The Battle of Orakau was the conclusion of the Waikato Wars and was where the great fighting chief Rewi Maniapoto made his famous "Last stand".
Rewi later became a friend to the settlers and was fundamental in allowing the Main Trunk (North Island) railway to proceed thru Maori lands in the 1880's.
"Thomas Finch was recorded in his military records as born in Ipswich U K and was probably born between 1822 - 1824. He joined the 58th Rutlandshire Regiment on 08/01/1844 (Reg No2148). (alternate date is 5/01/1842)
The Regiment was posted to the Colony of New South Wales and sailed for Hobart on the Sailing
Ship “William Jardine” on 01/07/44 arriving in Hobart on 20/11/44, on to Norfolk Island arriving
05/12/45 and to Auckland on 23/12/ 45
The regiment was sent by the UK government to assist in suppressing the uprisings of the Ngapuhi under Hone Heke and Kawiti in the far north. The Regiment attacked Kawiti’s Pah near at Puketutu with other English Regiments and then joined in the famous week long attack on Heke’s Pah at Ruapekapeka (The Bats Nest) The attacking troops only succeeded in getting into the Pa on the Sunday whilst the warriors were at Divine Service outside the rear of the pah (January 1846)
Thomas took his discharge in NZ on 30/11/1853, and settled in Howick where the regiment had been based, after having served in other parts of the New Zealand Wars.
The Fencibles were all ex Imperial troops who lived in the four Fencible Settlements on the then outskirts of Auckland. One was at Howick the others at Onehunga, Panmure and Otahuhu. The settlements were to be part of a line of defence in the event of a Maori invasion from the South.The Fencibles were paid a small wage and were permitted to work within a five mile radius of their settlement. They were required to attend a weekly military parade and to maintain their uniform and rifle. Each Fencible was given an acre of land and the materials to build a 2 room cottage.
Thomas, although not a Fencible, was given lot 75 Nelson St. Howick on January 22 1859.and this is thought to be in recognition of his service in the Land Wars.
At the conclusion of the Waikato war the Finch family settled in Alexandra (now Pirongia) just west of Te Awamutu .
.At the outbreak of the Waikato war he joined the Militia as a member of Capt. Peacock’s Company, shortly afterwards volunteering for active service in the Land Transport Corps and was promoted to Sgt. He was present at the fall of Rangiriri and the advance to Ngaruawahia. He then transferred to the 2nd Waikato Regt. under Col. Hamilton and served during the balance of the Waikato war until the Battle of Orakau at which he was also present.