Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pukekohe East Presbyterian Church

"LOOKING DUE EAST from the higher part of Pukekohe Town one will see on the skyline, a mile and a half air-line distant, an isolated dot of white. In the late afternoon the speck of a building becomes a heliograph when the westering sun strikes flashes from its windows across the valley. This is the little Presbyterian church of Pukekohe East, a monument to-day to the pluckiest defence in the South Auckland War of 1863. Stockaded and occupied as a garrison-house by the settlers of the place, it was the scene of an attack by a strong war-party of Kingite Maoris, against whom it was held successfully by only seventeen men until reinforcements arrived."

Pukekohe East Church is another survivor from the turbulent period of the Waikato War. This one was the site of an attack in 1863. More of the story and background here.

"The Pukekohe East church, two miles from Pukekohe Railway-station by the road, stands in a commanding position on the eastern and highest rim of a saucer-shaped valley, the crater basin of an ancient volcano, about half a mile across at its greatest axis, east and west. The lower lip, facing Pukekohe Town, has been eroded through to the level of the old crater-floor, and a small stream, rising in the bushy slopes below the church and flowing through a swampy valley, issues from this break. "
The crater is massive, one of the largest I've seen. Far older than Auckland's relative spurts by comparison. When that one erupted, it would have been a monstrous clamour.

The Franklin district bus trip in January 2006 was supposed to be historical. It deviated toward the zoological when we historians spotted the emu collection just over the fence. Seemed surreal -- we were in a cemetery where folk had perished in time of war in this country, and over to the left were a few pieces of inquisitive Australia.

“In this encounter,” says Te Huia Raureti, “we lost, I think, more than forty men killed. Ngati-Pou suffered most; they had about thirty men killed. Most of the dead were carried off the field, but we had to leave them on the way, and some of the bodies were concealed in the hollows and the branch forks of large trees, among the wharawhara leaves, so that our enemies should not find them. We had no time to bury them. Of our party from up the river the killed included Te Warena, Wetere Whatahi, Moihi Whiowhio (of the Ngati-Matakore Tribe), and Matiu Tohitaka (Ngati-Rereahu). Te Raore Wai-haere, brother of Rewi Maniapoto, was wounded. My father, Raureti Paiaka, was wounded in the right arm.”

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