Mr Mckenna arrived in Sydney as a soldier with his regiment (the 65th, Yorkshire and Lancashire), in June 1846 at the age of seventeen. His regiment was soon in New Zealand, where he was involved in the New Zealand Wars and the defence of the young settlements for two decades. In the 1860s, McKenna (now a Colour-Sergeant) was with the 65th in the invasion of the Waikato. On 7 September 1863, near Cameron Town, his company was ambushed by Maori forces. The officers were killed and the whole unit threatened. Mckenna took control and drove back Maori forces and led a rear-guard action which allowed the men, after a night in the bush, to retreat to safety. For his valour McKenna was promoted to Ensign and on 16 January 1867 was awarded one of ten Victoria Cross given during the New Zealand Wars. In February 1867 the regiment was recalled to England, but Ensign McKenna decided to stay with the Colony, selling his commission. He joined the New Zealand Railways as a clerk, soon rising to Station-Master at Kaipoi, then Ashburton, Invercargill, Gore, Greatford, Halcombe and then Palmerston North in the early 1880s. There his "erect soldierly figure" became one of the sights of the town. After four years of living in Wanganui, he retired to Palmerston North, where he died suddenly 9 June 1908. His last words were to urge fellow citizens to "Stick to the Grand Old Empire".