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New Zealand Government Acknowledges 175th Anniversary Of Battle Of Ruapekapeka

The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan.

“The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took place on 10 and 11 January 1846, marked the end of the Northern War and was the culmination of the first of a series of conflicts signifying the beginning of the New Zealand Wars,” Kiri Allan said.

“The conflicts waged during 1845-1846 were some of the earliest occasions where relations between Māori and Europeans deteriorated into open warfare, so it is important to acknowledge and understand the impact they had.

“Marking 175 years since the Battle of Ruapekapeka provides us with an opportunity for reflection and remembrance of the events that took place there, and for the stories of our past to be shared more widely.

“Now one of our most significant heritage sites, Ruapekapeka is one of the largest and most complex Pā in the country and has been described as a masterpiece of military engineering.

“It’s especially important for our rangatahi to learn about their history, because in understanding our past, we can build a stronger foundation for a shared future.

“The introduction of New Zealand history into the curriculum of all schools and kura from 2022 will help ensure the important people, places and events in our nation’s past are more deeply understood by future generations.”

Commemorative activities to mark the anniversary of the Battle have been organised by local hāpu and will take place at and around Kawiti Marae in Waiomio, Te Taitokerau between 8 and 10 January.

A memorial to the British servicemen who died during the Battle will also be unveiled on Wednesday 3 February at the British camp below Te Ruapekapeka Pā, as part of this year’s Waitangi Day activities.

“I acknowledge the efforts of Te Ruapekapeka Trust in planning for the anniversary, especially following the recent passing of its chair, Allan Halliday, who was dedicated to developing a powerful and memorable series of commemorative events,” Kiri Allan said.

About the Battle of Ruapekapeka

The Battle of Ruapekapeka was the final conflict in the Northern War, waged between some Ngāpuhi and government troops. Fighting had initially begun in March 1845 at Kororāreka (Russell) in the Bay of Islands.

The major causes of conflict were the concern of some Ngāpuhi that the moving of the capital from the Bay to Auckland had hurt them economically, and that the Crown was exceeding its authority in the area. Hōne Heke Pōkai and his supporters cut down the flagstaff at Kororāreka four times to make this point. Other Ngāpuhi hapū led by Tāmati Wāka Nene sided with the British.

The Battle of Ruapekapeka began on 10 January 1846, when the British forces (numbering around 1,400), supported by 300 Māori, began shelling the new pā there, built by Ngāti Hine chief Te Ruki Kawiti (who had a force of just 400-500).

On 11 January, when Māori scouts signalled that it was empty, troops rushed the pā. Fighting continued in the bush behind the pā for several hours as Kawiti tried to lure the British into an ambush.

Twelve British and approximately 20 Māori were killed during the Battle. Afterwards, the Northern War ended when Kawiti and his nephew Hōne Heke agreed peace terms with Wāka Nene.

Following the Battle of Ruapekapeka and the end of the Northern War, battles between government forces and Māori would take place in Wellington and Whanganui in 1846 and 1847, with the most sustained and widespread conflicts of the New Zealand Wars occurring later, during the 1860s.

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