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150 years since attack on Rangiaowhia in the New Zealand War

150 years since attack on Rangiaowhia in the New Zealand Wars

'Me maumahara tātou - we must remember'

Friday 21 February represents 150 years since an attack on the village of Rangiaowhia in the Waikato War (1863–1864). The events that unfolded at the small settlement near Te Awamutu are still debated by historians and the descendants of Ngāti Apakura.

At daybreak on 21 February 1864, the advance guard of General Duncan Cameron’s 1000-strong force of cavalry and foot soldiers attacked the largely undefended Rangiaowhia. Twelve Māori were killed, including women, children and the elderly. Several houses were burned down, with villagers incinerated inside. Five British soldiers died.

Tom Roa, Ngāti Apakura elder and Chair of Ngā Pae o Maumahara, the group established to commemorate and raise awareness of the war says this day will be remembered with much pain and grief for the local Iwi of Ngāti Apakura.

“I pāhuatia ō mātou tūpuna i Rangiaowhia - our ancestors were killed unguarded and defenceless at Rangiaowhia but I hope this commemoration will help to heal the grief, appease the anger and bring peace for Ngāti Apakura”.

To mark this day, the local Iwi will unveil a plaque at dawn on the site they believe the houses stood before they were burned down. At 8.30am, a silent hīkoi will make its way to the Catholic Cemetery and dignitaries will join the hīkoi en route. During the procession, local kuia will be situated at significant points along the way to lead the hīkoi with their karanga, a wailing lament to those victims whose lives were lost on that tragic day.

Speeches will be made at 9am by both a Māori and a Pākehā historian. A powhiri will take place once the hīkoi returns to the Hairini Hall at 10.15am, with further speeches in memory of those who died at Rangiaowhia.

“We will never forget the atrocity that occurred at Rangiaowhia, however, this will be a commemoration where Ngāti Apakura will be given the opportunity to commemorate their ancestors with oratory and traditional chants,” says Roa.


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