NZ11 Gilbert Mair & the Arawa Flying Column, 1870
In 1870, to counter the guerilla tactics of the Hauhau leader Te Kooti and his allies, a special unit of Maori loyal to the Crown was raised and became the Arawa Flying Column, Armed Constabulary, consisting of two companies each of 100 Arawa tribesmen.
Gilbert Mair, already experienced in the Wars, was chosen to lead the No.1 Arawa Flying Column to pursue Te Kooti in the rugged bush clad terrain of the Urewera region. In February 1870 when Te Kooti and his force was about to attack Rotorua, Mair intercepted just in time to prevent of probable massacre of the Arawa inhabitants. In a 20 mile running fight he inflicted heavy casualties on the raiders and shot Te Kooti’s lieutenant. For this action Mair was promoted to Captain and earned the New Zealand Cross.*
The continual harrying of Te Kooti and the remnants of his supporters ended with the last shots of the Urewera campaign and the North Island wars on 14 February 1872.
*The New Zealand Cross was awarded to Gilbert Mair on 1 April 1886. This decoration was unique to New Zealand and only awarded to colonial troops for gallantry during the Second ‘Maori’ Wars. Equivalent to the Victoria Cross, a total of twenty three awards were made.
He carries a Spencer carbine and like his men wears a shawl or blanket around his waist.