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Otumoetai Pa Historic Reserve opens soon

November 30


Otumoetai Pa Historic Reserve opens soon

One of the Bay of Plenty’s most important historic sites will officially open to the public on December 6.

The Otumoetai Pa Historic Reserve will be permanently accessible to the public following the completion of work on the reserve carried out by Council, Ngai Tamarawaho and the NZ Historic Places Trust based on management and conservation plans developed especially for the reserve.

“People who have visited the site in the past will be amazed at how it looks,” says the NZHPT’s Lower Northern Archaeologist, Rachel Darmody.

Once a heavily fortified settlement, Otumoetai Pa came under fierce attack throughout the 1820s and 1830s by Northern tribes armed with muskets – but its strong defences held and it was never taken. It was also the site where local rangatira rejected the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

Prior to the establishment of Tauranga, Otumoetai Pa was once known as the capital of the district and continued to play a significant role in the history of the area.

“The historic reserve once formed the homestead block of ‘Fairview’ – the 123-acre farm that belonged to the Matheson family, and which was known as the finest farm in the district,” says Rachel.

“Prior to that, the land had been part of the territory belonging to Tauranga Maori, which had been confiscated by the Government following the battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga in 1864.”

Local Maori retain a special connection with Otumoetai, with Ngai Tamarawaho providing ongoing input into the management of the reserve with Tauranga City Council.

“The pa and the site overall look amazing, and the opening promises to be a very special occasion – especially in light of the passing of the previous owner of the land, Alister Matheson, who worked so hard to ensure its preservation,” she says.

Eventually interpretation panels will be established around the entire reserve site.

The official opening of the Otumoetai Pa Historic Reserve takes place at 9am on December 6. Limited copies of the popular booklet Otumoetai Pa Historic Reserve will be available at the opening.


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