Topic: Cannonballs from the Gate Pā/Pukehinahina Redoubt

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Proudly on display in Nga Wahi Rangahau: Research Collections at the Tauranga City Library are three cannonballs whose mysterious origins were thought, but not confirmed, to be from the Battle of Gate Pā at Pukehinahina (puke hill, hinahina or mahoe tree) which occurred on 29 April 1864. It has since been discovered that they were likely fired as practice rounds well after the battle had taken place as the projectiles fired during the battle would have been explosive shells, not solid shot.

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In late 2011, Tauranga historian Stephanie Smith was leafing through an old Accession Register for the Sladden Reference Library in search of the the origins of one of the library’s un-catalogued items when she discovered an entry for the cannonballs, and the mystery of their origins was finally solved.

One of the cannonballs was allegedly dug up on Mr Black's farm at Gate Pā and donated to the Nga Wahi Rangahau: Research Collection by a W. Gyles. The other two were found near Gate Pā 'many years ago' and given by a Mrs Baker. The dates of donation were stated as November 1963 and April 1964 respectively.

A concrete stand was made and painted red in order to display the cannonballs properly and prevent them rolling onto unsuspecting customers.

The cannonballs were weighed in early 2012 by librarian Lee Switzer, and the weights were found to fall within the standard ranges of cannon’s in general use at the time. The weights were as follows:

13.9 kg which converts to 30.6 lbs - perhaps a worn-down 32-pdr ball

29.8 kg which converts to 65.7 lbs - perhaps an irregular 64-pdr ball

16.05 kg which converts to 35.4 lbs - perhaps a worn-down 36-pdr ball

Roundshot periodically had to be sanded off to ensure it was smooth so it didn't ‘rattle’ down the barrel when fired. Shot casting wouldn’t have been an exact science, even by the mid-19th century.

Cannonballs from the Gate Pā/Pukehinahina Redoubt

The cannonballs are a great hit with the schoolchildren who often visit the library during class outings and are taken on a guided tour by the librarians. Even though they are not directly from the battle, they often spark a discussion on the Battle of Gate Pa and of the Tauranga Māori who won the day again the British troops.

by Debbie McCauley RLIANZA (February, 2014).
Librarian: Tauranga City Libraries
 

Sources:

Identity and the Battle of Gate Pa (Pukehinahina), 29 April 1864 (5 August 2011) by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga Memories: Battle of Gate Pa, 1864 kete).

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This page archived at Perma CC in March of 2017: https://perma.cc/2URL-T4HV

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Cannonballs from the Gate Pā/Pukehinahina Redoubt


Year:1864, 1963, and 1964
First Names:Debbie
Last Name:McCauley
City:Tauranga