A commemoration service will be held on April 29 to mark the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Gate Pā to honour those who lost their lives.

The Battle of Gate Pā, also known as Pukehinahina, was fought between the British and Māori on April 29, 1864.

Historians have described it was one of the bloodiest battlefields in the Western Bay of Plenty with 60 lives lost - 39 British and 21 Maori were believed to died that day, with another 75 British soldiers wounded.

Many more Māori died at the Battle of Te Ranga at Pyes Pa two months later and those who fought in both battles had their lands confiscated by the government of the day.

The Tauranga Moana community is urged to attend a short commemorative service at
St George's Anglican Church, 1 Church St, in Gate Pā at 4 pm on April 29.

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The church sits on the site where the battle was fought.

John Hebenton, Reverend of the Anglican Parish of Gate Pa, said: "We feel a deep sense of responsibility for holding the stories of both battles and the aftermath, with integrity.

"This is the chance for people to hear more about the significance of the battle and to reflect on its special meaning for those of us living in Tauranga Moana today," he said.

Hebenton said the service would honour those who fought and died during this "tragic event" and the chance for people to hear more about the importance of the battle to the people of Tauranga Moana today.

At 4.30pm the church bell will ring 60 times to mark the 60 lives lost during the battle.

Hebenton said commemorating the story of Tauranga Moana's Land Wars was to ensure people never forgot the country's colonial past and the consequences for Tauranga Moana.

John Hebenton, Reverend of the Anglican Parish of Gate Pa. Photo / John Borren
John Hebenton, Reverend of the Anglican Parish of Gate Pa. Photo / John Borren

"In essence, the Battle of Gate Pā and the land confiscations which followed were the birth of our city, "he said.

Local historian and Pukehinahina Charitable Trust member Buddy Mikaere said April 29 was significant for several reasons.

"It was not only a day to remember the reason for the battle and honour those who perished but to also remember it was a battle that was the birth of the city as we know it,"

"To know who we are today, we really need to understand our past and learn from it."

Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout said it was vital that Tauranga Moana residents gained a fuller understanding and appreciation of our rich history.

"After all, the Battle of Gate Pā was a turning point in the history of our city and contains elements of incredible heartache but also significant human triumph and dignity."