General Chute's forces at Te Pūtahi pā

Watercolour, Encampment of Chute’s forces near Putahi pa, on the Whenuakura River, by Gustavus von Tempsky.

In late 1865 the new commander of the British troops in New Zealand, Major-General Trevor Chute, embarked upon what amounted to a ‘scorched earth’ policy in south Taranaki. The artist, von Tempsky, is seated by the cartwheel; standing behind him is the superintendent of Wellington province, Dr Isaac Featherston. To the right is the British and colonial camp; Te Pūtahi pā, which this force attacked, is on high ground across the river.

Von Tempsky was killed in 1868 during the assault on Tītokowaru’s pā at Te Ngutu-o-te-manu. Aged only 40 at the time of his death, von Tempsky had in the previous six years earned a reputation as ‘one of the most colourful characters of nineteenth century New Zealand’. An adventurer, writer and soldier, he was also an able watercolour artist who captured many scenes of the New Zealand Wars.

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