. After a desperate fight they fled.
Among the dead lay their leader. On his dead body was
found the order for the day. It began with a prayer,
and ended with the words, "If thine enemy hunger, feed
him; if he thirst, give him drink."
. . . . .
"Te Waru was there with the East Coast braves,
And the chiefs famed in song and story,
Met on the spot to resist the spoilers,
Who had taken the land from the Maori
In the name of the Queen of the far land.
Only three hundred warriors were there
Entrenched within the weak unfinished pah,
Only three hundred brave men and women
To meet the Pakeha who surrounded
The sod-built fortress, with his well-drilled troops
Nearly two thousand hardy Britons.
Three hundred lion-hearted warriors
Assembled with Rewi to fan the flame
Of deadly hatred to the Pakeha
Into a vengeful blaze at Orakau,
Chanting the deeds of their ancestors,
They cried aloud, "Me mate te gangatu,
Me mate mo te whenua!" which means,
'The warrior's death is to die for the land.'
Then Major Mair, with flag of truce, before the Maoris stood,
And said, "O friends, be warned in time, we do not seek your blood.
Surrender, and your lives are safe." Then, through the whole redoubt,
The swarthy rebels answered, with a fierce, defiant shout,
"Ka whawkia tonu! Ake! ake! ake!"
Again spake gallant Mair, "O friends, you wish for blood and strife,
With blind and stubborn bravery, preferring death to life;
But send your women and your children forth, they shall be free."
They answered back, "Our women brave will fight as well as we."
Again the fiery-throated cannon roared aloud for blood,
Again the hungry eagle swooped and shrieked aloud for food;
Again wild spirits soaring, saw their shattered shells beneath
In pools of gore, and still was heard defiance to the death.
Now, now the brave defenders in a solid body break
Right through the sod-built barricade, o'er palisade and stake,
And, leaping o'er the trenches, 'mid a storm of shot and shell,
They rushed to liberty or death, still shouting as they fell.
With wild, untutored chivalry, the rebels scorned disgrace,
Oh, never in the annals of the most heroic race
Was bravery recorded more noble or more high,
Than that displayed at Orakau in Rewi's fierce reply—
Ka whawkia tonu! Ake! ake! ake!"
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