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Von Tempsky fundraiser at Thames


22 Sept 1868, NZ Herald, Von Temsky (Thames) Fundraising Meeting

Mr Richard Mathews asked leave to make an observation on the melancholy occasion which had called them together.  The brave Von Tempsky was no more.  He, who in this colony had taken arms under the Government to vindicate the supremacy of the law, had fallen a victim to the savage foe, he had died nobly for his country, and it was under a sense of such a feeling that they had assembled together that afternoon. (Cheers.)  A more perfect gentleman, for he had the honor of his acquaintance, could not have existed.  He was ever ready to perform any office which claimed his services.  He was one of themselves also, he was a digger, for he (Mr Mathews) saw him in Coromandel in the early days, of that place, in a diggers costume, and although some might imagine that it was a disgrace to the wearer, the Major did not disdain to wear it.  It was due to themselves and to every right minded person to assist in providing for the children left in almost a destitute condition.  He (the Major) had done what he could towards the development of a goldfield in their province, and the matter was in everyway deserving of their assistance. (Loud Cheers)
The resolution was then submitted and adopted.
Mr D J O'Keefe then proposed, "That the Provisional Committee be recognized and confirmed, for the purpose of carrying out the object of the meeting.  The committee to consist of the following gentlemen, with power to add to their number," 

James Mackay, Esq., Allan Baillie, Esq., Major Keddell, Captain Cadell, Captain Pye, Skene, Brackenbury, Dr Sam, Lieut. Finnerty, Lowther Broad, Esq., White,  Mulligan, Burke, Walker, O'Keefe, Hirach, Butt, Drabble, Jones, Owen, Robert Trahem, Broad, Macgregor, Howard, Clarkson, Hall, Beetham, Power, Christie, Jones, Mitchell, Ogilvie , Grant, Father Nivard, McGinley,        Taipari, Hogg, McDonnell, Hunt, Captain Numis, Rev. Mr Hill, Daniel Becre, Eyre, Dixon, Weston, Gillies, Gibbons, Souter.

He said he had been requested to propose the resolution before the meeting.  A provisional committee had been formed, and they had taken upon themselves the liberty of calling that  meeting together for the purpose set forth in the resolution proposed by Mr Graham.  He might state that the lady for whom their sympathy was sought to be enlisted was an estimable lady and a good mother. (Cheers.) The colony was steeped in debt, as they were aware, and could not pay more than a small pittance towards bringing up the children and supporting the widow of the late Major Von Tempsky.  It had been briefly said by the late Dean Swift on a charitable occasion that "those who gave to the poor lent to the Lord;" and he need only remind them that in coming forward with their subscriptions they would be "lending to the Lord."  It would be the duty of the committee, whose names he had to propose, to raise such a sum as would be an advantage to the widow and children and a credit to the goldfield. (Loud cheers.)

Mr Alan Baillie seconded the resolution and it was unanimously adopted.
Capt. Drabble said there were doubtless a few present who had been in action with the late Major Von Tempsky, and they would be able to testify to the fact that the gallant officer had never been behind when duty called him to the front.  He would appeal to the sympathies of these present to come forward and subscribe their mite towards the assistance of his hapless widow and children, a sum however trifling, that would assist in maintaining them in the same station of life they previously occupied.  The resolution he was called upon to propose , read as follow:- "That the meeting do now dissolve, and that the gentlemen appointed do receive subscriptions at the undermentioned places, at the Theatre: Butt's Bar on Shortland Hotel; in front of Mr Macdonald's offices ; and on Monday at the Banks and other places."

Mr J. A. J. Macgregor came forward to second the resolution.  He said he had been acquainted with the diggers both on the West Coast and in Victoria for the last fifteen years, and he had always found them a warm-hearted and generous race and he had no doubt they would maintain that character on the present occasion. Snip.

Dr Sam said before returning to the Theatre to assist in collecting, he had a very pleasant duty to perform..  He felt sure all present would agree with him in passing a vote of thanks to the chairman for the very able manner with which he had conducted the proceedings of the meeting.
Mr D. K. Clarkson seconded the motion, which was carried with cheers.
Major Keddell having returned thanks, the meeting dispersed.

22 September 1868 NZ Herald, Von Tempsky (Hastings/Tapu) Memorial Address

A public meeting according to announcement, was held at the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel to-day, at 3
pm., which was attended by a large number of influential persons.
G. F Farron, Esq., was requested to reside, and on taking the chair, stated that a preliminary meeting was held here yesterday by several gentlemen from Shortland, to take the necessary steps for this meeting today, the purport of which is to raise a fund for the widow and orphans of the late lamented Major Von Tempsky, the minutes of which meeting will be read to you.  Having heard these, I shall introduce the object for which this meeting has been called.  At the present moment meetings are being held at Shortland and at Puriri, in connection with the charitable object proposed, namely, - "The Von Tempsky Widow and Orphans' Fund."

The Chairman rose and said that this meeting had been called somewhat hurriedly, but, nevertheless, spontaneously, by those who desire to express their sorrow at the melancholy intelligence just received from the front, of the death of that noble spirit, Major Von Tempsky.  A Prussian by birth, a thorough British subject at heart, and a gentleman drawn from nature's truest fount.  Such is the memory of him we meet to honor.  As a soldier who is there in New Zealand or elsewhere that can adequately do justice to his chivalrous character?  The foremost in the fight, the last to leave it, the admiration of men, who almost worshipped him.  Vain would it be for me to attempt to sketch his many acts of courage so often done on the field of battle.  But the last is the index of his whole career and must not be passed over in silence on this occasion.  In bringing one of his wounded men from under fire he met his death, and when he fell such was the love and courage of those remaining that three of their number fell dead or wounded in attempting his rescue.  Such was the soldier.  As a miner there are many here who can recollect the three years he prospected at Coromandel, and where he almost ruined himself, and almost every one in the first rush to the Thames remember the bell tent where the Major was camped, and also his unfortunate mining operations on the Hape.  When a report of the proposed attack on Shortland by the Maories was first current, Major Von Tempsky was chosen by acclaim to be in command, in him the miners felt secure, although as it happened there was no necessity for alarm.  Of his fame as a gymnast, to him the young men of Auckland owe the establishment of their gymnasium, is an artist, and as a musician there are many proofs of his versatility of talent and genius.  But as one who was ever ready to help the poor and needy, the defenseless and widowed, numberless are the occasions on which he has given his services, and his money.  I  know of nine concerts in one year for charitable objects where he delighted his audience and assisted the work of benevolence.  I have known him for the last two years, was of his party at the Thames, and thereof have some right to speak of his private character, and I must say a truer soul never breathed.  Shall such a man die for us in the distant bush of New Zealand, his body subject to the degradation of savages and we stand by to let his widow and orphans suffer want? No! The people of Hastings will not be behind in responding to the call made on their behalf, because it is the only tribute they can make to one who so long as his name shall live, shall be in out mouths as a household word. (Applause.)  A letter had just been placed in his hands from the honorary secretary at Shortland, which expressed regret that a deputation could not be sent from Shortland to assist at the meeting, and that it was resolved to place the whole of the management of the arrangements in the hands of the local committee here, and also enclosing subscription lists.  

He would now call upon Mr Fergusson, to move the resolution, who, on rising, observed that so much has already been said by our worthy chairman that little need be said by me.  I cannot, as he has done, lay claim to the honour of two years acquaintance with the Thames, where I had the pleasure of being associated with him in the mining operations alluded to by our worthy chairman ; during that short time, however, I found him to be all that he is represented.  Here, where his character is so well known, and his good name so firmly established, it is unnecessary for me to say a single word in his praise.  But little of his military career is known to me; you are doubtless better acquainted with it, it is even probable that some of you must have been associated with him in some of his hard fought fields ; that being the case I shall merely relate one incident of his life to show the nobleness of his nature.  

Whilst on his way from some of the Californian diggings, where he had been lucky, he had occasion to cross a ferry, one of the boatmen, surmising that he had a considerable sum of money on him, ordered him to deliver it up to them, of course he refused, the men showed their determination to take it by force, a scuffle ensued in which Von Tempsky found himself overpowered and at the bottom of the boat ; with his knife he stabbed one of his assailants to the heart and to jump overboard into the water was the work of a moment.  Once there he was in his element, and would no doubt have escaped, but they could pull faster than he could swim, he dived and dived again to elude their grasp, but saw how could not escape so he feigned death, one of them seized him violently by the hair and drew him into the boat, where he was again maltreated, seeing an opportunity of again escaping he kicked the most savage of his assailants in the stomach, and in the confusion caused by his fall again sprang overboard and in doing so upset the boat,  his assailants being now at a disadvantage, and having to look out for themselves, he soon got away from them.  What occurred after that he did not know, but when he again became conscious he found himself in bed.  The good Samaritan who had taken him in informed him that he found him clinging to a pile above high water mark, insensible.  Some years afterwards Von Tempsky met the very man who had dragged him into the boat by the hair.  He could not but be revenged, and he was, but no sooner was his desire for revenge appeased than his heart melted in pity for the poor wretch, who so well deserved the chastisement he had received.  And now I wish to call your attention particularly to what Von Tempsky did.  He took him home to the place where he was living, and watched over him as a women would.  Von Tempsky's comrades were boiling with indignation, and wanted to kill outright the object of his care, but he would not allow them and as soon as his patient was better he was allowed to go. What better illustration of the nobleness of his nature?  Another proof of self-sacrifice is seen by the way he met his death.  One of his men, we are informed, was wounded, and lying under the enemies fire, Von Tempsky went to his rescue, and in doing so sacrificed his own valuable life, valuable to us as colonist, but infinitely more so to his wife and family.  For his family he always manifested the most tender solicitude.  Had the mining operations in which we were engaged turned out a success nothing would have induced him again to place his sword at the service of that Government who had so badly acquitted him for past services.  But they were not successful, and much as he felt that his services would neither be appreciated nor adequately rewarded, his solicitude for his family left no alternative but to accept the commission offered by the Government.  A friend has just mentioned to me before the business of this meeting began that perhaps he may yet turn up, that being only apparently wounded, he may make his escape. I cannot encourage any such hopes, but I am sure we shall all be agreeable disappointed if we find that these meeting have been unnecessary.  As far as we know he is gone from among us, and as we all know that Government does not too liberally reward it's servants, at least, such as he, we may reasonably conclude that his family are not very well provided for, and any sum we may be able to subscribe will be very acceptable indeed.  I shall now move the resolution, "That this meeting views with the deepest regret the irreparable loss the colony has sustained by the late gallant Von Tempsky being killed inaction, at Patea, on the 7th instant, while generously removing one of his wounded men from under enemy fire and to show it's appreciation of his noble qualities as a soldier and a man and also as proof of how deeply it sympathises with his bereaved wife and family, it now opens a subscription list for their benefit."

Which was duly seconded by Mr Steadman, and carried unanimously.
Dr McLeod then rose to move the second resolution, which was as follows, "That this meeting, in singling out the name of Von Tempsky from the names of those who fall by his side, whilst nobly performing their duty, does not ignore their claim to its respect and admiration, but because he was personally well known to the greater number of persons here many of whom regret his loss as that of a dear friend."
Which was seconded and carried unanimously.
The business of the meeting being over, the chairman announced that the subscription lists would be at once laid on the table and also distributed over the township.
A vote of thanks were given to the Chairman and also to Messrs. Reid and Steadman for the use of the room.

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