Topic: Why should we commemorate the Battle of Gate Pa of 29 April 1864? by Tayla Turner-Paki

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Tauranga Girls' College student Tayla Turner-Paki won the senior section of the Battle of Gate Pā Essay Competition (2014). It was published in New Zealand Legacy magazine in 2015.

“Tis a gloomy night; tis a gloomy day,

Summon the people,

Trouble is imminent with the arrival of the demon,

The year is 1864,

The month is April.”

(Hoko-Pukehinahina)

Summon the people, as we gather now on the 29th April 2014 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Pukehinahina - the Battle of Gate Pa. Historian James Belich (1998) states, ‘The Battle of Gate Pa was arguably the most important battle of the New Zealand Wars’ (p. 180). And it is the Battle of Gate Pa that is the foundation from which Tauranga City is built. An undeniable fact that needs to be recognised reaffirmed and remembered.

As a result of the bitter and bloody Land Wars (1845-1872) and the New Zealand Settlement Act 1864, more than 290,000 acres was seized in the Bay of Plenty region. The Waitangi Tribunal Report - Te Raupatu o Tauranga Moana (2004) details the impact and the imbalance created by this land loss. The ripples of disharmony within iwi and between iwi from the district are echoed by the unsure discomfort of post-colonial Pakeha, and it is this discord that surrounds Pukehinahina that we must heal.

“It is time to take the next step on a Path of reconciliation?”

Cameron, Greer, Chadwick, Durham and Grey are all familiar names to any resident of Tauranga, names that synonymous with Pukehinahina. So too is the memory kept alive with names such as Te Kaoakao, Te Auetu and Matepu. Colonel Booth and Heni Te Kiri Te Karamu are immortalised in stained glass, a pretty story of compassion. But war is not pretty; it is a sad consequence of conflict, full of pain anguish and loss. Sadly, the share history of Tauranga, in particular Pukehinahina and the Bush Campaign has been relegated to the classroom tuck away as a mainstream history lesson.

The anniversary of Pukehinahina is an opportunity to connect the past to the present. A commemoration day is the ideal vehicle to reaffirm the entwined history of Tauranga Maori and Pakeha as they come together within this diverse community to honour the commitment, ingenuity and compassion this battle has become renown for.

The Poukai circuit was inaugurated by King Tawhiao and Princess Te Puea in the 19th century as a mechanism to support widows, vulnerable community members, and people in need, as well as allowing discussion on current issues. Poukai is an annual event held in Tauranga during April, which provides the perfect basis from which a commemoration can be launched. Thus, acknowledging the pivotal role of the Kingitanga at Pukehinahina without imposing on this traditional tribal gathering. And with ANZAC day memorial services observed nationally to honour our fallen soldiers, it is a fitting closure for the Pukehinahina Commemoration.

Tauranga needs a Pukehinahina Commemoration to be established. To act consistently with Treaty principles, the Crown, the Government and the local Council must become involved. They must utilise the opportunity by commemorating the celebrating Tauranga people, both Maori and Pakeha. To provide local iwi and local residents a platform to come together for discussion, for resolution, bring awareness to issues and mamae that have and will potentially stay suppressed. From the aftermath of Pukehinahina we create the opportunity to build stronger relationships between hapu, between iwi, between neighbours, to meet on mutual ground, the first steps of the journey together as they retrace the steps of our turbulent past and build on respectful acknowledgement of the shared history of our home as we endeavour to become a bilingual city.

Surely it is time to put aside devastation, the shame, the arrogance, It is time to put down your taiaha, to lay down your musket. To approach one another as equals, to shake hands, to share breath.

“Nau i whakatakoto nga kaupapa, Na te iwi whakauti”

When our lives are attuned to good things and life is clear and the spirit strong - then all is possible. - Maharaia Winiata

ANZAC Day and Matariki (Maori New Year) are relevant examples, both have seen resurgence. Only a few people took part at first, but in just a few years thousands were honouring the ‘New Zealand Thanksgiving’, while ANZAC dawn service is well attended by all generations, all cultures. The simplicity of flying a kite or wearing a poppy is encouraging.

Honouring the Poteriwihi 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 Maori’s before they departed for their fort’ (Rusden, 1883, p. 216)

I am a student of Te Kura Tuarua o Tamawahine - Tauranga Girls’ College which is located near the gateway at the bottom of Pukehinahina. I stand on the whenua of Pukehinahina where my tupuna bled, and with great remorse I acknowledge the mana of all those that fell. This is where I draw my conclusions from.

I am the uri of Paraone Koikoi.

The blood of Ngai Tamarawaho/Ngati Matepu flows through me with Pakeha eyes.

A student’s mind, heart and soul firmly entrenched in Te Ao Maori

I am of Pukehinahina, and Pukehinahina is me

I humbly offer to share my water with you

“If thy enemy is hungry feed him, if thy enemy is thirsty, give him something to drink”

 

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