‘There Has Never Been A Surrender’

I spent much of today at Te Ranga, the site just outside Tauranga where, 150 years ago on 21 June, Māori and British/colonial forces fought of one of the bloodiest battles of the so-called “New Zealand Wars.”

Dawn just before the blessing of the new pou at Te Ranga, 5km inland from Tauranga.

Dawn just before the blessing of the new pou at Te Ranga, 5km inland from Tauranga.

Later that same day: the haka party at the Te Ranga battle site.

Later that same day: the haka party at the Te Ranga battle site.

 

I live in Tauranga Moana, and what follows is a bit of a show-and-tell about this and other battles. It’s mine, so necessarily subjective and merely the thinnest of slices. There is, of course, so much more…

I know what really got me thinking about Gate Pa/Pukehinahina. I was reading some of the documents relating to the settlement late last year (or signing of, anyway) between the Crown and two Tauranga Moana iwi: Ngai Te Rangi and Ngā Pōtiki, primarily the Deed, which includes some history, an apology and acknowledgements of Treaty of Waitangi breaches by the Crown. It struck me a bit like a blow to the head that, wow, the very battles that led to the very land confiscations that sort of eventually led to this very deed took place exactly 150 years ago — to the year — in 1864. (OK, the deed of settlement was signed in 2013, but the enabling legislation is happening this year, 2014).

Inside the dotted lines = everything that was confiscated from Tauranga Moana tribes after 1864. (The green represents bush/hills, coloured by me in an effort to make the map clearer)

Inside the dotted lines = everything that was confiscated from Tauranga Moana tribes after 1864. (The green represents bush/hills, coloured by me in an effort to make the map clearer)

That blow to the head was followed by masses and masses of reading, thinking, exclaiming, which was in turn followed by some interviewing, photographing, more reading, lots more exclaiming. Part of the exclaiming revolved around the gobs of money and media real estate being spent on the centenary of World War I, in particular (next year!) of Gallipoli, the hopeless, ghastly battle that allegedly formed our national identity.

 

One of the ANZAC posters on construction fencing around the new NZ War Memorial (Pukeahu) in Wellington. (There weren't any about the "NZ Wars".)

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Three of the ANZAC posters on construction fencing around the rebuild of the NZ War Memorial in Wellington. (There weren't any relating to the "NZ Wars")

Three of the ANZAC posters on construction fencing around the rebuild of the NZ War Memorial in Wellington. (There weren’t any relating to the “NZ Wars”)

Perhaps foolishly, I decided to find out just how much government money was being spent on that compared with what was set aside to commemorate the 150th of Our Very Own Wars on Our Very Own Soil. Wars that are ever-present, all around us, in the people, the history, the land, the settlements and, let’s face it, a fair amount of hostility and sometimes-nastiness about Treaty issues (from some). The results of that research, which took over a month, are (links to a pdf) here and roughly (read the fine print about why it’s “roughly”) $25 million (WWI/wars fought overseas) vs. $240,000 for the “New Zealand Wars”.

That led to this somewhat epic effort published in time for ANZAC Day (!) in Werewolf (Click on the image if you want to read the article:)

Werewolf_Lest_We_Remember

Meanwhile, in looking into the Tauranga Moana battles, I was sent a paper by Wellington historian and all around fine person Mark Derby about a man named Hakaraia: peace-maker and warrior (āe!), leader, prophet, former slave, who fought not just in both the major Tauranga battles (Gate Pa/Pukehinahina and Te Ranga) but waged something of a guerrilla war against land confiscations from the Kaimai ranges (aka the “Tauranga bush wars”). That led to more reading, photographing, and interviewing. I spent a bit of time with two men from Hakaraia’s tribe, Waitaha (based around Te Puke). Here they are:

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Whareoteriri Rahiri, left, a Waitaha negotiator, and Riko Te Kehua o Te Rangi Ahomiro, a direct descendant of Hakaraia, at the site of Hakaraia’s community, Kenana, near Te Puke.

They took me on some tours of battle sites around the Te Puke area, and down to the Kaituna River, near Hakaraia’s Kenana community.

Whareoteriri at Canaan Landing. Or where it used to be.

Whareoteriri at Canaan Landing. Or where it used to be.

That led to an article that was published in the Listener magazine a week or so ago. (If you click on the image, a pdf of the article will open.)

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The image above is circa 1864 around the time of the Gate Pa battle, with Gate Pa on the skyline and British/Colonial forces in the foreground. Fast forward 150 years and this is what it looked like before the Pukehinahina Trust and others went to work on the site for this year’s commemorations:

Gate Pa/Pukehinahina, just before the 29 April 2014 commemorations. Cameron Road slices through the original site, named after the General in charge of the British/colonial forces.

Gate Pa/Pukehinahina, just before the 29 April 2014 commemorations. Cameron Road slices through the original site, named after the General in charge of the British/colonial forces.

It’s worth watching this memorial feature from Māori TV about Gate Pa. (Again, click on the image to view.)

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[Update 23 June: And click here for great coverage of the Te Ranga commemoration by Te Kāea]. I also dug out some of the media images from the 100th commemorations, when the memorial was put up, back in 1964 (from Tauranga Photo News).

Gate Pa centennial commemoration, 1964.

Gate Pa centennial commemoration, 1964.

 

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Gate Pa centennary 1964, showing the plaque that was put up on top of Pukehinahina. It reads: “On 29th April 1864 the battle of Gate Pa was fought on this site. This plaque comemorates the chivalry displayed by both Maori and Pakeha which has helped unite the two races. Kua iwi kotahi tatou.”

That whole “two races united” theme was popular 100 years after the fact. It’s still popular among some; others take issue. But what did the editors of the Tauranga Photo News put on the cover of that 1964 issue? Here’s the caption and below is an image of the cover: “During the Gate Pa battle centenary week, a three-act play written by C. Kingsley-Smith, Whakatane, dealing with events leading up to the fighting, was performed in Tauranga Town Hall. In our scene from the play, the Rev. Alfred Brown and his wife are played by Ron Fisher and Mil Sullavan. Representatives of the naval and military forces are, left to right, Lt. Langlands (Garth Ollerenshaw), Captain Hamilton (Tom Burton), and Lt. Col. Booth (Jim Hollis).” Oh dear!

Cover, Tauranga Photo News, 1964.

Cover, Tauranga Photo News, 1964.

This is the unveiling of the cairn at Te Ranga, back in 1964.

Centenary of the Te Ranga battle and unveiling of the cairn, 1964. From Tauranga Photo News.

Centenary of the Te Ranga battle and unveiling of the cairn, 1964. From Tauranga Photo News.

Considering that perhaps as many as 100 Māori warriors remain buried beneath this whenua, it’s, well, disturbing to say the least that government agencies that put so much into WWI memorials throughout the country put so little into these. This was the Te Ranga site in February of this year:

Te_Ranga_2_McCulloch Te_Ranga_3_McCulloch Te_Ranga_4_McCulloch

By the way, take a look at the number of Foreign War memorials vs. NZ War memorials (keeping in mind which wars were actually fought here):

On this map, from NZ History.net, the red pins designate memorials for world wars, the blue pins for 'New Zealand Wars' and the purple the South African war.

On this map, from NZ History.net, the red pins designate memorials for world wars, the blue pins for ‘New Zealand Wars’ and the purple the South African war.

I thought I’d end with some comments made at Te Ranga today by Tom Roa, a Ngāti Apakura elder and Chair of Ngā Pae o Maumahara, the group established to commemorate and raise awareness of these wars, which he told the gathered at Te Ranga today are not called the “Māori Wars” by Māori (or perhaps even “New Zealand Wars”), but Te Riri Pākehā, or Pākehā Anger (Ellipses indicate comments I did not manage to take down accurately so omitted):

“There is a Māori viewpoint [and] there is an other than Māori viewpoint in terms of what happened in these areas. And let’s be very clear with the facts so that we commemorate the facts.

Unfortunately it is my belief that the majority of new Zealanders are not aware of the battles which took place on their very doorsteps let alone the facts in those battles. And again the battles that we term battles, many of our tūpuna term ‘catastrophic’, term ‘atrocity’, because of the Pākehā’s Anger.

That’s a debate that we will continue to have, and it is a healthy debate I would suggest, because as you Captain [ed. note: referring to the military representative at the event who had just addressed the Tangata Whenua], thank you for your words. You rightly have said that many of the wounds from 150 years ago remain open. Absolutely correct. … We look forward very much to the healing of those wounds which we believe we have come a long way to achieving, not just in this last commemoration of events of 150 years ago but through the settlements correctly identified by you Sir;  by the continued activity of both national government and local government, coming to an understanding with their constituency.  In particular the Tangata Whenua. In particular the people who belong to this land.

We will always belong to this land. We have spilled blood in belonging to this land. And [we] who still await in terms of New Zealand citizenship a recognition of an equality in that citizenship.”

Tom Roa continued after a waiata, referring to King Tāwhiao’s visit to seek redress from the Queen of England in 1881:

“He came back with Māori dignity professing still his Mana Māori Motuhake so that in 1881 at Pirongia, Tāwhiao and his Rangatira laid down their arms as a declaration of peace. …

In August of this year will be the culmination of these commemorations in a day at Turangawaewae. Perhaps Gentlemen you and those Officers of the Crown with you might take back to your leadership the invitation to come and receive nobly, receive in an apt fashion Tāwhaio’s declaration of peace almost 120 years ago.

Tāwhiao’s declaration was received, for the historians amongst you, by the New Zealand mainstream press as a surrender: the wero, the karanga, the mihi, the songs maintain that Māori retain, have sustained and have continued with our Mana Motuhake, our Māori authority and autonomy.

And continuing with that Māori authority and autonomy, there has never been a surrender. If indeed, Captain, your words are true and you, as we, look forward to a time in the future where the wounds of the past are healed and, indeed, we as a nation are of that unity pretended by Captain Hobson – if that is to take place Sir I would suggest that that declaration of peace … in August be given its proper recognition so that peace does in fact reign on our land.”

A pou in honour of Hakaraia: the only known visual representation of him, erected at Gate Pa/Pukehinahina in April 2014.

A pou in honour of Hakaraia: the only known visual representation of him, erected at Gate Pa/Pukehinahina in April 2014.