Topic: Identity and the Battle of Gate Pā at Pukehinahina (29 April 1864) by Debbie McCauley

Topic type:

This paper on Identity and the Battle of Gate Pā at Pukehinahina (29 April 1864) was written by Debbie McCauley on 5 August 2011 as part of a BA in Humanities and Information & Library Studies.

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Ko te Manawa-rere, ko te Manawa-rere, kia u, kia u!
Trembling hearts, trembling hearts, be firm, be firm!
(Puhirake, as cited in Cowan, 1983, p. 426)

The New Zealand Wars are an indelible part of the history of Aotearoa and, as such, an ingredient in the shaping of national identity. The Battle of Gate Pā at Pukehinahina (puke hill, hinahina or mahoe tree) on 29 April 1864 was one of the few outright victories for Māori against the British and occurred during a period of great identity upheaval for Māori. The musket wars had already forced a major cultural shift reflected in radical new pā design and the missionaries had introduced Christian teachings. This essay will firstly explore the history of the battle and then investigate evidence that it still has an impact on the national identity of Aotearoa through the following cultural mediums: stained glass windows; theatre; art; poetry; memorials; literature; television series; carvings; flags; artefacts; archaeology; enduring technologies such as trench warfare; the Poteriwhi Code of Conduct and whether a national day commemorating New Zealand’s own civil war would be appropriate. As historian James Belich (1998) states; ‘The Battle of Gate Pā was arguably the most important battle of the New Zealand Wars’ (p. 180).

 

1820s: The Musket Wars – Otamataha Pā destroyed

Māori have lived in the Tauranga area for over 700 years, having first arrived in 1290 (Tauranga City Council, n.d.). The first European to see Tauranga was Samuel Marsden in 1820 and population estimates at this time were around 2,500. Inter-tribal warfare between local iwi and attacks by raiding parties from outside the area during this period were intensified by the introduction of muskets in the 1820s. ‘By the late 1820s, Ngāti Maru of Hauraki was armed with muskets, and in 1828 they launched an attack on Tauranga and destroyed Ngāi Te Rangi’s Otamataha Pā at Te Papa. Almost the entire population of the pā was either killed or enslaved, and missionaries who visited shortly after the battle encountered an appalling scene of devastation’ (Waitangi Tribunal, 2004, p. 31). By 1840 two decades of warfare had resulted in a significant population decrease. ‘In part, this was due to introduced diseases, but probably more devastating to Tauranga Māori were the inter-tribal wars in which they were involved from 1818’ (Waitangi Tribunal, 2004, p. 30). After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, a peace treaty was negotiated between local iwi. 

 

1830s: A legitimising identity - Christianity comes to Tauranga Māori

Otamataha Pā had been visited by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionaries in the 1820s. After the 1828 attack the site was abandoned and was still uninhabited when missionaries returned in 1835 looking for land on which to establish a mission station. The CMS established a mission station on the Te Papa peninsula in 1837. Archdeacon Alfred Nesbit Brown (1803-1884) joined the mission in 1838 and was able to purchase around 1330 acres of land from local Māori chiefs. The nearby pā site became a burial ground, known today as the Mission Cemetery. The Elms mission house was completed in 1847 and some land leased out for a farm. A cattle ditch and post and rail fence were constructed along the southern boundary of the leased land on the Pukehinahina Ridge. The Waitangi Tribunal (2004) explains that ‘in an early dispute over the legitimacy of the purchase, Māori constructed a post and rail fence to block the passage of Europeans inland’ (p. 94). After negotiations a large gate was installed.

The Mission Church, Te Papa (January 1865)

The Mission Church, Te Papa, (January 1865) by Alexander Grubb 

 

1860s: Blockading supplies to the Kingitanga movement - Camp Te Papa  

During the 1860s the New Zealand Governor Sir George Grey (1812-1898) sent Imperial troops to the Bay of Plenty, purportedly to cut off the supply of Tauranga Māori who had been rendering assistance to the Māori King in the Waikato, but also with an eye to the fertile land in the area. Vaggiloi (1896) explains further, ‘in July the previous year the government decided to confiscate their lands, even though they were at peace’ (p. 195) and the Waitangi Tribunal (2004) state ‘Ministers intended from about mid 1863 to take land in Tauranga for the purposes of military settlement’ (p. 103). On 21 January 1864 700 soldiers disembarked, firstly commanded by Colonel George Jackson Carey (1822-1872) (later Brigadier-General) then Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Harpur Greer (1821-1886). They set up camp at the northern end of the Te Papa peninsula.

Officers' huts, R.A. camp, Camp Te Papa, Tauranga (c1864)

 Officers' huts, R.A. camp, Te Papa (1865) by Alexander Grubb

 

Affirming Māori identity: Rāwiri Puhirake’s response

Ngāi Te Rangi leader Rawiri Tuaia Puhirake (?-1864) saw this inflammatory move as ‘a direct threat to Māori ownership of Tauranga lands’ (Rorke, 2010, para. 2). Several old pā sites were occupied, including Waoku (The Silent Woods) (see appendix 8). Puhirake initiated a campaign of provocation designed to entice Greer into battle at a time and place of Māori choosing. This was because, unlike British full-time troops, Māori had no professional warrior class; ‘the military force was a vital part of the labour force; economically, it could not be spared for more than a few weeks’ (Belich, 1998, p. 22).

Sketch map of country around Gate Pa, with scouting tracks and battle sitesHand drawn military map of the area from the Waimapu River, including the Tauranga-Rotorua Road to Okauia, Irihanga, Wairoa River and Tauranga Harbour. Includes roads and tracks, one of which is marked as 'my scouting track - there and back close on forty miles'. Gate Pa is marked, settlements, rivers and some roads are named. Scenes of action are marked as crossed swords and some battle sites are named - Gate Pa, Te Ranga, Oropi, Waehi, Whakamarama. Directional arrows point to Rotorua and Okauia. Includes some hachures, sites of clearings and a location of a house.

 

The Poteriwhi Code of Conduct: Challenging Greer

Puhirake sent a series of challenges to Greer inviting him to attack. Ngāi Te Rangi leaders agreed on a Code of Conduct (see appendix 4) for the coming battle based on Christian principles, at Poteriwhi Pā (Port of Relief) on the Wairoa River.[1] This was written up by mission educated Henare Wiremu Taratoa (c1830–1864). ‘At Poteriwhi a code of chivalry for the conduct of the war was drawn up with the assistance and approval of Hēnare Taratoa and other leaders’ (Rorke, 2010, para. 3). A copy of the code, along with another challenge (see appendix 3) were sent to Greer in late March 1864. The British didn’t know what to make of the documents and so discourteously ignored the challenges as well as the rules.

Tauranga at time of Gate Pa Battle (1864)

Tauranga at time of Gate Pa Battle (1864).Te Papa military camp to the right and the buildings of Tauranga in the distance on the right. The church-like building with a spire on the right was the Church Missionary Society's Mission Institute, taken over as a commissariat by the troops. A low cliff drops to the water and there are several small boats in the harbour. The view is from the west side of Tauranga Harbour.

 

Pukehinahina (Gate Pā)

In early April 1864 Puhirake selected a new pā site 4km from Camp Te Papa on the Pukehinahina ridge. The site is flanked by Tauranga harbour’s tidal swamps, the Waikareao on its right (East) and Kopurererua on its left (West). Situated between the southern boundary of CMS land and Māori territory it became known by Pākehā as Gate Pā due to its position at the gate leading from CMS property. This action constituted a threat to British communications, ‘because the fortification was placed across the road that was the highway to the west and south’ (Bush, 1975, p. 39). One night warriors made a small raid on Camp Te Papa. Greer sent for reinforcements and demanded Māori give up their guns. Puhirake wittily replied:

E kore au e whakaae kia hoatu aku pu; engari ka aea atu koe a ka parakuhi au ki Te Papa (I cannot consent to give up my guns, but if you so wish I shall take breakfast with you in Te Papa) announcing his intention of attacking the British camp. (Cowan, 1983, p. 425)

Gate Pa, Pukehinahina ridge

Gate Pa, Pukehinahina ridge, during the New Zealand Wars. Ref: PA1-f-046-13-3. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22803179 
 by Nicholl Spencer Perceval Talbot

 

A cultural evolution: Radical new fighting pā design by Pene Taka Tuaia

On 3 April 1864 the fortifications of Gate Pā began, engineered by Pene Taka Tuaia who is lauded by historians as someone who ‘deserves to rank as an innovative master of field-fortification’ (Belich, 1998, p. 188). The old cattle ditch was enlarged, trenches dug and fortifications constructed. The years of the Musket Wars had seen a radical change in traditional pā design to one of protection against new military technologies. As Belich (1998) explains, ‘The modern pā system meant that the British did not win the New Zealand Wars through superior technology, superior methods, or indeed through any kind of qualitative superiority at all. In the final analysis, they won for the same reason that the Goths beat the Romans: overwhelming numbers’ (p. 298). Gate Pā comprised:

  • Two redoubts connected by a deep trench; 200 Ngāi Te Rangi were in the main (80m x 18m) redoubt whilst 35 mainly Ngāti Koheriki were in the smaller (26m x 18m) redoubt (Belich, 1998, p. 178).
  • A light palisade fence (pekerangi) ‘made from manuka and tupakihi and reinforced at key points with posts and rails plundered from stockyards and fences’ (Waitangi Tribunal, 2004, p. 95) surrounded the pā to deaden shot and cannon ball as well as delay a storming party. 
  • Concealed trenches with connecting tunnels behind the pekerangi were deliberately laid out in a perplexing labyrinth, ‘a maze-like confusion... dominated by hidden firing positions’ (Belich, 1998, p. 296). It is thought that Māori were the first to use trench warfare; ‘After the wars were over, the British army used the fortifications at Gate Pā as a model for trenching, and some have said that such fortifications were a precursor of trench warfare used in the First World War’ (Black, 2009, para. 6).
  • Numerous underground anti-artillery bunkers (rua) and passages created a ‘complex maze of covered walkways and underground shelters, all roofed with alternate layers of soil and bracken to absorb the shock of bombardment’ (Waitangi Tribunal, 2004, p. 95).
  • Several shallow covered firing galleries with gaps in the roofs to fire through (Belich, 1998, p. 187).

The British were unaware of the complexity of Gate Pā. As historian James Belich (1956- ) states ‘inside, the redoubt was less a fortification than a killing ground, as soldiers who inspected the redoubt after the battle attested’ (Belich, 1998, p. 187).

The Gate Pa. 28th-29th-30th April 1864. Penetaka, engineer of these works ... flag placed outside ... route of night march 68th L[igh]t Infantry..

The Gate Pa. Penetaka, engineer of these works. Section of the Pa. Route of night march 28 April - 68th Lt Inftry wading at low tide got to the rear of the Maori position. Flag placed outside 30 paces in rear. White cross new moon and star on red ground. 28th-29th-30th April 1864 H G Robley Lt 68th Durham Lt Infty.

 

Reinforcements arrive

Puhirake soon realised the reason for Greer’s delay in attacking when British reinforcements arrived from Auckland. The 68th (Durham) Light Infantry Regiment was commanded by Greer whilst the 43rd Monmouth (Monmouthshire) Light Infantry Regiment was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Jackson Parkin Booth (1830-1864). The Monmouth and Durham redoubts were constructed as protection for Camp Te Papa (see appendix 8). By the end of April 1864, 2000 troops had assembled.

Plan of the Attack on the Gate Pa (29th April, 1864)

General Sir Duncan Alexander Cameron (1808-1888), commander throughout the Waikato War of 1863-1864, arrived on April 21 to take overall command. On April 26 600 sailors and Royal Marines disembarked from HMS Harrier, Curacoa, Esk and Miranda. A 110-pounder Armstrong gun (invented in 1854), ‘probably the heaviest gun ever used on shore against tribesmen’ (Featherstone, as cited in Belich, 1998, p. 182) two 40-pounder and two 6-pounder Armstrong guns plus smaller artillery pieces were unloaded and taken to within firing distance of Gate Pā at Pukereia (Green Hill). Ngāi Te Rangi chief Hori Ngatai (c1832-1912) said, ‘When we gazed on those sons of thunder, launched forward in their might, can you wonder that the cooked potatoes seemed to have lost their sweetness’ (as cited in Mair, 1937, p. 25).

 68th (Durham) Light Infantry (1864)

Officers' mess hut, Tauranga. Greer family :Photographs relating to the New Zealand Wars. Ref: PAColl-7806-2-2. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23104181

 

27 & 28 April: The British invade Māori land  

Cameron moved his forces out from Te Papa and stationed them around Gate Pā on April 27 and 28. Expectations of victory were high. Army personnel were joined by sailors and marines from the ships still lying in the Tauranga harbour. ‘They took up position on a hill about a mile from the pā, and waited the day of battle’ (Bush, 1975, p. 39). Soldier artist Lieutenant Horatio Gordon Robley (1840–1930) of the 68th Regiment describes a ‘feigned attack’ made on April 28 ‘by way of diverting the enemy's attention’ (Fildes, 1985, p. 383). This was so Greer could lead the 730 men of the 68th over the eastern mudflats under cover of darkness to take up position at the rear and cut off Māori escape as well as their water supply. It was to rain heavily throughout that night (Mair, 1937, p. 13).

Awaiting the Order to Advance (1864)

Taken at sunrise on 29 April 1864, the morning of the attack on Gate Pā. General Sir Duncan Cameron (centre right, hands in pockets, leaning against the wheel of a 24 pounder smooth bored howitzer) surrounded by British regulars, local militia and Volunteers.

 

29 April: Bombardment - The Battle of Gate Pā

At first light on April 29 the intense barrage began, said to be the heaviest artillery bombardment of the New Zealand Wars (Cowan, 1986, p. 425). At 4pm, after nine hours and with a breach in the pekerangi having been made, Cameron gave the order to attack. Tauranga historian Ernest Edward Bush (1909-1988) explains:

April 29 was a misty, unpleasant day... All day his guns pounded the fortification till about mid-afternoon a breach was made. Cameron moved his men up for an assault upon the pā. Led by their officers (who thus were the first to be struck down by the Māori warriors) the men swarmed into the trenches, and began to drive out the defenders. But Greer’s men were at the exits, and the Māori’s poured back into the trenches. The soldiers and sailors now in the pā believed this rush to be reinforcements. Without the leadership of their officers, they fled the pā, still held by Ngāiterangi and their allies. (Bush, 1975, p. 40)

 

The British retreat

Many officers, including Booth, were quickly killed or wounded during the initial assault. As well as volleys from hidden bunkers beneath their feet, British were ‘subjected to galling crossfire from the two redoubts’ (Belich, 1998, p. 186). Cameron was forced to call off the attack and a disorderly retreat ensued leaving a hundred dead and wounded soldiers behind. As Tauranga historian Alistair Matheson (1925-2011) explains, ‘It was a triumph of military construction for the Māori and a disaster for the British’ (Matheson, 2010, para. 4).

Sketch in trenches, Gate Pa (30 April 1864)

Sketch in trenches, Gate Pa. 30 April 1864. Sketch of wounded Maori. Reweti in centre (and a young warrior) was 2nd in command Gate Pa. Was shot by Dr Manley, V.C. Sketch early 30 April 1864.

 

Water to the wounded: Escape through enemy lines

During the night Māori quietly abandoned the pā which had served their purpose. They took their wounded along with British muskets and disappeared, the Koheriki reinforcements through the Kopurererua swamp on their left (East) and Ngāi Te Rangi past the men of the 68th on their right (West) (Cowan, 1983, p. 433). Honouring the Poteriwhi Code of Conduct  the wounded soldiers were not maltreated, looted or mutilated, but instead given water before they left, including the mortally wounded Booth who had been shot through the spine. ‘By the side of each wounded Englishman there was found in the morning some small water-vessel, placed there by the Māori’s before they departed from their fort’ (Rusden, 1883, p. 216).

Thirty years of teaching by Christian missionaries and the Poteriwhi Code of Conduct were surely responsible for the great compassion shown by Māori before they abandoned the pā. As Ngatai explains, ‘we adhered strictly to the terms of the battle-covenant, and harmed not the wounded nor interfered with the bodies of the dead’ (as cited in Mair, 1937, p.28). Much controversy and fierce debate surrounds who actually gave water to the soldiers as the following stories attest to:

  • Many believe that Henare Wiremu Taratoa, who composed the Poteriwhi Code of Conduct and was killed at Te Ranga, gave water to the injured. As Tucker (1879) explains, ‘One dying of his wounds was tended all night by Hēnare Taratoa... Taratoa crept down amongst the ferns within reach of the sentries, and filled a calabash with water, which he successfully carried back to refresh the parched lips of his enemy. The English officers told this story’ (p. 205).
  • In 1896 a Bay of Plenty Times article give details about chief Te Ipu Hikareia (?-1901) who, despite being shot through the knee during the battle, gave water, bread and berries to Booth. He told his story whilst giving Governor Lord Glasgow a tour of the battle site during an official visit (p. 2). In 1903 Ngatai said ‘It has been said that Te Ipu gave the dying soldier water, but he was badly wounded (foot smashed) and quite incapacitated’ (as cited in Mair, 1937, p.28).
  • Thirty-four years after the battle Heni Te Kiri Karamu (1840-1933) claimed that it was she who gave Booth water. In February 1898 a Bay of Plenty Times article included a personal letter to her (dated 3 December 1897) by New Zealand Wars veteran Captain Gilbert Mair (1843-1923) supporting her claim: ‘When I first visited the Bay of Plenty shortly after the engagement, I heard from all sides that it was you who had given poor Colonel Booth and other dying soldiers water. Both Colonel St. John and Dr. Manley mentioned your name, and later on while at Maketu; Dr. Nesbitt, who was then R.M., gave me fuller details... Colonel Booth told him just before his death how he had been succoured most tenderly by a woman during that dreadful night’ (Mair, as cited in Bay of Plenty Times, 1898, p.3). Curiously, nowhere in Mair’s definitive work on the Battle of Gate Pā (first published in 1926) does he mention Te Kiri Karamu’s story. In the Bay of Plenty Times on 22 April 1898 the following note from the editor appeared; ‘We have had conversation with two natives wounded at the Gate Pā fight, Renata and Hone Taharangi, of the Ngaeterangi tribe, and both distinctly and emphatically deny that even one woman was present’ (p. 2).
  • A Bay of Plenty Times article from 1909 suggests it was Rawiri Tuaia Puhirake  who gave water to the wounded; ‘From what history tells us this man was not a savage. It was he who jumped over the parapet when he saw Colonel Booth fall mortally wounded; taking off his blanket that it might form a pillow for the British officer, and bringing him water to quench his thirst. This chief was killed at the Te Ranga fight about two months later’ (p. 2).

Given the conflicting evidence above, this author concludes that in all likelihood more than one person gave the wounded sustenance. As Dixon (2010) states, ‘It is likely that numerous acts of kindness were performed after the battle’ (para. 5).

Wiremu Henare Taratoa offers water to Lieutenant-Colonel Booth (1864)

Wiremu Henare Taratoa offers water to Lieutenant-Colonel Booth (1864)

 

The aftermath of battle: A crisis of identity

At 5am on April 30th, a sailor from Harrier crept up to the pā and found it deserted. The dead and wounded were then carried from the battlefield. British casualties were high and included ten officers killed or dying from their wounds. Twenty eight non-commissioned officers and privates were killed and 73 wounded.  The Māori lost only 25 men and there was a great outcry, both in New Zealand and England, that a force of 1,689 soldiers and sailors could have been defeated by 230 Māori. Belich (1998) explains that ‘British regimental spirit could match the Māori tribal spirit, the British bayonet charge was as ferocious as a Māori attack’ (p. 24) and whilst victory in the battle served to ‘enhance the mana’ (status) of Tauranga Māori (Waitangi Tribunal, 2004, p. 99), battle hardened professional British soldiers surely had their identities severely shaken by the defeat. Booth and the 43rd were an ‘élite unit,’ Greer’s 68th had come from Burma and Cameron had made ‘thorough and careful preparations’ (Belich, 1998, p. 184). Grey wrote that, ‘we are all here plunged into a sorrow and grief that I cannot describe’ (as cited in Belich, 1998, p. 188). The battle had ‘decimated Cameron’s officer corps and sent the British reeling’ (Maxwell, 2000, p. 90).

 

Te Ranga Battle Site markerUtu: The Battle of Te Ranga, 21 June 1864

Two months later, the British were to have their utu when they attacked unprepared Māori on 21 June 1864 in what has become known as the Battle of Te Ranga. On that morning Greer had left Te Papa on a reconnaissance mission with a force of 600 men from the 43rd, 68thand 1st Waikato Militia (Belich, 1998, p. 189). Five kilometres inland from Gate Pā, they discovered 500 Māori working on a new fortification. Greer sent for reinforcements and when an extra 220 men arrived two hours later the British charged. Unlike Gate Pā they charged across the whole of the Māori line. The battle rates amongst the bloodiest of the New Zealand Wars. In desperate hand-to-hand fighting, ‘British troops exacted terrible vengeance for their defeat at Gate Pā’ (Cowan, 1983, p. 439). The Māori garrison was unable to hold the incomplete defences and retreated when Puhirake was killed. Taratoa was also among 68 Māori killed, then subsequently buried in the trenches at Te Ranga (Belich, 1998, p. 193). Ngāi Te Rangi had ‘lost some of their finest chiefs’ (Waitangi Tribunal, 2004, p. 107).  


 

Raupatu: loss of identity with the land

The defeat at Te Ranga broke the resistance of the Ngāi Te Rangi and in July 1864 they came to Te Papa surrendering weapons and pledging peace to Governor Grey. In August of that same year formal peacemaking was carried out which included Raupatu (confiscation of Māori land by government during the 1860s) of 290,000 acres of Māori land (see appendix 7). ‘The relationship between a person and the land established Māori identity; without these relationships a man did not exist, he was a nothing’ (Simpson, 1986, p. 14). Some land was acquired as part of an enforced sale; other land was taken without payment and legitimised through legislation. The land was surveyed and distributed to military settlers, founding the new town of Tauranga. Rose (1997) rightly asserts that ‘confiscation indelibly altered the lives of Tauranga Māori. The short term consequences of loss in warfare were traumatic. The subsequent diminution of the land base had far reaching effects that are still being felt today’ (p. 1).

Surrender of the Ngaiterangi at Te Papa - coming in with arms by Horatio Gordon Robley (25th July, 1864)

Robley, Horatio Gordon, 1840-1930. Robley, Horatio Gordon 1840-1930 :Surrender of the Ngaiterangi at Te Papa - coming in with arms. 25th July, 1864.. Ref: A-033-010. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22799994

 

Resistance Identity: Tauranga Bush Campaign 1867

Māori response to surveying of confiscated land was to ‘interfere’ with the process, in some cases threatening the surveyors themselves. This resulted in a small-scale conflict, constituting a ‘resistance identity,’ known as the Tauranga Bush Campaign of 1867. There was an unjustifiable response by government to this conflict and I agree with the Waitangi Tribunal (2004) who state: ‘The actions of Crown forces in burning villages and destroying cultivations were excessive in relation to the declared aim of the campaign which was to apprehend individuals who had interfered with surveys and threatened surveyors working on the confiscated blocks’ (pp. 260-261). This campaign signalled the end of the physical fighting in Tauranga Moana, and the beginning of pacifist resistance by Māori to confiscation and lobbying for fair and just recompense that has continued to this day. As Rose (1997) points out ‘prior to the war Māori had successfully created a thriving economy in Tauranga, attaining economic benefits from their involvement in the colonial economy. War and confiscation severed the progress of the Tauranga Māori economy’ (p. 168). 

 

Loss of tradition, loss of identity

The 1870s were difficult times for Māori and saw a considerable decline in the population of a now marginalised people struggling with a loss of identity and tradition. Loss of land and the resulting scarcity of food and poverty had severe consequences for Māori survival leading to hardship, malnutrition, starvation and in turn, increased susceptibility to European diseases. ‘By 1900 a significant proportion of Tauranga Māori was landless and those that did retain land were severely hampered by the small and fragmented land holdings’ (Rose, 1997, p. 111). The loss of connection with the land served to undermine Māori identity. As Simpson (1986) states; ‘The conflict between Māori and settler in New Zealand has gone on since the first European contact and continues still, the net result being the progressive destruction of Māori identity’ (p. 12).

 

The Episcopal Chapel window: Litchfield Cathedral, Staffordshire, EnglandThe Episcopal Chapel window: Litchfield Cathedral, Staffordshire, England

Taratoa had been educated by Bishop Selwyn, first Bishop of New Zealand, from 1845 to 1853. After the Battle of Te Ranga ‘on Henare’s body was found the Poteriwhi Code of Conduct along with the words in Māori... If thine enemy hunger feed him, if he thirst, give him to drink’ Romans 12:20 (Ki tematekai tou hoariri, whangainga: Ki te matewai, whakainumia) (Cowan, 1983, p. 439). When Selwyn returned to England he built an Episcopal Chapel opposite the north side of the Lichfield Cathedral. Using money obtained through public subscription after the New Zealand Wars he had painted windows placed in the chapel, each window representing the chivalrous side of a soldier’s life. One window representing David pouring out the water which three soldiers had fetched from the well at Bethlehem at the risk of their lives (I Chron. XI, 17-19), is dedicated to Taratoa’s comparable act of chivalry (Mair, 1937, pp. 86-88) thus perpetuating identity with this act. Tauranga historian Jean (Jinty) Rorke supports this, stating; ‘This was intended to record Henare Taratoa’s act of giving water to the wounded after the battle of Gate Pā’ (as cited by Gibbs, 2009, p. 12).

 

Identity through theatre

The play, The Battle of Gate Pā, was staged at Bethlehem College’s Performing Arts Centre, Tauranga, from 7 to 9 July 2011. Written and directed by Kim Williamson from Detour Theatre it was produced by the school’s head of drama, Linda Anderson. The author attended the performance on Thursday July 7 and notes that the play focuses on Te Kiri Karamu  giving water to the wounded. The historical accuracy of this event is debatable. The play also has a religious theme which is to be expected in a school that identifies as Christian based. Williamson explains that, ‘reconciliation between Māori and Pākehā is a theme of the play’ (Williamson as cited in Donnell, 2011, para. 1). In a reconstruction of events the play is one way the story of Gate Pā can be represented.

 

Art speaks of identity

Tauranga artist Duane Moyle (1977- ) exhibited this 864 x 1212mm oil on board painting Te Mamae Aroha o Pukehinahina (Gate Pā Lamentation) 1864 (2010) in the foyer during the time Williamson’s play was performed. The title is based on an old song of mourning or patere (songs which recite ancestral travels) belonging to the Tapuika iwi. It refers to the battles Pukehinahina and Te Ranga where many Te Arawa people fought and died and is only sung on certain occasions (Dean Flavell, personal communication, 18 July 2011).

Te Mamae Aroha o Pukehinahina (Gate Pa Lamentation) 1864 by Duane Moyle

Tukutuku patterns in a repeated coffin shape are overlaid with the trenches of Gate Pā. The coffin shape is in ‘remembrance of not only those who died at Gate Pā, but the many more who died a few months later when the British attacked the unfinished defences at Te Ranga’ (Moyle, 2010, para 4). This work is one of a ‘series of 10 paintings delving into the history and cultural significance of the geography of Tauranga, utilising traditional Māori motifs like the tukutuku ‘x’ patterns as well as using European and colonial landscape painting styles and traditions’ (Morris, n.d., para. 2). Morris further explains that the work explores ‘pattern, cross cultural ideas, picture making and story telling unique to Aotearoa’ (para. 5). As Moyle (2010) himself states, ‘The battle of Gate Pā is one of the defining moments in the history of Tauranga. The scale of the battle, the chivalrous conduct of the warriors and the outcome are truly remarkable’ (para. 1). This is a powerful painting, one in which the perspective of the artist and the artworks ability to reshape ideas and explore identity can be clearly seen. ‘The identity quest is not...confined to artists; it is simply that they give expression to a social movement. Art is just one of many ways of giving expression to the struggle for identity’ (Batten, 1989, p. 227).

Heeni Booth by Bryce Brown

The aftermath of the Battle of Gate Pā is depicted in a painting measuring 92 x 92cm by another Tauranga artist, Bryce Brown (1971- ). Named Heeni Te Kiri Karamu giving water to Lieutenant-Colonel Booth at Gate Pā 1864 (2009) it is in ‘acrylics painted on museum quality 10 oz cotton duck over which an isolation coat of acrylic gel is applied before a solvent based varnish’ (Brown, 2011, para. 2). Brown clearly identifies with Te Kiri Karamu’s story, probably the most promoted version of the giving of water to wounded soldiers, and his painting will serve to promote that identity to those viewing the artwork. As Batten (1989) explains, ‘There is no one search for identity in art, no one New Zealand identity, for the frontiers of that identity are forever shifting’ (p. 213).

 

Identity through poetry: Within this room

On the evening before the Battle of Gate Pā, ten or so British officers whose units were to lead the attack gathered for dinner at The Elms mission house. Only one of those men, Assistant Surgeon William George Nicholas Manley of the Royal Artillery, was to survive the chaotic events of the following day. The mahogany oval dining table and chairs that this last meal was served upon were brought from England in 1829 by Alfred Nesbit Brown and his wife Charlotte Brown (1795/96-1855). Today, whilst on a guided tour, visitors to the Elms can view the table as well as the piano that Brown’s second wife Christina (1818-1887) played the hymn Abide With Me on that same evening (Vennell, 1984, pp. 97-101), while the poignant story is retold. The tale is also enshrined in a poem called Within this Room by Tauranga poet Kathleen Hawkins (1883-1981) further allowing the reader to identify with events. Hawkins tells the story of the last meal in five stanzas, each consisting of eight lines of rhyming couplets using an AABBCCDD rhyme scheme. She was born in England and the use of traditional English heroic couplets reflects that heritage. The ‘narrative’ composition of the poem and the simple vocabulary used suit the purpose of storytelling as utilised here:   

Within this room, upon that long-past night
They set the table; and the April light
Showed pale beyond each lofty window frame
When she, the kind and busy hostess, came
To see that all was done at her behest
To show due honour to each coming guest;
That men who lived amongst war’s miseries,
Might know on precious hour of gracious ease.
 
The light of candles glittered on the board;
Gold-braided uniform and hilt of sword
Answered the gleam, and on the faces round
Shone happiness; for weary men had found
Here, in this land of strife, a place of peace.
But, though the talk and laughter did not cease,
Some eyes grew wistful; for some thoughts would stray
To other homes – in England far away.
 
Then, when the meal was ended, tale and joke
Died into silence, as the kind host spoke.
Lost are his words to-day, we only know
That those who listened felt their hearts a-glow
With penitence; and, kneeling side by side,
Grim veteran and the lad in youthful pride,
They took the sacrament of endless life,
Then rose, strong-hearted for the morrow’s strife.
 
Within this room, when but two nights had fled,
Was sound of mourning for the gallant dead;
Of all those happy guests who feasted here,
But one was left to tell the story drear
Of ambush, and a battle sadly lost,
Of courage vain, and of bitter cost,
When heroes, Pākehā and Māori, met
In that grim strife that we would fain forget.
 
Still in this place to-day the quiet light
Falls on a room scarce changed since that past night;
An in its quietude the questions rise:
Was this the vision seen by dying eyes?
Did that last glimpsed of homely peacefulness
Sine through the pain of wounds to heal and bless?
And did the human kindness freely given
Help some brave soul to find the way to Heaven?
 
(Hawkins, 1943, pp. 4-5)

 

Identity through monuments: The Mission Cemetery

The Mission Cemetery, located on Marsh Street at the northern end of Te Papa peninsula overlooking the Tauranga harbour, is where both Māori and Europeans who died at the battles of Gate Pā and Te Ranga are buried and is another source of identity. The site was the Otamataha Pā before its inhabitants were massacred. Many graves are unmarked and ‘by 1875 it appeared that the cemetery would eventually be abandoned. Erosion had caused some of the enclosure to fall away and several coffins could be seen from the beach below. These were reburied and a seawall was constructed by the Armed Constabulary’ (Ministry for Culture & Heritage, 2011, para. 8). The cemetery officially closed in 1884. Amongst the memorials, graves and plaques commemorating men who died on active service in the Tauranga district during the New Zealand Wars can be found the following (see appendix 9):

Memorials serve to commemorate those killed during wartime and provide a place of public mourning, as well as reaffirming and legitimising national and regional identities through visual propaganda. Maclean and Phillips (1990) discuss the reasons why most New Zealand Wars memorials were not erected straight after the wars (p. 10). They explain:

The wars had not been, for the Pākehā, confirming experiences of triumph and heroism. Rather, they had been a long drawn-out conflict, often initiated for reasons of dubious legitimacy, and characterised by frustration and embarrassment at the settlers’ failure to win a clear-cut victory over the ‘savage’ race. (Maclean & Phillips, 1990, p. 21)

Before the turn of the twentieth century there it seems there was a lack of interest in memorialising New Zealand’s civil war. Perhaps this was based on the questionable motives around the conflicts and an unwillingness to confront the issues. This is demonstrated in Tauranga, where before 1909 only one substantial memorial to the New Zealand Wars existed; the 43rd Regiment New Zealand Wars memorial. However this was to change as Maclean & Phillips (1990) explain, ‘beginning in 1907, the long generation of apathy and lack of concern in the New Zealand Wars came to an end, and there began a decade of memorialising the conflict’ (p. 27). In Tauranga this commenced with the 1st Waikato Militia New Zealand Wars memorial erected in 1909.

 

Literature and national identity

The Story of Gate Pā, a non-fiction narrative by Gilbert Mair, was first published in 1926. Mair had been approached by the editor of the Bay of Plenty Times to write the story of the Battle of Gate Pā for a commemorative issue. ‘The demand for copies of that Special Issue was so great... that I have been prompted to now publish the account of that memorable engagement in pamphlet form.’ (Gifford, as cited in Mair, 1937, p. 4). A republication in 1937 saw additional material and illustrations added. Its popularity has been demonstrated by its reprint for the 100th anniversary of the battle in 1964 and its recent republication in 2010 by Cadsonbury Publications. Along with a narrative of the battle there is included ‘A Māori Survivor’s Story’ related by Hori NgataiCameron and Greer’s official reports, correspondence relating to the battle, a list of government troops killed and wounded, photographs and newspaper articles. Literature ‘may be said to contribute to the formation of memory as a collective, rather than a merely individual phenomenon’ (Walder, 2003, p. 81).

In general Pākehā seem to have a ‘collective amnesia’ about the New Zealand Wars. This was challenged by Rhodes Scholar Belich in his ‘revisionist’ history, originating as a thesis but published in 1986 as The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict. It ‘helped reframe the wars - sometimes known as ‘the Māori Wars’ (with its ‘native-quelling’ connotations) - as ‘the New Zealand Wars’. The book sold an impressive 20,000 copies’ (Botes, 2009, para. 4) and impacted on the reshaping of national identity. Contrary to popular opinion at the time Belich pointed out ‘just how often the Māori were successful in battle and how near they came to winning the war’ (Wattie, 1998, p. 568). Jones (1989) explains that ‘Literature is an institution within a society, and as such it both reflects and projects an image of that society’s cultural identity’ (p. 187).

Marble freize on Rāwiri Puhirake New Zealand Wars memorial (1914)Coincidently, it is the white marble frieze on Puhirake’s memorial that features on the cover of Belich’s book. Therefore, whether people know it or not, they are familiar with this enduring image from the Battle of Gate Pā. Wood (2010) describes the book as a ‘revisionist history because it embodies a changed outlook free of any earlier imperial mindset or trappings’ (p. 22). As Belich (1998) himself states ‘the one thing contemporary explanations of the British defeat had in common was the lack of emphasis on the role of Māori skill and forethought’ (p. 186). Literature is one vehicle people use to explore their identity as a nation.

The children’s book The Battlefield (2003) by Don Long tells the story of a family that move onto a farm and discover the remains of a battlefield from the New Zealand Wars which the children use as a playground. Eventually the children start asking questions about the battlefield and discover that they probably had ancestors, both Pākehā and Māori, who fought on both sides during the wars. The themes of identity, mixed ancestry, what the war was really like and how to honour the memory of those who fought and died are explored. Included is a page of information about the war, ‘in the end, the New Zealand Wars explain the kind of country we live in now’ (Long, 2003, p.23). There is a Māori translation, Te Tahuna, available as a separate book.

Another children’s book Battle at the Gate (2008) by Jenny Jenkins is based on the story of Te Kiri Karamu. The book is a good contribution to the story of the Battle and the enduring identity with it that has developed since, however an author’s note at the end incorrectly states that the Lichfield Cathedral window commemorates Te Kiri Karamu.

 

Television Series: The New Zealand Wars

The New Zealand Wars (1998) is a five-part television series presented by Belich. The first episode was broadcast on TV One in June 1998 and quickly became a phenomenon as it ‘provoked vigorous debate and intense emotional response in the realms of national identity and race relations’ (Perrott, 2007, p. xxi). The series won the Best Script (Factual Programme/Documentary) at the 1998 TV Guide Television Awards, and was awarded a Media Peace Award. ‘Ratings for the series “absolutely floored” network doubters’ (Botes, 2009 para. 23). The positive impact upon New Zealand identity is further discussed by Perrott (2007):

The 1998 television broadcast of The New Zealand Wars documentary series was a significant public event, which had a major impact on a broad range of communities and individuals in Aotearoa New Zealand. This popular television history engaged with issues of historical veracity, race, culture and nationhood and challenged previously dominant discourses associated with these concepts. In doing so, it provoked heated debate, and a re-imagining of ‘nation’, and also opened up spaces for alternative ways of engaging with historical narrative. (p. ii)

The Battle of Gate Pā is covered in Episode 3: The invasion of Waikato. The series serves to reaffirm that Aotearoa has its own captivating cultural history and vibrant identity with its own villains, heroes and electrifying battles. As Belich declares in his series summary, ‘we don’t need to look overseas for our Robin Hood, our Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, or Gandhi’ (Belich, as cited in Botes, 2009 para. 12).

In The New Zealand Wars case the use of a ‘mass medium’ with a sizeable audience is an example of the role television can play in the construction of a national identity. Compellingly woven together are computer generated recreations of battlefields, photography, art, waiata, carvings and indigenous music which serve to visually, verbally and aurally challenge long held interpretations of cultural memory, providing a fresh analysis:

The role of audio visual media (and specifically television documentary) in transmitting cultural memory is significant as it enables the flow of memory through channels or forms (such as visual, oral and aural traditions) that can bring about new perspectives and critical reflections upon colonial discourse and dominant concepts of nation and culture. (Perrott, 2007, p. ii)

 

The Gate Pā site after the battle

After the battle of Gate Pā the fortifications were garrisoned by the 68th Durham Light Infantry. By 1877, the pā had become derelict and the District Highway Board favoured levelling the earthworks. There was an outcry among some residents, but others took the matter into their own hands and began filling in the main ditch. ‘The battle site had national and arguably international significance’ (Rorke, as cited in Cousins, 2008, para. 10). An editorial in the Bay of Plenty Times (1892) talks about the ‘terrible act of vandalism’ committed (p. 2). As Maclean & Phillips (1990) state, ‘Gate Pā, arguably the most famous site of all, was deliberately destroyed by local residents in 1877 because, so they said, it was dangerous for cattle’ (p. 25). Not all residents were happy that the Gate Pā site was not preserved:

It is now getting on for thirty years since the fight at Gate Pā took place, and with the exception of a few comparatively neglected graves in the Old Cemetery, there is nothing to show visitors that a most deadly fight, to the Europeans at least, took place within half-an-hours walk of this town. (Bay of Plenty Times, 1892, para 1)

The rest of the fortifications have since been built over and are cut through the centre by Tauranga’s main road, Cameron Road, which is ironically named after General Duncan Alexander Cameron. Rorke (1994) explains that ‘Signs of the trenches, which were visible when the road cutting was made, are concealed by the rock retaining wall’ (p. 11). Several other roads and suburbs are named for people or ships from the Battle of Gate Pā (see appendix 8). It is interesting to note that there are no streets named after Māori warriors which seems an affront and a source of further loss of identity for them.

 

Religious Identity: St George’s Anglican Memorial Church

A piece of land lying to the east of the main highway was gazetted as a domain and on 23 August 1880 Canon Jordan requested part of it be made available for a church. Land was also made available for the Gate Pā Tennis Club in 1953 and the Gate Pā Bowling Club (Cable, 2009). The bodies of Māori killed during the Battle of Gate Pā are buried on the western slopes below where the bowling green is now situated. St George’s Memorial Church was erected in 1900 virtually on the site of the pā.[2] In 1986 it was damaged by fire and due to an electrical fault burnt down completely in 1992. A new church was rebuilt in 1993 and a stained glass window (designed by Rita Haagh) was added to the west wall depicting Te Kiri Karamu giving water to wounded British soldiers (St George’s Church, 2010, p. 3) further reinforcing identity with her story.

A series of three Tukutuku panels (designed by Lee Netana) were installed in St George’s Church in 2011. They serve to affirm a strong Māori identity within the church. All three relate to the Battle of Gate Pā:

  • Panel 1: Tukutuku Tuatahi, Te Pakanga – The Conflict (2011). ‘The first panel represents the Battle of Gate Pā, the green colouring symbolising the whenua/land where the battle took place. The centre pattern symbolises the different peoples and communities that were involved in this conflict.’
  • Panel 2: Tukutuku Tuarua, Te Whakawhitiwhiti – The Transition (2011). ‘The second panel depicts the transition process between conflict and peace. The central pattern of green and blue symbolises a pathway towards peace, which all peoples and communities within the conflict must meet for the peace to be lasting. The purple patterns each side of the pathway represents a time of negotiation and parley. The black and yellow squares are symbolic of the peoples and communities that are not directly involved in the conflict or negotiations, but affected by the whole process and ultimately the outcome, for better or worse.’
  • Panel 3: Tukutuku Tuatoru, Moungarongo – Goodwill (2011). ‘This third panel represents, not the ending of the story, but the ongoing journey that all cultures travel to make their communities safe, healthy and happy’ (St George’s Church, 2011, para. 1-3).

 

An enduring identity: the Gate Pā site today

Today, the site of the Battle of Gate Pā is a reserve with minimal evidence of fortification. At the top of a rise next to St George’s Church is a memorial marking one end of the defensive line. Organised by the Tauranga Historical Society this was unveiled during 1964 centennial commemorations along with a flagpole, cairn and brass plaque. According to Maclean & Phillips (1990) the marker perpetuates ‘Pākehā myths and biases’ (p. 40) which are quite likely offensive to Māori when it reads ‘this plaque commemorates the chivalry displayed by both Māori and Pākehā, which has helped unite the two races.’ This is a patronising fallacy, born from an outdated paternalistic attitude. It is one which also adorns Puhirake’s monument (1914) which states; ‘The seeds of better feeling between the two races thus sown on the battlefield have since borne ample fruit: disaffection has given place to loyalty, and hostility to friendship, British and Māori now living together as one united people.’ Belich (1998) discusses the ‘romantic legend of Gate Pā as the epitome of the spirit of Christian chivalry in which the war was allegedly fought. Complimentary as this was to the Māoris, it operated to obscure their other achievements’ (p. 186). These unbalanced sentiments and the myth of a harmonious relationship were thrown into disarray by the Māori protests that were to come later.

More recent memorials such as the 1997: Tauranga Maori New Zealand Wars memorial and informative signs erected at the battle site in 2010 appear more sincere and honest. Maclean & Phillips (1990) confront the issue when they state, ‘the question facing us is whether the time has come to destroy the offensive monuments and the offensive texts of the past – or whether we should keep them as a record of past Pākehā attitudes, and build for ourselves new memorials’ (p. 43).

Carved tomokanga at the site of the Battle of Gate PaOn Sunday, 29 April 2007, a carved tomokanga (a welcome to all people onto a sacred place) was added to the Gate Pā site marking the anniversary of the battle. The carvings were designed in consultation with Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Rangainui and Ngāti Pukenga iwi. A 40-hour marathon of carving, directed by Tauranga master carver James (Hemi) Tapiata, was carried out from 4pm on Friday April 27, an event which this author witnessed with her children on April 28. The amo (vertical figures) depict Tu, the God of War, and Rongo, the God of Peace. The maihi (barge boards) symbolise the hokioi (now an extinct bird). Tapiata explains that the tomokanga is ‘the first Māori symbolism going onto the site’ (Tapiata, as cited by Udy, 2007, p. 4) and as such it serves to reaffirm Māori identity.

 

Identity through archaeological sites

Archaeological sites serve to connect the present to the past and may serve to reinforce identity. As Strongman (n.d.) explains, ‘The cultural memory of the New Zealand wars is held in public archives and also in physical places, such as the sites of abandoned fortifications and pā's’ (p. 5). Sites relating to the Battle of Gate Pā that can still be viewed as reinforcing identities include:

  • Monmouth Redoubt: Corner of Monmouth Street and Cliff Road, on cliff edge. 
  • Mission Cemetery: Marsh Street between roundabout and bridge over East Coast Main Trunk Railway Line. Midden from pā site visible at the top of the cliffs at various points (Prickett & McGovern-Wilson, 2009). 
  • Te Ranga Battle Site: About 200m south of the Joyce Road intersection; on the east side of Pyes Pā Road. Some faint earthworks and rifle pits.
  • Pukehinahina (Gate Pā) Battle Site.
  • Te Papa Mission Station: Mission Street.

 

Artefacts and Identity

Cannonballs from the Battle of Gate PāTauranga City Library receives many class visits from local schools. During those visits the children are shown the New Zealand Room and, more specifically, the cannonballs from the Battle of Gate Pā. One large cannon ball and two smaller ones give the children a tactile sense of what the Māori defenders faced and reinforce historical identity. Unexploded shells from the battle are also regularly unearthed and reported in the Bay of Plenty Times, reigniting interest in the history of the area:

  • 1979, November 7: Family finds old battle relic
  • 1982, June 26: Sand extraction digs up shells (40 pounders) from Gate Pā
  • 1983, June 24: Shell detonated 119 years after battle
  • 1988, May 11: Shell unearthed at Greerton
  • 2001, January 31: Bomb discovery closes main road
  • 2002, January 22: Disbelieving builders give ‘bomb’ the boot - under a lemon tree

A tewhatewha (two handed fighting weapon) was dug up at Pukehinahina in 1875 and contributes to the cultural memory of the battle. Measuring 90.2cm x 13cm one end is a sharp point whilst the other is axe-like. It is made from whale bone and has large cracks and chipped areas along the edges of its blade. Originally it would have had a feather decoration. Purchased by the Auckland Museum in 1890 the tewhatewha is part of the Ko Tawa: Māori ancestors of New Zealand exhibition which showed at the Tauranga Art Gallery in 2008 (Tapsell, 2006).

Tewhatewha (Pukehinahina)

Whale bone tewhatewha dug up at Pukehinahina, Gate Pa, Tauranga, in 1875.

 

Symbolic identity: Gate Pā Flag

Robley completed numerous sketches of the Tauranga campaign and other aspects of Māori life. His sketch of Gate Pā was done soon after the battle and shows the trenches, details of the fence and the Gate Pa Flag on the far right. The flag was situated near the rear of Gate Pā during the battle. As Belich (1998) explains ‘the Māori’s had cunningly placed their red war flag some sixty yards behind their actual position’ (Belich, 1998, p. 183). Robley explains the consequence of this action, ‘For the first two hours fire was directed at the flag-staff when it was found to be placed behind and outside the pā’ (Robley, as cited in Fildes, 1985, p. 384). The flag can also be seen in the background of Robley’s painting of Henare Wiremu Taratoa.

Gate Pa Flag

 

Many people have seen the Gate Pa Flag  as since 1996, along with the Union Jack, it has graced the memorial to the European and Māori who died in the New Zealand Wars at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The Gate Pa Flag was chosen to represent Māori both because of the significance of the battle as well as the fact that it features in Robley’s painting (Rose Young, personal communication, August 1, 2011). It comprises a white Christian cross on its left, a 4 pointed white star (ascending Star of Bethlehem) on its right and downward white crescent (new moon) in the centre on a sacred red background. As McLintock (2009) states; ‘One of the most famous Māori rebel flags was that captured at Gate Pā in April 1864’ (para. 4). It constitutes a powerful symbol of identity.

New Zealand Wars Memorial

 

Project identity: A national memorial day for the New Zealand Wars?

It is surprising that some New Zealanders do not identify with the New Zealand Wars. An extraordinary example of this was in June 2008 when Newstalk ZB reported soon-to-be Prime Minister John Key as saying, ‘We’re not a country that’s come about as a result of civil war or where there’s been a lot of fighting internally, we’re a country which peacefully came together’ (Key, as cited in Hereora, 2008, para. 2). Hereora’s (2008) response was ‘he doesn’t understand history and the value of that history. As painful as it may be, it has still brought us together as nation and we should never forget our ancestry’ (para. 7). As Strongman (n.d.) also reiterates, ‘Conflict has been part of the process of nation-formation from the 1840s’ (p. 1).

Recognition of the important role of the Battle of Gate Pā could lead to a groundswell of feeling towards a national day of remembrance of our civil war which would constitute a ‘project identity.’ The New Zealand Wars were ‘bitter and bloody struggles, as important to New Zealand as were the Civil Wars to England and the United States’ (Belich, 1998, p. 15) and it may be time that a remembrance day was set aside to commemorate them. Perhaps this hasn’t happened already because it is an uncomfortable exploration of identity for postcolonial Pākehā, one where they were not necessarily on the side of ‘good’ as perceived in World War I & II. Historian Jock Phillips asks ‘why has Anzac Day become a more significant moment of reflection than Waitangi Day on who we are as a nation? And why is it that the war experiences we never mention or commemorate are the New Zealand Wars? Here was our great civil war and the very few memorials are never visited. Instead, we obliterate the memory’ (as cited by Barry, 2007, para. 39).

The formation of a national identity, one in which people share a common culture and history, involves the acknowledgment of a shared heritage and experience. Cultural elements as identified in this essay play a role in the construction and fashioning of collective memory and judicious remembrance. They are a selective tribute to the national memory of the New Zealand Wars as a shared historical experience impacting upon both nation building and a constantly fluctuating and evolving national identity. It will be interesting to observe the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gate Pā, which is coming up in 2014, and see how the people of Aotearoa choose to identify as a nation with this event.

by Debbie McCauley (August, 2011).

 

Author’s Note: Our personal identity is influenced by our experiences and knowledge and in many cases, family history. For this author, a fifth-generation Pākehā New Zealander, the New Zealand Wars link is through her third great grandfather, Edward Watts Garmonsway (1809-1875), a Royal New Zealand Fencible who arrived to settle in Howick with his wife and family on the ‘Inchinnan’ in May 1852. These veteran soldiers became military settlers, established at Governor Grey's request as protection for the southern frontier of the Auckland Settlement. Identity can also be influenced by location. The author has lived in Gate Pā, Tauranga for the past 16 years, on land which was most likely confiscated after the Battle of Gate Pā in 1864.


[1] It is interesting to note that the first Geneva Convention with astonishingly similar principles to the Poteriwhi Code of Conduct was signed four months later on 22 August 1864 with the aim of assisting the work of the International Red Cross.

[2] It is interesting to note that this Anglican Church is erected atop a pā site built by Catholic Māori.

 

APPENDICES

 

REFERENCES

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How to cite this page: McCauley, Debbie (2011). Identity and the Battle of Gate Pā at Pukehinahina (29 April 1864). Retrieved from http://tauranga.kete.net.nz/battles_of_gate_pa_and_te_ranga_1864/topics/show/922 (Tauranga Memories, last updated: *insert date*). In-text citation: (McCauley, 2011)

 

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Identity and the Battle of Gate Pā at Pukehinahina (29 April 1864) by Debbie McCauley


Year:1864 and 2011
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Identity and the Battle of Gate Pā at Pukehinahina (29 April 1864) by Debbie McCauley by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga City Libraries) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License