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ELIZABETH (BETTY) GUARD

 

Elizabeth Parker or Betty (as she was usually known) was born on 3 December 1814 and baptised at Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. Her parents were Harriott and Stephen Parker.

 

Around 1830 she married Jacky Guard, an ex-convict, and later a sealer, a sea captain and a trader. In the late 1820's he set up New Zealand's first shore whaling station at Te Awaiti, which became Betty's new home. She was reputedly the first woman of European descent to settle in the South Island.

 

In 1832, Betty gave birth to a son, John, who was the first Pakeha child to be born in the South Island. Late in 1833 she gave birth to a daughter Louisa.

 

In January 1834 Jacky Guard took his family on a visit to Sydney and on their return to New Zealand in April, the barque Harriet was driven ashore near Cape Egmont. All aboard managed to reach the shore. However, a group of Taranaki and Ngati Ruanui Maori, aided by two deserting seaman from the Harriet who supplied them with gun powder attacked the shipwreck victims. Betty Guard, her husband and two children and some sailors were captured. After two weeks Jacky Guard and several other men were released on the understanding that they would return with a cask of gunpowder as ransom for the rest of the party.

 

Betty Guard narrowly escaped death at the hands of her captors. They twice cut her down with a tomahawk, and would have split open her head but for a large comb in her hair, which deflected the blows.

 

Various reports exist on her treatment at the hands of the her captors,

 

After a delay of four months a rescue operation was sent to secure the release of the prisoners. On September 25th, 1834 Betty Guard and her baby daughter were located at Te Namu pa. The rescue party assaulted and burnt the pa causing the Maori to flee with their prisoners to a pa at Waimate, further along the Taranaki coast. On the 1st October Betty and Louisa were given up in exchange for Oaoiti, who had earlier been detained and brutally ill treated by Jacky Guard and his companions.

 

In an attempt to rescue Betty's son John, the two vessels bombarded the Maori pa and canoes for three hours. On the 8th October, a full force of officers and men landed with a six-pounder gun. The boy was grabbed off the back of an old chief who had carried him to the beach, and was then shot.

 

Louisa died eight months later, probably as a result of the hardships she suffered as a baby. Betty Guard had seven more children and died on 16 July 1870 aged 55, and was buried in the Guard family private burial ground at Kakapo Bay, Port Underwood.

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