The Puketutu Bugle
Thursday, October 3rd, 2019
Brass bugle, made in Paris, dated 1839 found near the site of the British Army Camp that was involved in the Battle of Puketutu on 8 May 1845.
The bugle was found on a farm just outside of Okaihau, Northland. As an aside, the man who found the Bugle was Arthur MacKereth (1892-1986) who served as a Company Sergeant Major with the Maori Pioneer Battalion in World War I.
The British Forces involved in the Battle of Puketutu consisted of 200 men from the British 58th, 96th and 99th Regiments as well as several marines and were led by Lieutenant Colonel William Hulme and his second in command Major Cyprian Bridge.
The Battle of Puketutu was the first time British troops had fought inland from the Bay of Islands. Due to local skirmishes in the area, Puketutu Pa was not fully completed at the time of the battle, whilst most of the pa was fortified with double or triple layer palisades around it, the rear was incomplete and vulnerable. As a way of countering this weakness, Te Ruki Kawiti and 140 of his men decided to wait in ambush in the bushes outside the pa so that when Colonel Hulme and his men attacked, they could take them by surprise. This proved effective and combined with the subsequent attack of Hone Heke and his men from the pa, resulted in Hulme calling off the attack. As he had no artillery, Hulme may have thought a frontal assault on the Pa was unwise following this fierce fighting. As the pa had no long term strategic value for Heke, he abandoned it following the battle and allowed Hulme and his men to occupy it.
This battle would prove important in the history of the New Zealand Wars as this was the first time Māori had engaged the British on the open ground and after witnessing their skill at this approach, Kawiti would change the approach as to how they would attack the British in future conflicts (most notably at Okaihau the following month).
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