CHUTE, General Sir Trevor, K.C.B.
A new biography of Chute, Trevor appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Chute was born in County Kerry, Ireland, on 31 July 1816. He entered the Army in 1832, and after serving in the Ceylon Rifles joined the 70th (Surrey) Regiment. After a period in Ireland the regiment was transferred to India, and Chute was at Peshawar when the mutiny broke out. He rescued the British officers there and disbanded the mutinous sepoys. At Lucknow, acting as brigadier-general, Chute formed several flying columns to pacify the country.
Chute came to New Zealand in 1863 with the 70th Regiment, but was then promoted brigadier-general and posted to Australia, where he remained until September 1865. He then succeeded Cameron as Major General Commanding in New Zealand. Chute found that many colonists entertained a bias against regular troops, on the grounds that they refused to undertake the type of bush warfare that the situation demanded. Anxious to remove this stigma he accepted the task that Cameron had refused, namely, to clear the Maoris from the bush lands flanking the planned Taranaki-Wanganui road. With a mixed force of regulars, rangers, and friendly Maoris he left Wanganui on 30 December 1865, stormed Okutuku Pa on 4 January 1866 and Putahi Pa on the seventh. He crossed the Patea River, assaulted Otapawa on 13 January, and then destroyed Ketemarae. Carrying on around Mt. Egmont, Chute reached Mataitawa on 25 January, made a rapid coastal reconnaissance by ship northwards to Awakino, and finally marched his force back from New Plymouth to Wanganui, which was reached on 9 February. In six weeks, for the loss of nine killed and 26 wounded, Chute had marched his men 260 miles, had captured seven fortified pas and had reduced 20 villages. Governor Grey commended him as displaying all the qualities of a great general.
After this expedition Chute became involved in disputes between the Imperial authorities and the colonial Government on the subject of the control of local and regular troops, and of the withdrawal of the British regulars from New Zealand. He refused to concede that the colonial Government could properly exercise separate control of local troops other than through the general officer commanding. He insisted that the regulars be withdrawn according to instructions from England, partly because he believed with Cameron that the motives of the colonists in demanding the continuance of the war were inspired by greed for land.
New Zealand ceased to be a separate military command, and Chute shifted his headquarters to Melbourne, from where he retained control of the regular troops still in the colony. He visited New Zealand in 1869 to make the final arrangements for withdrawing the last regiment, the 18th (Royal Irish), and in August of that year, from Australia, delayed its withdrawal on the representations of the colonial Government that this was essential until the attitude of the Maori king to Te Kooti became known.
In his one military expedition Chute demonstrated that British regulars, when energetically led, could enter the bush and operate without cumbersome military trains, siege impedimenta, and heavy artillery. But at this stage he had little understanding of the Maori problem, and it is likely that he destroyed more cultivations, homes, and cattle than the circumstances warranted. Such impetuosity left problems for scores of years. Chute saw his duty clearly and simply, to obey instructions.
by Ian McLean Wards, M.A., Research Officer, Historical Publications Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- Sir George Grey, K.C.B., Rutherford, J. (1961)
- History of New Zealand, Rusden, G. W. (3 vols., 1895)
- The New Zealand Wars, Cowan, J. (2 vols., 1955).