Topic: Taratoa and the Code of Conduct: A Story from the Battle of Gate Pā by Debbie McCauley

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This bilingual children's picture book tells a story from the Battle of Gate Pā at Pukehinahina (29 April 1864) which was a pivotal point in the history of Tauranga Moana. It was illustrated by the author's 15-year-old daughter. ISBN: 9780473268954. In 2015 Taratoa and the Code of Conduct was longlisted for the LIANZA Elsie Locke Non-fiction Book Award.

Taratoa and the Code of Conduct by Debbie McCauley

In the early 1860s people around the world were reviewing methods of warfare and how to improve the way wounded soldiers from all sides were treated. Prior to the Battle of Gate Pā at Pukehinahina (29 April 1864), Tauranga Māori were pondering the same ideals as notable reformers Henry Dunant and Florence Nightingale.

Māori gathered to discuss leader Rāwiri Puhirake's ideas about the treatment of wounded in a battle they knew was inevitable. Hēnare Taratoa, a mission educated lay preacher and teacher, was one of those warriors, and it is he who wrote the Code of Conduct. After the battle British were stunned, not only by their defeat at Gate Pā, but by Māori compassion. Māori chose not to mutilate or kill wounded soldiers, but instead gave water.

Seven weeks later the British won the Battle of Te Ranga during which most Tauranga leaders, including Puhirake and Taratoa, were killed. This defeat led to Māori surrender and confiscation of land in Tauranga Moana.

This bilingual book tells the story of Taratoa's Code of Conduct and the compassionate actions that resulted. Fact boxes and a timeline are included and add historical detail to Taratoa's story which is commemorated in a chapel at Lichfield Cathedral in England, as well as on a marble frieze at Tauranga's Mission Cemetery.

Debbie McCauley is a fifth-generation Pākehā New Zealander whose earliest ancestor arrived in New Zealand in 1841. Other ancestors were pioneers of the Katikati and Cambridge settlements. Her link to the New Zealand Wars is through her third great grandfather, Edward Watts Garmonsway (1809-1875). For the last ten years, Debbie has worked as a librarian at Tauranga City Library with an interest in local history and children's literature. In 2011 she wrote a comprehensive essay entitled Identity and the Battle of Gate Pa Pukehinahina (29 April 1864) which formed the basis for the Battle of Gate Pa kete. She was involved with and helped to organise the planned activities and education surrounding the 150th commemoration of the Battles of Gate Pā and Te Ranga in 2014. The author has lived in Gate Pā for the past 19 years, on land which was most likely confiscated after the Battle of Gate Pā in 1864. This is her second book.

Sophie McCauley was born in Tauranga and has lived in Gate Pā her whole life. She is a past student of Tauranga Waldorf School and current student of Otumoetai College. Sophie has always had a passion for art, following in the footsteps of her maternal great-grandfather Lennard John George McCauley (1904-1980). In 2014 she will be studying her first year of NCEA art. Sophie plays the piano, guitar and recorder.

This author is listed on Bookrapt (The Bay of Plenty Children's Literature Association).

Further updates can be found on this page: Mauao Publishing.

Author: Debbie McCauley
Illustrator: Sophie McCauley
Translator: nā Tamati Waaka i whakamāori
Maps: Debbie McCauley
Designer: Sarah Elworthy
Publisher: Mauao Publishing (Tauranga)
First Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-0-473-26895-4
RRP: $29.95




Local author Debbie McCauley has filled a gaping hole in local history by publishing a book on the battle of Gate Pa, an event which shaped the modern day city of Tauranga and the surrounding landscape. 'Taratoa and the Code of Conduct' has been written with the younger reader in mind, but can be read by adults wanting a quick potted history of the 1860s in our region. Because of the two sides of the battle, the book is published bilingually for both Maori and non-Maori to digest, with translation into Maori by Tamati Waaka. Complete with handy timeline and original delightful artwork by McCauley's daughter Sophie (15), the book traces the titular code of conduct predating the Geneva Convention by some years. The book is to be launched on March 15, here in the Tauranga library, so make sure you drop by - Paul Cuming (Bay News, 27 February 2014, p. 12).

This important historical event, together with Taratoa's code of conduct towards enemy soldiers, is deserving of a book. The core bilingual narrative describing Taratoa's humanitarian efforts - his code predates the Geneva Convention - is simple and straightforward - Bill Nagelkerke (Magpies, Volume 29, Issue No 1, March 2014).

Debbie's book is beautifully done, and was illustrated by her daughter - both writer and illustrator working to high quality standards. It shows exactly what can be done if you’re committed to getting content and format right - Jenny Argante (4 March 2014).

Tauranga City Libraries manager Jill Best says the book sets out an aspect of the battle not put in children’s terms before. “It fulfils a real need for children to be able to understand some major aspects of the battle and why it was crucial in a number of ways” - Jill Best (The Weekend Sun, 14 March 2014,  p. 10).

Debbie's book is a beautifully produced piece of New Zealand history. There is no doubt that the events at Gate Pa were quite pivotal in the unfolding of the New Zealand Wars, and these wars were, in turn, fundamental to the creation of our nation. The courage, honour, and valour shown on both sides and the compassion shown by Maori are moving examples of humanity in the midst of inhuman slaughter and a lesson for all of us. This little book conveys the feeling of the time in simple language and with simple illustrations. It is ideal if you want to know what happened, and it is fair to both sides. A children's book? Maybe. I am one adult who found it delightful and informative - Pete Dashwood (6 April 2014).

During the Land Wars of the 1860s in New Zealand, Henare Taratoa wrote a Code of Conduct before the Battle of Gate Pa at Pukehinahina (29 April 1864). This beautifully written bilingual book records the extraordinary story of compassion by Maori on the battlefield towards the defeated BritishMy Top 6 New Zealand History Books, Homemaking with heart (24 June 2014).

An inspiring bilingual book which tells the story of the code of conduct written in 1864 before the Battle of Gate pa and the compassionate actions which resulted from it, including the treatment of captured or unarmed enemies and women and children - Book YAK (Sylvia Ashton Warner Library, The University of Auckland, 4 September 2014).

Debbie McCauley with her 15-year-old daughter have together done a marvellous job presenting the people involved in the battle of 29 April in 1864. And also placing the events along side those happening in the world during the same period... The detailed images throughout the book link well with the information and provide a plenty of background material for young readers. Of particular value is the fact that the book is bilingual. It will be a valuable addition to the classroom and I am sure will be enjoyed by many students throughout the country - National Library of New Zealand (26 November 2014).

Each double page spread has the creative non-fiction story told in English and Maori. Each page also has several other fact boxes and a central illustration... Social Studies teachers could use the book when studying peace keepers, and the history of New Zealand. Kura Kaupapa schools will find it a handy te reo resource - Maria Gill (KidsBooksNZ, 6 December 2014).


Book Launch:

The book launch for 'Taratoa and the Code of Conduct: A story from the Battle of Gate Pā' took place on Saturday 15 March 2014 with over sixty people in attendance at Tauranga City Library. The event was emceed by Stephanie Smith. Debbie McCauley gave a speech and then read her book aloud with Rangituaia Walker reading the Te Reo Maori portion. Various audience members were selected to participate in a play written by Debbie; Battle at Pukehinhina. Sophie McCauley and Marion Arts played Debbie's Battle of Gate Pa song 'I Hear Thunder'. Buddy Mikaere gave a speech about the forthcoming 150th commemoration and Bernie Johnson led a waiata. 


Book Launch: Taratoa and the Code of Conduct - cake

Taratoa and the Code of Conduct: Book Launch cake (Photo: Michelle Anderson)


Book Launch play: Taratoa and the Code of Conduct (March 2014)

The actors in the play Battle at Pukehinahina (Photo: Lee Rowe)


Book Launch: Taratoa and the Code of Conduct - Stephanie Smith as Henry Booth

Stephanie Smith playing the part of Henry Booth (Photo: Michelle Anderson)


Book Launch: Taratoa and the Code of Conduct - Sophie McCauley and Marion Arts

Sophie McCauley and Marion Arts (Photo: Michelle Anderson) 

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Taratoa and the Code of Conduct: A Story from the Battle of Gate Pā by Debbie McCauley

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Taratoa and the Code of Conduct: A Story from the Battle of Gate Pā by Debbie McCauley by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga City Libraries) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License