Sketch of battle of Waireka

Sketch of battle of Waireka

'Storming the Waireka Pah', Taranaki.

An artist's impression of the 'bluejackets' from HMS Niger assaulting Kaipopo pā. William Odgers became the first person to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the New Zealand Wars for his actions that day. His commander, Captain Peter Cracroft, wrote in his dispatches that with daylight running out he decided that decisive action was required. His men stormed the pā ‘under heavy fire’ and once inside ‘destroyed everything living in the trenches, as far as could be ascertained’. Claims of Māori fatalities ranging from 70 to 150 were disputed by historian James Belich, who suggested the pā was virtually empty at the time of the assault. Nigel Prickett estimated that between 17 and 40 Māori died.

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