For someone who emerges from Taranaki history as a defiant, capable woman, there are not a lot of details to be found on Takiora, yet what there are seem fascinating.
She was a woman of many names. Baptised Lucy Elizabeth Lord on 9 October 1842, she was also known as Takiora, Takiora Grey (or Gray), Bloody Mary and Mrs Richard Blake. Under the name of Louisa Grey, she married surveyor Joseph D'Alton and was known at the time of her death as Lucy D'Alton. Yet the spelling in the cemetery funeral book has her listed as Lewesa F. Dalton. Two known photographs of Takiora exist and both have Lucy Lord on them, but one caption reads “Wikitoria, Queen of Nukumaru, who fought under General Chute”.
Takiora was a commanding figure, both in photographs and in real life. Born 9 October 1842 at Russell, she was the daughter of Kotiro Hinerangi of Ngāti Tūpaea and William Lord, and half-sister to Te Paea Hinerangi, the famous Pink and White Terraces guide.
During the Taranaki Wars of the 1860s, Takiora and her first husband Te Mahuki worked as guides and interpreters for several British commanders. The most notable was Major Gustav Ferdinand von Tempsky, the celebrated bush fighter and painter. Both Takiora and Te Mahuki feature in some of von Tempsky's works where his romantic style make them seem a rather pretty couple.
After Te Mahuki was killed in battle, Takiora stayed with the troops for more than two years. An account by Takiora of the death of von Tempsky, as recorded by W.H. Skinner, gives a rare glimpse into the work of the guide and her soldiers.
There are suggestions that Takiora may have been von Tempsky's mistress. As James Belich noted in I Shall Not Die: “I believe he had a Māori wife,' wrote Whanganui settler John Wright, 'This is something which may not be known.' She was probably Lucy Lord or Takiora, widow of von Tempsky's 'most trusted scout', Te Mahuki, and herself an excellent scout and spy. A strong and able woman, she was half Ngāti Ruanui, a female Katene...”
Once hostilities ended Takiora helped with the purchase of Māori land, some from her own tribal area. She won the confidence of Titokowaru's followers and reported directly to government land buyer Donald McLean, who paid her £10 a month and £400 worth of confiscated land. “Titoko says that if the Pākehā comes to attack him, he will turn round and fight them. I told you before that Titoko won't give in… I risk my life in giving information.”
And on 27 October 1869, it was Takiora who caused the last known fatalities of Titokowaru's War. James Belich writes: “Takiora was staying at Camp Waihi, her familiar haunt, now the headquarters of Ngāti Porou... Takiora had heard that some Nga ruahine old people had returned to their homes near Araukuku, and she told Blake of this, making him promise to capture, not kill, them. He and Piniamino led out a strong patrol, with Takiora as guide. But when three of the old people were found, the two men, Wikiriwhi and Hami, were immediately shot dead and only a woman was taken alive. Grieving for her men, the old woman recognised Takiora as her betrayer. 'When the old woman saw me she began to cry and beat me. I did not remonstrate, as I knew wrong had been done.”
Labelled a traitor by the iwi, she was also shunned by most Europeans, though this did not seem to stop a long liaison with white men. As well as those husbands she chose, Takiora was almost married off to one Major Charles Brown, who twice served as superintendent of Taranaki and played an active part in public affairs.
Brown, who appears a somewhat shady character, once spoke quite candidly of his “cannibal bedfellows”. But when offered Takiora in 1875 after his first wife died, he decided it didn't suit either of them at the time: “If she served the government, I could serve her interests better by her not being my mistress”. A woman scorned, Takiora refused to help him and turned down his marriage proposal. Three years later at Pātea, under the name Louisa Gray, she married surveyor Joseph Edwin Dalton.
Records show that early in 1893, a Normanby hotel publican took out a prohibition order to stop her supply of liquor and on 3 September that same year, Lucy Takiora Lord died. Buried as Register Entry No 67, Takiora lies on Anglican Row 5, Lot 9, Plot 02, in the Te Henui cemetery. There is little left to show of the colourful part she once played in this country's equivalent of the Wild, Wild West, just one small square of grass.
Belich, J. (1989). I Shall Not Die: Titokowaru's War, 1868-1869. Wellington: Allen & Unwin.
Clement, C., Johnston, J. (1993). Women of South Taranaki, their stories = Nga wahine toa o Taranaki tonga, o ratou korero. Hāwera: Hāwera Suffrage Centennial Local History Group.