29 Oct 2019

NZ Wars: Tears shed, hopes shared at Te Pūtake o Te Riri

From Checkpoint, 5:50 pm on 29 October 2019

Tears have been shed, hymns sung and hopes for the future expressed at the second day of Te Pūtake o Te Riri - the New Zealand Wars commemorations in Taranaki.

Activities started early with a dawn service and the lighting of a ceremonial fire at Te Kohia Pā on the outskirts of Waitara.

Between 200 and 300 people braved the rain to gather where the first shots of the New Zealand Wars were fired on 17 March, 1860.

Te Atiawa rangatira Wiremu Kīngi Te Rangitāke and his military chief Hapurona had deliberately provoked the British into firing on Te Kohia Pā which had been hastily built on disputed land.

Te Pūtake o Te Riri co-organiser Ruakere Hond says although little remains of the L-shaped fighting pa, it has never been forgotten.

The ceremony at Te Kohia involved karakia, waiata, haka and the burning of rākau or sticks representing the iwi present.

It was enough to bring tears to the eyes of Pākēhā couple Margaret and Ken Crawford who live on nearby Waitara Road.

Eighty-two-year-old Waitara kaumatua Ramon Tito had his own memories of Te Kohia.

The British troops who fell in battle were also remembered at a service at the Waitara Military Cemetery.

Hoani Eriwata explains why it was important to recognise the 34 soldiers who lost their lives at Puketakauere pā and Matarikoriko pā in 1860. 

Buses ferried Te Putake o te Riri participants to notable battle sites this afternoon, including Pukerangiora where the First Taranaki War ground to a stalemate in 1861.

Under Major-General TS Pratt the British had laboriously dug their up the slopes towards a new pā at Pukerangiora using a system of redoubts and covered trenches call saps.

Te Pūtake o te Riri wraps up at Owae Marae in Waitara on Wednesday.