Topic: The Military Settlers in Tauranga

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The Land Wars

The wars of the 1860s, which began in Taranaki, had moved to the Waikato by 1863.  Tauranga Maori crossed into the Waikato to offer their support to the Kingites.  General Cameron moved troops down from Auckland to deal with the so-called rebels, who were trying to hold onto their land.  Resistance was quelled at the battle of Orakau, after which troops were moved into the Tauranga district.  A flying column of British soldiers arrived in January 1864, and more followed.  The inevitable action ensued, with the battles of Gate Pa – a Maori victory – taking place on 29 April 1864, and Te Ranga – a Maori defeat – on 21 June.

Land Confiscation

In August 1864, many of the Tauranga Maori surrendered their arms to Colonel Greer and Sir George Grey. A large area of land was confiscated, from the Waimapu arm of the harbour to Bowentown, and stretching back to a line drawn from Mt Te Aroha to Otanewainuku.  The land on the eastern side of the harbour remained in Maori ownership.  The land between the Waimapu and the Wairoa rivers was taken for allocation to military settlers, and the land to the west of the Wairoa was "bought" by the government.  This was actually a compulsory purchase, with the government calling all the shots – the amount of land to be taken and the price to be paid.  The Tauranga Lands Act of 1867 was an attempt to make illegal actions by the government legal retrospectively.

Soldier Settlers

The confiscated land was surveyed against strenuous opposition from local Maori, particularly Pirirakau, who lived mainly on the foothills of the Kaimai ranges, and who had not surrendered to Grey.  Paper allocations of land were made to the military settlers of the 1st Waikato regiment, who received a farm lot in the country and a quarter acre lot in the proposed towns of Tauranga or Greerton.  The size of these sections led to the use of the name the "Quarter Acres" for the part of Tauranga between 4th and 11th Avenues.  Unfortunately for the immediate future of the settlement, the officers, who were less likely to take up their land, were given the prime sections close to the town, while the privates were allocated land further out.  This was not only unsuitable for farming, but was also exposed to danger of attack by Maori angry about the confiscation.  As a result, many of the military settlers left after a short time.  

Those who stayed opened small businesses in Tauranga.  There were several hotels along Beach Road (later The Strand), receiving travellers from coastal ships en route to the Thermal Districts.  The township also boasted bakers, shoemakers, cordial manufacturers, chemists, the office of the newly established Bay of Plenty Times and even a brewery.  

Businesses along The Strand in the 1870s.
                             Businesses along The Strand in the 1870s

Further information is available through the Tauranga City Libraries’ New Zealand Room.

This page was archived at perma cc January 2017

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