NZ Defence Stores July 1869 – June 1870

Military Storekeeping has been a feature of New Zealand’s military experience since 1840, and it is well known within the military storekeeping fraternity how Governor Hobson appointed Henry Tucker as the Colonial Storekeeper.  From 1840 to 1845 Tucker as Colonial Storekeeper would manage the Ammunition, Arms and accoutrements for the Militias hastily organised in the early days of colonial New Zealand. However, it is not until 1917, and the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps formation that New Zealand Military Storekeeping’s history begins with the period from 1845 to 1917 remaining as an empty void in the histography of New Zealand’s Military Storekeeping.  In this article, the period from July 1869 to June 1870 is examined. In this specific period, as New Zealand’s military “Self-Reliance” policy reached its culmination with the final Imperial Forces withdrawing from New Zealand and conflict that had raged since 1860 in its last throes. The conflict had placed an enormous financial burden on the young nation as it formed and equipped Regular, Militia and Volunteer units and as the country looked forward, the Defence Stores Department was formalised as a component of the New Zealand Forces to manage the large amount of war material that had been acquired.

Initially, Militia units in New Zealand were raised and equipped under the auspice of the Colonial Secretary. As Militia units could only be used for local defence, the Militia Act of 1858 allowed Volunteer Units to be formed for service anywhere in the colony. Like Militia units, Volunteer units were administered and equipped by the Colonial Secretary.  As conflict increased in the early 1860s with Imperial troops undertaking the bulk of the military burden, a call for the colony to take on more responsibility was advocated by Francis Weld, a member of the House of Representatives. Weld’s position became known as the “self-reliant” policy.

As Weld’s “self-reliant” policy gained traction, New Zealand’s Military Forces’ shape and how they were administered and equipped undertook a transformation with the reliance on Imperial Forces gradually decreasing until they were fully withdrawn in 1870.  A regular New Zealand Military Force was initiated with the passing of the Colonial Defence Force Act 1862 by the Government in 1863. This Act created a small Regular Force and formalised the Defence Minister’s role and created a Defence Department to administer the colony’s Defence Forces. The Colonial Store Department and Militia Store Department’s role and responsibilities were formalised, maintaining the separation between the Regulars and the Militia and Volunteers.  

In 1865 with local units taking on more of the defence burden with the scaling down and withdrawal of Imperial units well underway, a review of colonial defence proposed that the shape of New Zealand’s Military be changed to an Armed Constabulary Force supported by friendly natives with Militia and Volunteer units providing additional support when required. In October 1867 the Colonial Defence Force was disbanded by the Armed Constabulary Act 1867 with the regular members of the Colonial Defence Force transferred to the Armed Constabulary.[1]  Concurrent to implementing the Armed Constabulary Act 1867, the New Zealand Government also passed the Public Stores Act of 1867. The Act provided for the first time a comprehensive policy on the responsibility for the management of Government Stores, which as Government entities the Armed Constabulary, Militia and Volunteers were required to adhere too.[2]

With the Imperial withdrawal almost completed and military operations ongoing across the North Island, the first significant changes in stores’ management did not occur until 1869 when the entire Defence Stores Structure undertook substantial changes. One of the significant changes was recognising the Defence Stores as a permanent component of the Military.  Allocated a budget as part of the Militia, Volunteer and Armed Constabulary vote in the 1870 Government Estimates passed by Parliament in 1869, the Defence Stores were budgeted to function as follows;[3]

  • Head Office, Wellington
    • Inspector of Stores @ £500 PA
    • Inspector of Stores, Clerk @ £150 PA
  • Auckland
    • Storekeeper @ £250 PA
    • 2 x Clerks @ £160 PA ea.
    • Armourer @ £182 PA
    • 4 x Arms Cleaner @ £109 PA ea.
  • Wellington
    • Storekeeper, Militia and Volunteers @ £100 PA[4]
    • Clerk @ £150 PA
    • Armourer@ £182 PA
    • 4 x Arms Cleaner@ £109 PA
  • Wanganui
    • Storekeeper@ £100 PA[5]
    • Clerk @ £130 PA
  • Patea
    • Sub-Storekeeper @150 PA (from Jan 1870)[6]

With only a skeleton staff in the Auckland, Wellington and Wanganui, the Defence Stores had no presence in many parts of the nation and faced many challenges supporting its nationwide dependency.

Armed Constabulary

As of 15 June 1870, the Armed Constabulary was organised into six districts supported by a depot in Wellington;[7]

Sam Cosgrave Anderson, a clerk in the Defence Stores, would be appointed as the Armed Constabulary Storekeeper late in 1869, a position equal in grade and pay to the Defence Storekeepers in Auckland, Whanganui and Wellington.

  • Waikato with 108 men, dispersed across seven stations at;
    • Hamilton
    • Cambridge
    • Ngāruawāhia
    • Kihikihi
    • Alexandra
    • Raglan
    • Auckland
  • Taranaki with 170 men, dispersed across eleven stations at;
    • Wai-iti
    • Mimu
    • Urenui
    • Tupari
    • Takapu
    • Taipikiri
    • New Plymouth
    • Tikorangi
    • Okato
    • Te Arei
    • Waitara
  • Hawke’s Bay with 273 men dispersed across six stations and a Transport Corps at;
    • Opepe
    • Napier
    • Runanga
    • Tapuarharuru
    • Tarawera
    • Te Haroto
  • Turanganui (Poverty Bay) with 95 men dispersed across four stations
    • Turanganui (Gisborne)
    • Ormond
    • Te Wairoa
    • Te Kepa
  • Wanganui-Patea with 199 men dispersed across seven stations
    • Patea
    • Manutahi
    • Waihi
    • Hawera
    • Werorou
    • Wanganui
    • Wairoa (Waverley)
    • Wanganui
  • Bay of Plenty with 157 dispersed across seven stations
    • Tauranga
    • Maketu
    • Whakatane
    • Kaiteriria
    • Opitiki
  • Wellington Depot with 82 men.
New Zealand Armed Constabulary garrison at Ōpepe, near Taupō, early 1870s. Alexander Turnbull Library, Reference: 1/2-003116-F Artist: Samuel Carnell.

Militia and Volunteers

The Militia and Volunteers force was organised into districts and allocated a small permanent military staff to administer both the militia and volunteer units. Depending on the District’s size and the Militia and Volunteer units within the District, the permanent Military Staff would consist of an Officer Commanding or Adjutant, a Sergeant Major or Sergeant and a Bugler. Responsibility for stores issued to the Militia and Volunteers was assumed by an officer in the District appointed as Quartermaster in addition to their existing duties. In Some districts, the District Quartermaster would be responsible for the Armed Constabulary, Militia and Volunteer Stores.

Militia

The Militia Act of 1870 obliged all males inhabitants of New Zealand between the ages of seventeen and fifty-five liable for service in the Militia.[8] However, due to the many exemptions allowed under the Act, the actual number available for call up would be limited with few undertaking the necessary short periods of training required.  As of June 1870, approximately 4000 militiamen had been called up and participated in actual service or training. Militia Districts were;

  • Mongonui District
  • Bay of Islands District
  • Holcianga District
  • Kaipara District
  • Mangawhai District
  • Whangarei District
  • Auckland District
  • Wairoa District
  • Waiuku District
  • Wkangape District
  • Rangiriri District
  • Hamilton District
  • Raglan District
  • Alexandra District
  • Cambridge District
  • Thames District
  • Coromandel District
  • North Shore District
  • Tauranga District
  • Matala District
  • Opotiki District
  • White Cliffs District
  • New Plymouth District
  • Cape Egmont District
  • Patea District.
  • Whanganui District
  • Rangitikei District
  • Otaki District
  • Wellington District
  • Grey town District
  • Masterton District
  • East Coast (Native) District
  • Wairoa (Hawke’s Bay) District
  • North Napier District
  • South Napier District
  • South and Stewart Island District
Private of the New Zealand Militia in campaign dress. Harding, William James, 1826-1899 :Negatives of Wanganui district. Ref: 1/4-006785-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22807152

Volunteer Corps

Volunteer Corps were more established and would drill and meet regularly and at times, be deployed on operations. As of 31 May 1870, Volunteer Corps were organised into Calvary, Artillery, Engineer, Rifle, Naval and Cadet Corps.

Auckland Province

2600 men organised into 40 Adult and 13 Cadet Corps located at;

  • Auckland
    • 4 Cavalry Corps
    • 1 Artillery Corps
    • 1 Engineer Corps
    • 9 Rifle Corps
    • 2 Naval Corps
    • 11 Cadet Corps
  • Wairoa
    • 1 Cavalry Corps
    • 2 Rifle Corps
  • Waiuku
    • 1 Cavalry Corps
    • 6 Rifle Corps
  • Waikato
    • 1 Cavalry Corps
  • Thames
    • 1 Engineer Corps
    • 5 Rifle Corps
    • 1 Naval Corps
    • 2 Cadet Corps
  • Bay of Plenty
    • 2 Cavalry Corps
    • 1 Rifle Corps
  • Poverty Bay
    • 1 Cavalry Corps
    • 1 Rifle Corps

Taranaki Province

166 men organised into 4 Adult Corps located at

  • New Plymouth
    • 1 Cavalry Corps
    • 1 Rifle Corps
  • Patea
    • 1 Cavalry Corps
    • 1 Rifle Corps

Wellington Province

1821 men organised into 39 Adult and 8 Cadet Corps located at

  • Wanganui
    • 4 Cavalry Corps
    • 3 Rifle Corps
  • Rangitikei
    • 4 Cavalry Corps
    • 6 Rifle Corps
    • 2 Cadet Corps
  • Wellington
    • 1 Artillery Corps
    • 13 Rifle Corps
    • 5 Cadet Corps
  • Greytown
    • 1 Cavalry Corps
    • 2 Rifle Corps
    • 1 Cadet Corps
  • Masterton
    • 1 Cavalry Corps
    • 2 Rifle Corps

Hawkes Bay Province

304 men organised into 4 Adult and 1 Cadet Corps located at

  • Napier
    • 1 Cavalry Corps
    • 1 Artillery Corps
    • 1 Rifle Corps
    • 1 Cadet Corps
  • Wairoa
    • 1 Rifle Corps

Nelson Province

295 men organised into 3 Adult and 3 Cadet Corps

  • Nelson
    • 1 Artillery Corps
    • 2 Rifle Corps
    • 3 Cadet Corps

Marlborough Province

235 men organised into 5 Adult and 2 Cadet Corps

  • Marlborough
    • 5 Rifle Corps
    • 2 Cadet Corps

Canterbury Province

710 men organised into 13 Adult and 5 Cadet Corps

  • Canterbury
    • 1 Cavalry Corps
    • 3 Artillery Corps
    • 2 Engineer Corps
    • 7 Rifle Corps
    • 5 Cadet Corps

Otago and Southland Province

1303 men organised into 18 Adult and 3 Cadet Corps

  • Otago
    • 1 Artillery Corps
    • 13 Rifle Corps
    • 2 Naval
    • 2 Cadet Corps
  • Invercargill
    • 1 Rifle Corps
    • 1 Cadet Corps
  • Riverton
    • 1 Rifle Corps

Westland Province

207 men organised into 3 Adult Corps

  • Hokitika
    • 1 Rifle Corps
  • Ross
    • 1 Rifle Corps
  • Greymouth
    • 1 Rifle Corps

Defence Store Department

The Defence Stores was not a new organisation, but rather an amalgamation of the Militia Stores Department and the Colonial Stores Department, which had both been created in the early 1860s. The significant change was the appointment in April 1869 of Lieutenant Colonel, Edward Gorton as Inspector of Stores. [9] Appointed as Inspector of Stores at the age of Thirty-One, Gorton had come to New Zealand with the 57th Regiment where he had spent time as Cameron’s aide-de-camp. Taking his release from Imperial service in 1863, Gorton was appointed as Major in the Militia assuming command of the Wellington Militia District. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Gorton was placed in command of the Whanganui and Rangitikei Militia Districts and would serve as Quartermaster to General Whitmore during the Tītokowaru War of 1868/69.[10]

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Gorton

Establishing his office in Wellington, Gorton was assisted by a Clerk, Mr C.S Lockie. Shortly after his appointment, Gorton drafted new rules and regulations for keeping store accounts and the proposed forms to the Defence Minister for approval.[11]

Auckland Defence Stores

Located at Albert Barracks, the Auckland Defence Store was the most extensive and principle Defence Store in New Zealand.  Although the Storekeeper in Auckland was Capitan John Mitchell, he had been suspended as Colonial Storekeeper in May 1869 due to a dispute about some absences.[12] Mitchell tendered his resignation on 5 July 1869, with and Major William St Clair Tisdall was appointed as acting Sub-Storekeeper of the Auckland Defence Stores.[13]

Major Tisdall was assisted by a small long-serving and experienced staff consisting of;[14]

  • John Blomfield, Clerk
  • John Price, Clerk
  • D Evitt, Armourer Sergeant
  • 4 x Arms Cleaners
  • J Broughton, Magazine keeper Appointed Jan 1870

Wellington Defence Stores

The Wellington Defence Store located at Mount Cook was divided into two functions;

  • The Armed Constabulary Stores
  • The Defence Store

Storekeeper Sam Anderson controlled the Armed Constabulary Stores. Anderson position was paid from within the Armed Constabulary budget and as part of the Armed Constabulary Depot was technically not part of the Defence Store organisation. However, records indicate that the two organisations were closely associated.

The Wellington Defence Store was under Lieutenant Colonels HE Reader’s supervision who as the Commander of the Wellington District Militia was also the Wellington Defence Storekeeper. In his Defence Store duties Reader was assisted by;[15]

  • Sergeant Alexander Crowe, Clerk
  • Armourer Sergeant E. H Bradford, Armourer
  • 4 x Arms Cleaners, including
    • Mr John Shaw
    • Mr James Smith
    • Mr Walther Cristie
  • Magazine Keeper, Appointed in January 1870

Whanganui Defence Stores

Due to the Tītokowaru War, Whanganui had been a significant military hub with the Defence Store post graded as one requiring a Storekeeper assisted by a Clerk. The Storekeeper position was filled by the Officer Commanding and Adjutant of the Wanganui Militia and Volunteers, Major Chas Chalkin. In January 1870, the military situation had changed, and the Storekeeper position in Whanganui was downgrade to that of Sub-Storekeeper.

Patea Defence Stores

With the cessation of hostilities after the Tītokowaru War, Patea would prosper and become a significant regional hub. A Sub-Storekeeper was appointed to manage Defence Stores affairs in the area in January 1870

Tours of Inspection

Gorton had a tremendous job ahead in organising and transforming the Defence Stores into an effective organisation. Since 1860 the New Zealand Government had purchased thousands of weapons such as Enfield, Terry and Snider rifles and carbines, and the associated sets of accoutrements from Australia and the United Kingdom to equip the various New Zealand Forces. All this war material needed to be accounted for and redistributed to the Armed Constabulary and Volunteer units or placed into Militia storage.

Gorton was a hands-on leader and during his first year would conduct several tours of inspection to inspect the stockpiles of military material distributed across New Zealand. On one such outing, Gorton left Auckland on the Friday 13 November 1869 on the NZ Government Paddle Steamer Sturt to inspect the military depots and garrisons on the East Coast of the North Island.  Landing at Port Charles, Tauranga, Opotiki, Hicks Bay, Port Awanui, Tūpāroa, Tologa Bay, Poverty Bay Gorton found many stores that had been stockpiled as part of the recent East Coast campaign but not utilised. Gorton took the opportunity to revise the holdings at each location and redistribute as necessary, handing over the balance to Captain Bower, the District Quartermaster at Napier.[16]

The Imperial Withdraw

Since 1842, an Imperial Storekeeping organisation was based in New Zealand with the Ordnance Department establishing Store’s offices in Auckland and Wellington. The Ordnance Department was then reorganised into a new organisation called the Military Store Department on 1 February 1857. With its primary location at Fort Britomart in Auckland, the Military Store Department principal role was to support the Imperial Garrison, with support provided to colonial forces when necessary.  By 1866 the conflict in New Zealand had reached a stage where with the “Self-reliance” policy the colonial forces had reached a level of independence allowing them to conduct the bulk of military operations, resulting in a drawdown and withdrawal of Imperial units. As the Imperial commitment decreased with the departure of five Imperial Regiments in 1866, the Military Store Department also had to reduce and optimise its operations.

Further reductions of Imperial troops necessitated the closing of its regional Depots such as the Depot in Whanganui in March of 1867.[17] With the departure of four more regiments in 1867, the Tauranga Depot closure soon followed.[18]  The final Imperial Regiment would depart New Zealand in February 1869.[19]

Fort Britomart’s dismantling had commenced in January 1869, with all the military content of Fort Britomart and Albert Barracks belonging to the Imperial Government, such as guns, ammunition and stores shipped to the United Kingdom on the SS Himalaya.[20]  With the withdrawal of Imperial Forces completed by July 1870.[21] Although the Military Store Department had provided valuable support and advice to the Colonial Defence Force over the years and had provided a useful logistic backstop, the New Zealand Defence Stores under Gorton were now required to stand alone.

Burglary from Wellington Militia Store

A testament to the importance and accuracy of Gorton’s stocktaking endeavours was demonstrated in August 1869. Gorton had finalised a stocktake and reorganisation of the Wellington Militia Store on 29 July 1869. Two days later the Militia Store was broken into and several items of clothing stolen. On discovery of the break-in, a quick inventory by Sergeant Crowe was able to identify the nature and quantity if the stolen items and an accurate report provided to the Wellington Police. Within a short time, the thief and his accomplices were apprehended while wearing some of the stolen items.[22]

Gorton faced many challenges in establishing the Defence Stores as an organisation. Active Military Operations were still being undertaken along with a sizeable force of Militia, Volunteers and Armed Constabulary positioned in redoubts and blockhouses in the frontier regions, with each of these presenting unique logistical challenges. Concurrently the Defence Stores were required to manage Militia and Volunteers units’ stores and equipment in all parts of the country to allow them to maintain their efficiency status. However, Gorton had come into the job with the Defence Stores’ foundations already established with staff who had learned military storekeeping skills through the busy conflict years of the 1860s. To complement his team’s existing experience and strengthen to the Defence Stores’ effectiveness, early in his tenure, Gorton set new rules, regulations, and forms for keeping store accounts that would begin the journey to professionalise New Zealand’s Military Storekeeping.


Notes

[1] General Assembly of New  Zealand, “Armed Constabulary Act 1867,”  (1867).

[2] “The Public Stores Act 1967,”  (1867).Notes

[3] “Estimates for General Government Services for the Year Ending  30th June, 1870, as Voted by the Gemeral Assembly,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1869, Session I, B-01d  (1869).

[4] The Storekeeper in Wellington was also the Officer Commanding and Adjutant of the Wellington Militia and Volunteers with salaries for these duties covered under another allocation of the Defence vote

[5] The Storekeeper in Wanganui was also the Officer Commanding and Adjutant of the Wanganui Militia and Volunteers with salaries for these duties covered under another allocation of the Defence vote

[6] Nominal Roll of Officers in the Store Department – August 1870 – for Printing, Item Id R24174657, Record No Cd1870/2744 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1870).

[7] “Papers and Reports Relating to the Armed Constabulary,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1870 Session I, D-07  (1870).

[8] General Assembly of New  Zealand, “The Militia Act 1870,”  (1870).

[9] “Estimates for General Government Services for the Year Ending  30th June, 1870, as Voted by the Gemeral Assembly.”

[10] “Colonel Gorton,” Feilding Star, Volume IV, Issue 1072, Page 2, 31 December 1909.

[11] Edward Gorton, Forwarding Rules and Regulations for Keeping Store Accounts, Also Proposed Forms for Approval of Defence Minister, Item Id R24142601 Record No Cd1869/2900               (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1869 ).

[12] Suspension of Captain Mitchell Colonial Storekeeper for Absence from Duty. Major Tisdall Is Placed in Temporary Charge of Stores, Item Id R24175550 Record No Cd1869/2824 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1869).

[13] Gorton, Forwarding Rules and Regulations for Keeping Store Accounts, Also Proposed Forms for Approval of Defence Minister.

[14] Nominal Roll of Officers in the Store Department – August 1870 – for Printing.

[15] Ibid.

[16] “Arrival of the P.S. Sturt.,” Hawke’s Bay Herald, Volume 13, Issue 1103, 23 November 1869.

[17] “Wanganui,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXIII, Issue 3003, 11 March 1867.

[18] “Page 2 Advertisements Column 5,” New Zealand Herald, Volume IV, Issue 1079, 30 April 1867.

[19] A. H. McLintock, “British Troops in New Zealand,”  http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/1966/british-troops-in-new-zealand ; “The Troops and the Home Government,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXV, Issue 3643, 23 March 1869.

[20] “Dismantling of Fort Britomart,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXV, Issue 3616, 19 February 1869.

[21] “Projected Departure of Mr Hamley,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXVI, Issue 4007, 25 June 1870.

[22] “Supreme Court, Ciminal Sittings,” Wellington Independent, Volume XXIV, Issue 2885, Page 6, 4 September 1869.