Te Mamae Aroha o Pukehinahina (Gate Pa Lamentation) 1864 by Duane Moyle (2010)

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Te Mamae Aroha o Pukehinahina (Gate Pa Lamentation) 1864 by Duane Moyle (2010).


The battle of Gate Pa 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.

A confederation of Bay of Plenty tribes met to pledge their support for Waikato tribes who were opposing British forces. Tauranga was valuable as a possible route for British reinforcements who were needed in Waikato and also a route for Maori support wanting to help in Waikato. The presence of troops arriving in Tauranga was also seen as a threat to local Maori as they feared they would lose their land. The Maori expected the British troops to come and fight at Te Puna. Here they set out the rules of conduct based on recently learnt Christian principles that came to characterize the conflict. More British troops arrived and the Maori grew restless for battle and sent an invitation to the Colonel to come and fight. The British did not come so the Maori shifted the battle to the fence that bordered the mission land at Pukehinahina. The Maori constructed fortifications and dug trenches at the gate where the road to Oropi passed through, thus the name Gate Pa. This action constituted a threat to British communications.

On the 21st of April 1864 HMS Esk anchored in Tauranga harbour with Sir Duncan Cameron, additional troops and artillery men. On the 27th and 28th of April General Cameron began to move his 1700 troops south to Gate Pa to face the 250 defenders. On the morning of April 29 the trenches came under heavy cannon fire and as light began to fade Cameron moved his men forward to attack. There are many versions of what happened after the British advanced. Despite careful planning and what seemed like an appropriate strategy, the British were humiliated by a small number of ‘half naked savages’. What is well known is that after only a short period the British forces were retreating in disarray. The Maori success was due to their intricate fortifications, courage and discipline. The trenches were such that they could shelter from the continual bombardment in relative safety and then lie in wait for the British to come to them and have to face them at close quarters, which was to the Maori advantage. After a full day of cannons firing on the Pa, the British believed that either the Maori were all dead or had deserted the Pa. Once the British were in the trenches they were fired upon simultaneously from the hidden Maori resulting in a mass of casualties in a short time and no other option but retreat. The British soldiers were a well trained regiment who did everything according to plan but were soundly beaten. As the British regrouped the remaining Maori slipped away unnoticed, taking all of their wounded and leaving the pa deserted. Before leaving, Heni Te Kirikaramu heard the cries of a dying British officer calling out for water and in accordance with the charitable code of conduct she risked her own life to offer Colonel Booth some water.

The tukutuku pattern is a repeated coffin shape in remembrance of not only those who died at Gate Pa, but the many more who died a few months later when the British attacked the unfinished defences at Te Ranga. The title is a line from an old song of mourning.

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Te Mamae Aroha o Pukehinahina (Gate Pa Lamentation) 1864 by Duane Moyle (2010)

First Names:Duane
Last Name:Moyle
Date of Birth:1977
Place of Birth:Tauranga, New Zealand
City:Tauranga, New Zealand
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Te Mamae Aroha o Pukehinahina (Gate Pa Lamentation) 1864 by Duane Moyle (2010) by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga City Libraries) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License