10 Apr 2014

Apiata to speak at battle anniversary

8:15 pm on 10 April 2014

A Maori soldier awarded the Victoria Cross has been invited to be the guest speaker at the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gate Pa in Tauranga.

Corporal Willie Apiata

Corporal Willie Apiata Photo: DEFENCE FORCE

Willie Apiata will be presenting a speech at the commemoration dinner at the end of the month.

Gate Pa - or Pukehinahina in 1864 - was the scene of one of the most significant land wars between Maori and the Crown.

It led to the confiscation of Maori land on the Te Papa peninsula, which opened the way for the city of Tauranga to be established.

Two soldiers were awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery after the battle.

Buddy Mikaere of the Pukehinahina Charitable Trust says they are honoured that Willie Apiata is part of the commemoration, as he represents the essence of the soldiers that fought on both sides of the conflict.

Attendees will include Maori and Pakeha descendants of those who took part in the battle, Government Ministers, defence staff, representatives of the United Kingdom Defence Force, senior iwi representatives, mayors and councillors.