Battle of Pukehinahina (Gate Pā): Taumatakahawai (Monmouth Redoubt) & Mission Cemetery, Tauranga
On 29 April 1864, the Battle of Pukehinahina (Gate Pā) took place in Tauranga. 250 Ngāi Te Rangi inflicted a heavy defeat on a much larger British force of 1700 men. This defeat embarrassed the British military and its leadership, and was a significant event in the New Zealand Land Wars.
Months earlier, in January 1864, British troops were sent from Auckland to Tauranga. Soldiers of the 43rd Monmouth Light Infantry refortified an old pa site, Taumatakahawai, pictured here on the left (the canon and earthworks are visible). The aim was to prevent the flow of reinforcements and supplies from local Ngāi Te Rangi to the main Kīngitanga force in Waikato. Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and other Tauranga Māori who had been fighting in Waikato returned home to oppose what they saw as the occupation of their lands.
Ngāi Te Rangi rebuilt an old pā at Te Waoku, 15 to 20 km from the British camp at Te Papa. The new British commander, Lieutenant-Colonel H.H. Greer, was invited to ‘bring his soldiers to fight at Te Waoku.’ The British were goaded further when the Ngāi Te Rangi leader Rāwiri Puhirake offered to build a road for the ‘convenience’ of the troops. When the challenge still went unheeded, the potential battle site was moved closer: the fortifications that became known as Gate Pā were built at Pukehinahina, just 3 km from Te Papa. Here the British soldiers met defeat.
A full account of the battle can be found at www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/war-in-tauranga/gate-pa
The images above come from a series of National Publicity Studios prints of the Tauranga sites. Taumatakahawai, or Monmouth Redoubt, is on the left. The middle image is of a monument to Ngāi Te Rangi leader Rāwiri Puhirake, located in Mission Cemetery (also known as Military, or Old Military, Cemetery). On the right is another monument in Mission Cemetery, marking the burial site of Ngāti Rehu and Ngāi Te Rangi Māori. They were taken by T. Ahern in August 1967.
Archives Reference: AAQT 6539 Box 1 R4032, R4038, R4036
More about the War in Tauranga can be found at www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/war-in-tauranga. Images from the 2014 centennial of the battle can be seen here: www.flickr.com/photos/manatu_taonga/sets/72157644442100381/
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