Final engagement of New Zealand Wars to be marked at Te Pōrere

03/10/2019

A commemoration of the 150th anniversary of one of the last major engagements of the New Zealand Wars – and the colonial Government’s failure to capture prominent Māori leader Te Kooti – will take place on October 4-5.

Ngāti Tūwharetoa will host the commemoration at Otūkou Marae with site visits to nearby Te Pōrere where two redoubts / pā remain. Te Kooti was taken to Te Pōrere where he and his supporters built the redoubts above the Whanganui River in the shadow of Tongariro.

The Commemorative event has Ngāti Tūwharetoa coming together to honour the tūpuna who were at Te Pōrere, to ensure that future generations know the importance of the site to the history of Tūwharetoa.

“This is also a time to reflect on the reasons why our tūpuna were here and to ensure that future generations understand the significance of this wāhi tapu and the part it will play in the lives of our mokopuna,” says Te Ariki o Ngāti Tūwharetoa Paramount Chief, Sir Tumu Te Heuheu.

In the lead-up to the commemoration, Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga have worked together to enable vegetation management, track upgrades, signage refresh, fence repairs and the installation of a pou whakairo onsite to mark the coming together of people for this occasion.

“We are delighted to be part of the commemoration of this important historic event at this nationally significant place,” says Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Manager Heritage Assets Central Paulette Wallace.

“It has been a privilege to work alongside Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro and other members of Ngāti Tūwharetoa in preparation for the upcoming weekend of commemorative events.”

On October 4 1869, Te Kooti Arikirangi Turuki defended his position against a combined force of more than 500 government troops and Māori allies at Te Pōrere.

The troops attacked the Lower Redoubt, which Ngāti Tūwharetoa was defending, and then launched an attack on the Upper Redoubt where Te Kooti was. Eventually the defenders fell to the invasion force.

Te Kooti, however, managed to give his would-be captors the slip by disappearing into the bush – avoiding capture and possibly death. By the end of the battle, however, 41 people were dead – 37 of whom were Te Kooti’s supporters.

Te Pōrere is a Wāhi Tapu to Māori descended from warriors who fought on both sides of the conflict, with the human remains of some of these tūpuna interred at the Upper Redoubt – a Māori Reserve.

Te Kooti later emerged as one of the leading Māori figures of this period, and was the founder of the Ringatū faith, described as the oldest of the surviving indigenous, scripturally based religions in Aotearoa.

A commemorative pou whakairo, which will eventually be unveiled at the site, is currently being carved by Hayz Isherwood of Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro.

“Earlier this year Heritage New Zealand engaged heritage management consultancy Geometria to record the two pā sites as high-resolution digital 3D models using drone-based aerial photogrammetry and ground-based laser scanning in preparation for the commemoration,” says Paulette.

“These 3D models have been added to interpretation signs onsite at Te Pōrere, and Heritage New Zealand and Geometria will be gifting a 3D model of the Upper Redoubt – Te Mahaukura – to Otūkou Marae at the commemoration. This research has also helped us answer questions about how much of the original Te Pōrere earthworks exist, and will assist in detailed monitoring, and ongoing maintenance and conservation.

Ngāti Tūwharetoa researchers are also gathering information on stories and taonga related to Te Pōrere which will be collated in both print and digital formats with support from Heritage New Zealand.

“The 150th anniversary of the battle at Te Pōrere is an important moment in New Zealand history,” says Paulette.

“Although the anniversary commemorates a sad chapter in our past, it has been a catalyst for some positive reflection and mahi, which we believe will strengthen the connection of people who have links to this place.”

The pōwhiri for the Crown and other visitors takes place at 9.30am at Otūkou Marae on October 5 followed by a hākari, along with kōrero and performances.

Staggered bus transport will be provided for people wanting to visit Te Pōrere Redoubt / Pā on Saturday (October 5th) between 1pm and 4pm.

Media Contacts:

Tania Te Akau Ph 027 311 1402 – Ngāti Tūwharetoa

Paulette Wallace Ph 027 298 4359 – Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga