- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- History - general
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 1992 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The New Zealand Medal to the Victorian Naval Service 1860/61
There had been fighting between the Maoris, who had first settled in New Zealand c825, and the white settlers, but the first Australians to be involved as a group were men of the Victorian Naval Service as members of the Naval Brigade, crew of Her Majesty’s Victorian Ship Victoria.
In March 1860 Chief Wiremu Kingi led his men in an uprising, so Commodore (later Vice Admiral Sir William) Loring RN, the first Commodore of the Australian Station, serving June 1859 to December 1860, led his squadron to Wellington.
The squadron consisted of HMS Iris, a sixth rater of 906 tons and 26 guns, flying the Commodore’s flag; HMS Delorus, a screw corvette of 1,462 tons and 21 guns; HMS Elk, a brig sloop of 482 tons and 12 guns and HMS Cordella, a screw sloop of 579 tons and 11 guns. Three of these ships were laid up at Wellington and their men formed into a Naval Brigade for use in the Taranaki district, they included 32 Victorians.
HMVS Victoria, with the authority of the Victorian Government, embarked on 24 April 1860, 134 troops (2 Coy) of the 40th Regiment of Foot (2nd Somersetshire) at Hobart. These troops, some of whom had fought at the Eureka Stockade, Ballarat on 3 December 1854 and had been in Australia since 1852, were commanded by Major Nelson, they arrived at Nelson Bay on the 1st of May 1860. By June 1860 they had been reinforced by more 40th Regiment troops and on 27 June 1860, with the Naval Brigade, attacked Puketakanere (18km NE of New Plymouth) with three columns of 350 men. They were slaughtered with 30 dead and 34 wounded by pointblank fire and tomahawk attacks.
A shore party from the Victoria under the command of Lt George Woods in July 1860 was with the New Plymouth defences also leading the storming party at the capture of Matarikoriko PA.
The Victoria made many voyages between Australia and New Zealand and around the New Zealand coast to prohibit gun running. By the 13th of March 1861 she was at the mouth of the Waitara river near New Plymouth, landing 180 Australian horses from surf boats.
General Pratt, GOC Australasia, by now had 3,500 men in New Zealand and was able to resume hostilities on the 16th of March 1861. On 17 March 1861 the Maoris ran up a whit flag over TeArei and the Taranaki rising was over, 176 homesteads had been destroyed.
The Victoria re-embarked her shore parties and with Major Gen Sir Thomas Pratt she returned to Melbourne for a hero’s welcome and a refit.
Other ships involved were Colonial Steamer CORIO from 16 November 1863 and Colonial Paddle Steamer Tasmanian Maid of 82 tons and with two 12 pdr guns, she was renamed New Zealand Colonial gunboat Sandfly and served June 1863 to September 1865.