Remembering the Battle of Gate Pā

The site of the battle in Gate Pā. File photo.

The Anglican Parish of Gate Pā is inviting the public to a short service at St. George’s Anglican Church on April 29 to commemorate the Battle of Gate Pā, also known as Te Pakanga o Pukehinahina.

The gathering is to honour all those who fought and died in this tragic event and the consequences of the battle for ngā iwi o Tauranga Moana.

The service will start at 4pm, as that’s the time of day back on April 29, 1864, when the British forces began their march up Pukehinahina.

“We will hear an account of the battle and then have a time of silent reflection with images playing,” says Anglican Parish of Gate Pā vicar Rev. John Hebenton.

“At 4.30pm the bell will be rung 60 times to remember the approximately 60 men who lost their lives in the battle. We will finish with prayers/karakia for the future of our city.”

This year local historian and writer Buddy Mikaere will be speaking about the work being done to establish Te Pūtake O Te Riri - Pukehinahina Gate Pā - the New Zealand Land Wars centre which will have a focus on 1864 and the battles at Pukehinahina - Gate Pā and Te Ranga.

The battles were part of the New Zealand wars, a series of armed conflicts that took place in New Zealand from 1845 to 1872 between Māori and new European settlers, also known as Pākehā.

"There were many reasons for these conflicts - Land was the main one. Māori owned it and the settlers wanted it," says a post on the Today in History NZ Facebook page.

"Settlers also brought with them new laws and politics that largely excluded Māori.

"The signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi should have meant that Māori iwi had undisturbed possession of their lands and taonga. Before the signing of the treaty, deals involving land sales were questionable, and the treaty stated that all Māori land should only be sold to the government.

"But the treaty was increasingly ignored by the settlers, which resulted in anger and violence."

The Battle of Gate Pa was one of many battles that took place during the NZ wars, which started in Wairau at the top of the South Island, with major battles in Taranaki and the Waikato before the battles in Tauranga.

General Duncan Cameron led the British troops with over 1600 men into battle. Cameron Road was named after him

The Battle of Gate Pa has captured people’s imagination for two reasons – firstly because of the defeat of an elite force of professional British soldiers by Maori, and secondly, because of the honourable conduct of Maori towards the dead and wounded soldiers.’

St George’s Anglican Church was built on the battlesite about 117 years ago as a memorial to those involved and the descendants of those on the British side of the campaign.

“The successors to the 68th Durham Light Infantry, The Rifles, are hopeful of offering a video remembering their role on this day,” says Hebenton.

“Because St. Georges Church sits on the site of the Battle of Gate Pā we feel a sense of responsibility for holding the story of both the battles and the aftermath with integrity, and to offer ways the people can hear about, engage with and reflect upon these stories and what they mean for us living in Tauranga Moana.

In 2014 huge gatherings commemorated the 150th anniversary of the battles of Gate Pā and Te Ranga with some very significant events held on the actual days of the battles.

“It continues to be our hope that these would be the beginning of some ongoing events for the people of this city to engage with the story of the New Zealand Wars and our colonial past and how these shape present day New Zealand society,” says Rev. John Hebenton.

“We offer this simple service as a contribution to this ongoing commemoration. We hope that this will be one of several events happening on this important day for our city.”

The service will be followed by refreshments in the church lounge. People are reminded to follow Covid-19 protocols and stay home if unwell.

Remembering Te Pakanga o Pukehinahina – The Battle of Gate Pā will be held at St George’s Church, 1 Church Street, Tauranga at 4pm on Friday, April 29.

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1 Comment

Sorry, but

Posted on 27-04-2022 21:00 | By The Caveman

150+ years ago !! YES, I have no problem with a memorial plaque and garden on the site, but what is it with the current trend of standing up and "celebrating" the battle every year - NONE of the participants are with us - and I would suggest that we are probably into 4th/5th generations since then! The battle did and does NOT reflect well on any of the participants. If New Zealand as a country wants to move on into the 21st century, then the past needs to be PUT TO REST. YES, it’s history (good or BAD), but either way "celebrating" it every year as now seems to be the norm, each year, is NOT going to move Tauranga or New Zealand forward !!

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