Funds sought for battle anniversary

By John Cousins

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A $240,000 bill is looming for the 150th commemorations of a battle that featured the biggest artillery bombardment in the history of New Zealand - Tauranga's Battle of Gate Pa.

The celebrated battle between colonial regiments and Maori warriors saw the defenders of the pa score a decisive victory over the British forces on April 29, 1864.

With less than a year to go until a big programme of events unfolds, project director Buddy Mikaere is seeking funding from Tauranga City Council and Western Bay District Council.

His submissions to the councils were on behalf of the Pukehinahina Trust, which is planning the 150th anniversary of the battle. The councils' decisions will be made next month.

Because the loss at Gate Pa led to the British getting their revenge nearly two months later in another bloody encounter at the Pyes Pa battleground of Te Ranga, a further $400,000 is being sought to develop the reserve that was the scene of this battle.

However, Mr Mikaere said he was not expecting to raise all this money in time for the reserve to be finished for next June's commemoration of the Battle of Te Ranga.

The project would be staged over several years.

The biggest financial hurdle facing the Pukehinahina Trust leading up to the anniversary of the Battle of Gate Pa was finding $66,000 to improve the Gate Pa Reserve and a further $20,000 to carve eight pou (posts) to stand on both battle reserves.

A $25,000 commemorative dinner is planned for April 28 at Trinity Wharf Hotel, hosted by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae. April 26 would see the firing of guns at Tauranga Domain that featured in the battle, with a memorial service at the Mission Cemetery on April 29.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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