On Sunday a documentary and booklet highlighting the attack on Rangiaowhia in 1864 was launched at Taarewaanga Marae in Ōtorohanga.

The documentary and booklet, Ka Aowhia Te Rangi, were produced to prompt a broader conversation about the poorly known story of Rangiaowhia and to offer an exploration of the part played by Thomas Power (Tame Paoa), an Irish immigrant, and his wives, Rahapa and Kahutoi, in that story.

The documentary, produced by Robbie Neha, was commissioned by Taarewaanga Marae Committee and Trustees and it was funded by Te Puni Kōkiri - Te Pūtake o te Riri: Wars and Conflicts in New Zealand Fund.

A large group of people attended the launch of the documentary and booklet on Sunday at Taarewaanga Marae including Waipā Mayor Jim Mylchreest (front, third from left). Photo / Caitlan Johnston
A large group of people attended the launch of the documentary and booklet on Sunday at Taarewaanga Marae including Waipā Mayor Jim Mylchreest (front, third from left). Photo / Caitlan Johnston

"I hope that the people who read the booklet and the people who see the documentary will start things rolling and that conversations will happen, if they are adult conversations then something good will come from it," says Dr Tom Roa, chair of the Taarewaanga Marae Committee and Trustees.

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The documentary, that is about one hour long, has garnered interest from Māori Television, Irish television companies and other mainstream television platforms for broadcasting but it is not yet determined when it will be available.

Rangiaowhia was known to be a rich and prosperous area that became a key contributor to the economy of the region and New Zealand.

Rangiaowhia was home to Ngāti Apakura and Ngāti Hinetu but today they have no home.

On Sunday, February 21 in 1864 colonial forces attacked the Māori village while its warriors were away preparing for a battle elsewhere, leaving the village and the elderly, women and children that were there all defenceless.

It is believed that over 100 people were killed.

In the documentary Tom describes the atrocities as a "war crime".

"New Zealanders need to know that this is something that happened on our own backdoor step," says Tom.

All who feature in the documentary are descendants of Thomas Power and Rahapa Te Hauata, Thomas Power and Kahutoi Kaukau (Pourewa) or tupuna (ancestors) of Rangiaowhia.

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Descendants of Thomas Powers including Dr Tom Roa (first, from left) and Corey Wilson (last) travelled to Waterford, Ireland to learn of Thomas' and their family's history and origin.
Descendants of Thomas Powers including Dr Tom Roa (first, from left) and Corey Wilson (last) travelled to Waterford, Ireland to learn of Thomas' and their family's history and origin.

Thomas Power was born in Waterford in 1806, he was working as a farm servant between 1844 and 1847 when he was convicted and sent to New South Wales for crimes of stealing sheep.

He arrived in New Zealand in 1838 and lived in Auckland between 1844 and 1847.
Under the direction of Governor George Grey, he then moved to Rangiaowhia.

The same year, Thomas and Rahapa were married; they had five children together and ran a store at Rangiaowhia.

When the colonial forces attacked, Thomas was away with three of the children while Rahapa was at home with the two youngest children.

She put a white flag on top of their house but by Tuesday a number of soldiers had proceeded to enter the property, killing their fowls, pigs and taking goods from the shop.

All their land was taken by the Government and she wrote a letter to Sir George Grey asking where to go and how she was supposed to feed her children.

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All Ngāti Apakura who survived the attack were forced to flee the settlement.

A booklet was also produced alongside the documentary.
A booklet was also produced alongside the documentary.

The documentary and booklet are a part of a much larger project.

"We're researching that the Crown is responsible for Ngāti Apakura being landless, we have no tūrangawaewae. The big plan is that the Crown will address this and what they did back at Rangiaowhia," says Tom.

Tom says they are having promising conversations with Te Arawhiti and Crown representatives.

Ngāti Apakura also hopes to develop some sort of land based dwelling at Rangiaowhia to reacquaint those who were forced away.

"We hope to grow the iwi back to what they were like the 1860s. They were very powerful, a very prosperous group of people but today, arguably, we are amongst the poorest of the people in New Zealand," says Tom.

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