Mauku NZ Wars memorial

Mauku Historical Cemetery is located 4 km north of the rural South Auckland settlement of Mauku and 10 km north-west of Pukekohe. The cemetery – also known as Lower Mauku Cemetery – stands on Glenbrook Road, 1 km south-west of its junction with Kingseat Road.

This memorial was erected by the government in 1927. It records the names of colonial militia and civilians who died between 1858 and 1884 and are thought to be buried in Mauku Historical Cemetery. Although two of the men recorded here were  killed in action during the Waikato War, this is not specifically a New Zealand Wars memorial. This situation reflects the history of the cemetery itself.

Major James Speedy, formerly of the 3rd (Buffs) Regiment, bought 750 acres (304 ha) of land at Mauku in early 1856. The property, earlier known as Te Wanakaha, was divided by the Mauku stream. On the western half, ‘a picturesque slope of open land crowned by a large patch of puriri bush’, Speedy built a seven-roomed house that he named ‘The Grange’.

Speedy’s son, Gore Essex Holcombe Speedy, was born at The Grange on 16 November 1856. The infant, known as Essex, died on 13 July 1858, possibly as a result of eating tu-tu berries or ‘some poisonous flower’. Essex was buried ‘on the [eastern] banks of the Mauku stream, just where it falls into the salt-water’.

Other settlers and troops were subsequently interred here until around 1864, when the burial ground at a local church – probably St Bride’s at Mauku – came into use. They include Privates James Dromgool and William Worthington of the Mauku Volunteer Militia, who were killed in separate incidents in late 1863.

According to the memorial, Private James Dromgool was ‘killed by natives’ in September 1863. However, a despatch from Governor Sir George Grey to the Duke of Newcastle on 21 November states that Dromgool was ‘murdered by the Natives near the Mauku Stockade’ on 3 November.

Private William Worthington died in the battle of Tītī Hill in Mauku on 23 October 1863. Early that morning, the garrison at St Bride’s Church heard heavy firing. A scouting party soon discovered Māori shooting cattle on Wheeler’s Farm, 2 km to the south, between Tītī Hill and the Bald Hills.

Lieutenant D.H. Lusk instructed Lieutenant Percival, based at Mauku’s lower stockade, to join him at the church with half his force. Instead of following orders, Percival set out for Tītī Hill with 12 men. The small party was soon overwhelmed. As the fight became visible from the church, 50 of Lusk’s Forest Rifles dashed up Tītī Hill to aid their comrades.

The militia faced about 150 Māori in a narrow strip of felled but uncleared bush. During a ‘desperate close-quarters battle’ that lasted for 10 to 15 minutes, some of the Māori charged with ‘long-handled tomahawks’.

Lusk and his men eventually retired to the church stockade. Two officers and up to seven men had been killed. One of them was Worthington, who was ‘tomahawked’ while reloading his rifle. He was interred at Mauku on 25 October, ‘in a quiet, retired little nook of ground, on the estate of Major Speedy:

Poor lad! he was just entering on manhood, and was a most amiable and promising young man. There was a large concourse assembled to witness his burial…

Six of the eight names recorded on this memorial are civilians. Major Speedy, the owner of the property on which the cemetery stood and Resident Magistrate and Coroner for Waiuku and Mauku, died at The Grange on 6 February 1868 aged 56. He was buried next to his infant son Essex.

Mary Jane Ievers Worthington died at Drury on 6 July 1870, aged 51. She was buried at Mauku three days later. Her husband, Richard Benson Worthington, a solicitor formerly of Dublin, Ireland, died at his home near Taupiri on 6 December 1884, aged 80.

Detailing the death of Private William Worthington at Mauku in October 1863, the Daily Southern Cross reported that he was the son of a Drury resident who was clerk to the Resident Magistrate’s Court. In the circumstances, it is almost certain that Mary and Richard Worthington were William’s parents.

Nothing is currently known about a ‘Bassett’ who drowned near Mauku in 1858, or about ‘Frances Wilson’, who died in 1870, aged 48.

Additional images

Memorial detail detail image detail image


Maori War / and Pioneers Cemetery/ In memory of/ Pte Wm. Worthington / Mauku Forest Rifles/ Killed in Action Titi Hill 23-10-1863/ Pte Jas. Dromgool / Mauku Forest Rifles / Killed by natives Sept 1863 / Major Jas. Speedy/ Late 3rd Regt (Buffs) Resident Magistrate/ Died 7-2-1868 / Also / Richard Benson Worthington 1805–1884 / Mary Jane Worthington 1819–1870 / Frances Wilson 1822–1870 / Bassett, drowned near here 1858 / Gore E.H. Speedy 1½ years, died 1858 / Erected by N.Z. Govt. 1927.

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1 comment has been posted about Mauku NZ Wars memorial

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Eve Kinane

Posted: 09 Jun 2014

I spotted this memorial on a day out yesterday and was very interested to see what it was. We doubled back and it was fascinating to see the local history recorded in this memorial. Please note the monument has been defaced and the writing has been covered in grey paint; I hope this can be removed.