Topic: Battle of Te Ranga Commemoration (21 June 2016)
The 152nd commemoration of the Battle of Te Ranga was held on 21 June 2016 at 7am at the Te Ranga Reserve on the corner of Pyes Pa and Joyce Roads. Tamati Tata gave the mihi and karakia and Des Tata told the Story of Te Ranga. John Hebenton and Ross Paterson also spoke. Andrew Graham organised the wreath laying and two students from Aquinas School, Marcus Dudley and Kel Seytawa, gave a reading. This was followed by two minutes of silence. Photos: Lee Switzer.
Puhirake Ihaka, Merewhina Bennett & Des Tata. Photo: Lee Switzer.
Ngai Tamarāwaho invited people to assemble at 6.45am on Tuesday 21 June 2016 for the Te Ranga Memorial Service which began at 7am. The service was followed by a cup of tea before a planting event. People were invited to bring a shovel and wear gumboots in order to plant trees and shrubs to regenerate the bush around the area.
Peri Kohu & Buddy Mikaere. Photo: Lee Switzer.
The Pyes Pā area of Tauranga was once covered with bush before it was cleared by settlers for farming. Today, we are helping to restore the bush that once covered the Te Ranga battle site. To do this we are holding planting days with the hapu receiving support from Councils and the wider community.
Peri Kohu, Sarah Webb & Puhirake Ihaka. Photo: Lee Switzer.
Through regeneration of the bush near the battle site we hope to attract more birdlife to the area in particular songbirds such as tui and korimako (bellbird). Native birdsong has been absent from this site for far too long and in order to encourage these birds trees and plants such as the koromiko, kowhai and harakeke are needed.
Kel Seytawa, ?, Buddy Mikaere, Bernadette Egan. Photo: Lee Switzer.
Both tui and korimako have brush-like tongues which are used to reach deeply into flowers for their nectar. The birds also feed on fruits and insects. Nectar feeding plays an important role in pollinating the flowers of many native trees and shrubs. The birds also help to disperse seeds, which assists with the regeneration of the forest.
Awanui Black, Sylvia Willison & Mererina Murray. Photo: Lee Switzer.
The Battle of Te Ranga by Buddy Mikaere, Cliff Simons & Debbie McCauley.
On 21 June, the shortest day of 1864, the Battle of Te Ranga was fought nearly eight weeks after the Battle of Gate Pā (Pukehinahina). This time the outcome was very different: more than 100 Māori warriors were killed and 13 British soldiers died.
The Bagpiper. Photo: Lee Switzer.
After their defeat at Gate Pā, the imperial troops moved onto the Gate Pā site the next day and built a redoubt and began planning a chain of forts that were intended to stretch out to the Wairoa River. There were talks between the Parties aimed at avoiding further fighting with neutral Māori acting as intermediaries, and it seemed that an accommodation might be possible. In mid-May Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron, was called away to deal with crises in Napier and Whanganui which was thought to be under imminent attack. He took a large portion of the force with him, leaving 900 men in Tauranga under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Greer. The government troops were later bolstered by the arrival of men from the Waikato Militia and the Defence Force Cavalry. As a result of their success at Gate Pā, Tauranga iwi were reinforced by parties Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Porou.
Bernadette Egan (Aquinas Te Reo Maori teacher), Marcus Dudley, Kel Seytawa. Photo: Lee Switzer.
Before his departure, Cameron had ordered Greer to patrol the area in the hopes of catching a Māori force before it could develop another position as strong as Gate Pā. In late May reports started to reach the government that Māori intended to launch an attack on the troops somewhere in the area, but the location was not known. In response, Greer retained the men of the 43rd Regiment who had been scheduled to leave Tauranga. He patrolled widely and on the evening of 20 June it was reported that Māori were congregating at Te Ranga and beginning a new fortification.
Kahuera Rahiri. Photo: Lee Switzer.
A 600-strong expedition sent out on the morning of the 21st found hundreds of Māori digging trenches and throwing up earthworks on a narrow neck of land at Te Ranga, about 5 kilometres south of Gate Pā. They had time to abandon this incomplete redoubt before the attack was pressed home, and many did – but many also chose to stay and fight.
The site marker which was installed in 1964,100 years after the battle. Photo: Lee Switzer.
Two hours of skirmishing and shelling from a lone 6pdr Armstrong Gun followed. When the 220 reinforcements and another gun that Greer had sent for were in place, he ordered units of the 43rd and 68th regiments to advance. Their charge was met with a volley of fire from the trenches and some of the most violent hand-to-hand fighting of the New Zealand Wars ensued before Māori retreated towards nearby bush and gullies, pursued firstly on foot and then by the colonial cavalry. The warriors fought bravely but their unfinished trenches offered little protection from the fire from the British artillery and the bayonet charge of the troops. It was reported among Māori participants that having run out of ammunition many Māori stood stoically with bent heads to accept their fate.
Charlie Rahiri. Photo: Lee Switzer.
109 Māori were reported to have been buried in the trenches the following day in a service conducted by Archdeacon Alfred Brown. Among them were Ngāi Te Rangi leaders Rāwiri Puhirake – the victor of Gate Pā – and Henare Taratoa, whose Christian code of conduct had guided the Māori fighters at Gate Pā and Te Ranga. Nine British soldiers were killed outright and four died later of their wounds, as did about 12 Māori captives who were treated in the Te Papa mission buildings.
Des Tata. Photo: Lee Switzer.
Over the next two months, several hundred Tauranga iwi warriors came in to Te Papa and made peace. Governor Sir George Grey was quick to interpret this as ‘submission’. But most of these men did not surrender their guns – and most of the weapons that were handed over were old muskets. Raupatu saw 20,000 hectares of land around Tauranga confiscated.
Tamati Tata. Photo: Lee Switzer.
John Hebenton. Photo: Lee Switzer.
Kel Seytawa, Merewhina Bennett, Marcus Dudley. Photo: Lee Switzer.
Marcus Dudley, Kel Seytawa. Photo: Lee Switzer.
Merewhina Bennett, Puhirake Ihaka. Photo: Lee Switzer.