Robert Kirkwood was playing cricket in Cambridge on 10 April. An elderly Maori came up to him and said that some Europeans here would be killed shortly. Kirkwood laughed and asked who was going to do the killing. The Maori said the Hauhaus, they would murder but not fight.
On 24 April 1873 Mohi Purukutu, Hori Te Tumu, Whina, and Herewini Ngamuku were on the track from Maungatautari to Pukekura and when they reached the turnoff to Moanatuatua, they saw George Lloyd driving a cartload of fascines. He was heading out to other workmen, David Jones, Charlie Rogers and Timothy Sullivan who were working about three chains outside the Aukati Line laying fascines for a track.
They were gathering firewood for the lunch billy when Jones' dog started to bark. Four armed Maori were approaching. Rogers said, "Let's run". And they did.
About three quarters of a mile on Tim became exhausted and said, "I'm done, I can't go any further. Go on boys, take care of yourselves". He sat down and was soon overtaken by Hori Te Tumu, and shot in the back by Mohi Purukutu � just below the right shoulder blade.
Jones and Rogers heard the shot and ran on, still being chased by Whina and Herewini Ngamuku. The two Maori crossed to the north side of the swamp with the intention of cutting off Jones and Rogers but when they reached the boundary line they fired a shot and called out, "Stop Jones, there is an end of it, you are at the boundary". And they stopped the chase. Rogers went to Walker's station at Moanatuatua and Jones caught a stray horse and continued into Cambridge.
Purukutu and Hori Te Tumu cut Sullivan's chest open and removed his heart. They cut and wrenched off his head. His pocketknife was left beside him smeared with blood. His waistcoat and hat were also taken.
Richard Parker had by this time joined George Lloyd on the cart. Discovering his workmates missing and seeing Purukutu and Te Tumu, they too decided to return. Going back up the track Whina jumped out at them and fired his gun at Parker. Luckily, it miss-fired. Lloyd fled and Whina fired again � again it miss-fired. Parker spurred his horse and escaped.
Jones arrived in Cambridge about 1.30pm. Major Clare, who commanded the Armed Constabulary, had only two men at Cambridge so, with a party of settlers he set out to recover Tim's body.
James Mackay as Agent for the General Government arrived on 28 April to investigate the affair. Armed Constabulary constables were recalled from their roadmaking, the Cavalry Volunteers were mounted and at the ready, surveying was stopped, women and children were brought into the barracks and the Armed Constabulary headquarters was moved from Hamilton to Cambridge.
Mackay went to Tokangamutu to see if he could get more information on the murderers, and he too was attacked as he slept. Rewi Maniapoto then personally took charge of his welfare.
Mohi Purukutu, Hori Te Tumu, Whina, and Herewini Ngamuku were never brought before a European court. When Purukutu died in 1894 at Maungatautari it was said that he always had a great dread of the pakeha and would never show himself when Europeans were at the settlement.
Timothy Sullivan's death was the last in connection with the Waikato Land Wars.
Researched and written by Eris Parker
Ref: Cambridge Museum Archives
AJHR 1873 (Evidence Taken at the Coroner's Inquest 25 April 1873.)
National Archives Wellington