Friday, April 15, 2011

Monmouth Redoubt, Tauranga

At the top of the climb from The Strand and the old Bond Store up to Cliff Road is the Monmouth Redoubt (.pdf info here) dating from 1864. Actually, everything from this point takes you through the site of the most densely populated part of Tauranga in the days before the Treaty of Waitangi, sites of long vanished Maori pa. But also, sites of massacre and death.
A recent slip, on the face of the cliff fronting the Government paddock close to the Monmouth redoubt, revealed the presence of some human skulls which projected beyond the broken earth. The police, on being acquainted with the matter, removed the surrounding soil but with the exception of traces of a fire in the immediate vicinity, nothing else was found. The skulls were reinterred close to their old burial place, it being evident that they were the remains of Maoris who had probably perished in some internecine struggle, prior to the days of European settlement in Tauranga.

In reference to the above Mr E G B Moss writes to us as follows : —
For over fifty years after Cook's voyage the Bay of Plenty was but seldom visited by Europeans; and one of the first vessels after Cook's to coast along it was the Mission schooner “Herald "in 1828. In the beginning of April 1828 she arrived at Tauranga having on board several missionaries and laymen. These gentlemen reported Tauranga and its vicinity as very densely populated, and that the inhabitants lived for protection in three very large pas, viz Otumoetai, Maungatapu. and Te Papa, which was on the northern portion of the modern town of Tauranga lying between the Sulphur Works and the Monmouth Redoubt, also that the Tauranga natives could then muster 12,500 fighting men, and that they had counted 1000 canoes on the beach between Te Papa and Otumoetai. I do not wish to impeach their veracity but half a canoe per fighting man is a very good average.

Te Papa pa belonged to the Ngatitapu, one of the sub tribes of the Ngaiterangi or Tauranga natives, of which sub tribe Koraurau was chief. Te Waharoa chief of Ngatihaua tribe whose head quarters were at Matamata had pressed his friendship on the Tauranga natives so as to obtain a passage to the sea, and by so doing brought down on their devoted heads the enmity of Ngatimaru the great Thames tribe whose head chief was Te Rohu. It does not matter whether it was for revenge, or for more civilized reason of preserving the balance of power, but a day or two after the Herald left, Te Rohu and his bloodthirsty horde came over from the Thames, made a night attack on Te Papa, stormed the pa, killed Koraurau, and annihilated the Ngatitapu tribe which comprised nearly one third of the Tauranga natives. Only 25 of he wretched inhabitants of Te Papa escaped. The killed were made into roasts or stews according to the caprice of the victors, and the usual cannibal feed took place on the site of the old pa. Although the Tauranga natives were then constantly being harassed by the Bay of Islands, Thames, and Rotorua natives, and would naturally keep together as much as possible, it seems almost incredible that 2000 natives were killed at the storming of Te Papa.

The Rev. H. Williams writes thus in the Missionary Register for 1829 page 462 under date 14 April 1828. "Mr Mair and I went up to the pa, which within the last fortnight had been subdued by the Ngatimaru, we witnessed every mark of desolation. When last here we anchored abreast of the place, and there were then hundreds or men, women, and children living here ; now all was silent, their houses and fences burnt, dead dogs and pigs on all sides, and human bones in many places, a dreadful evidence of the real temporal situation of this people.

I was present when the skulls were dug out and noticed that they lay as close as possible together, two in a row, and the third between but behind the other two. Although the crowns of the heads all faced the East two were face up, and one face down. They were covered with about a foot of soil, and lay in a depression that looked as if it had once been a half filled up ditch. As the teeth of two of them were to a great extent worn down they must have been middle aged. The lower jaw and teeth of the third skull were missing. No other bones were found in the vicinity but while prospecting for them some ashes were found at the same depth as the heads, and looking almost as fresh as if the fire had only been put out a few days ago. It seems very evident that the fire had been made in a ditch and the heads left alongside it by the victors, and that some of the friends of the vanquished had quietly buried the lot by filling in the ditch with part of the adjoining bank. I think they can be safely considered as relics of the cannibal feast on the taking of Te Papa nearly 60 years ago which was the last orgie [sic] of the kind held in the town of Tauranga but not by scores the last in its vicinity.

Bay of Plenty Times, 15 July 1887

"Whilst on the subject of these remains of cannibal times, a recollection comes over my mind that is worth recording. At the time the troops were encamped round the Monmouth Redoubt a rumour gained currency, and was widely believed, that a box of treasure containing some six thousand pounds had been planted in the first part of the scare, somewhere in the neighbourhood of the redoubt. How the report first originated I do not recollect, but it was implicitly believed on all hands, and many a hunt was made for the missing treasure.

After the Gate Pa and Te Ranga fights, the Monmouth Redoubt was being enlarged and the trenches deepened and widened, and a drawbridge erected in case of an attack by the natives. It was rumoured that an immense gathering of natives was taking place to make a final and decisive attack on the Tauranga camp. The natives were assembling at Akeake, and so confident were they of success that they were already dividing the spoils. One of the principal chiefs was to get a store, another the hotel, and so on. However that all came to nothing; but it led to the strengthening of the redoubt, and at the time I was engaged deepening the trenches.

It was just at the time we all had the treasure fever on us, and when we had got the trench deepened I determined, as it was in the neighbourhood of the supposed plant of treasure, to have a hunt for it on own account. Waiting till past ten o'clock, when it was as dark as pitch, and a wild, windy, and rainy night, I crept stealthily into the trench, and commenced spearing about with my ramrod. I kept at it for some two hours, having to dodge the sentries all the time, and was in quite a fever of excitement, when all at once, at nearly the full length of the ramrod, I came down on something hard that gave a hollow sort of sound. Quivering with excitement, but with the utmost care that I should not be discovered, I sounded all round the find, and with a feeling of exultation not to be described, I came to the conclusion I had found the long-lost treasure. Stealthily and quietly I crept back to the camp, and imparted the great news to my mate, and with the utmost secrecy we crept back to fie trench armed with shovels apiece. After sounding again, my mate came to the conclusion that we had really struck it, and with every nerve on fire with excitement, we set to work to get it out. For two and a-half long hours we worked away, having pretty often to dodge out of sight and stay proceedings on account of the sentries. At last, however, the shovels struck the great find, and both made a rush to be the first to have it out. A few minutes more of desperate hard shovelling, and the great treasure stood disclosed as a mass of ghastly remains of human bones, evidently the relics of a cannibal feast in the long past ages. There they were, arms, legs, and ribs, all jumbled together, and a pair of fools looking disconsolately at one another across them. Our feelings can well be imagined, but to this day I, for one, never disclosed the result of our great treasure hunt. A singular fact was that amongst all these remains not a single skull was discovered, and what become of them was quite a mystery. — "An old Trooper " in the N.Z. Herald.

Hawkes Bay Herald, 6 April 1889

One thing I noticed was that the Tauranga authorities have made Cliff Road fit around the reboubt's embankments of today, and not just plowed through without care.

From military command post to barracks to police gaol -- over time the redoubt became a clutter of buildings, but also a reserve eyed longingly by the city's fathers.
(Tauranga Borough Council report). From Lands and Survey Department acknowledging receipt of copy of resolution re handing over Monmouth Redoubt reserve with the gaol thereon, said gaol being now closed. In reply stating that the Commissioner of Police objected to handing over the reserve as though the gaol is now closed he does not know how long it may be before he may require to re-open it ; steps will therefore be taken to remove the land referred to out of the list of the Borough reserves.

Bay of Plenty Times 3 November 1897

From the Lands Department re the reserve in which the Monmouth redoubt stands that the land was vested in the Council in ignorance of the fact that it was used by the Police Department. It was now proposed to restore the land to its former occupation and when the matter came up in the House the Member for the district would be able to express his opinions thereon. From W. H. Herries, M.H.R., on the same subject asking for further information and reasons for objecting to transference of redoubt back to Police Department. The Mayor explained what steps had been taken in the matter and said that all information had been sent.

Bay of Plenty Times 8 December 1897

His Worship the Mayor has received a letter from Mr Herries M.H.R., with reference to the vexed question of the ownership of the Monmouth Redoubt, the gaol question, etc; There appear now to be good hopes that the Redoubt may at length be able to be thrown open to the public and a gaol re-established in another spot.

Bay of Plenty Times 11 November 1898

Yesterday His Worship the Mayor, C. A. Clarke, Esq., proceeded to the Monmouth Redoubt and received possession of the same on behalf of the Borough from Sergeant Murray. The Redoubt contains a tumble-down old barracks building, almost valueless, the gaol and its offices and the powder magazine. We understand that it is contemplated to utilise one of the buildings as a morgue, if so, we hope it will be removed to a portion of the allotment outside the precincts of the Redoubt itself.

Bay of Plenty Times 7 December 1898

TENDERS will be received at the Council Chambers, TaurangaJNO. H. McCAW, Town Clerk

Bay of Plenty Times 27 February 1899

BOROUGH OF TAURANGA. TENDERS will be received at the Council Chambers, Tauranga, until 7 p.m., on Monday, May 1st., 1899, for the purchase for removal of all the buildings in the Monmouth Redoubt, except the zine magazine, also, separately, for the purchase for removal of the stables outside the Redoubt. Conditions may be seen on application to the undersigned. . JOHN. H. McCAW, Town Clerk

Bay of Plenty Times 26 April 1899

TENDER instructions, as above, the Buildings situate in the Monmouth Redoubt, known as the gaol and the office separately (for removal). W. T. RAYMOND, Auctioneer.

Bay of Plenty Times 10 May 1899

Mr Lundon had claimed for himself the credit of having secured the Monmouth Redoubt for the people of Tauranga. This was, not due to Mr Lundon but to his (the speaker's) predecessor in Parliament, the Hon. W. Kelly and he would be sorry to think his friend Mr Kelly's good deed had been so soon forgotten. He (Mr Herries), had, however, been the means of rescuing it from the Police Department and getting it removed from the Bill wherein it was proposed to take it away from the Borough again. If he had not been in Opposition he would not have been able to block the Bill until this was done, and the town would thus have lost the Redoubt.

Bay of Plenty Times 13 November 1899

It's a lovely sylvan glade -- but I suspect that this has been greatly altered. Apparently part has collapsed over time, to topple down the cliff to the shore below. But still -- grand views up there, if you can make it out through the 20th century's trees.

Memorial Cairn at Tauranga. A memorial cairn on the Monmouth Redoubt at Tauranga will shortly be erected by the Tauranga Borough Council. The memorial, which, it is estimated, will cost £150, is to commemorate the erection of the redoubt in 1864 by British troops, including the 43rd Monmouth Light Infantry. The redoubt was used as a shelter for the European women and children during the Maori Wars of 1864. It is probable that the memorial will take the form of a rock wall with a tablet in the centre and seats at either end. A subscription list has already been opened to defray the cost of building the memorial.

Evening Post 3 June 1937

Monmouth Redoubt.
This redoubt was erected in 1864 by British troops including the 43rd Monmouth Light Infantry after whom it was named.
During these troubled times all european women and children in the settlement were accommodated at the Mission Station with a view to their protection by the military, and had to sleep every night fully dressed and with emergency rations or biscuits and a bottle of water within reach.
This state of affairs continued for six weeks. Then one night the colonel in chargeof the troops told Archdeacon Brown that it was impossible to restrain the natives any longer and that the women and children must take immediate shelter in the redoubt. They were transferred there under heavy military guard and spent the remainder of the night on the floor of the soldiers' blockhouse which stood where this memorial is erected. They remained in these cramped quarters until the arrival of Sellars' cutter, on the deck of which they had, owing to unfavourable weather, to spend another week before reaching safety and shelter in Auckland.
To the memory of these gallant pioneers and the men who protected them, this memorial is dedicated by their grateful successors.
Captain David Sellars apparently operated the schooner Tauranga between Auckland and Tauranga at the time, amongst other craft. The above is an interesting story, but as yet I haven't found a contemporary report backing it up.

Then, there's the cannon. The heritage studies on the redoubt say this is one of the Tapsell (Tapihana) cannons from Maketu. Yet, the Bay of Plenty Times reported on 8 November 1899:

The Mayor moved : —  That this Council tenders its hearty thanks to Mr P F M Burrows, as executor for his brother, the late Mr A W Burrows, for the presentation of a cannon for the Monmouth Redoubt, which this Council accepts with pleasure as a memorial of the deceased and an embellishment to its property. - Seconded by Cr Munro and carried unanimously.
And the 1982 centennial history of Tauranga says much the same.

It's lost its original gun carriage, now just set in concrete.

But this gun is near two hundred years old, dating from 1815. It had some Armstrong guns as companions, but they've gone to Waiouru and other places.

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