Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/233

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219
FOUR OF THE FAMILY.

which the Maories had been so illegally and unjustifiably transported. Naturally they chose the latter, and worked the vessel in safety to Poverty Bay. Te Kooti landed, and immediately commenced his terrible career of fanatical butchery and indiscriminate slaughter. Having defeated the colonial forces that were sent against him, his ranks were joined by other Maori tribes hostile to the British. Thus recruited, Te Kooti, one night in November, 1868, descended like an avalanche of fire on the unfortunate settlers in the district of Poverty Bay. So well was the murderous secret kept, that not the slightest precautions had been taken to guard against a Maori surprise. With the stealthy step of the tiger, Te Kooti and his bloodthirsty band surrounded house after house, shooting down the men without an instant's warning, and despatching the women and children with bayonets and tomahawks. Whole families, refusing to come out when called upon by Te Kooti, perished miserably in the flames of their burning houses. And not only the white settlers, but a number of friendly natives, who had accepted the inevitable, and had settled down to live, as they hoped, in peace with the conquerors, were surprised and slaughtered without mercy. Indeed, throughout his campaign, Te Kooti evinced an undying hatred towards those tribes of his countrymen that had become friendly to the British, and he never spared any of them when taken prisoners. The morning after the Poverty Bay massacres dawned on a desolated country. Where on the previous day there had been smiling homesteads and fertile farms, the pleasant surroundings of rustic toil and the cheerful prattle of innocent children, blackened ruins and mutilated corpses now told their silent tale of savage frenzy and ruthless