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The New Zealand Cross: The Rarest Bravery Award in the World

The New Zealand Cross: The Rarest Bravery Award in the World

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The New Zealand Cross: The Rarest Bravery Award in the World

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Mar 15, 2016


The New Zealand Cross
There has been no comprehensive history of the award published in one place. Dr. Kieran explores the development of the creation and inauguration of the award, a listing of all the recipients and an outline of the New Zealand Wars from 1860 to 1872. The Victoria Cross and other decorations were being awarded to Imperial troops but the settlers in the Volunteers and Militia were not being recognised for carrying out similar acts of bravery. The recognition of acts worthy of the NZC were anticipated to become well known; however, the awards spand a period to 1910 and thus the impact of the bravery leading to an award of the NZC was not achieved. Personalities like King Tawhiao, Sir George Bowen, Sir George Grey, Lt. General Cameron, Te Kooti, Titokowaru, and Major General Whitmore were involved in the conflict. A major issue leading to battles arose due to land confiscation by the settlers. The battles were mainly restricted to the North Island; Taranaki and Wanganui on the West Coast, Waikato in the Central area and on the East Coast at, Gisborne, Napier, Tauranga, and the Urewera.
Mar 15, 2016

Sobre el autor

Brian Kieran – Attended St. Anselm’s School 1951 to 1955 and St. George’s College, Weybridge, Surrey, 1955 to 1959. He obtained an LL.B. (Hons), King’s College 1963, postgraduate Diploma in Air and Space Law at University College, University of London; he is a Barrister of Gray’s Inn and Attorney at Law. He began his career as a lawyer with the Inland Revenue, 1959 to 1972; he held a number of positions; inter alia, advising on Conflict of Law issues, Personal Assistant to the Controller of the Estate Duty Office and then in the Office of the Solicitor of Inland Revenue taking civil cases and conducting criminal tax prosecutions in the Courts of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. From 1973 to 1975 he was Legal Advisor to the Minister of Finance, Government of Jamaica, under an Overseas Aid Scheme. Between 1975-1986, he was Legal Counsel on International Taxation to Morgan Grenfell & Co Limited and he set up and became Managing Director of Morgan Grenfell (Cayman) Ltd. He advised on, set up and ran Hong Kong Bank International Trustee Ltd as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in partnership with the Hong and Shanghai Banking Group from 1987 to 1993 in protecting their and clients assets from the takeover of Hong Kong by China in 1997; he moved the headquarter operations from Hong Kong to the Cayman Islands in 1990. The protection of assets was resolved when HSBC took over the British Midland Bank Limited in 1993. He established Kieran Associates Ltd in Hong Kong in 1994, with a branch office in Beijing and a Trust Company in Labuan, Malaysia. He retired in 1999 and has spent his time travelling the world carrying out research in Empire and Colonial Archives for his various books. He joined the Orders and Medals Research Society in 1968, was President of the Hong Kong Branch in the 1990’s and the early years of the twentyfirst century. He was awarded life membership of the Hong Kong Branch in 2007. It was through the auspices of the Anglo Zulu War Society that he attained his higher academic awards, PhD, MA. He was granted the Freedom of the City of London in 1980 and was awarded a miniature medal of the Polish Virtuti Militari, 5th Class in 1991 for assisting Colonel Wesolowski with his monumental work on the Polish Virtuti Militari.

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The New Zealand Cross - Dr. Brian L Kieran


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Phone: 0800.197.4150

© 2016 Dr. Brian L Kieran. All rights reserved.

emails: newzealandcrossbk@hotmail.com


Cover Design by Dr. Brian Kieran


Obverse of the New Zealand Cross awarded to Captain George Preece, Hawke’s Bay Cultural Trust Museum and Art Gallery Reference 56

Outline prepared by Mrs Ros Kieran worked from Heroes of New Zealand, Gudgeon, Thos. Wayth, H. Brett, Printer and Publisher, Shortland Street, Auckland,1887

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

Published by AuthorHouse 01/21/2016

ISBN: 978-1-5049-4511-0 (sc)

       978-1-5049-4512-7 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2015911522

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.




1860 TO 1872



Original colour drawings of A and B sketches of the New Zealand Cross, Archives of New Zealand AD32 5000

Author’s Previous Titles


My wife Mrs Ros Kieran nee Dyer


Professor Matthew Kieran, Ross and Alexander Kieran

And grandchildren

Harriet, Martha and Oliver Kieran

Christine Dyer and Liam Hall

Tribute to the devoted and skilled staff of

Maclehouse Medical Rehabilitation Centre,

Sandy Lane, Hong Kong

With special mention of the speech therapist.


Barbara Arnott, MAYOR OF NAPIER

Napier became a garrison town from the time the 65th Regiment was transferred to Napier in 1858. It was the base for a number of Imperial Regiments. Even on their departure when the settlers had to become self-reliant, Napier was the centre of military activities with the growth of the Armed Constabulary on the East Coast from 1867. Napier’s importance grew when Te Kooti (whose activities were based in the Urewera), aimed to establish direct contact with the Kingites and the Hauhau, whose activities in the East were centred on Napier. This led to the one day battle at Omarunui and the Petane skirmish of 1869.

It is suitable that I have been requested to pen this preface, as Napier has the distinction of having had as one of its residents, Captain George Preece, Armed Constabulary, a recipient of a New Zealand Cross. He worked as a Resident Magistrate in Napier for 12 years. During his time in Napier, he served the community with distinction.

It is coincidental that here should have been organised on 24 May 1872, a parade of Volunteer Infantry from the Napier District in Clive Square, together with the Artillery who fired seven guns, repeated three times in the usual form of a Royal Salute, and then followed by three cheers for Her Majesty, the Prince and Princess of Wales and all the Royal Family. The Volunteers and the spectators responded in unison. After standing at ease for awhile, the parade was called to attention as the ceremony of Trooping the Colour was performed. The Infantry then formed three sides of a square, with the Cavalry forming the fourth side. Major Edward Withers was in command of the parade.

At the parade, Major Withers presented a sword to Henare Tomoana, being a gift of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. He then read the notices from the New Zealand Gazette conferring the New Zealand Cross on Benjamin Biddle, and on the late Constable Solomon Black, for their gallant conduct at Ngatapa in January 1869. This was followed by the presentation of New Zealand medals to 13 Militia men and Volunteers who had been present at the action of Omarunui on 12 October 1866. The Military Proceedings were closed with the presentation of prizes to the Volunteers who had won them at a District Firing. Never before had there been such a large assemblage of people in Hawke’s Bay.

The farewell to Major Edward Withers was held in Napier on his appointment to Auckland as Commanding Officer of the Auckland and Thames Districts, and as Inspecting Officer for the Colony of New Zealand of the Militia and Volunteers. He was not only recognised as having performed with distinction whilst a resident of Napier, but he left with great acclamation in taking on responsibilities throughout the colony.

Major General Whitmore with Napier troops fought at the Battle of Omarunui and later dealt with Te Kooti in the Urewera.

Mayor Barbara Arnott, 2013


My wife was not taught the fundamentals of the New Zealand Wars. It seemed only to be a string of dates. She was aghast when I said I would write a book concerning the New Zealand Cross. History relative to the Mother Country was more the menu of my subjects of interest. It was the 19th century battlefields of swashbuckling conflicts like the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Cawnpore massacre of the Indian Mutiny and the path to freedom of the slaves through an interest in the West India Regiment that primarily attracted my attention. The Victoria Cross was instigated by Queen Victoria in 1856 and the first investiture took place on 26 June 1857 to acknowledge the gallantry of Officers and men. Conspicuous gallantry beyond the call of duty was required to be granted an award. Colonials resented the fact the VC was not available for award to them. Governor Browne, on the bidding of Colonel Whitmore, instituted the New Zealand Cross in order to ameliorate the position but the avowed object of immediate publicity was not achieved; the last award was in 1910; the impact of the New Zealand Cross on Colonials was lost and in any event legislative changes were being made to allow Colonials to be awarded a VC just as the Imperial troops were leaving the Colony. The New Zealand Wars Cross became an alternative decoration. The New Zealand Wars became an embarrassment to General Cameron in particular as well as Imperial troops; the Militia, Volunteers and Maori were similarly affected. The New Zealand Cross fell into disuse.

Rumblings in many Empire nations were occurring at the apogee of Queen Victoria becoming Empress of India. King Tawhiao became a centre for the emergence of an independence movement reflected in the Kingites. The abolition of slavery was the beginning of the avenue to self-determination, encouraged by the treatment of the West India Regiment and the harangues of Wilberforce. Disturbances led to conflict in Jamaica in 1865 and Ireland on 6 September 1867. It is fortuitous that a major preponderance of Maori were not ignored but succoured by Pakeha and the New Zealand Wars ended with conflicts of Maori against Maori.

My interest in the New Zealand Wars was sparked by a purchase of Captain Goldsmith’s New Zealand Medal in early 1972. I never visited New Zealand until my retirement in 1999. I was introduced to the New Zealand Cross citations by Phil Horne in 2006, whom I thank, and my wish to delve more deeply into the award then commenced. I then learnt more through reading Gudgeon’s "Heroes of New Zealand and the great work The New Zealand Wars" by Cowan who was the crucial link between New Zealand’s conflict and the present day. I had over the years developed an understanding of the battles of the New Zealand Wars but I now have a more comprehensive understanding of the conflict through research and further reading. My interpretation is one which I hope can be passed on to the people of New Zealand.

The history of the creation of the rarest gallantry award in the world in Part 1, and the awards of the New Zealand Cross reflected in the deeds of the 23 recipients in Part 2 are pivotal to the emphasis of the book. Part 3 provides background material on the New Zealand Wars from 1860 to 1872 so as to reflect points of historical reference for the New Zealand Cross awards . I hope it enables those who are not aware of the Wars to gather an understanding of the political and military situation in New Zealand at the various times. It is also important to understand aspects of the aftermath of the Wars as set out in Part 4. I owe a debt of gratitude to the work undertaken by Richard Stowers in his book concerning "The New Zealand Medals to Colonials". I wish to thank Ian Condon for his assistance together with the images he provided. I have received direction from Vernon Whybrow, Archives New Zealand in tracking down original source material relating to the New Zealand Cross: The Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington; Te Papa Museum; the Hocken Collections, University of Otago; to the Puke Ariki Museum accountable to the New Plymouth District Council, New Plymouth; Te Awamutu Museum, Waipa District Council; and Wanganui Museum for major image contributions. In respect of some medal images and other material I thank David Erskine-Hill and Dix Noonan Webb, Auctioneers, for their consent to use medal illustrations as well as historical background from entries in various of their auction catalogues.

I wish to thank my wife Mrs Ros Kieran for her tolerance and support, Mrs Pat Kieran for her encouragement, and Janet Levingston together with all those who have provided assistance to my efforts. Not least of all I wish to thank Rosemary Gattsche for collating and finalising all the images and textual lay out in a suitable manner for publication.

Dr. Brian Kieran, 1 May 2013

Author carrying out archival research, Photograph by Carol Reid

Farewell! Spirits of the brave!

The pride and power of heroes!

Away with you from our land

To your own country in the midst

of the ocean.





The Creation Of The New Zealand Cross Decoration

The Current Locations Of The New Zealand Crosses As Well As Some Specimens.

American Numismatic Society – Summation Of Important Involvement With Medals, Orders And Decorations

Sir Walter Lawry Buller 13

The Alexander Turnbull Library


New Zealand Cross Recipients, Their Citations And Additional Information Concerning The Awards

Adamson, Thomas, Private, Corps Of Guides And Wanganui Rangers

Ahururu, Henare Kepa Te, Native Contingent And Constable, No. 1 Division, Armed Constabulary.

Austin, Samuel, Sergeant, Wanganui Volunteer Contingent.

Biddle, Benjamin, Constable, No. 1 Division, Armed Constabulary.

Black, Solomon, Constable, No.1 Division, Armed Constabulary.

Carkeek, Arthur Wakefield, Sergeant, Armed Constabulary

De Sardinha, Antonio Rodriguez, Trooper, Taranaki Mounted Volunteers.

Featherston, Dr. Isaac Earl, Volunteer Native Contingent On The Staff Of Major General Chute. C.B.

Hill, George Rowley, Sergeant, No1 Division, Armed Constabulary.

Lingard, William, Trooper, Kai Iwi Cavalry Volunteers.

Mcdonnell, Thomas, Lieut- Col. New Zealand Militia.

Mace, Joseph Francis, Captain, Taranaki Militia.

Mair, Gilbert, Captain, New Zealand Militia.

Maling, Christopher, Sergeant, Corps Of Guides And On Retirement Raised To The Rank Of Captain.

Northcroft, Henry William, Late Ensign, Patea Rangers, And Sub-Inspector Of Armed Constabulary.

Preece, George, Interpreter, Sub-Inspector And Captain, Armed Constabulary.

Te Rangihiwinui, Kepa (Major Kemp), New Zealand Militia, Native Contingent.

Roberts, John Mackintosh, Inspector, Armed Constabulary

Shepherd, Richards, Sergeant, Armed Constabulary.

Smith, Angus, Cornet, Bay Of Plenty Cavalry Volunteers.

Wahawaha, Ropata, Major, Wanganui Native Contingent.

The Poverty Bay Massacre

Walker, Samuel, Assistant Surgeon, Armed Constabulary.

Wrigg, Harry Charles William, Late Cornet, Bay Of Plenty Cavalry Volunteers.


New Zealand War Campaigns 1860-1872

Sir George Grey, Governor

Major- General Sir G. S. Whitmore, KCMG

Napier’s History As A Garrison Town And Military Headquarters 51

The First Taranaki War

Conference Of Maori Chiefs At Kohimarama, Auckland, On The 10Th July, 1860.

The Second Taranaki War

The Waikato Story

A Tale Of Waikato Enlightenment

The Road To The Waikato Wars

Colonial Self Sufficiency In Sight


Te Kooti And Titokowaru Disrupt Urewera And Taranaki

Titokowaru’s Daliance With Victory

Military Dictatorship A Possible Option 89

Maori Opposition Declines


The Aftermath

New Zealand Emerges Into The Wider World

Te Whiti At Parihaka

The Land Confiscation Saga Continued

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 111

Select Bibliography




Major Heaphy was awarded a Victoria Cross in the London Gazette of 8 February 1867; the circumstances were exceptional as he was the only Colonial so awarded but it was due to the fact the act was observed by Sir Henry Havelock of Indian Mutiny fame and he was in command of Imperial troops at the time.

Major Charles Heaphy, VC. (1828-1881). Artist, surveyor, explorer, politician and soldier; Alexander Turnbull Library, F-3062-1/2

In 1859 Heaphy joined the Armed Constabulary as a Volunteer. He was approximately 43 years old, and a Major in the Auckland Militia, New Zealand Military Forces, during the invasion of the Waikato during 1863-64. It required his gallant conduct to be noticed at the skirmish on the banks of the Mangapiko River, in New Zealand, on 11 February 1864, in assisting a wounded soldier of the 40th Regiment, who had fallen into a hollow among the thickest of the concealed Maori. Whilst doing so, he became the target for a volley at a few feet distant. Five balls pierced his clothes and cap, and he was wounded in three places. Although hurt, he continued to aid the wounded until the end of the day. Major Heaphy was at the time in charge of a party of Imperial soldiers of the 40th and 50th Regiments, under the orders of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Henry Marshman Havelock, Bart., C.B., V.C., the Senior Officer on the spot, who moved rapidly down to the place where the troops were hotly engaged and pressed for the action; Heaphy was awarded the Victoria Cross and was the first colonial soldier to be so decorated. Von Tempsky wrote that Heaphy has the (Victoria) Cross and I want it, which may have caused the reckless action leading to his own death. It may be said that as a result of the award it began the discontent of the Volunteers and Militia to press for the institution of a similar decoration by New Zealand.

The Victoria Cross as a unique award required special legislation to be introduced by the British Government to directly change the rules of the award. Queen Victoria refrained from opposing the Heaphy recommendation; she had the prerogative to overthrow the award in an instant. There was great controversy as a chink was found in the Imperial Armour. As part of the threat to the Imperial Hierarchy of awards, there was already the fact that black people could become recipients of the coveted Victoria Cross. The West India Regiment in the Caribbean became an Imperial Regiment in 1894 when it was included in the Army List; the Regiment was comprised of black soldiers. Two black soldiers had been awarded the Victoria Cross; Samuel Hodge, 4/West India Regiment, on 30 June 1866 hewed down a stockade in Jubalong, Gambia, threw open the gates and went through the town clearing the enemy at the point of a bayonet. Private William Gordon was the other West India Regiment soldier to be awarded a VC when he saved the life of his Commanding Officer, Colonel Madden, West India Regiment, at the attack on Toniatabia, West Africa, on 13 March 1892. ² It is to be noted that in exploring in depth the grant of the award of the Queen’s South Africa Medal during the Boer War it appeared that in respect of the garrison involved in the siege and defence of O’OKiep the black participants were denied the award of a Queen’s South Africa Medal because a clerk in government service in the United Kingdom was put to work going through the Rolls of the awards deleting potential black recipients. The Roll was left marked against remaining names white, white, engaged with the enemy at O’OKiep.³ The undercurrent of prejudice is reflected throughout the award of the Queen’s South Africa Medal. The Boer War was supposed to be a white man’s war but that was far from the fact when one is aware of all the black support personnel as combatants, drivers, messengers and guides. Soldiers of the West India Regiment were denied the Queen’s South Africa medal for duties of guarding Boer prisoners on St. Helena. There were bronze Queen’s South Africa medals awarded to a handful of South African personnel assisting the Imperial Forces. There was an underlying colour prejudice abroad in the military forces in general. It is crucial to realise that four Maori were awarded the New Zealand Cross as combatants and the bravery of the enemy Maori was recognised by the Colonials on occasion, especially at Orakau. Murray Moorhead has also acknowledged and recognised that there was:-

an equivalent degree of gallantry and devotion shown by those compelled to take up arms in opposition to the Government forces.

The criteria required for the award of a Victoria Cross was set as:-

the Queen of England instituted an Order for any act of conspicuous bravery."

The Order is called the Victoria Cross. There is no order for conspicuous action.

During the Maori Wars 15 Victoria Crosses were awarded including Heaphy’s:-

Odgers, William, Leading Seaman, RN, HMS Niger, LG 3 August 1860, Waireka Pa.

John Lucas, Colour-Sergeant, 40th Foot, LG 19 July 1861, redoubt, Hurangi Bush.

McKenna, Edward, Sergeant, 65th Foot, LG16 January 1864, LG 16 January 1864, Cameron Town.

Ryan, John, Corporal, 65th Foot, 7 September 1863, Cameron Town.

Stagpole, Dudley, Drummer, 57th Foot, LG 22 September 1864, Poutoko.

Down, John Thornton, Ensign, 57th Foot, LG 22 September 1864, Poutoko.

Pickard, Arthur Frederick, Lieutenant, Royal Artillery, LG 22 September 1864, Rangiriri.

Temple, William, Assistant Surgeon, Royal Artillery, LG 22 September 1864, Rangiriri.

McNeil, John Carstairs, Lieutenant Colonel, 107th Foot, LG 16 July 1864, ADC Cameron.

Mitchell, Samuel, RN, HMS Harrier, LG 26 July 1864, Gate Pa.

Manley, William George Nicholas, Assistant Surgeon, Royal Artillery,

LG 22 September 1864, Tauranga.

Smith, Frederick Augustus, Captain, 43rd Foot, Tauranga.

Murray, John, Sergeant, 68th Foot, LG 4 November 1864, Tauranga.

Shaw, Hugh, Captain, 18th Foot, LG 28 November 1865, Nukumaru.

The Distinguished Conduct Medal had been available for awarding to other ranks who distinguished themselves for gallantry in battle since the Crimean War. Officers were seen as sufficiently rewarded just by being an Imperial Officer. It was Prince Albert who was reputed to have suggested a premier award to Queen Victoria. It was to be available to all ranks of the Imperial Forces. The retrospective posthumous awards were only introduced in 1902, covering the period back to the Crimean War in 1856. There were also situations, because of the system of making the awards, that those who were recommended for a Victoria Cross would sometimes be given a lesser decoration. The award of the Victoria Cross depended on the individual who made the recommendations; some were gracious in their recommendations, whilst others were rather mean. The Heaphy award of a Victoria Cross to a soldier in the Auckland Militia caused widespread controversy; he was the only Colonial to be so recommended by Sir Henry Havelock, V.C.

Heaphy’s Victoria Cross controversy arose because of the use of a pool of water as a bathing pool. Men of the 40th and 50th Foot, Jackson’s Company of Forest Rangers were camping in proximity to the pool. Maori had been meticulously preparing for an attack on Mangapiko on 11 February 1864 by infiltrating the abandoned Waiari Pa trenches. They were close by and burst out unexpectedly as far as the soldiers were concerned. The arrangements were in place so that at the first sign of a disturbance the troops at Paterangi would sally forth to protect their comrades. The bathers of the day excitably went to the water’s edge and were met by rifle fire from a few of the concealed Maori. Two were shot and killed and the rest endeavoured to escape. A party sallied forth from the camp under Lieutenant Colonel Waddy, who was junior to Sir Henry Havelock V.C.; Waddy was passing on his route to visit General Cameron; the latter as senior to Waddy gave him the right to take command. Havelock ordered Heaphy to command a group of soldiers. The Maori fired on the Paterangi Force of men of the 40th Foot crossing the river to the Waiari Pa. Heaphy followed with two soldiers when he saw Maori with tomahawks in hand advancing towards a fallen soldier. Two soldiers were shot, Heaphy was wounded and there were three fallen soldiers requiring protection. Heaphy and a soldier who now joined him kept up a defensive fire against the Maori. Other soldiers were extricating the wounded soldiers but Heaphy refused to withdraw because Captain Fisher and 40th Foot soldiers were still inside the trenches of Waiari Pa. He found them but in trying to reach the bridge over the Mangapiko River they were being closely followed by the enemy.

Forest Rangers under Major von Tempsky nobly engaged at Waiari with natives who were defeated; Auckland War Memorial Museum, PD29(4), Von Tempsky, Gustavus Ferdinand, 1828-1868

Major von Tempsky and his Forest Rangers crossed the river and skirmished towards Heaphy and Fisher thus causing the enemy to call off their pursuit and withdraw towards Paterangi. Heaphy as rearguard commander waited on the Waiari Pa side of the river until all the soldiers had withdrawn. By this time he was suffering badly from the loss of blood from his wounds. There were six killed and five wounded soldiers and roughly 30 to 40 killed and a similar number wounded of the enemy. Havelock forwarded a recommendation that Heaphy should be awarded a V.C.; the recommendation was immediately rejected as he was a Colonial. The swell of opinion on the matter mounted; Governor Grey penned a letter to the Secretary of State for the Colonies reminding him the recommendation was made by the greatest General of his age, Havelock. Queen Victoria amended the statutes effective from 1 January 1867. Heaphy’s V.C. was now published in the London Gazette of 8 February 1867 three years after the event at Waiari Pa.

As a result of Victoria Cross awards Colonials were questioning why there was no separate award for bravery available to them if the Victoria Cross was not to be available to Colonials who were by then involved in the majority of the campaigns, especially after the withdrawal of the Imperial Forces from New Zealand. The conditions were being altered to make the Victoria Cross available, but at the very time Imperial troops were being withdrawn. Therefore an occasion when a Colonial in New Zealand would be in circumstances for being recommended for a Victoria Cross was going to be limited; Colonials were less likely to be fighting the enemy under British command. Colonel Whitmore, bearing in mind his background and Sandhurst training was not, surprisingly, against the award of Victoria Crosses to Colonials; he saw them as baubles. In the context of the supreme award for bravery being the Victoria Cross, Governor Bowen came to the rescue in the matter and a critically important step was taken with the institution of an award of its own being the Colonial Cross or New Zealand Cross set out in the Order in Council of 10 March 1869. He saw Colonials, who by their own discontent wanted, and clamoured, indeed required, the creation of their own heroes who evinced sufficient bravery to justify the award of the New Zealand Cross. They did not want just to read of the exploits of individuals in local newspapers or read about the exploits of recipients. The aim was that receipt of a New Zealand Cross was to be well publicised. Circumstances evolved over the years so that the details of an award were not widely disseminated and the last New Zealand Cross was only awarded in 1910. The original intention to make the deeds for the award widely known was not implemented so the original aim was not met. An example of the delay in making awards and their reason being well known in the community failed in the case of the Polish Virtuti Militari, which is the Polish ultimate award for bravery comparable to the Victoria Cross. It was not until Colonel Wesolowski prepared details of the unnamed award citations to recipients.that the award of the Virtuti Militari has been provided with the only monument to the brave deeds of the recipients who are now listed in the Roll of Honour in The Order of Virtuti Militari and its Cavaliers 1792 to 1992 By Prof. Dr. Zdzislaw P. Wesolowski and the work is his Opus Magnum. The Author was awarded a miniature 5th Class Virtuti Militari for assisting Colonel Wesolowski in the last stages of preparing his work and obtaining a publisher for the book.

WW11First Class of the Polish Virtuti Militari by Spink, Author’s collection and the Author’s miniature 5th Class Virtuti Militari

Archway of Courage, Napier, Hawke’s Bay

Courage is the thing: all goes if courage goes

The New Zealand Cross was, as a consequence of the Colonial discontent and grumblings, introduced by the Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Bowen, for services during the Maori Wars. The decoration was instituted by Order in Council and published in the New Zealand Gazette, No. 14, p.127 of 1869. In some official documents the decoration was referred to as the Colonial Cross or as the Decorative Distinction; see the New Zealand Gazette, No. 16, p158, 1869.

The Order in Council approved on 10th of March 1869 was for the new decoration to be recommended by Dr. Kenzie James Brett and Thomas Fraser for individuals of the Colonial force. Archives New Zealand AD32 Box 70 5000, D69/1495.

Governor Bowen in the Order in Council in March 1869 considered:-

…..it is expedient that regulations should be made conferring a decorative distinction on members of the Militia, Volunteers and Armed Constabulary, who may particularly distinguish themselves by their bravery

1. It shall consist of a silver cross with the name of the Colony and the recipients name thereon;

2. It will be suspended from the left breast by a crimson ribbon;

3. If entitled to the honour for a second act of bravery the NZC recipient may receive a bar;

4. The distinction shall be conferred on officers and men serving in the presence of the enemy and shall have performed some signal act of valor, devotion to their duty, performed any intrepid action in public service; neither rank, long service, wounds, circumstances or service, save merit or conspicuous bravery shall establish a sufficient claim;

5. Awarded by Governor only. Claim not by the individual but by Commanding Officer. Governor shall call for such description and attestation;

6. Shall be publicly decorated before the force to which he belongs or before which he performed his act of bravery, a Roll of the name of recipients shall be kept stating the special act warranting the Distinction and it shall be published in the Government Gazette;

7. Erasure for acts of treason, felony, cowardice, infamous or disgraceful offence;

8. Command awarded to constables or privates on duty in the absence of an officer and non-commissioned officer present.

The New Zealand Cross was awarded to five recipients before Bowen advised the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Government in London and thus without the usual institution by Queen Victoria. Bowen was aware he was exceeding his authority. Bowen considered such institution of an award would raise the low morale of the soldiers of the Militia, Volunteers and Armed Constabulary; it would remove the need for the time delay in having to refer to London for approval. It was retrospectively approved by Queen Victoria on 22 December 1869 and despite the severity of the dressing down by Lord Granville, Queen Victoria gave her approval as effective from the date of the Order being 10 March 1869. Queen Victoria later gave her authorisation in the unusual circumstances in the New Zealand Gazette, No. 2, p.11, 1870. The Decorative distinction, which became the New Zealand Cross, was, referred to as the Order of the Southern Cross, Southern Cross, Order of Merit, Cross of New Zealand, Colonial Cross, Silver Cross, Order of Valour and sometimes the New Zealand Cross. It was through the efforts of Colonel Whitmore, with his background, that in requesting funds from the Armed Constabulary Reward Fund to enable 20 rosettes and chevrons to be awarded to Armed Constabulary members for distinguishing themselves in action; a monetary grant would be paid from the Fund. The request progressed into the concept of a New Zealand Cross award. In the letter of 19 November 1868 containing the proposal, Colonel Whitmore recommended Constable Henare Kepa Te Ahururu for a monetary grant for bravery. He became a deserter but it would appear he was never erased from the Roll. He was living at Ruatoki in 1878. In another letter of 14 January 1869 Colonel Whitmore nominated Constables Benjamin Biddle and Solomon Black for similar awards at Ngatapa and so the New Zealand Cross was born with these three awards. The New Zealand Cross fell into disuse with the disbandment of Local Forces.

The distinction was to consist of a silver cross to be suspended from the left breast. It was to be conferred on Officers and men when serving in the presence of the enemy and they shall

have performed some signal act of valor or devotion to their duty, or who performed any very intrepid action in the public service, and neither rank, nor long service, nor wounds, nor any other circumstance or condition whatsoever, save merit of conspicuous bravery, shall be held to establish a sufficient claim to the honour.

The Cross was to be suspended from a deep crimson ribbon identical to that of the Victoria Cross. For subsequent acts of bravery the recipient was to be awarded a silver bar to be attached to the ribbon. Before final approval Whitmore had already presented the crimson ribbon to several of the members of his force during the chase of Titokowaru. The occasion was on 21 March 1869 at Taiporohenui between Patea and Hawera. Seven were granted and Lingard was in hospital at Patea so it was probably received during his hospital stay. Twelve were next awarded and a further 12 retrospectively.

The Right Honourable Sir George Bowen GCMG

The design of the New Zealand Cross was to be entrusted to a Commission. The Commission to design the New Zealand Cross was appointed by the Governor, Sir George Bowen, GCMG, on 10 July 1870 and comprised the following on 12 July 1870:-

Colonel the Hon. Theodore Minet Haultain, MP.

Colonel the Hon. George Stoddard Whitmore, CMG.

The Hon. James Grove.

The Hon. Alfred Domett James Edward Fitzgerald, Esq.

Bowen considered that once the New Zealand Cross materialised moral would be boosted with a physical manifestation recognising individuals in the Militia, Volunteers and Armed Constabulary for their bravery. Unfortunately the original objective to have the deeds widely known soon after the award was granted was not achieved. Colonel Whitmore was the original protagonist to realise his initial award of rosettes and chevrons instituted on 19 November, 1868 would develop into the New Zealand Cross; there were numerous descriptions of the Cross before it was customarily accepted as the New Zealand Cross. Whitmore recommended Constables Ahururu, Biddle and Black for monetary awards before they were the first three to be bestowed with the New Zealand Cross.

Whimore in urging the institution of the Cross emphasised:-

that to be of any value, a decoration must be immediately available to be awarded on the spot, as distinction must be conferred at once if they are to have any value to the men concerned.

Design specifications for the making of the New Zealand Cross.

Approved by Queen Victoria, Archives New Zealand, AD 32 Box 70 5000.

Queen Victoria was requested to approve the design of the Cross in January 1871. By June 1871 Featherston, as Agent-General for New Zealand in London, was instructed to approve the design, which was achieved with changes in conjunction with Colonel Whitmore who was coincidentally in London. The changes that were made to the New Zealand Cross by Featherston and Whitmore were the shape of the Crown and the introduction of a Victoria Cross link in the form of a V. Twenty New Zealand Crosses were to be made to the approved design. There was no opportunity for the New Zealand Government to approve the changes as the New Zealand Crosses were being produced in London. In events the silver cross pattee is one inch across the limbs surmounted by a gold crown. The centre identifies its country of origin with NEW ZEALAND, surrounded by a gold laurel wreath, and on each separate outer part of the arms of the cross is a six pointed gold star. The structure of the reverse is plain with two concentric circles within which is to be engraved a recipients rank, name and unit. The date of the action was to be engraved on the centre of the cross together, on occasions, with the name of the action on top of the date. A sprig of gold laurel decorates the suspender clasp which is the V-link attaching the cross by two gold rings. A two pronged gold buckle brooch was to attach the cross to a recipient’s jacket or coat.

A Royal Commission was appointed on 25 September 1873 to examine a number of recommendations submitted following the award of the first seven crosses, and to make recommendations to the Governor for any further awards. A number of recommendations were rejected on the grounds that the events concerned had taken place prior to the institution of the decoration, and the Commissioners considered that no retrospective authority was contained in the Order in Council. In spite of the fact that the Commissioners were required to report to the Governor within 10 days and a number of recommendations were upheld, no further awards were made for almost two years.

In August 1875 the Governor received a recommendation from General Chute, Commander of the New Zealand Forces, forwarded from London, which approved an award of the cross to Dr Featherston for meritorious and intrepid services rendered in 1865–66. The award was controversial as during the discussion in the Legislative Council some of the members were of the opinion that the General should have recommended Featherston for the Victoria Cross…as he was competent to do so. Entitlement to the New Zealand Cross covered the Militia, Volunteers and Armed Constabulary for serving in the presence of the enemy in accordance with Article 4 of the legislation. A special board of officers appointed to review the recommendations of the Commissioners of 1873 reported in April 1876 that all were upheld, as was also the case of some that had been declined by the Commissioners on the grounds that they were time-barred for the award. No doubt this change of view was influenced by the award made to Dr Featherston a few months previously. A Roll of Recipients was to contain a record of the act warranting the award of a New Zealand Cross; details were to be published in the Government Gazette.

In 1885 the Premier proposed that the New Zealand Cross be extended for award to those who by outstanding bravery were responsible for saving human life. It was suggested that, to distinguish such awards from the military crosses, the stars be omitted from the cross and the ribbon be of a different colour. This proposal was rejected when it was found that the medal of the Royal Humane Society of Australasia, instituted in 1882, was available for rewarding bravery of this nature.

Although the Order in Council instituting the New Zealand Cross has never been annulled, it is unlikely that it will ever be invoked to make any further awards. Apart from the more general availability of the Victoria Cross since 1881, the various forces upon which the New Zealand Cross could be conferred have all been disbanded, the Armed Constabulary in 1886, and the Militia and Volunteers in 1911.

There was some doubt as to the whereabouts of the initial dies and that was resolved in 1904. In a memorandum from the Agent-General, London to the Honourable Premier it was noted that a firm of Messrs Phillips Bros. and Sons were originally instructed to prepare the dies but by 13 June 1904 it seemed they had ceased to exist. However the dies were held by J G La Roche, Goldsmith and Jeweller, 21 Noel Street, Soho, London. La Roche had made on behalf of Messrs Phillips Bros. and Sons all the Crosses that had been issued. He offered to supply any further specimen of the Cross that may be required for the sum of five pounds net each, which was considerably less than the price paid to Messrs Phillip’s. Twenty Crosses were first ordered and issued in 1871 with the Phillip’s cartouche affixed on the back of the suspender clasp; five were ordered in 1886 but the Phillips cartouche was not affixed. A few suitably engraved specimens were authorised with one to be struck for the Deputy Master of the Royal Mint Museum and eminent medal collectors in England. The Mint’s request was to the War Office for a specimen of the New Zealand Cross. In reply the War Office directed the Mint to the Agent-General for New Zealand in London; in May 1904 an application was duly made by the Mint to the Agent-General. The purchase by the Royal Mint was authorised and the Agent- General made arrangements with Mr J G La Roche for a specimen of the Cross to be delivered to the Royal Mint Museum. The Premier confirmed the making of the Cross for the Royal Mint; Reference AD32 box 70 5000. On 14 June 1904 the Mint was able to notify the Agent General that a cross had been received from Mr La Roche and that his bill for five pounds had been paid. There is no information readily available on the identity of Mr La Roche. The Royal Mint specimen was included in the second volume (1910) of W. J. Hocking’s catalogue of the Royal Mint Museum.⁶ Hocking was actively seeking to fill gaps in the Royal Mint collection. The Premier R J Seddon in Letter 363 of 19 September 1904 considered it inadvisable for the dies of the New Zealand Cross to remain in private hands and so the dies were to be acquired by purchase or otherwise. The dies are reputed to have passed through two other hands before they were recovered by the Agent-General in 1908. A Roll was to be kept of the citations for the award of the New Zealand Cross describing the act of valour leading to the award; every situation was to be published in the Government Gazette. Any recipient convicted of treason, felony, cowardice or a disgraceful or felonous act was to be erased from the Roll. It was to be a period from institution to 1911 before all the recipients of the New Zealand Cross were known. Thus the desire for recognition for acts of bravery to be known at large was not really achieved.

There was some mystery concerning the history of the dies in the early twentieth century; a number of unauthorised Specimens were made by the time the dies were recovered in 1908. Two Specimens were illegally named respectively to Lingard and Solomon Black. but they are in fact spurious as they do not bear the Phillip’s cartouche, and the originals still exist. The dies were returned to New Zealand in 1953 and deposited with the Dominion Museum, Wellington. - The Royal Mint received one Specimen at an early stage of the inception of the New Zealand Cross. The restriction on the making of the New Zealand Cross on special occasions was broken a number of times; certain medal collections were granted the same privilege. As early as 22 February 1874 a request was made for the purchase of two New Zealand Crosses for a collection of Decorations. In issuing such New Zealand Crosses it was emphasised that they were not to be used improperly. On 20 November 1874 a gentleman, Mr. J. W. McKenzie, requested a New Zealand Cross for his collection and authority was given to the Agen-General in London to meet his request. There have only been 13 official Specimens authorised up to the present day. Two Specimens were authorised in 1914 by the Minister of Defence, Sir James Allen, and struck by the Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company, London. One Specimen formed part of the collection of Dr. Hastings Irwin, and after his death, the Specimen was passed to the Otago Museum. The other was acquired by the author. The dies for the New Zealand Cross were returned to New Zealand in 1953 and deposited with the Dominion Museum, Wellington - now the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. On 23 May 1956 a Mr P. Mayer was granted permission by the Queen to be given a Specimen and donate it to the Medal Collection already owned by the United Services Officers Club, Wellington. In fact two New Zealand Crosses were made as the second was passed to the Army for Sir Gerald Templar to add to his own collection of medals.


Private Collection; GENUINE, ADAMSON

National Army Museum, United Kingdom; GENUINE, AHURURU

National Army Museum, New Zealand; GENUINE, AUSTIN

Whereabouts unknown; GENUINE, BIDDLE ⁷

Hollyfield Collection, Los Angeles Museum, USA; GENUINE, BLACK

Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand; GENUINE, CARKEEK

Private Collection, New Zealand, GENUINE, FEATHERSTON

Whereabouts unknown; GENUINE, KEEPA (Major Kemp)

Reputedly held by the family in Auckland; GENUINE, HILL

Whereabouts unknown; GENUINE, LINGARD

Puke Ariki, was the Taranaki Museum, New Plymouth; GENUINE, MACE

Alexander Turnbull Library, Image only, GENUINE, MAIR ⁸

The Royal Collection, Windsor Castle; GENUINE, MALING

Hawke’s Bay Museum, Napier; GENUINE, PREECE

Rotorua Museum

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