December 1863, Auckland, New Zealand
It has been heard about Auckland Town that Mr. von Tempsky, that intrepid adventurer, (and don’t try to tell me that a man who has fought in the jungles of South America would ever truly settle to such a staid existence as being merely a newspapermen, even in as wild a place as the mining towns of the Coromandel), a newly made commander in the Colonial Army, is currently involved in the rescue of a female settler-to-be somewhere in the wild Hunua Ranges, to the south of our good town.
This female, they say (and I hesitate to call her a lady, or perhaps even a person of womanly means), has made her way, alone, all the way from the feral East Coast of our fair land to Auckland, riding a wild Indian pony. It appears she had finally, after some searching, found Mr. von Tempsky, an acquaintance of her husband, after riding (swimming?) her Mustang across the large swamps between the town of Thames and Pukorokoro, (at the Miranda Redoubt). The good commander, in the middle of his preparation for war against the wild men of the Waikato, had rightly sent her north to abide in safety with his wife and children. However, after some bungling by the men sent to guide and protect her, it appears the girl has disappeared—and foul play is suspected.
Awaiting the news with bated breath, I remain,
Mr. Samuel Clemens
A Sea of Green Unfolding
December 1863, Maketu Pā, south of Auckland, New Zealand
“I appreciate the Pākehā working so hard to help us.” Tangawai watched the uniformed men in the distance to the southwest of his outpost, high atop the Maketu pā.
“They clear the bush beside the Great South Road to keep their supply trains safe from us, not to help us,” Mahi replied in Māori, his brows drawing together as he looked at the young rangatira from the corners of his eyes.
“Their stripping back of the bush from the road also lets us see who comes and goes on their road.” Tangawai grinned and raised the telescope back to his eye. The colonial army soldiers continued to toil and wear themselves out in the morning sun. He wiped sweat from his brow with the back of his forearm. The weather was already hot and humid for this hour, and he wasn’t swinging an axe.
As he scanned the Great South Road northward from the loggers, three mounted men came into view, trotting toward Auckland. Two wore military uniform and one was clad in a ragged-edged leather tunic.
“Tangawai,” a female voice called up to him from below.
He handed the scope to his cousin and leaned over the wall. The woman was climbing the steep side of the pā before him, a flax kete on her back. He threw a coil of rope to her and she climbed the last bit with its help.
Tangawai smiled as he took her hand and helped the slim, but heavily pregnant, young woman over the last parapet. “It must be getting difficult to climb, my Tūī.” He pulled her to him and kissed the top of her head on her glossy black hair.
“It won’t be long now, and your son will be on my back instead.” She smiled up at him and pulled his kai from the satchel.
He sat and ate with her while his cousin kept watch.
“Tangawai,” Mahi called over his shoulder, “weren’t there three riders heading north before, from Williamson’s Clearing?”
“Yes, two in uniform and one other.”
“There’s only the one Pākehā now.”
“Can you see the uniformed men?”
“No,” he said, and watched for awhile more. “Ah, there they are…they’re going away from us, toward the homesteads on the west side of the road. It might be a trap.”
“We’d better go spring it, then.” Tangawai frowned and pulled Tūī to her feet. “I’ll signal the village to ready the riders, but you’ll need to get down there and explain. The rest need to be ready to disappear into the bush. The Pākehā won’t follow them there.” He gave her a quick hug and a kiss, then she slid over the edge and lowered herself on the rope. Tūī waved from the bottom, then turned and ran down toward the village.
Yes, the Pākehā made it easy to see their road…and easy to see the figure on a small buckskin horse. Alone, when he’d just had a military escort. Why had they left him alone? This was a new trick.
He signaled via mirror to the village below and four men made ready. They approached Tūīwhen she reached the encampment and stood beside her for a few minutes, gesturing, before they mounted up and raced from the encampment. Their horses were gaunt and hard from their time in the bush on rough feed, now that the Māori were beginning to be pushed from the lands of their ancestors.
Tangawai returned to his telescope and scanned the horizon as his men galloped down the hill toward the newly-cleared road. The dust cloud raised by their passing diminished as the warriors settled themselves just inside the bush on both sides of the track to await the lone rider.
He was soon in their own trap. Tangawai gripped the parapet before him as his men surrounded the Pākehā. The rider looked small and puny, now that his whanau surrounded him. His men seemed to be speaking to the rider, then the little horse made a dash to escape, but its way was blocked. The Pākehā’s horse reared and sunlight glinted off metal near the hand of the rider as his men rushed toward him.
The rump of the gray horse was stained scarlet by the time the diminutive rider was dragged off the buckskin by two of his remaining, seasoned warriors. The man who’d been riding the gray crouched next to his horse, holding his bleeding forearm, and the other lay face-down on the ground. Tangawai shook his head and swore, while the men beside him on the walls stepped further away from him. He watched as his men picked the rider up off the ground and shook him.
And knocked his hat off.
Tangawai took the telescope away from his eye and blinked, glanced at the telescope, then peered through it again.
It was still there.
The blonde hair, down past his knees.
Pākehā men didn’t wear their hair that way.
The man who’d just bested two of his finest warriors had blonde hair cascading down past her knees…for it had to be a wahine.
This wasn’t normal, by anyone’s reckoning.
A Sea of Green Unfolding
When you’ve already lost everything, the only place left to go is up…
Tragedy strikes in Aleksandra and Xavier’s newly-found paradise on their Californio Rancho de las Pulgas and newspaperman Gustavus von Tempsky invites them on a journey to a new life in New Zealand—where everyone lives together in peace.
Unfortunately, change is in the wind.
When they reach Aotearoa, they
disembark into a turbulent wilderness—where the wars between the European
settlers and the local Māori have only just begun—and von Tempsky is leading
the colonial troops into the bush.
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About the Author
Lizzi grew up riding wild in the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods, became an equine veterinarian at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and practiced in the Gold and Pony Express Country of California before emigrating to New Zealand. She is the proud mother of two boys in that sea of green. When she’s not writing, she’s swinging a rapier or shooting a bow in medieval garb, riding or driving a carriage, playing in the garden on her hobby farm, singing, cooking, being an equine veterinarian or high school science teacher. She is multiply published and awarded in special interest magazines and veterinary periodicals.
With her debut novel, A Long Trail Rolling, she was Finalist 2013 RWNZ Great Beginnings; Winner 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award for the unpublished full manuscript; Winner 2015 RWNZ Koru Award for Best First Novel and third in Koru Long Novel section; and finalist in the 2015 Best Indie Book Award.