Sidetracked.

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Sidetracked.

Post by Paddy on Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:15 am

I was going to review a book I figured I'd be done with in half a day, but I'm stuck and I'm not yet up to page 80.

The book is called "The Fox Boy - The Story Of An Abducted Child" by Peter Walker, published 2001 by Griffin Press, ISBN 0 7475 5646 4.

It relates the true story of the 1869 abduction from a 'battlefield' on which children were slaughtered by colonial forces, of a Maori boy no older than six. He was baptised in the field and named after his 'protector Edward Fox, Prime Minister of NZ who had the tama (boy) sent to and educated in England where he was trained to become a lawyer and 'English Gentleman'.

But, I'm stuck and I'm not quite up to page 80, yet. Instead of just reading and putting the book down, I've been thinking and researching and writing. This is what I have written and learnt.

Kohuru Tamariki

The abandoned farmyard geese and pigs danced a frenzied jig
in avoidance of the iron shod hooves as the Volunteer heroes of
The Kai Iwi Yeomanry Cavalry charged in as trained for the kill.

Thirsty broad sabers hacking, slashing, making a point
whilst carbines barked pistols coughed leaden death and
war-trained horses run down the scattering cowardly foe.

A bare 10 minutes passed before those gallant mounted Yeomen
sat astride their heaving restless destriers and watched as
the last of their hated Enemy bled out inert on disputed frontier dirt.

Did their officer stand in his stirrup irons salute and say?
‘A job well done Chaps, a great moment to savor when lead and sword and
resolve won us the day. I give you, Gentlemen, Us. They’ll see None Better.’

Did he think, as he sat and considered their prey; did he even really see
that those brave Yeomen and he had slaughtered mere children that day?
For there were no warrior bodies. Just tamariki. Aged six to ten. Some now dead.

Summed up in a Bar in pioneer Wanganui town it was said by
a Trooper, a killer, of those tamariki so recently dead
‘Do you know how difficult it is for a horseman to saber a child hiding in a hedge?’

© Pat Quinn
Marton
18 June 2009
All Rights Reserved.

Notes:

The military ‘action’ referred to in this poem, happened. In November 1868, not too far from where I now live.

The Kai Iwi Yeomanry Cavalry was a volunteer Militia unit raised in and around Wanganui. It apparently considered itself something on an elite unit – its members provided their own horses etc and elected its Officer Commanding, from within its own ranks.

The ‘cavalry action’ referred to in this poem is reported in The Waitangi Tribunals’ ‘The Taranaki Report - Kaupapa Tuatahi’ which is at http://www.waitangitribunal.govt.nz/reports/viewchapter.asp?reportID=3FECC540-D049-4DE6-A7F0-C26BCCDAB345&chapter=7

A photograph of Lt. John Bryce, Officer Commanding the Kai Iwi Yeomanry Cavalry Volunteers, resplendent in Uniform and sword, is in the National Library http://discover.natlib.govt.nz/logicrouter/servlet/LogicRouter?PAGE=object&OUTPUTXSL=object.xsl&pm_RC=REPO03DB&pm_OI=1477&pm_GT=Y&pm_IAC=Y&api_1=GET_OBJECT_XML

The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/DNZB/alt_essayBody.asp?essayID=2B44 lists John Bryce (1833 – 1913 – farmer, soldier, politician) and attributes to him a quote him as saying that of his time serving as OC Kai Iwi Yeomanry Cavalry Volunteers he was “…more proud, he said later, of that position than any other he ever held.”

Please, don’t let him and his subordinate militia friends be forgotten. We need to remember folk such as them. For they came from and amongst and helped shape us.

The tamariki around whom Lt Bryce and his volunteer mounted troopers sat and watched as he bled to death by their hands was six years old.

Of the dozen or so children who faced the cavalry charge near what was known as William Handley's woolshed on the Nukumaru flats, at least one other child was known to have been slain outright and four or five, badly wounded. I don’t know their fate. Not good, I suspect.

The survivors “fled”. I know not, their fate either. But little wonder they might have felt an urge to run, eh?

Poor wee souls. Don’t let any of them be forgotten. Please?

I like to think of them in the moments before the cavalry set upon them.

Laughing, running, squealing with joy, small hands maybe clutching a few apples from the abandoned homestead orchard, and the harried piglets squealing and zigzagging and the geese hissing and honking with wings raised high.

Just, tamariki, doing what tamariki do. And then …

That inoffensive, piglet and goose-chasing six year old tama died wearing and possessing nothing more offensive than a rough calico shirt. He has a name.

Herewini.

He lived and his life was stolen. Let him live again. Ake Ake Ake.
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Re: Sidetracked.

Post by Guest on Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:52 am

How's the reading going mr?

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