Students' model brings Gate Pa battle to life

By Sonya Bateson

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Nine-year-olds  Matekohi Gates (left), Waiwhakaata Tangitu and Maraea Puru helped build a model of the Battle of Gate Pa along with classmates Reihana Timms, 8, and Paora Joseph, 7 (both absent). Photo/Andrew Warner
Nine-year-olds Matekohi Gates (left), Waiwhakaata Tangitu and Maraea Puru helped build a model of the Battle of Gate Pa along with classmates Reihana Timms, 8, and Paora Joseph, 7 (both absent). Photo/Andrew Warner

A scale model of the Battle of Gate Pa has given children at Te Puna School a deeper understanding of how the historical event relates to them.

Five Room 9 students made the model over three days, using bits and pieces scavenged from around the school.

The students presented the model with a recitation of all the major points of the battle and the key personnel involved.

The pa site was made from stacked egg cartons covered by fake grass, then toy soldiers and cannon were used to re-enact the battle lines.

Plastic ships were set further back to represent the four ships that brought British soldiers to the battle.

Teacher Louis Brown said the model was a teaching tool that got the students to utilise all of their senses to learn the history of Tauranga Moana.

"With a hands-on project, they were able to use all five senses. It has just opened their eyes to it and it's just been so easy to teach and learn stories about Gate Pa."

The school was learning about Gate Pa for the 150th anniversary commemorations, to be held next month.

Mr Brown said the idea for the model had come from a resource pack put together by the Gate Pa Battle Trust and given out to all schools in the Tauranga area.

"I think it's really important that they learn about their history.

"There was a big battle in Tauranga here. I think when our children learn about their past, they are able to know where they are going in their futures."

Mr Brown said the class was also planning to write a waiata (song) and compose a haka based on the battle, and they hoped to present it to the school.

Matekohi Gates, 9, said she had enjoyed learning about the battle while helping make the model.

Maraea Puru, 9, said she had liked visiting the cemetery where Rawiri Puhirake, Henare Taratoa and the captains of the British ships were buried.

Waiwhakaata Tangitu, 9, said Pene Taka, the man who designed and built Gate Pa, was related to many of the children in the class and was buried at Pirirakau.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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