Battle of Kororāreka

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Battle of Kororāreka
Part of the Flagstaff War
HekeFlagstaff.jpg
Hone Heke removing the British colors from Flagstaff Hill in Kororāreka
Date 11 March 1845
Location Kororāreka, New Zealand
Result Māori victory; Kororāreka captured* Successful British and American rescue operations
Belligerents
 United Kingdom Māori
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom William Hulme Hone Heke
Te Ruki Kawiti
Strength
Land: ~140
Sea:
1 sloop-of-war (HMS Hazard)
Land: ~600
Casualties and losses
11 killed
~8 wounded[1]
Unknown

The Battle of Kororāreka, or the Burning of Kororāreka, on 11 March 1845, was an engagement of the Flagstaff War in New Zealand. Following the establishment of British control of the islands, war broke out with a small group of the native population which resulted in the fall of the present day town of Russell to Māori warriors.[2]

Background[edit]

Although he had been the first to sign the Treaty of Waitangi in February 1840, Nga Puhi chief Hōne Heke became increasingly unhappy with the outcome. He objected to the relocation of the capital to Auckland and changes to custom tariffs that caused a serious loss of revenue to the Ngāpuhi.[3]

In July 1844, Heke and a group of warriors entered the town, and the Pakaraka chief Te Haratua cut down the flagstaff.[4] Heke himself had set out to cut down the flagstaff, but had been persuaded by Archdeacon William Williams not to do so.[5] Six months later on 10 January 1845 the flagstaff was cut down a second time - this time by Heke. A new and stronger flagstaff sheathed in iron was erected later that month and guard post built around it - but the next morning the flagstaff was felled for the third time.

Governor FitzRoy sent over to New South Wales for reinforcements. A block-house was built around the base, a guard of 20 soldiers was placed in this, and a fourth flagstaff erected.[6]

Battle[edit]

On 11 March 1845 Hōne Heke and his men, along with Te Ruki Kawiti and his followers together attacked the town.

British forces were outnumbered. The sloop-of-war HMS Hazard landed a party to aid the 96th Regiment of British Army infantry under Lieutenant Colonel William Hulme. In all there were about 140 soldiers, sailors and marines. The American sloop USS St. Louis, under Commodore Foxhall A. Parker, was also present and her crew assisted in evacuating the British subjects.[7]

Heavy skirmishing lasted for a while until a large explosion destroyed all of the defender's reserve ammunition. The explosion also set a building on fire which spread. After that the British had no choice but to retreat to the harbour, taking with them the civilian population. HMS Hazard then bombarded the advancing Māori forces.

Eleven British defenders were killed and at least eight others were wounded in the attack. Six men from the Hazard who died in the action are remembered by a marker in Russell; the town was mostly destroyed during the fighting.[7]

A memorial in Russell for the men of HMS Hazard who died in the battle

Memorial[edit]

The last two verses of the poem England's Dead by Felicia Hemans was inscribed on the marker in memory of the six men from the Hazard who died in the action:[1][8]

England's Dead

The Warlike of the Isles
The Men of Field & Wave
Are not the rocks their funeral piles
The Seas & Shore their grave?

Go Stranger, track the Deep,
Free, free the white sails spread,
Wave may not foam, nor wild wind beat,

Where rest not Englands dead.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b King, Marie (1992). A Most Noble Anchorage: A Story of Russell and the Bay of Islands. Northland Historical Publications Society. 
  2. ^ "Battle of Kororareka". Russell Museum. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Kawiti, Tawai (October 1956). "Hekes War in the North". No. 16 Ao Hou, Te / The New World, National Library of New Zealand. p. 46. Retrieved 10 Oct 2012. 
  4. ^ "...Te Haratua, Heke's second in command, led his men to cut down the flagstaff...", Te Ara
  5. ^ Carleton, Hugh (1874). "Vol. II". The Life of Henry Williams. Early New Zealand Books (ENZB), University of Auckland Library. 
  6. ^ New Zealand Electronic Text Centre THE NEW ZEALAND WARS: A HISTORY OF THE MAORI CAMPAIGNS AND THE PIONEERING PERIOD: VOLUME I (1845–64). Chapter 4: The fall of Korarareka.
  7. ^ a b Colledge, J. J.; Ben Warlow (2006). Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy. London, England: Chatham University. p. 159. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475. 
  8. ^ Morris, Edward Ellis (1890). Cassell's picturesque Australasia, Volume 4. Cassell & Company. p. 125.