The first book to comprehensively deal with the Battle of Gate Pa, including its causes and aftermath, will hit Tauranga bookshops this year.
Victory at Gate Pa? is a collaboration between two Tauranga historians, Buddy Mikaere and Dr Cliff Simons.
Their combined efforts will put a modern perspective on the famous battle fought at Gate Pa (Pukehinahina) on April 29, 1864.
It represented the first major work focusing solely on the battle since the publication in 1926 of Captain Gilbert Mair's book, The Story of Gate Pa.
The book will include personal essays by the two authors, with Mikaere providing an insight during his emotional presentation to the commemorative service held in St George's Anglican Church last Sunday.
He said his grandfather's generation were profoundly affected by the land confiscations that followed the battle and were raised in a largely rural Tauranga that would not be recognisable today.
''They were poorly educated, lived in substandard shacks with dirt floors, had no water supply or electricity and drew water from springs.''
Mikaere told the service that Maori fed themselves from their own gardens and from what they could gather from the sea and bush, with little or no access to medical facilities.
''The people just lived lives of grinding poverty. It is not that they were lazy or lacked a work ethic. In terms of productive work, they could put any modern labourer to shame ... even the lives of my parents in their early years together were rooted in an existence that relied hugely on what they could gather from land, sea and forest.''
Victory at Gate Pa? is planned to be launched on October 28 - the national remembrance day for the New Zealand Wars, of which Gate Pa was a key battle.
The well-illustrated book is expected to fill a gap in the market, with Tauranga booksellers often having to disappoint people who come in wanting to buy a book about the battle.
Mikaere said the book had been a good collaboration. He wrote the historical background to the battle and the aftermath through to the modern day, while Simons, a military historian, contributed the chapters that dealt with the battle itself.
''I was amazed at the quantity of the pictorial material.''
Victory at Gate Pa?
- Published by New Holland Publishers.
- Currently in the design stage.
- Planned launch October 28, 2018.