Birkenhead Returned Services Association (RSA)
Military Medals

THE NEW ZEALAND CROSS (1869)

THE NEW ZEALAND CROSS (1869)

THE NEW ZEALAND CROSS (1869)

Obverse: A Maltese cross with a star on each arm and a crown surmounting the top arm. In the centre of the cross is a circle within a circle, and between these is inscribed the words "NEW ZEALAND". Surrounding the outer circle is a laurel wreath.

Reverse: Plain, with the recipient's name, unit and the date and place of the action recorded on it.

Size: 45mm across the arms of the cross.

Ribbon: 38mm wide, the ribbon is plain crimson in colour.

Suspension: The suspender bar has laurel leaves on it. To the centre bottom of this bar is attached a small letter "V". There are two linked rings, with the top ring passing through the "V" and the lower one passing through a hole in the top of the crown that is attached to the upper arm of the cross.

The New Zealand Cross was instituted by an Order in Council on 10 March 1869, by the governor, Sir George Bowen. It was immediately conferred on five recipients. Bowen had decided that, because the locally raised fighting men had been ruled ineligible for The Victoria Cross, some major award was needed to keep morale up during the tiresome campaigns against rebellious maori. The Governor was rebuked by the Colonial Office for making the decision without the approval of the British Government.

The New Zealand Cross is now regarded as one of the rarest decorations in the world. Twenty-three were awarded and were gazetted between 1869 and 1910. Although some of the awards were not officially gazetted until many years later, all the actions took place between 1863 and 1876.

The following are the recipients of The New Zealand Cross:

ADAMSON, Thomas (1847-1913). Born in Wanganui, New Zealand, he was awarded The New Zealand Cross for gallantry in 1876 for an action at Ahikereru in May 1869. He was seriously wounded in the clash, but later farmed near Taihape.

AHURURU, Henare Kepa Te. The first of four maori awarded The New Zealand Cross for helping the settlers during the New Zealand Wars. The award was for conspicuous bravery at Moturoa on 7 November 1868. He later deserted and was living at Ruatoki in 1878. Even though the Order-in-Council setting up the decoration provided for the name of any recipient to be struck from the roll of honour in the event of any "infamous or disgraceful act", Ahururu's name was left on after his desertion.

AUSTIN, Samuel (1829-1903). Born in Ireland, he served with the Wanganui Native Contingent in 1866 at the capture of Putahi Pa. He was awarded The New Zealand Cross when he rescued the seriously wounded Lieutenant-Colonel McDonnell, and carried him to safety under heavy fire.

BIDDLE, Benjamin (1848-1933). One of the first three men awarded The New Zealand Cross by Gazette on 25 March 1869 (along with Henare Ahururu and Solomon Black), for bravery at Ngatapa in January 1869 against Te Kooti and the Hauhau.

BLACK, Solomon (1834-?). Born in Scotland, he was awarded The New Zealand Cross on 25 March 1869. Black was a private in No 1 Division of the Armed Constabulary, and received his decoration for gallantry in holding his position in the siege of Ngatapa, against Te Kooti on 8 January 1869.

BULLER, Sir Walter Lawry (1838-1906). Born in New Zealand, he became a Native Land Court Judge, and won The New Zealand Cross in 1865 for carrying despatches from Weraroa to Wanganui during the Taranaki campaign in the New Zealand Wars. He was later an interpreter to the Wellington Magistrate Court, Native Commissioner for the southern provinces, Native Land Court Judge, secretary to the Agent-General for NZ and lawyer for the Native Land Court.

CARKEEK, Sergeant Arthur Wakefield (1843-97). Born in Nelson, New Zealand, he won The New Zealand Cross at Ohinemutu while serving with the Armed Constabulary on 8 February 1870. A part-maori, Carkeek won his medal for travelling 30 miles (48 km) from Ohinemutu, when Te Kooti attacked, to get help for the beleaguered force.

de SARDINHA, Trooper Antonio Rodriquez de Sardinha. Born in Portugul, he joined the Volunteer Force in Taranaki at the outbreak of the wars, and was awarded The New Zealand Cross in 1877 for gallantry at Kaitake in March 1864, and at Poutoko in October 1863. He later farmed in the New Plymouth area.

FEATHERSTON, Isaac Earl (1813-76). Born in England, he graduated as a physician. Although never in robust health, he was an outstanding soldier during the New Zealand Wars against the maori and on more than one occasion the maori fighting for the european would not move without him. On one such occasion he could hardly sit on his horse, but led troops at the storming and capture of Otapawa Pa (January 1866) for which he was awarded The New Zealand Cross. He was later Superintendent of Wellington (1853-1870), Member of Parliament (1853-1870) and NZ's Agent-General in London (1871 - June 1876), where he died.

KEPA, Te Rangihiwinui 'Major Kemp' (1823-98). A Putiki chief from Wanganui, he worked with the colonists during the 1860s as commander of the Wanganui Native Contingent of the New Zealand Militia. He served on the west coast of the North Island from 1864 to 1871, and was awarded The New Zealand Cross in 1876 for actions at Moturoa in November 1868, and at Otautu in March 1869. Major Kemp later served against Te Kooti and received a Sword of Honour from Queen Victoria for his services. He became Government Land Purchase Officer at Wanganui, but fell out of favour when he laid claim to land in the Horowhenua block for himself.

HILL, Sergeant George Rowley (1837-1930). He emigrated in 1863 and won The New Zealand Cross after joining von Tempsky's Forest Rangers. His award was for valour in action at Jerusalem Pa near Mohaka in April 1869. Hill was awarded two medals by the Royal Humane Society for saving life, one in 1860 and the other in 1896. He later served with the NZ army and tried to enlist for the South African War at the age of 63. His retirement was spent at Takapuna, New Zealand.

LINGARD, Trooper William (1845-1922). Born in Ireland, he emigrated in 1863. A trooper with the Kai-iwi Cavalry, he won The New Zealand Cross during an encounter with a maori force at Tauranga-ika in December 1868. He was later a farmer, and then an insurance salesman and land agent in Wellington, serving on the Wellington City Council for three years from 1896-1899.

MACE, Francis Joseph (1837-1927). Mace joined the Volunteer Force in Taranaki at the outbreak of the wars, and was awarded The New Zealand Cross in 1877 for gallantry at Kaitake in March 1864, and at Kaitikara River in June 1863. Mace rose to the rank of captain. He later farmed in the New Plymouth area.

McDONNELL, Thomas (1832-99). Born in the Philippines, he rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and was awarded The New Zealand Cross in 1886 for bravery at Paparatu in October 1863 and Putahi Pah in January 1866. He took part in 40 engagements against the maori. He later settled in Wanganui.

MAIR, Gilbert Mair (1843-1923). Born in Bay of Islands, New Zealand, Gilbert Mair joined the Waikato Regiment in 1865 when fighting began on the East Coast. Over the following five years, he led Arawa troops fighting on the side of the european, including the Arawa Flying Column No 1. He won his New Zealand Cross for a forced march in pursuit of Te Kooti in February 1870, when the prophet was attacking Ohinemutu. He was later Interpreter to the House of Representatives, a government agent, and land purchase officer in several districts.

MALING, Christopher Louis (1843-1917). Born in Nelson, New Zealand, he was a clever and courageous scout in the Corps of Guides during the campaign against Te Kooti and Titokowaru. Maling won The New Zealand Cross for bravery at Taurangaika in February 1869. There were nine members in the Corps of Guides, three were killed and four wounded during the campaign. Maling rose to the rank of major, and later worked in Japan and settled in England, where he died.

NORTHCROFT, Henry William (1844-1923). He won The New Zealand Cross for action at Pungarehu in October 1866 and Tirotiro Moana in November the same year. He joined the Taranaki Volunteers on the outbreak of the maori New Zealand Wars in 1860, and served for 16 years, taking part in 49 actions, mostly as an ensign. He later became a magistrate in the Waikato, a warden and magistrate on the Thames goldfields and a stipendiary magistrate in Auckland.

PREECE, George Augustus (1845-1925). He won The New Zealand Cross for valour when serving with Major Ropata at Ngatapa in January 1869, during the campaign against Te Kooti. He rose to the rank of captain in the Armed Constabulary, commanded the native contingent in the Urewera from 1870 to 1872 and was mentioned in dispatches three times. He was later a magistrate in Napier and Christchurch, and went into business in Palmerston North in 1892. He tried to enlist for World War One when in his seventies.

ROBERTS, John Mackintosh (1840-1928). Born in Bombay, India, he emigrated in 1855. He Joined the armed forces in 1863, at the outbreak of the war over the Waikato lands, because the buildings on the family farm were all burnt down. He won The New Zealand Cross in November 1868 for action at Moturoa Pa. Roberts earned a reputation as an outstanding scout and bush fighter with von Tempsky's Forest Rangers, and was dubbed "Deerfoot" by von Tempsky in his diary. He later commanded the Armed Constabulary in Auckland, and served as a magistrate in the Wairarapa, Tauranga and Opotiki areas.

SHEPHERD, Richard (1837-1913). He joined the Armed Constabulary, where he won The New Zealand Cross for bravery at Otautu in March 1869, holding a difficult observation post under heavy fire. He was seriously wounded. He later lived near Auckland.

SMITH, Angus (1832-1902). Born in Scotland, he won The New Zealand Cross for action against Te Kooti in the Bay of Plenty Cavalry, on 7 June 1869.

WAHAWAHA, Ropata (1807-97). A skilful, ruthless major in the Native Contingent in the campaign against the Hauhau, he won The New Zealand Cross for action against Te Kooti at Ngatapa in January 1869, and was later awarded a Sword of Honour by Queen Victoria for his services. For some years he had been a slave of Rapata Whakapuhia, which may account for his ruthless dealings with his former captor's people. He later became a government agent among the Ngati Porou, was given a pension and made a life member of the Legislative Council.

WALKER, Samuel (1842-80). Born in Dublin, Ireland, he qualified as a doctor. He joined the Armed Constabulary as a surgeon, served for eight years in 34 engagements against maori, and won The New Zealand Cross for bravery in attending the wounded under fire at Otautu in March 1869.

WRIGG, Harry Charles William (1842-1924). Born in Ireland, he emigrated in 1863. Wrigg won The New Zealand Cross for gallantry in June 1867 at Opotiki, as a member of the Bay of Plenty Cavalry Volunteers. He was a civil engineer and artist, and later chief draughtsman in Auckland, and to the Public Works Department.

 

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