Published: Dec 9 2016
Colour-Sergeant John Barr and his son, Mathew, are members of the all-volunteer Whanganui Rifle Corps. When Māori converts to the new religion, Pai Marire or Hauhauism, attempt to drive the Pakeha into the sea, the Rifles are mobilised. John and Mathew go to war. During a hard fought campaign under General Cameron, Matt Barr and Black Bart Hanson, once bitter enemies, become close friends. When Matt and Bart are wounded, they are nursed back to health by Mathew’s mother, Jane, and his sister, Sarah. Sarah sets her cap for Bart, but her initial advances are rejected. At Pipiriki, Matt meets Alice Logan and romance blossoms. In these troubled times, however, the path to true love is beset with obstacles. The two friends survive the siege of Pipiriki and re-join the Rifles in time for a fresh campaign under General Chute. Finally, the brutal ‘bush-scouring tactics of General Chute’s army overwhelms the Hauhau and peace returns to the land. Together at last, Mathew and Alice, Bart and Sarah set forth on a picnic. When they encounter a band of desperate outlaws, the four young people must use all their skills to survive.