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The Scandinavians in New Zealand


The first Scandinavians came from Denmark in the mid-1860s after the war between Denmark and Germany over the Schleswig-Holstein border lands. Bishop Monrad the ex-premier of Denmark and the protagonist of the recent Danish/BBC miniseries, 1864, fled to New Zealand and settled in Palmerston with his family and others from Schleswig. When the town had a brief scare during the war with Titokowera the Bishop returned to Denmark after first burying his plate in the garden. His son Viggo, who makes a brief appearance in Chapter Five, remained behind.


The next wave of Scandinavians (mostly Danes) arrived in the early 1870s. Sir Julius Vogel, Prime Minister of New Zealand, brought Scandinavians to New Zealand because New Zealand was covered in rain forest and the Scandies were famed for their skill as axe-men. Poor farmers were offered assisted passage and land in return for clearing the bush or working on road or railway track construction. The Scandinavians arrived expecting farmland where a few trees needing removing and were shocked with what they found. Many turned to sawmilling as a way to survive, including my own great grandfather. “Little Claus,” born the week his uncle Paul vanished, was my grandfather.


Maoris at the time called the Scandinavians Yaya because of the way they spoke, and it is doubtful any New Zealander would know this now. The British settlers called the Scandinavians Scandies and were quite dismissive of them; articles from the time made negative comments about their accents. Frank moves from Yaya to Scandies to Scandinavians as he gets to know Mette. In general, the Scandinavians, especially the Danes, are not a group of immigrants many modern New Zealanders would know much about. Various Scandinavian Clubs do celebrate their shared past and have online presences.


The 57th Regiment of Foot: The Die Hards


The history of this British Regiment is explained well in the 1866 article below. The Die Hard name came from an incident in the Battle of Albuera when the colonel of the regiment lay dying, and called to his men, “Die hard, the 57th, Die Hard.” The term has become separated from its origins over the years and is now mostly associated with the Bruce Willis movies. The regiment spent almost a decade in New Zealand during the Land Wars of the 1860s. Note that the Land Wars were, at the time, called the Maori Wars and have now been renamed the New Zealand Wars. I have chosen to use the term Land Wars as it is more descriptive and was used at the time as well as currently.



The head-quarters of this fine old regiment having left us, we are now at liberty to say a word regarding the only regiment in the service that can lay claim to having been, during their long and active period of service, amphibious, pedestrian, equestrian, and pedestrian again. In the 17th century the regiment was raised and served as marines, and in that amphibious capacity performed good service to their country. They were subsequently transferred to 'the line, forming the 57th Regular Regiment. During the Peninsula war, at the battle of Albuera, whilst commanded by the late Sir William Inglis, they obtained the soubriquet of "Die-hards." They carry on their colours the following distinction: "Albuera," “Vittoria," "Pyrenees," "Nivelle;" "Nive," "Peninsula," "Inkerman,"' and Sebastopol.

After their return from the Crimea, reduced to the mere skeleton of a regiment by hard fighting and hard service, they had hardly been recruited and put once more in fighting order when news reached England of the Indian mutiny. The “Die-hards" were immediately ordered to embark for India by the overland route, and on their arrival in Egypt were mounted to cross the desert, and thus for the nonce became a horse-regiment.

On the suppression of the Indian mutiny the regiment was ordered from India to New Zealand, and they arrived here at the commencement «f the war in 1860. Had Colonel Warre, C.B., of that regiment, wielded the power unfortunately placed in the hands of General Cameron, he would have made short and hard work of it, and saved to this colony and the mother country many precious lives, and a large and worse than useless expenditure of public money. Whether under General Cameron, General Chute, or their own commanders, the old "Die Hards," whenever they had an opportunity, showed what British soldiers could do amongst the Maori race if fairly let loose on them.

During General Chute's short campaign, the "Die-hards," with the 2nd Battalion 14th Regiment and 18th Royal Irish, proved that they could send out a few men from each regiment who, with a few of our colonial forces, could sweep every pa from north to south of this island, caring but little how many Maoris defended it. Well may the British soldier be proud, as he always is, of being led by a brave commander. There are yet about 180 men of the 57th amongst us awaiting a steamer to convey them to join their headquarters in Auckland. We believe the regiment will leave for England in July or August next and whenever they do, the old “Die-hards" will carry with them the best thanks and wishes of the people of New Zealand.

                                                                                                  Wanganui Times, April 27, 1866.


The Hauhau


The Hauhau (pronounced how how), also called Pai Marire, was a Christian-based religious movement that arose in provincial Taranaki in the 1860s during the Land Wars (including the two Taranaki wars between 1861-1867) and gave rise to a warrior-prophet named Titokowera. The term Hauhau was used rather loosely by New Zealanders at the time, and that has changed. Now the term Pai Marire is commonly used and is understood as referring to a peaceful group; they did indeed become peaceful in the 1870s and practiced passive resistance. However, at that time the name Hauhau still brought fear to the hearts of the settlers.


In 1868 a Hauhau/Pai Marire follower named Te Kooti massacred fifty-six settlers in Poverty Bay and he is now seen in New Zealand as having had a good reason to do so. The government officially pardoned him in 1883, during his own lifetime, after spending several years pursuing him in a mountainous region called the Urewas.

New Zealand had fortified frontiers well into the 1870s, but by the early eighties the Maori people had embraced pacifism. The final indignity for the Maori people came in 1881 when the Armed Constabulary attacked and leveled a peaceful village in Parihaka, Taranaki. My intention is to write three books with the same characters, concluding with the attack at Parihaka.



British and Other Troops in New Zealand


Several British regiments spent time in New Zealand. A regiment was sometimes called Her Majesty’s Imperial Regiment etc. However, it may be better not to use this term; they were just British regiments. Colonial Troops were also formed, as well as the Armed Constabulary who were a national police force similar to the RCMP (Mounties) in Canada. British soldiers who stayed in New Zealand when the army left often joined these bodies. Settlers usually joined a local volunteer group.

Many Maoris fought with the Colonial or British troops and these were called Kupapa, meaning that they were loyal to the Crown. Frequently Maoris would end up fighting beside Colonial troops against other Maoris and the Kupapa troops were given a red cap to distinguish them from the non-loyal Maoris. I did not make use of this fact as Army Intelligence in the British Army were also distinguished by a red cap. Loyalty was associated with keeping land and often came with a threat attached.

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