Thursday, January 15, 2009

Soldier's Graves at Omapere, Northland

The Battle of Puketutu, from NZETC. Details of the battle at Omapere at the link.

I spotted this in the Auckland Star, 17 March 1890.

Soldiers' Graves at Omapara.


On the 6th inst., while at Okaihau, I went to Omapara to see the graves of some of the soldiers killed daring Hone Hoke's war. The Government had directed the remains to be exhumed and interred in the Okaihau consecrated ground.

There is something very interesting and, at the same time, very humiliating in looking into the secrets of the grave after so long a time. These poor fellows had lain in their narrow beds for 45 years. One man had his front teeth knocked out by a bullet which had passed out through the back of his head. Another had had a bullet flattened on his jaw, a third had a bullet lying on his chest. All the clothes were gone, save iron badges, heels of boot, etc. Some badges bore the name of Gibraltar. Two or three buttons were of the 58th, and one of the 69th. One man had a stick of twist tobacco, in good preservation.

There were three large pack needles, a penny, a collection of brass tips to ramrods, a pipe, etc., etc. The bones were nearly rotten, and invaded by roots, and very incomplete. Most of the men were presumably young, wanting the wisdom teeth. One body was of a Maori, which had been wrapped in a blanket, the remains of which, as well as of three flax ties, were still visible ; this one was the only one whose hair still remained, and it was laid E. and W., whilst all the others were laid S.E. and N.W. There were 12 found in all.

I could not help thinking when I saw the little heap of half rotten bones piled like a heap [of] rubbish, and mixed up with their little belongings, that it would have been better to erect a small stone over the place (which is well suited for the purpose) recording their fate, and allow the poor fellows to remain undisturbed in their repose.

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