Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/235

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221
FOUR OF THE FAMILY.

he lost many of his finest warriors, and, as the conflict proceeded, his little army gradually melted away, whilst the ranks of his enemies received regular accessions. Still he continued to prosecute with success his favourite Napoleonic plan of swift and sudden attack; but eventually his losses in the field reduced his devoted followers to little more than the strength of a body-guard. With this trusty few, he commenced his retreat to the Waikato, the military and a large body of friendly natives following with all possible rapidity, in the hope and almost certainty of effecting the capture of the redoubtable Maori leader, for whose body, dead or alive, the Government had offered a reward of £5,000. At this critical stage of his career, Te Kooti seemed to possess a charmed life. There were times when his camp was completely surrounded by his enemies, when he himself was recognised sitting in front of his tent, and yet, when the volley was fired, and soldiers rushed from every side, and the camp was taken by assault, Te Kooti was never amongst the slain or captured. He had escaped, no one knew how or whither. Several of the minor rebel chiefs were caught and executed, but the arch-rebel himself—the perpetrator of the Poverty Bay massacre—was never taken. Hunted over mountain and glen, with the bloodhounds ever at his heels, this extraordinary savage, after enduring every privation and escaping every peril, succeeded at length in reaching the iron fastnesses of the Waikato, where he has ever since remained, secure under the protection of the Maori King.

This latter remark demands a little explanation. New Zealand is classed as a British colony, but there is a portion of it over which neither the Queen of Great Britain nor her representative, the local governor, can be said to exercise