b. 24/10/1843 Auckland, New Zealand. d. 11/03/1933 Whakatane, New Zealand.
DATE OF NZC ACTION: 08/01/1869 Ngatapa, New Zealand.
Ben Biddle as he was commonly known, was born in Auckland, New Zealand on 24 October 1843, the son of an English regular soldier, Edward Biddle, and his wife Anne Leach. The Biddles were originally from Alveston, Gloucestershire, England before migrating on the settlers ship, the Katherine Stewart Forbes on 1 February 1841 which arrived in New Zealand in June of the same year. Ben grew up on the shores of the Waitemata Harbour and worked on the Captain Jones cutters as a youngster, sailing between Auckland and the Bay of Plenty. Following his time at sea, he worked on a cattle farm where he broke in horses.
As a 21-year-old, Biddle enlisted in the New Zealand Colonial Forces as a constable in the 1st Division of the Armed Constabulary (Military Police). He soon saw action and was involved in a number of notable conflicts.
While serving in the land wars, Biddle married a Mori woman called Mauri Poiakino (Pakohai) who was of Tuhoe and Ngati Pahauwera origins. Mauri accompanied her husband on a number of his military missions, acting as both a guide and cook.
Following the land wars, Biddle and Mauri had a large family and lived in Wainui in the Bay of Plenty, an odd location as Ben’s nemesis, Te Kooti, resided and built his marae there. One of Biddle’s sons, Robert ‘Rapata’ Biddle, become a minister and secretary within the Ringatu Church, set up by Te Kooti. Robert Biddle also designed the Ringatu crest or logo in 1926.
Although Ben Biddle found himself at odds with some of his superior officers and faced a court martial on one occasion, he got his own back by naming his most troublesome bullock “Lambert” after his equally troublesome former officer, Colonel Lambert.
BURIAL LOCATION: DOMAIN ROAD CEMETERY, WHAKATANE, NEW ZEALAND
East R, Plot 22
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LOST.