A day to remember 95 innocents slaughtered in NZ

Another tribal rebellions day, planned for this weekend by Northland tribes to remember the sporadic armed conflicts that took place in New Zealand during the 19th Century, is a good day to remember the 95 non-combatant innocents who were murdered during those conflicts, Hobson’s Pledge spokesperson Casey Costello said today.

The list of non-combatants, those killed by rebels but not in battle, that is detailed below is not exhaustive. Many victims, particularly pro-government Maori, who made up the majority of those murdered, remain “unidentified” and unacknowledged by authorities to this day.

This is particularly true at Mohaka, which is 93km north of Napier, when on April 10, 1869, Te Kooti’s fighters murdered around 40 mostly women and children.

And at Matawhero, 11km west of Gisborne, 22 Maori were among the 60 people murdered, also by Te Kooti’s forces.

We are being told that what is occurring today is due to the tremendous "atrocity" that befell Maori during the 19th century and that is the only story that is being circulated, Ms Costello said.

Throwing blame back and forth does no one any good, but if the mass hakas that are planned for this weekend are intended as a show of defiance against colonisation, then the public should be reminded of the innocent victims of conflicts they did not cause, Ms Costello said.

For those confused by the appearance of a three-day event when the national day to commemorate the tribal rebellions was set for October 28 each year, starting last October, the Northland group named Te Putake o Te Riri organised a different commemoration to mark the northern rebellion in 1845.

Many of the entries below may be verified by searching the name of the victim plus papers past. That will take you to the newspaper report of the incident at the time.

Here is the chronological list, compiled by Auckland writer Paul Verdon, of 95 non-combatants killed by rebels during the 19th century.


April 18, 1847 - Six members of the Gilfillan family massacred trying to escape family home & property near Wanganui

Mary Gilfillan (mother), aged 40

Elizabeth (Eliza) Gilfillan, aged 14

Francis (Frank) Gilfillan, aged 11

Adam Campbell Gilfillan, aged 3

Agnes Gilfillan, aged 4 months

Alexander Grenville Gilfillan.

(John Gilfillan, father; and Mary, daughter, aged 15, were wounded but escaped; John and Sarah, aged 6, escaped unhurt).


March 3, 1860 - Edward Messenger, aged 17, killed while gathering peaches at an orchard at Brooklands, near New Plymouth

March 27, 1860 - Samuel Ford, farmer and saddler and merchant, Taranaki

March 27, 1860 - Mr S Shaw, farmer, Taranaki

March 27, 1860 - Mr H Passmore, farmer, Taranaki

March 27, 1860 - James Pote, Omata, Taranaki

March 27, 1860 - William Parker, Omata, Taranaki

Messrs Ford, Shaw and Passmore, all farmers, were on their way to different parts of the block on March 27, 1860, when shot down by natives concealed behind a furze hedge near the Primitive Methodist Chapel at Omata and were afterwards tomahawked. Mr Ford was on his way to see some sheep on Mr Grayling's farm and had that morning ridden out to Moturoa with Mr George and purchased six of his bullocks. Mr Passmore was out with his bullocks and cart for the purpose of obtaining some puriri fencing. Shaw was with Passmore and on his way to his farm to milk his cows. Mr Gilbert saw a body lying on the road and returned to the stockade and a party was sent and found the three corpses within a few yards of each other. Then two boys, Pote and Parker (see above), were reported missing and were found tomahawked

August 2, 1860 - John Hurford, a farmer who was attached as a militiaman, was killed in an ambush after visiting his farm with four soldiers and during a pig shooting session at Omata, Taranaki. Hurford left ‘a widow and eight children to struggle their way alone through the world’

August 17, 1860 - Hugh Corbyn Harris, a Taranaki volunteer, whilst carting wood from the beach at the Waitara, Taranaki, was shot dead

August 17, 1860 - Ephraim Coad, aged 43, former brewer and now publican and owner of the Marsland Hotel; ambushed and shot dead at the Henui (now East End Beach, New Plymouth)

August 21, 1860 - Richard Brown, an old settler, whilst seeking for a horse at the Waitara, Taranaki, was fired at by Maori insurgents and mortally wounded

Sept 11, 1860 - Henry Crann, farmer, waylaid and killed at the Henui, Taranaki, at the racecourse

November 7, 1860 - John Hawken, former miller and then butcher, killed near Huirangi, Taranaki

December 4, 1860 - Joseph Sarten, aged 16, killed while seeking a bullock; Henui, Taranaki


February 8, 1861 –

William Cutfield King, a farmer and volunteer.

Was shot and killed while checking cattle on his farm at Woodleigh (now the New Plymouth suburb of Frankleigh Park), Taranaki. King had been elected to Parliament in 1860 but thus never took his seat


July 15, 1863 - Michael Meredith, aged 59, murdered at Shepherd’s Bush, together with his son, Frederick Richard Meredith, aged 14, while working on their farm about four miles from Drury, south of Auckland. Both victims were tomahawked, the father’s face and head ‘knocked in’ and the bodies mutilated.

Several other settlers were murdered in the area at this time – and during the next three weeks a further 13 settlers were killed on isolated farms in the area south of Auckland.

July 22, 1863 - James Hunt, killed while preparing to cut wood from the bush at the Hay’s farm in the morning, with his employer, Mr Greenacre, and two others. A band of 40-50 natives surprised them, shot at them and then pursued them. Hunt fell with a fatal wound in his back; the others reached Hay’s house safely. Mr Hay’s farm was close to the Great South Road between Papakura and Drury; the site was where the Opaheke railway station was later built – slightly south of Papakura and 32km from Auckland’s CBD.

July 23, 1863 - Sylvester Devenish Calvert, the son of Captain Augustus Bressan Calvert, was attacked and killed in the family home on the Wairoa Road, near Papakura, south of Auckland, early in the morning. Nicknamed ‘Silver,’ he was aged 18 and not a soldier. Capt Calvert fought off the intruders. He died on July 3, 1865, after “accidentally” discharging his own gun

July 25, 1863 - Charles Cooper, farmer living at Hunua, was out in his paddocks looking after his cows when he was attacked and killed. He was set alight in his clothes and his body roasted using kauri gum

September 4, 1863 – William Corey Scott, an old settler, aged 73, who resided at Pukekohe, was shot at and severely wounded. He managed to crawl some 500 yards distance, through dense bush and a stream, to a house belonging to Samuel Hawk, where he laid for 30 hours, until he was found by rescuers. He died in Auckland on September 4

September 7, 1863 – James Armitage, resident magistrate, lower Waikato, was one of five men massacred at Cameron, near Tuakau. The others were:

Robert McKeown, a blacksmith who acted as clerk to Mr Armitage

William Strand, a carpenter engaged in erecting a store at Cameron

Wade, a pro-government Maori

‘Some of the attackers followed Mr Armitage and chopped off the hands of the unfortunate men that were clinging to the canoe; and then shot and tomahawked them in the water til they sank.’

September 14, 1863 - Robert Watson (aged 14), the son of Mr John Watson, was shot by Maori attackers at a farm house at Paerata, between Drury and Waiuku, belonging to James Burtt. Mr Watson managed the farm and he and his invalid wife and five children lived in the house.

Also killed was Hugh McLean, a farmhand. The men had been ploughing fields on the morning of the attack, which came about five minutes after the attack on nearby Pukekohe East Church Stockade. The Watsons had heard the firing.

October 13, 1863 - Mr Job Hamlin - an elderly man, was murdered at Henderson's farm, on the Wairoa-Papakura road, south of Auckland. His companion, a boy named Joseph Wallis, aged 13, was tomahawked, but survived his wounds, though he was badly brain-damaged and remained an ‘imbecile’ for the rest of his life. 

October 14, 1863 - William John Jackson, aged 32, whilst engaged in fencing behind Mr Hay's house near Papakura, south of Auckland, was shot and tomahawked.

October 15, 1863 - John Fahey and Mrs Fahey, residing at Ramarama, south of Auckland, went out as usual to milk their cows, when Maoris appeared and fired upon them. When found, Mrs Fahey was dead, and Mr Fahey, an old man who was an out-pensioner of Chelsea Hospital, expired shortly afterwards.

October 24, 1863 - Richard (aged nine) and Nicholas Trust (aged 11), murdered in Howick, east of Auckland. The boys, who were shot and tomahawked, were the sons of Ambrose and Jane Trust, who resided at and managed Kennedy's farm at Turanga Creek but were away in Auckland on the day.

December 21, 1863 – Mrs Matilda Thompson (who was nursing a baby) and one of her daughters, Olivia (14), were murdered on their dairy farm at Kaukapakapa, on the Kaipara Harbour.

The Thompson family arrived from Northern Ireland in 1860. John Thompson bought 146 hectares at Peak Rd, Kaukapakapa, calling it Violet Hill Farm. To earn some immediate income he worked as a mailman, which involved a two-day trip to Riverhead. He was away when the slaughter occurred. A Maori, Ruarangi, who had visited the farm before, killed the victims with an axe. He told another sister that he intended to kill other pakeha, with the intent of sparking conflict. He was known as ‘a great advocate of the Maori in the present rebellion.’

The slaughter caused terror among the outsettlers of the Kaipara, being looked on as ‘an opening of the war in the north.’ But the chiefs of the local tribe readily gave up Ruarangi to the police, saying they ‘lived under the law of Queen Victoria.’ He was tried and then executed on April 18, 1864, at Auckland


February 28, 1864 - George Patterson, a civil engineer and militia member, was murdered while roaming beyond the boundaries of New Plymouth. He and his horse were shot and tomahawked by Maoris. A memorial is to be found on the site of the murder, on the corner of Frankley and Patterson Roads, New Plymouth


March 2, 1865

Carl Sylvius Volkner - Protestant missionary Carl Völkner discovered that his Māori congregation had moved on from Christianity to Pai Mārire (or Hauhau). Like many Europeans in isolated communities, Völkner had sent reports of anti-Government activity to the governor. Although warned to stay away from the town (Opotiki), on his next visit he was captured by the Hauhau, put ‘on trial’ and hanged from a tree, and his body was decapitated an hour later. Kereopa Te Rau, a Hauhau, was alleged to have re-entered the church and conducted a service with Volkner's head in the pulpit beside him. He was also alleged to have plucked out the dead missionary's eyes and swallowed them. One eye allegedly represented Parliament and the other the Queen and British law.

Five Hauhau were convicted and subsequently hanged for the murder on May 17, 1866. They were Mokomoko, Heremita Kahupaea, Hakaraia Te Rahui, Horomona Poropiti and Mikaere Kirimangu. Kereopa Te Rau was also later convicted and hanged on January 5, 1872, at Napier.


November 9 and 10, 1868 at Matawhero, Poverty Bay

Reginald Newton Biggs, Major Commanding and Justice of the Peace
His wife Emily Biggs (aged 19 years)
Their son, George Biggs (aged one year) 
James Padbury, Sgnt Poverty Bay Mounted Rifle Volunteers
Jane Farrell (aged 26 years)
James Walsh, Lieut P.B.M.R.V.
His wife, Emma Walsh (aged 26 years)
Their children, Nora Ellen Walsh (aged one year)
John McCullock   
His wife, Jane McCullock (aged 25 years)
Their daughter, Emily Jane McCullock (aged two years)
Mary Mcdonald (aged seven years)
John Cadle, storekeeper at Matawhero
Richard Rathbone
Finlay Ferguson 
William Wylie (aged 14 years)
Benjamin Mackay (aged 14 years)

James Wilson, Capt. N.Z. Militia
His wife, Alice Sweetman Wilson (aged 30 years)
Their children, Alice Wilson (aged six years)
Edwin James Wilson (aged four years)
Jessie Gertrude Wilson (aged one year)
John Mann 
His wife, Emma Mann (aged 23 years)
Their infant child
Robert Newnham (aged 60 years)
His wife, Jane Newnham (aged 45 years)
Munn (aged one year)
John Moran, servant (aged 60 years)
Maria Goldsmith (aged 15 years)
Her son, Albert Edward Goldsmith (aged four years)
George Neville Dodd (aged 40 years), sheep farmer
Richard Peppard (aged 25 years), sheep farmer

On the nights of November 9 and 10, 1868, Te Kooti led a war party towards Turanganui (which became Gisborne), in a district that was home to about 150 European settlers and 500 Māori, in preparation for what became known as the Poverty Bay Massacre or Matawhero Massacre. By dawn, nearly 60 people had been murdered. A total of 29 Europeans and part-Māori were killed, as well as 22 Māori. Some were shot but most were killed with bayonets, tomahawks or patu to avoid alerting their neighbours. ‘Blood-maddened Hauhaus galloped over the country, shooting, looting and destroying.’ Many of the killings were followed by their singing of Christian psalms.


February 13, 1869

White Cliffs (Pukearuhe, northern Taranaki) Massacre

Rev. John Whiteley, missionary, aged 62 years. 

Lieutenant Bamber Gascoigne, aged 40 years. 

His wife, Annie Gascoigne, aged 27 years. 

Their children, Laura Gascoigne, aged 5 years. 

Cecil John Gascoigne, aged 3 years. 

Louisa Annie Gascoigne, aged 3 months. 

John Milne, aged 40 years. 

Edward Richards, aged 35 years.

The deceased were massacred by a Ngati Maniapoto raiding party at the remote Pukearuhe Redoubt. Mr Whitely, a missionary, was killed later that evening when visiting. The Gascoignes’ house was looted, the plunder divided among the party. The outpost was isolated and vulnerable, 57km from New Plymouth and 16km from the nearest post. But the Taranaki Wars were coming to a close and it was thought there was no great danger from rebel Maori.

March 2, 1869 - Robert Pitcairn, a surveyor.

Te Kooti's men raided both the Whakarae pā at Ohiwa, near Whakatane, and nearby Uretara Island, taking all occupants without resistance, before killing Pitcairn. Te Kooti’s new series of raids prompted the evacuation to Auckland of most European women and children in the Bay of Plenty.

March 11, 1869

Jean Guerren (aged 45)

Monika (‘Nika’), the sister of his wife, Elizabeth (‘Peti’), who was enslaved by the Hauhau.

Tautari and Te Mauriki – and two women – Maria Te Ha, wife of Kaperiera, and Pera.

The deceased all lived at or near the mill managed by Guerren at Te Poronu, near Whakatane. The local iwi, Ngāti Pukeko, had employed Guerren – also known as ‘John the Frenchman’ – to erect and run Te Poronu flour mill around 1867. Machinery for the mill had been gifted to Ngāti Pukeko by the government as part of an initiative by Governor Sir George Grey. Only seven or eight people were at Te Poronu when the Hauhau war party of 100 descended on the mill. Guerren led this small group in ‘a heroic fight against overwhelming odds’. They defended the mill for two days against an enormously superior force before being overrun.

April 10, 1869, at Mohaka

Seven Europeans and about 40 natives (mostly women and children, at a pa called Huke) were killed that day and all the settler houses burnt down. The day before (April 9), the Hauhaus (in three war parties) attacked Mangaturanga and killed eight native men, 12 women, and children; then at Hororoa, they killed four native men, six women and children, and wounded three.

The settlers were:

John Philip Martin Lavin, sheep farmer

Jane Lavin, his wife

Their three sons, Hawles (aged 11)

Miles (aged eight)

and Henry Herman (aged three)

John Cooper, sheep farmer

Mr Wilkinson, elderly and lame, he was burnt to death in the house of Mr Stark.

Te Kooti’s campaign of revenge (1865-72) eventually cost the lives of 611 people. A total of 399 of Te Kooti’s men lost their lives, while 212 British soldiers, settlers and pro-government Maori were killed. Te Kooti was eventually pardoned by the government in 1883.