Our display game of the Battle of Boulcott’s Farm (1846) took place today at the Paraparaumu Public Library. This was to help mark the inaugural Rā Maumahara National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Wars, fought from 1843 to 1872 between many Māori groups against British and New Zealand forces supported by other Māori allies.
Last year a petition to Parliament organised by Otorohanga College students called for a national commemoration day of the New Zealand Wars. They felt the wars fought on our own soil had been forgotten in comparison to our involvement overseas during WW1 and WW2. As a result, the government instituted 28 October as the new annual ‘Rā Maumahara National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Wars’.
With the release by Empress Miniatures a few years ago of a wonderful range of figures for this period, the wargaming hobby was well-suited to contribute in a small way to the day. And thus our display game in the Paraparaumu Public Library was born.
The intent of the game was more to engage with the public, than to actually play the game seriously. So we had a leisurely game with lots of stops to talk to spectators, and even to be photographed by a local paper.
In fact, we had already got some decent media pre-coverage the day before in our major daily paper (click on the picture below to read the full article).
We interacted with quite a few people during the day. Some had come specially to see the game, others just happened by. As you can imagine, a display in a public library got a totally different crowd than what you would get at a wargames show.
But everyone we spoke to (and we made a great effort to ensure we did speak to everyone) seemed very interested and engaged, with some people spending a considerable amount of time chatting with us, either talking about the history of the New Zealand Wars, or curious about the hobby in general.
We thought the game would also be slow because we were all newbies to the rules we were using – The Men Who Would Be Kings. However, aided by a quick reference chart I drew up, the game went remarkably smoothly, and we even had time to run it through twice on the day.
I can’t comment too much on the narrative of what happened in each game, as it was a fairly hectic day chatting to people, learning the rules etc. The incidents I particularly recall were:
- a party of Māori warriors trampling through tents to charge the sleepy British outlying picket site
- the garrison of the stockaded farmstead taking too much time stirring in response to the frantic bugle blowing from their over-run picket
- a war-party of Māori scambling right over the palings around the farmstead, only to be blasted away by a close order volley from the defenders inside the stockade
- the Hutt Militia in a nearby village milling around in confusion rather than marching straight towards the sound of gunfire to reinforce the beleaguered farm.
Suffice to say everything that happened seemed to reflect what either did or could have happened in reality.
Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed by the photos I took. Because of the continual public interaction, I didn’t have time to set up and take as many photos as I would normally do, so the selection from which to pick the best shots for publication was quite small!
Nevertheless, I do hope from these few photos you can see that the display achieved its purpose of promoting the history of the New Zealand Wars. And of course we all played our part seriously, as you can see Bala Menzies doing in the pic below …