Something blue, something new…

Hooray! Another batch of miniatures finished.

I have added a few figures to the Auckland Volunteer Militia. May favourites are figures of the working party. Most of the  volunteers of the militia were former citizens of Kororareka (today’s Russell), the site where Maori chief Hone Heke had cut down  the British flagstaff  four times. When the British  finally abandoned the settlement they evacuated its citizens to Auckland.

Alarmed by Hone Heke’s rebellion and the small number of regular troops available the Militia Ordinance  was passed on March 25th 1845. Auckland, Wellington and Nelson each raised a militia. It was basically a home force from which the governor could draw units for military service within 25 miles of the local police office.  The male citizens of Kororareka joined the Auckland militia and even volunteered to serve outside the 25 mile zone. They usually served as artillery crews or pioneers.

Pioneers of the Auckland Volunteer Militia

The next unit is a rocket tube team. A battery of two Congreve rocket tubes, served by sailors and  commanded by Lieutenant Egerton from the H.MS. North Star, saw action in the First New Zealand War. They were first used in the operation at Puketutu Pa but proved pretty useless. Adding to the “embarrassment” was the fact that rumours had been spread among Maori that the rockets could hunt down  their enemies.  It was more an entertaining spectacle rather than a deadly wonder weapon.  In the actions against Ruapekapeka Pa they were used again. Despite technical problems with the rockets that frequently caused the shots to fall short it was used with some effect against the houses inside  the pa.

Sailors from the H.M.S. North Star serving a Congreve rocket tube

And last but not least … a few new Maori.

Maori taua

The strange looking hand weapon is a tewhatewha (Google search). Even though the weapon head looks like an axe blade it is not used that way . It is an extra weight that adds some additional impact to the striking and of this fighting staff. It was popular with leaders who also used the weapon as a visual signalling device for directing their warriors.

Chieftain with two warriors

The next picture shows another chieftain dressed in a cloak brimmed with kiwi feathers and holding a taiaha (Google search). It looks like a spear but, again, is a fighting staff with a broadened slashing edge on one end and a thrusting tip on the other hand which looks like a spearhead. Spiritually the weapon is the representation of an ancestor. The blade represents the body and the carved head with the protruding tongue (the spear tip) the head of the ancestor. A taiaha is never placed with its head on the ground which would be a sign of disrespect towards the ancestor.

Chieftain and warriors with double-barreled shotguns

The warriors are armed with double-barreled shotguns. This was a popular and prized weapon among Maori who called it tupara (derived from “two barrels”). As you can see one of the warriors uses his shotgun like a club/staff similar to the traditional weapons.  Unlike the Europeans Maori did not require a bayonet to turn a gun into a dangerous melee weapon.

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New Redcoats

Painted some British from  second release.

Somewhere south side of Bombay… “What’s the time, Mr. Wolfe?”

Firing line of the 99th with sergeant and officer

The two ensigns below are from the Perry’s First Carlist War range. Actually flag bearers are quite useless for the New Zealand Wars since there were no open field battles where the British deployed in line formation. Anyway, it’s some nice eye candy.
The flags are self-made: the regimental colours of the 58th are based on a picture showing the flag with battle honours earned until 1841. The queen’s colors are custom-made with laurels and number plate extracted from the regimental colours. I have omitted the battle honours here ( I was simply too lazy…)


Show of Colours

The second release from Empress also includes two soldiers firing and loading in prone position. They are a bit outside the norm and  not popular with all gamers but surely more exciting than marching poses in my opinion.  I think that they can be used in a variety of ways: skirmisher screens in battalion-level games (not NZW though), skirmishers in general,  sharpshooters, or as markers for a unit if you use a rule set that features a pinned/suppressed condition.

Group photo skirmishing light flank company featuring the prone poses

And the icing on the cake of today’s post: the sergeant major of the 58th. This figure is a wonderful conversion built by a friend. I think it captures the idea of a grizzled  veteran quite well.

The grizzled veteran.

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From Russia with Love …

Some Russian Jaeger from the early Napoleonic Wars. I have painted this small squad for an emerging local gaming group. The figures are intended for use with small skirmish systems like Song of Drum & Shako or Smooth & Rifled. Most likely I will never paint a whole army since I do not have the nerves for painting the glamour and glitter of Napoleonic uniforms ;-).

More Kiwiana next time. Promised!

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It seems that my motivation to photograph went into a state of hibernation last autumn. Fortunately my motivation to paint did not! Yesterday I took the time to make photos of all the stuff I have painted since summer.

An Overview of the British and a few Buildings in the background.

Grenadiers of the 65th (2nd Yorkshire/North Riding).
The regiment arrived too late to play a role in the Northern War but was active in the Wellington and Whanganui campaigns in 1846-47. The 65th distinguished itself in the Taranaki and Waikato campaigns in the 1860s and finally left in 1865. No British regiment served longer in New Zealand. The Māori called them hikete piwhete (“sixty-five”) which turned into the regimental nick name “Hickety Pips”.
If you want to learn more about the Hickety Pips, you can visit Bruce Cairns’ web site>

58th (Rutlandshire)
Nicknamed the “Black Cuffs” the 58th is the regiment most closely associated with the First New Zealand War. They fought in all three campaigns in the 1840s.

Light flank company

One of the main pictorial sources of the First New Zealand War are the paintings of Major Cyprian Bridges and Sergeant John Williams of the 58th. You can see some their paintings here

Field officer of the 58th (maybe Maj. Bridges on the lookout for a new motif …)

96th Regiment of Foot
The 96th had no county affiliation or title at the time of the New Zealand Wars. The old title “Queen’s Own Germans” was not reinstated until 1874. The name refers to the swiss prisoners of war that formed its predecessor, the Minorca Regiment, in 1798. The Regiment was disbanded in 1818 and re-raised in 1824. At the time of the New Zealand War it was rather inexperienced and poorly equipped. The soldiers still used the old “Brown Bess” flintlock musket while the 58th and 65th already used the 1838 pattern percussion musket.

Auckland Volunteer Militia
When the Māori under Hone Heke and Te Ruki Kawiti attacked Kororareka on May 11th , 1845 and cut the British flagstaff down for the fourth time, the British abandoned the settlement and evacuated the citizens to Auckland. A lot of the displaced men joined the Auckland militia and even volunteered to serve outside the 25 mile zone required for militia. These volunteers often served in special roles such as pioneers or artillery crew. They received their equipment from the 58th regiment apart from the red shell jackets and a different type of caps.

Overview of the Māori. Following a discussion on the Maori Wars Yahoo Group I have recoloured the palisade with a a wash of greyish colour. 

A chieftainess  amidst the warriors. The tattooed lips and chin – a moko kawae and the black feathers with white tips of the now extinct huia bird display her high social rank.

Hone Heke, the famous chieftain of the Ngapuhi tribe, with his trademark: the peaked cap of a merchant navy captain. His cloak is brimmed with kiwi feathers. He is accompanied by warrior who is blowingconch-shell trumpet called putatara. He wears a red wooden hair comb in front of  the hair knot.

A few more pictures of the warriors.

A warrior brandishing a whalebone club of the violin-shaped kotiate form. He is wearing a tartan blanket of acquired from european settlers.

I tried a checkerboard pattern on the piupiu kilt of this warrior as a variation from the common striped pattern. A  piupiu is made of scraped down flax fibres that were partly dyed and plaited together.

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A Modular Stockade

While I have been painting the next bunch of miniatures (which I can hopefully post in next entry). I have tried myself in terrain building. I have build a test model of a section of a Māori pā.  My primary source has been the book “Māori Fortifications” by Ian Knight (published by Osprey Publishing) My idea is to build a modular fortification than can be easily stored and transported. I do not plan a highly sophisticated like Ruapekapeka or Tauranga Ika with trenches and double palisades. My humble goal at the moment is just a main palisade.

Tutorial for a Modular Palisade

Materials for the base: cork tiles, smoothing compound, sand.

Materials for the fence: round wooden sticks for the main posts, wooden or bamboo skewers, black thread

Tools: drill, small rasps, saw, pencil sharpener, needle, scissors

A. The Base

  1. Take the cork tile and cut it into stripes of equal length but different width. Stack the stripes and glue them together so that they form a bar that is narrowing towards the top. I used four stripes, the bottom stripe being 30 mm wide and the top stripe being 18 mm wide.
  2. Drill holes for the main posts.
  3. Use the compound to fill out the steps of the bar in order to get smooth sides.
  4. Flock the base with glue and sand and finish it as usual.

B. The palisade

  1. Prepare the main posts. Use the rasp to carve the stylized heads. Rasp indents into the main posts so that the horizontal skewers for the rails can be glued more easily to the main posts.
  2. Glue the main posts into the holes that you have drilled into your base. Glue the horizontal skewers to the main posts.
  3. Saw the skewers in pieces of appropriate size. Remember that you need notably shorter sticks for the loop holes. The other sticks should vary slightly in length to give the palisade an irregular look. Use the pencil sharpener to sharpen the tips of the sticks.
  4. Glue the sharpened sticks on the horizontal bars but leave a little gap between the vertical sticks. These gaps  so that the needle and the thread can pass through later on. You will also need less sticks for the stockade as a nice side effect.
  5. Wait until the glue has hardened. Then “weave” the black thread with the needle into the palisade.
  6. Paint the palisade with generously thinned down brown ink but leave out the sharpened tips of the vertical sticks
  7. When the ink has dried paint the stylized figure heads of the main posts with red ochre. Do not thin down this time to avoid the colour being soaked into the wood and bleeding down the post.

Congratulations! You are finished!

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The first miniatures

On this fine sumer day I have finally found some time and the weather to take some photos of the miniatures I recently finished: British regulars of the 58th Rutlandshire and the first Māori warriors.

Regulars of the 58th Rutlandshire

Another view of the battalion company of the 58th

Officer and sergeant

Skirmishers of the light company

Skirmish between British regulars and Maori warriors

Maori warriors skirmishing

Maori skirmishers

Giles Allison has written a number of excellent blog entries about the New Zealand Wars including pictures of his superbly painted figures.

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As Confucius said …

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

Welcome to my brand new blog. It is still pretty much work in progress. I have not yet decided on a theme but you have to start somewhere.

This blog is about my miniature gaming hobby.  I am mainly interested in the historical genre.  My current project (and the one that got me  this blog) is the First New Zealand War (aka First Māori War). The centre piece of that project is the new range from Empress Miniatures which was sculpted by the incredibly talented Paul Hicks.

I sponsored the sculpting of that range. However, this does not mean that I am stinking rich. I have just figured out that it is more satisfying to invest into a project that I am 100% interested  in,  rather than investing into dozens of projects I am only 60-80% interested in. This approach also accommodates my mediocre  painting speed as a nice side effect.

Enough words for today. Here is a picture showing the painting results of my first figures of that fantastic range:

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