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The Action At Boulcott's Farm - 1st Maori War

By Chris Ferree

About 20 miles up the Hutt River Valley from Wellington was Boulcott's Farm. At the time of the First Maori War, the farm was on the frontier of European expansion into New Zealand. The farm Itself was located on the east bank of the Hutt river in a small glade. In addition the Boulcott's cottage, there was a large barn and a couple of small outbuildings.

Due to Maori activity in the valley, it was decided that the farm should be converted into a fortified outpost. This job fell to Lt. Page and the 48 men of his company of 58th foot. Upon their arrival, the men of the 58th went about making the farm defensible. The barn was converted into a barracks / storehouse with a stockade added. Lt. Page used the cottage as his headquarters. A few of the men were billeted in the outbuildings. Finally, a guard tent was erected by the river.

On the morning of May 16, 1846, most of the men were in their sleeping quarters. In the sentries tent, there were 3 men and the drummer. Outside the tent a lone sentry stood watch. As the sun began to shine down into the valley, the guard noticed something peculiar in the bushes on the far side of the river.

As the sentry moved in for a closer look, about 250 warriors from Te Rangihaeata's Pa came rushing forward. The guard took his shot and then was overrun trying to reload. Upon hearing the shot, the others in the tent began to stumble out, led by the drummer William Allen. Seeing that the enemy was nearly upon them, drummer Allen began to sound the alarm with his bugle. As the first notes rang out, the boy was attacked and the Maori tomahawk nearly took his right arm off. Undaunted, the brave lad retrieved the bugle with his left hand and again attempted to sound the alarm. This brought on a fresh assualt and the boy succumbed to the Maori axe.

The clamor at the guard tent was enough to get the attention of the men in the barn and they came spilling out in time to see the Maori's pepper the tent with gunfire. It was at this time the Lt. Page became aware of the attack.The Lieutenent and his two men attempted to move to the stockade, but were forced back into the cottage by oncoming Maoris. A womwn staying in one of the other buildings was able to dash to the stockade and did good service handing out cartridges to the men.

Inside the stockade, the men kept up a galling fire from the loopholes then retiring to the barn to reload in cover. While the men kept the Maoris occupied, Lt. Page was able to coordinate a rush from the outbuilding to the stockade. Now that the company was assembled in the stockade the Maori fell back to the woods.

For an hour and a half the 58th traded shots with the Maori. As the firefight continued, Page's ammunition supply dwindling rapidly. He knew that if he ran out of bullets before the Maoris retired he was done for. It was a do or die situation.

With one section laying down covering fire, Lt. Page and the 58th bursted out of the stockade with fixed bayonets. They quickly advanced on the Maori's positions in skirmish order. As the men of Page's company pressed their attack, the sound of thundering hooves came ringing up the valley. The Hutt Militia charged to the rescue. the Maori fell back across the river and after a few parting shots, melted away into the jungle. And for the moment peace was restored to the Hutt Valley.

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