Our History: Pukehinahina, War, 150 Years

Today was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gate Pa/Pukehinahina. It was an unexpected and unprecedented rout by the Māori, whose intricate pa withstood a daylong bombardment and whose warriors then repelled a British assault party.

The commemorations today were remarkable — indescribable really. The extent to which we prefer to remember foreign wars than those fought here bugs the hell out of me. I did some research for a Werewolf article on that very issue, titled Lest We Remember, and found that while about $25 million in government money is being spent commemorating and memorialising foreign wars, particularly WW I and its centennary, about $250,000 has gone toward the 150th anniversaries of the wars that led to the land confiscations that led to … you know … And here we are in Tauranga Moana, where I live, 150 years later — to the very year — seeing legislation about to be introduced to give effect to Treaty of Waitangi settlements aimed at righting the wrongs that have their origins in these very battles. Kinda relevant to our lives, society, future, identity, wouldn’t you think? Oh well. ANZAC stuff got wall-to-wall coverage — “NZ Wars”, not so much, though local media has made a pretty decent effort. (I was on RNZ on this issue, btw…Kim Hill’s show to be precise.)

These are some good links with great photos:

The official Battle of Gate Pa site
Tauranga Libraries’ great kete
Looking Down the Barrel of History (about Te Ranga) from VUW History Dept
The Battle of Gate Pa FB page