Topic: A Pukehinahina Survivor
The symbolism and power imbued in a flag gives those flags which have been present at pivotal moments in history considerable importance.
The Tauranga Heritage Collection holds such a flag which is provenanced to the Battle of Gate Pa in 1864. The Union Jack, recorded as being used by British troops, came into the possession of George Alfred Crabbe who was a member of the 1st Regiment of the Waikato Militia posted to Tauranga. While Crabbe was present at the Battle of Gate Pa the militia remained at the rear of the battle. Later, at the Battle of Te Ranga, Crabbe was engaged in fighting Maori.
Crabbe’s son Charles was born in the military camp located in the Domain in 1866. The Bay of Plenty Times reported in 1938 that ‘the town was under martial law at the time and many were the occasions on which the warning gun was fired which meant that all women and children had to be taken to the Monmouth Redoubt for safety’.
A few years later the family was to settle in Sixth Avenue where Private Crabbe had been allotted land. In 1877 Crabbe had a grocery and drapery shop built on a section not taken up by another soldier. This shop, on Cameron Road, was to become an important meeting place for the growing community. In 2003 the building was relocated to Tauranga Boys’ College.
When George Crabbe died in 1905 the Union Jack was draped over his casket. The flag remained in the family’s possession until 1969 when Charles Crabbe’s only daughter Vi Simons deposited it with the museum.
A moth-eaten rag on a worm-eaten pole,
It doesn’t look likely to stir a man’s soul;
Tis the deeds that were done ‘neath the moth-eaten rag
When that pole was a staff and the rag was a flag.
General Sir Edward Bruce Hamley, Referring to the Colours of the 43rd Monmouth Light Infantry Regiment.
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