War Scares Great Barrier Island August 1863


To the Honorable                                                                Great Barrier Island

The Colonial Secretary                                                        August 10 1863



     On the 15th ultimo, I had the honour to address you respecting a supply of arms and ammunition from the Government for the protection of the inhabitants of this island.

            In reply, I have received a letter from the Colonial Defence Office dated the 23rd Ultimo, but the signature of the writer being illegible I am compelled to communicate with you direct.

            The letter from the Colonial Defence office is to this effect, - that I have not stated what is the danger which I apprehend, that if I am in no anticipation of an attack by the natives, arms cannot be furnished.

            I now beg to state that the danger we chiefly apprehend is from the attack of marauding parties of rebel natives from the Thames or the East Coast. To such attack the valuable property of the Great Barrier Company consisting of a steam Saw Mill, just commencing operations, with stores, sheep and cattle, together with the lives and properties of the employess and Tenants of the Company and other settlers, are completely exposed, and it does seem to me that from our isolated position and distance from Auckland, with every disposition to protect ourselves as far as possible we are deserving of some consideration from the Government.

            It is unnecessary for one to enter into reasons for thinking that such attacks are probable. It is sufficient, I think, for us to tell the Government that in the present state of the country they are quite possible. When we hear that the people of Coromandel and Waiheke are anticipating similar contingencies and deserting those places it is timely for us to be on the alert at the Barrier, where we are less able to obtain protection. Without some preparation in defence, the people here cannot be expected to remain in their employments, and thus all industrial pursuits would have to be suspended to the great loss to the Colony and all concerned.

            I think it prudent therefore to repeat my application to the Government for such protection as it may be able to afford, or that we may be provided immediately with arms and ammunition for our defence.

            I beg to propose that the Government should sanction the formation of a Volunteer Corps, under the usual Rules  & Regulations, for this Island. Such a Corps would consist of about 60 men all accustomed to the Bush and well immuned to every hardship, and I should be happy to command it. In case of serious danger an effort would be made to send the women and children to Auckland.

            I have no reason, at present, to suspect the Natives of this Island which are not more than 25 or 30 in number, of hostile intentions towards us. It is rather with their friends and connections from a distance that we may have to deal. But on the other hand, an experience of the Natives which extends over a period of upwards of 22 years warrants my belief that in the present state of affairs it would be imprudent to place much reliance on the friendly disposition of any of the Maori race.

            I most sincerely trust that we may be left to pursue our avocation here in peace, but should it unhappily occur that our position here should become untenable the Corps which I now propose to be formed might I hope be most usefully employed in active service, and though a married man with family, I should consider it my duty to accompany them.

            Requesting your early attention to this communhication,

            I have the honour to be, Sir,

            Your most obedient servant.


            Albert J. Allom J.P.


            General Manager & Agent for the Great Barrier Co.


Source: Colonial  Defence File  AD 1, 1863/474