The war in Tauranga,

which pretends history never happened there

Vincent O’Malley reviews a history of the battle of Gate Pā.

First published February 5, 2019

Head up Cameron Road, one of Tauranga’s main arterial routes, a few kilometres out of the city centre and you drive over one of New Zealand’s most important historical sites. The road, named after Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron, commander of British forces in New Zealand between 1861-65, was one of many built over former pā used during the New Zealand Wars. Ōrākau, Rangiriri and other important sites suffered similar indignities. Why remember, the attitude seemed to be, when Pākehā could instead obliterate any physical remnant of such places and just pretend history never happened here? It’s the Kiwi way apparently.

In the case of the Cameron Road site there was added incentive to forget. Despite being outnumbered seven to one and enduring perhaps the heaviest bombardment ever to take place on New Zealand soil, Māori inflicted a humiliating defeat on their British foes, led by Cameron, on this ground. The battle of Gate Pā/Pukehinahina on April 29, 1864, was described by one contemporary observer as the “most disgraceful episode in the history of the British army”.

Link to article: The war in Tauranga, which pretends history never happened there | The Spinoff


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