30 Apr 2014

Thousands mark Gate Pa anniversary

3:36 pm on 30 April 2014

About three thousand people attended the 150th commemoration of Gate Pa - Pukehinahina in Tauranga - on Tuesday.

The battle in 1864 was notable as one of the heaviest British defeats of the New Zealand Wars, with 31 colonial troops and about 20 Maori warriors lost their lives.

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Photo: RNZ / Rosemary Rangitauira

Dignitaries included the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, the Maori King, Tuheitia and the Minister of Maori Affairs, Pita Sharples.

During proceedings, the King's representative, Tukoroirangi Morgan, renewed an earlier call made at the Battle of Orakau commemoration, and directed it at Dr Sharples.

Mr Morgan said the lands on which that the wars were fought should be returned to the people who owned them in the first place, and be given back immediately.

Dr Sharples encouraged iwi to send their stories and history to the Ministry of Education.

Eight pou were unveiled during a dawn service at the site where both Maori and British troops died.

A member of the event's organising group, Peri Kohu, said the black carved posts are a tribute to those who died.

He said the pou recognised the chiefs at Pukehinahina at the time and the role of General Sir Duncan Cameron, who lead the British troops.

Mr Kohu of the Pukehinahina Charitable Trust believes the pou will serve as a reminder to people driving by the location of the battle of Pukehinahina.