The peace of Atkinson’s Farm, somewhere in the back-blocks of colonial New Zealand, is suddenly disturbed by blood-curdling yells as a party of Māori warriors descend on the farmhouse. The Atkinson family run to stave off the attack.
Note: The tewhatewha is a long-handled Māori club weapon shaped like an axe. It was designed for scientific sparring and lightning strokes and thrusts, aided by quick footwork on the part of the wielder. The blows were not struck with the blade as one would with an axe, but rather with the thicker straight front edge. It was common for tewhatewha to be decorated with a small bunch of feathers to distract or confuse the wielder’s opponent.
Mr Atkinson, still bandaged from a wound in an earlier clash, takes command and directs his son Jim (dapper in his town-going clothes) to his position. Little Annie hitches up her skirts and runs with a haversack full of ammunition to resupply the defenders. Meanwhile Mrs Atkinson can be just seen in the doorway, musket slung over her shoulder, doling out the gunpowder from a small barrel in her arms.
The Māori warriors and the family are all from Empress Miniatures. My favourites are the delightful set #NZ16 shown above. The house is a plastic kit by Perry Miniatures, and the typical New Zealand cabbage trees, toi-tois and flax are paper kits from Right Track. The background is my own garden!
With this set, I’ll be able to recreate attacks on homesteads during the New Zealand Wars, such as the attack on Burtt’s Farm in 1863, as shown in Gustavus von Tempsky’s above painting.
Or I can portray attacks from romanticsed fiction, such as the attack shown in the above illustration from the classic 1891 novel Maori and Settler by GA Henty.