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Hutt Valley Campaign
Part of New Zealand wars
Date 1846
Location Hutt Valley, New Zealand
Result British victory
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
European settlers
Māori allies
Māori tribes

The Hutt Valley Campaign was a campaign that occurred in 1846 as part of the general conflict known as the New Zealand Wars. The campaign bore many similarities to the earlier Wairau Affray, the causes were similar and the protagonists almost the same, namely, the disputed purchase of titles to land by the New Zealand Company from the Māori people, and the desire of the settlers to move on to land.

Land ownershipEdit

Māori disputed among themselves as to who owned the land: at the time the word "ownership" had a multitude of meanings to Maori that European settlers found alien. Originally three small tribes (or hapu) had occupied the area: Rangitane, Ngāti Apa, and Muaūpoko. During the Musket Wars the warlike Te Rauparaha of Ngati Toa had conquered them in the 1820s and forced the survivors to flee. Dispossessed of their land, Rangitane did not mind selling it to the Pākehā. Te Rauparaha, who saw himself as the owner by right of conquest, objected strongly. Meanwhile the New Zealand Company did not question the vendors' right to sell the land and probably had no idea of the previous ownership of the land.

Hutt Valley Edit

Tension had been high around Wellington since 1842, particularly concerning the fertile bottom land of the Hutt Valley. The occupants, Ngati Rangatahi, were determined to retain possession. They assembled a force of about 200 warriors led by Te Rangihaeata, the cousin of Te Rauparaha and the person who had killed the unarmed captives in the Wairau Affray. The British began moving men into the area and by February had assembled nearly a thousand men together with some Māori allies from the Te Ati awa hapu.

The Hutt Valley settlers wisely decided early in 1845 to build a stockaded fort. This was constructed on the east bank of the Hutt River, just below the present Ewen Bridge. Fort Richmond was a square work 95 across, with flanking bastions at two diagonally opposite angles, commanding the bridge and the river on both sides. The stockade was loopholed on each side. The stockade was completed in April 1845, and the militia company of the Hutt occupied it until a detachment of the 58th Regiment, arrived on 24 April.

By early 1846, the British had assembled nearly 800 troops in Wellington but only 300 of these were considered fit for fighting a mobile enemy with local knowledge. In January 1846 15 chiefs of the area,including Te Rauparaha, sent a combined letter to the newly arrived Governor Grey, pledging their loyalty to the crown. At this time Maori were just coming to appreciate what a professional British soldier was and this had a bearing on their attitude and actions. Te Rauparaha then sent his own letter to Grey acknowledging the natives had been at fault. Grey paid Ngati Rangitahi, who had been on the disputed land, to leave. This was compensation for the potato crop they had left behind. He also gave them 300 acres at Kaiwharawhara. Chief Taringakuri agreed to these terms. But when the settlers tried to move onto the land they were frightened off.[1]

The British and their Te Ati Awa allies moved to Makaenuku on 27 February and burnt the Māori Pa at Maraenuku which had been built on land owned by the settlers in the Hutt Valley. The destruction of the village appears to have been rather hasty, for Kapara te Hau, the principal chief, had agreed to the terms, and promised to leave the following day.

Ngati Rangitahi retaliated on 1 and 3 March by raiding settlers’ farms, destroying furniture, smashing windows, killing pigs, and threatening the settlers with death if they gave the alarm. They murdered Andrew Gillespie and his son.[2] 13 families of settlers moved into Wellington for safety.

Governor Grey proclaimed martial law on 3 March. That same day a party of Maori fired on troops at Boulcott's Farm, two miles above Fort Richmond. Several volleys were fired into the camp. The fire was returned effectively, and the Maori were obliged to retreat.6 British soldiers were killed.[3] When the news of the fighting reached the Governor in Wellington, he ordered HMS Driver to take reinforcements to Petone.

On 2 April 1846, two settlers were murdered, possibly by men answering to Te Rangihaeata. A police party set out for Porirua, as the result of a message from Te Rauparaha, who gave a hint that the slayers might be found in his district. It was discovered that a stockaded and entrenched stronghold had been constructed at the head of the Pauatahanui inlet. The Governor decided that a military station at Porirua would keep communications open, and would also directly menace Rangihaeata and his insurgents, and strike at the rear of any force attacking the Hutt. A body of 250 men of the 58th and 99th Regiments, under Major Last, were embarked in the warships HMS Calliope,[4] HMS Driver and the barque Slains Castle; and landed at Porirua on 9 April. The force camped at present-day Plimmerton and eventually built a stone barracks there.

At the same time the Governor took measures for the construction of a good road from Wellington to Porirua by the military. An armed police force of fifty men was also organised, with small detachments stationed at outposts at the Hutt, Porirua, and Ohariu. At the end of April HMS Calliope was sent to Porirua, and began boat patrols of the shallow inner waters, which the warship could not enter.

Boulcott's FarmEdit

On 16 May there was a major attack on a defended position; Boulcott's Farm.

The most advanced post of the troops was at Boulcott's Farm, two miles above Fort Richmond, where 50 men of the 58th Regiment were stationed under Lieutenant Page. Some little distance higher up the valley, at the Taita, a further outpost was established by a small detachment of the Hutt Militia.

Half the force of soldiers at Boulcott's Farm were quartered in a large barn, around which a stockade of slabs and small logs had been erected and loopholed for musket-fire. The rest of the troops were accommodated in small slab outhouses near the barn and in tents. Lieutenant Page occupied Boulcott's farm.

In the week before the attack there had been some sign of further hostilities. A naval party had been fired upon at Pauatahanui. Te Puni's warning and offers of help were disregarded, and even Te Rauparaha had specifically warned of an attack at Heretaunga.

The attack on 16 May was by a party led by Te Karamu, of the Ngati Haua te Rangi, Upper Wanganui. The sentry at Boulcott’s Farm was alerted to movement nearby and fired on the attackers, but was overtaken and tomahawked. The Maori then fired on the nearby picket tent, killing four soldiers and their bugler.

The garrison of Boulcott's Farm fought back. Lieutenant Page and two men fought their way to the barn, firing at close quarters at their foes, who attempted to charge in upon them with the tomahawk. The party of men in the barn, three sections, each under a sergeant, fought their post well and successfully, taking turns in firing through the light stockade and in returning to the shelter of the building to reload.

Leaving a small party to hold the fort, Lieutenant Page came out into the open again and attacked. Extending the men in skirmishing order, with fixed bayonets, he advanced. At the height of the engagement a party of seven of the Hutt Militia came to the assistance of the hard-pressed troops, and fought side by side with the redcoats. Their arrival was the turning-point in the fight.

The Maori attackers retired after an engagement lasting about an hour and a half. Page estimated their numbers at about two hundred.

Bodies of troops marched out from Thorndon barracks and the Hutt stockade to reinforce the camp.

Five soldiers and one settler were killed and four were severely wounded. Two of the wounded, Sergeant Ingram and a civilian named Thomas Hoseman, an employee of Mr Boulcott, died some days later.

Maori losses were not accurately known, for all who fell were carried off, but two were seen shot dead, and ten or more were wounded, some of them severely.

Accounts of the fight at Boulcott's Farm, following James Cowan, have highlighted the story of brave young bugler William Allen, hacked down as he attempted to warn his fellow soldiers of the attack. One account even says that when Allen's arm was lopped off, he held the bugle between his knees to sound the alarm before he was killed. It seems these accounts may have been exaggerated - Allen was aged 21, was listed as a drummer rather than a bugler, and other accounts speak of the troops being alerted by a warning shot from the picket.

A memorial stone at the corner of High Street and Military Road in Lower Hutt lists the names of eight soldiers from the British 58th Regiment and 99th Regiment who were killed in action or died of wounds following the attack at Boulcott’s Farm. There is a stone in the cemetery ay St James's Church, Lower Hutt.

On June 16 an armed patrol nearby at Taita 2 miles from Boulcott's Farm was ambushed and four men wounded.[5]

On 6 August 1846, one of the last engagements was fought–the Battle of Battle Hill– after which Te Rangihaeata left the area.

End of resistanceEdit

Māori leaders retreat northwardsEdit

This was effectively the end of the Hutt Valley Campaign. Te Mamaku returned to the Wanganui region. Te Rangihaeata built himself a strong Pa near the Manawatu River from which he was able to block European penetration onto that area until he died in 1856.


Māori were beaten by superior numbers of British troops and their Te Ati Awa allies who fought with them from the beginning of the war. Settlers were in high spirits at the decisive action taken by Grey. His action was considerably helped by the fact that his parliamentary grant was twice that of Fitzroys.[6] With winter setting in they ran short of food and chose to no longer resist European settlement into some areas. There were several reasons for this. With their main stronghold in the Wanganui area, some distance north, they were operating with extended supply lines and were short of food and ammunition. This problem was considerably aggravated when a shrewd move by Grey recruited the Te Atiawa to his side and most importantly the capture of Te Rauparaha. After this Wellington and the Hutt Valley were never again threatened by unrest.

Capture of Te RauparahaEdit

However, the principal factor was probably the British decision to capture the paramount chief of the area, Te Rauparaha. He had been the other main protagonist in the Wairau Affray and was Te Rangihaeata's uncle. Hitherto he had been apparently inactive in the Hutt conflict and befriended settlers and the local administration. When the military intercepted secret letters from Te Rauaparaha to Te Rangihaeata,the government realised that he was playing a double game and in a surprise attack he was taken prisoner of war as the region was under martial law. The effect on Māori morale was great and left without their leader it seems to have been a strong factor in their decision to end the campaign.

Second Taranaki WarEdit

In 1860, with the outbreak of the Second Taranaki War, tensions in the area were running sufficiently high that a blockhouse was built in Upper Hutt.


  1. The Canoes of Kupe. R. McIntyre. Fraser books . Masterton. 2012. p51.
  2. The Canoes Of Kupe.p51
  3. The Canoes of Kupe. R . R.McIntyre. Fraser books. Masterton. 2012.p51
  4. "HMS Calliope NZ Wars memorial". NZ History Online. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  5. The Canoes of Kupe. p 51.
  6. The Canoes of Kupe. p 51-52

Further readingEdit

  • Barthorp, Michael (1979). To face the daring Māori. Hodder and Stoughton.
  • Belich, James (1988). The New Zealand wars. Penguin.
  • Belich, James (1996) Making peoples. Penguin Press.
  • Cowan, James (1922). The New Zealand Wars: The Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period.
  • Simpson, Tony (1979). Te Riri Pakeha. Hodder and Stoughton.
  • Sinclair, Keith (ed.) (1996). The Oxford illustrated history of New Zealand (2nd ed.) Wellington: Oxford University Press.
  • "The people of many peaks: The Māori biographies". (1990). From The dictionary of New Zealand biographies, Vol. 1, 1769-1869. Bridget Williams Books and Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand.
  • Moon Paul (2007) "The Newest Country on Earth". Penguin.ISBN 978 0 14 300670 1

External linksEdit

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