Members of the New Zealand String Quartet played Mozart, Strauss and Beethoven barefoot inside a Tauranga marae for the first time in their 20 year history last night.

Huria Marae in Judea hosted the free performance as part of the Battle of Gate Pa 150th Commemoration events.

The quartet will play again this evening at 6pm, featuring music from 1864 as a tribute to the fallen British soldiers and Maori warriors.

Buddy Mikaere, project director of the commemoration, said: "We thought it would combine the two cultures by having classical music of the time played in a Maori location".

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"Our hope is to provide events the general public will find interesting and lead to them discovering more about the Battle of Gate Pa that founded our city."

Viola player Gillian Ansell said the quartet was delighted to play and be part of the commemoration events.

"Our programme is varied and even includes a rendition of 'Pokarekare Ana'," she said.

Second violin player Douglas Beilman said they noticed how good the acoustics were as soon as they arrived, which made it more of a pleasure for them and the audience.

"Learning about the Battle of Gate Pa has been interesting. I did not know about the Code of Conduct the Maori issued to the British prior to the battle, that preceeded the Geneva Convention," he said.

The Battle of Gate Pa was one of the few battles won by the Maori and they were outnumbered by about 10 to one.

Gate Pa Reserve is the only urban battle site in New Zealand and is located right next to the Gate Pa Shopping Centre.

The general public are invited to the free events leading up to and including the Commemoration on Tuesday, April 29.

On the day there will be a dawn blessing of the new pou and flagpole at Gate Pa Reserve, full Military service at the Mission Cemetery, Military march to the Gate Pa Reserve up Cameron Road, massed wero and haka by Iwi in response and an ecumenical service and ceremony.

Further information can be found at www.battleofgatepa.com.