Nox 17th. 1868.
Pardon the liberty I now take in writing a line to you, even at this trying juncture, especially as I know how full your mind must be of sorrow for the recent fearful massacre, and also in planning prompt measures to prevent a recurrence of such barbarous atrocities.
The object of this note is to humbly call your attention as to the defenceless state of the Ruataniwha Plains. I refrain from writing in the paper, as there are enough alarmists already. I am not one. All eyes are now turned Northwards, where the enemy is supposed to be. A great portion of our efficient strength is now, I believe, at the North, or rather I should say, the East.
The Southern portion of the Ruataniwha is open to any raid, either from the South (Wairarapa), or West, (Manawatu, Wanganui, etc.,)
The 70 Mile Bush would form a base, and its large extent would enable rebels to make a stand, or cover their retreat.
I see there is a quiet feeling of insecurity among the settlers, all anxious to get their wool to Port.
I am convinced that 20 armed Hau Haus, or more, of any faith, or even a less number, could, if they chose, murder nearly all the settlers on the Ruataniwha between the Waipawa River and 70 Mile Bush; and what is still worse, make good their retreat quite unopposed. I am certain that even should settlers have any short warning, a general panic would be the result; and everyone would be on the road to Waipawa, not letting the grass grow under his horse's feet. I have little fear of the ex-prisoners visiting the locality I mention, but the road is short and good to Wanganui, quite open to any murdering raiders. The bush track runs also to the Wairarapa.
They are a cunning lot of wretches. Who knows but while Te Kooti is menacing the North and East, Tito Kowharu, acting in concert with him, may detach a small and willing party, and send them on a burning and murdering raid into this district.
An entrenched camp, occupied by say 50 of our Country Militia, of the first class men drafted from the various Companies, fully armed, well Officered, and well supplied with ammunition, and kept at daily
training, with, if possible, a horse for each man, in case of any needful quick movement. The men should be well paid, and kept out for 2, 3 or 4 months, as required, relieved by others at intervals. Such a force would close two roads to the enemy, to the West and South. Maoris will seldom venture where there is a chance of their retreat being cut off. I think, with such a force, the security of the Ruataniwha would be complete; also that of Waipawa and Waipukurau. The good it would do the Militia Companies alone would, in a measure, repay the slight cost; as we know that in an actual engagement with the enemy, the efficiency of many of them would be very limp.
There is no disguising the fact, that at present the Ruataniwha is quite open by two roads, to a safe attack. This is purely from my own brain. I have not heard a rumour of any fear from the Westward. My ideas perhaps are all wrong. If so, I alone am responsible for them, Having just mentioned them to you, you can just put this in the fire if it is worth nothing, and no harm is done. You, I know, are all-powerful in Maori matters, and as this is sent in a sense of duty, as at present I see many fellow settlers liable to be murdered by raiders at any moment. God forbid it, and help us all
to prevent it. As far as my personal safety is concerned, I think but little; as I am living miles away at the back of Ruataniwha; but I have relatives on the Plains, - women and children.
Once again asking pardon for thus troubling you,
Albert M. Newman,
Private, No. 5 Company, Hampden Militia.