Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Battle of Te Ranga commemorated 152 years on

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Pukehinahina Charitable Trust's Buddy Mikaere is among local iwi to commemorate the 152 anniversary of the Battle of Gate Pa, where more than 100 young Maori leaders were killed. Photo/file
Pukehinahina Charitable Trust's Buddy Mikaere is among local iwi to commemorate the 152 anniversary of the Battle of Gate Pa, where more than 100 young Maori leaders were killed. Photo/file

It was one of Tauranga's darkest days, and today local iwi will commemorate the lives lost at the Battle of Te Ranga 152 years ago.

Commemorations begin at dawn and will be followed by the planting of native trees at the reserve site at Pyes Pa.

The Battle of Te Ranga was one of the bloodiest in New Zealand history. It followed the Battle of Gate Pa several weeks earlier, in which the British suffered many losses.

It was terrible for us because we kind of lost a whole generation of young leaders.
Buddy Mikaere

Pukehinahina Charitable Trust project director Buddy Mikaere said Maori leaders were attempting to fortify a site at Te Ranga but before they could get it finished, they were discovered by British forces and the Battle of Te Ranga began.

More than 100 Maori leaders were estimated to have been killed at Te Ranga.

"A lot of the people who fought at Gate Pa were killed at Te Ranga. It was terrible for us because we kind of lost a whole generation of young leaders," Mr Mikaere said.

"It kind of marks the end of Maori resistance in Tauranga."

Mr Mikaere said today's commemorations would flow on from 2014's 100th anniversary event, and work towards establishing the former battlefield as part of Tauranga's heritage trail.

Mr Mikaere said the hour-long service would be "fairly straightforward", followed by a morning tea at Aquinas College.

Battle of Gate Pa commemorations held in April attracted more people than in previous years and Mr Mikaere said people were welcome to join today's events to remember the Battle of Te Ranga.

A plaque sits at the Battle of Te Ranga site in Pyes Pa, at Joyce Rd, in memory of the lives lost. Photo/File
A plaque sits at the Battle of Te Ranga site in Pyes Pa, at Joyce Rd, in memory of the lives lost. Photo/File

"We are asking people coming to bring a koha [gift] of a native tree, which we will plant in the reserve. It will be a permanent reminder of them.

"I think we've planted about 14,000 trees already. This is a continuation of that work."

Mr Mikaere said the trust would like to restore the site to what it once was, a native forest. In recent years the site has been used as a dairy farm.

In the Battle of Te Ranga, nine British soldiers died and 39 were wounded. More than 100 Maori were buried in the trenches at Te Ranga.

Another 27 Maori were severely wounded and taken to hospital at a nearby camp but 14 did not survive and were buried at Mission Cemetery.

The British crushed the Maori resistance. Some Ngai Te Rangi and Ngati Ranginui surrendered arms to the British a month later. Much of their land was subsequently confiscated.


Te Ranga Battle site
The New Zealand Wars battle site of Te Ranga is located in a paddock on Pyes Pa Rd (SH36) near the corner of Joyce Rd, about 10km south of the centre of the Bay of Plenty city of Tauranga. Here, on June 21, 1864 British forces defeated local Maori.
- New Zealand History

- Bay of Plenty Times

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