Personal info

  • Name: William ODGERS
  • D.O.B: 12th Feb, 1834
  • D.O.A: 28th Mar, 1860
  • D.O.D: 20th Dec, 1873
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Leading Seaman, HMS Niger, Royal Navy
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 1
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Sources & Acknowledgements

Waireka Pa, New Zealand 28 March 1860

28 March 1860

More details about:
The New Zealand Wars 1860–65 

The immediate cause of the Taranaki War was the purchase in 1859 by settlers of land at Pekapeka near Waitara, north of New Plymouth at the south-west corner of the North Island. Tension had been rising for some months when on 1 March 1860 the Governor, Thomas Gore Browne, arrived in HMS Airedale with troops of the 65th (2nd Yorkshire North Riding) Regiment accompanied by the 13-gun steamer HMS Niger. He hoped that a speedy victory over the rebellious Maori leader Wiremu Kingi (William King) would deter others from joining in the dispute. On 17 March 1860, 500 troops bombarded Kingi’s Te Kohia Pa. A pa, usually spelt Pah in documents of the period, was a Maori fortified village or stockade. That night the defenders evacuated the pa without loss of life. This emboldened the other Maori tribes in the area and on 27 March five settlers were killed at Omata, three miles south of New Plymouth. The following day troops and volunteers set out to escort other settlers in the area back to New Plymouth. At the mouth of the Waireka river the volunteers were attacked by Maoris. The Niger, which was lying offshore, sent two surf-boats with Captain Cracroft, six officers, 32 sailors and 10 marines, with a 24lb rocket tube, to assist. Joining with men of the 65th and some volunteers, Cracroft advanced to Omata by about 5pm. Nearby was the strongly fortified Waireka Pa. Although ordered to retire, Cracroft was determined to take it. Advancing, the sailors fired rockets at the pa and then charged and captured it, sustaining only four casualties. The largest of the Maori battle flags was secured by Leading Seaman William Odgers, who received ten pounds from Cracroft as a reward. As well as Odgers, Cracroft recommended Captain of the Foretop Roger Glanville, Able Seaman William Older and Marine William Clarke for the VC, but singled out Odgers as the most daring. Odgers was the only man to whom the award was made.


 On the 28th March, 1860, William Odgers displayed conspicuous gallantry at the Storming of a Pah during operations against Rebel Natives in New Zealand; having been the first to enter it under a heavy fire, and having assisted in hauling down the enemy’s colours. 

The London Gazette of 3 August 1860, Numb. 22409, p. 2861

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