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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