Military historians describe the battle of the Gate Pa

Filename: B_Burt_and_A_Coster_on_Gate_Pa_in_1990.mp3 ( download )

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In 1990 Bob Burt and Alan Coster were interviewed by the Oral History Unit attached to the then Tauranga Museum. Bob was the Haurakai Regiment's commanding officer from 1979 - 1981 and Alan from 1970 - 1974. To hear the interview click the "Audio mp3" label above, or use the download link to download the entire interview (24 mb in size).

The interview lasted just under an hour. The topics covered are recorded below with approximate timestamp on the left. Colonel Bob Burt passed away in 2011. His widow gave permission to upload the interview in 2014, as did Colonel Alan Coster.


Colonel Coster also kindly lent a copy of his notes used in giving the talk below. These can be seen here .


First given in 1980 to Officers of the First Task Force Region in Papakura.


Researched by H.R. Burt MBE using

  • James Cowen,  The New Zealand Wars (Vol 1)
  • Major General Sir James Alexander, Bush Fighting
  • Captain Gilbert Mair (New ZealandCross), The Story of Gate Pa
  • Extracts of the Regimental Chronicle of the 43rd and 52nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Regiment (1903).
  • Records and photographs from theTauranga Historic Museum


1:20     Sources to the talk listed. 

2:15     Talk begins.

              Letter received, a challenge for a fight by Taratoa

4:00     Tribal circumstances and geography of the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. King movement in the Waikato.

6:15     Despite peace in Tauranga, troops sent to Tauranga area.

            Why? Food, gunpowder, spread of disaffection

7:50     The route over the Kamai ranges.

8:30     The arrival of the Troops. Vessels in Tauranga Harbour.

            Two small vessels, then HMS Miranda.

            Troops and regiments landed.

9:45     Artillery. Armstrongs.

10:10   Ngaiti Rangi in Waikato return home. Prepares Pahs. Challenge issued.

11:20   No reply to challenge offered.

12:15   Maori set off for Te Papa but accidental discharge gives them away.

13:00   Maori move closer and construct the Gate Pa.

13:36   Why named Gate Pa?

14:25   Description of the Pa area and Maori defenses.

15:45   Women sent off with one exception.

16:25   Hori Ngatai (Chief of Ngati Rangi) describes the preparations and battle.

18:55   25 days of preparation with only one disturbance.

            Description of the trenches within the Gate Pa.

            Reasons the Maori were given so long to build the Pa.

            HMS Falcon. Ngati Porou. Col Greer calls for reinforcements.

20:25   Colonel Cameron arrives.

            HMS Esk. Armstrong guns.

22:44   April 27. Advance on the Gate Pa. Reconnaissance carried out.

            April 28. Cameron learns that at low tide he could place men (the 68th) and the rear of the Maori. Sham attack provides distraction for this.

24:35   Description of this maneuver.

28:24   Navel detachment join the 68th in what is now Greerton.

28:56   British Forces described.

29:52   Location of various British forces described in relation to 1990 locations. Hospital, RSA Flats, 16th 17th Aves etc.

31:18   Guns and Mortar open fire.

            Maori flag misleads British fire.

32:40   Effect of shelling described by Hori Ngatai.

34:35   The prayers and death of two Tohanga, one Christian, one traditional.

36:05   How the 6 pnder Armstrong was able to get to the west of the Pa. It’s position in 1990.

36:25   Assault columns prepared. Their numbers and positions described.

            Rocket fired as signal, assault described.

            The difficulty of British weapons and efficacy of Maori tomahawks described.

            Reserved ordered in but create confusion.

42:25   Battle described by Hori Ngatai.

44:50   Cameron begins earthworks from which another assault was intended the following day. The fate of rescuers into the Pa described. Samuel Mitchel (V.C.) rescued Commander Hay. Captain Glover. Surgeon Major Manley (V.C.).

46:25   The Maori stealthy withdrawal described.

47:36   The Casualties described.

49:09   Observation that no looting or mutilation of bodies undertaken.

            An unusual show of humanity to the British wounded.

50:23   Who gave water to the wounded Lieutenant Colonel Booth? Heni Te Kiri Karamu.

52:14   Why the honorable conduct of Maori?

            The battle of Te Ranga. The Code of Conduct discovered on the body of Taratoa signed by all Catholic Maori leaders of Tauranga.

54:45   The defeat of the British discussed.

            Cameron explains his understanding of the defeat.

55:45   The aftermath.

            Unexploded rounds discovered even recently (to 1990).


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Military historians describe the battle of the Gate Pa

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Military historians describe the battle of the Gate Pa by Tauranga City Libraries Staff - HC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License