Students from Aquinas College have helped immortalise the tragedy of one of the Western Bay of Plenty's bloodiest battles - by writing poetry.
Commemorations marking the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Te Ranga will be held in Pyes Pa tomorrow . As part of the service, students Nic Scott and Issie Dekker will each read poems they wrote about the massacre.
The poems are part of a poetry competition organised ahead of commemorations. Unable to pick a single winner, judges chose two and awarded Nic and Issie $100 each. But the honour was worth more than the cash, the students said.
"I think it's very significant to me to be included in the collective culture of not only our country but Tauranga itself," Nic said.
Teacher Christina Nicolaas said she was proud of the students' efforts.
"I think there's a growing consciousness among our youth that the New Zealand Wars do matter. They're our history; they're our identity," she said.
The battle site is located just metres down the road from Aquinas College. More than 100 Māori warriors and over a dozen British soldiers lost their lives in the battle.
"I think as a community Tauranga needs to get better about celebrating and remembering their history - and that it's always a celebration. It's great that it has started to get a little bit more momentum," Nicolaas said.
Judge and commemorations organiser Buddy Mikaere said the two poems had their own way of delivering a message.
"I'm not surprised that students show a keen interest in Tauranga's history. It is, after all, one of the most important chapters in the forging of our nation and reflects the growing emphasis being put on our own history and the history of the New Zealand Wars in particular. It is something that was clearly evident in the strong support for a museum from students and young people throughout Tauranga."
Commemorations will begin at the Battle of Te Ranga site, at the corner of Pyes Pa Rd and Joyce Rd, at 7.30am tomorrow . People are welcome to join the service where wreaths will be laid and speeches made before morning tea at the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.