Topic: Timeline - Battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga 1864 by Cliff Simons

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While the Battle of Gate Pa lasted only a few hours on 29 April 1864, a lot of preparation occurred on both sides long before the actual event.


21 January. British warships and troops arrive at Tauranga to establish a blockade of the harbour.

16 April. Māori begin building a fortification at Gate Pa.

21 April. General Cameron arrives with reinforcements.

28 April. The night before the battle all of the officers who can be spared have dinner at the Mission house with Archdeacon and Mrs Brown. Of the officers present, all but one die the following day and the other wins the Victoria Cross. In the evening, Cameron conducts a feint attack so that the 700 men of the 68th Regiment can march around the edge of the Waimapu Estuary and take up positions behind the pā.

29 April:

  • 7am. A Māori gunshot from the pā initiates the battle. Cameron’s artillery begin firing on the pā and the Māori inside shelter from the bombardment.
  • 12 noon. The British move a 6-pound Armstrong gun across to the high ground on the west. It fires into the small pā and clears out the defenders.
  • 4pm. Cameron orders the attack. An equal number of soldiers from the 43rd Regiment and sailors burst through the breach into the pā. Many officers are killed, the Māori fire from the trenches and covered ways, some Māori are forced out the back and are driven into the pā again by fire from the 68th at the rear, the British panic and are driven out of the pā. The troops remain in position surrounding the pā. During the night heavy rain continues to fall. The defenders quietly evacuate the pā, but not before providing water for the wounded British soldiers. Some later attribute this kindness to Heni Te Kirikaramu and some to Henare Taratoa. British casualties are 30 dead, 80 wounded, Māori 25-30 dead and an unknown number wounded.

21 June. Seven weeks later at Te Ranga, Lt-Colonel Greer in command of over 800 troops attacks approximately 500 Māori who are just beginning a new pā. The British troops attack with a bayonet charge and sweep the Māori from the position. Rawiri Puhirake and Henare Taratoa are among the chiefs killed. Māori losses are approximately 120 dead and 37 wounded taken as prisoner. The British losses are 13 dead and 39 wounded. At Te Ranga the British soldiers find on Henare Taratoa’s body the prayers for the day and the rules for war that are similar to the Geneva Convention. Later, British soldiers donate a day’s pay for a stained glass window at Lichfield Cathedral as a memorial to the brave and chivalrous Māori.


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