Hōri Ngātai NZ Wars memorial

Hōri Ngātai memorial, Mission (Old Military) Cemetery, Tauranga.

Mission Cemetery – also known as Military, or Old Military, Cemetery – is the oldest European burial ground in the Bay of Plenty city of Tauranga. Located on Marsh St at the northern end of Te Papa Peninsula near the harbour bridge, the cemetery is situated on a rocky promontory. It stands on the site once occupied by the Ngāi Te Rangi pā of Otamataha.

The cemetery contains a number of memorials, graves and plaques commemorating men who died on active service in the Tauranga areat during the New Zealand Wars. This memorial is an exception; it is dedicated to the Ngāi Te Rangi leader Hōri Ngātai, a veteran of the battles at Pukehinahina (Gate Pā) and Te Ranga, who lived until 1912.

Ngātai fought in two of the early battles of the Waikato War, at Otau near Te Wairoa (Clevedon) and at Meremere on the lower Waikato River.

In January 1864, when British troops landed at Tauranga and established a military camp on Te Papa peninsula, Ngātai was at Te Tiki-o-te-Ihingārangi pā, on the upper Waikato River near the future town of Cambridge. He and other Ngāi Te Rangi men returned home to defend their land.

Ngātai fought at Gate Pā on 28–29 April, when Ngāi Te Rangi and their allies, led by Rāwiri Puhirake, inflicted a heavy defeat on imperial and colonial troops. He was also at Te Ranga on 21 June, when the British had their revenge.

Ngātai was among those Māori who surrendered their arms to the British at Te Papa on 25 July 1864. At this ceremony he promised that Ngāi Te Rangi would never return to warfare. ‘Let there be peace in the land’, he declared.

Ngātai was true to his word. Though he was issued with arms by the government three years later, when Pirirakau and some Ngāi Te Rangi fought alongside Pai Mārire adherents (‘Hauhau’), he took no part in this campaign.

Ngātai is said to have related his account of Gate Pā to the historian James Cowan in 1901, and to the New Zealand Wars veteran Captain Gilbert Mair in 1903. It appears in Mair’s posthumously published 1926 book, The story of Gate Pa.

Ngātai died on 24 August 1912 at his home at Whareroa and is buried at Mission Cemetery. This memorial, erected by the government and Tauranga Māori, was unveiled on the site in August 1920. Nearby stand memorials to Puhirake and to 14 Māori fighters who died at Te Ranga, all of whom are buried at Mission Cemetery.

Additional images

Hori Ngatai memorial in Tauranga Hori Ngatai memorial in Tauranga Hori Ngatai memorial in Tauranga

Inscription

He / kohatu whakamaharatanga / tenei / na te kawanatanga me nga hapu / Maori o Tauranga / mo / Hori Ngatai / he rangatira no Ngaiterangi / he tangata ia i hapai i te ture me te mana / o Ingarangi i muri iho i nga riri ki te Keeti Pa / me Te Ranga i te tau 1864 a tae noa ki tona / matenga / i mate ia i te 20 Akuhata 1912 / ko ona tau e 80.

This monument was erected / by the government / and the Maori tribes of Tauranga / to the memory of / Hori Ngatai / a chief of the Ngaiterangi tribe. / He was a man who upheld the law / and the sovereignty of England / since the battles at the Gate Pa / and Te Ranga in 1864 / down to the time of his death. / He died on the 20th August 1912 / aged 80 years.

Further information

  • James Belich, ‘The Tauranga Campaign’, in The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian interpretation of racial conflict, Penguin, Auckland, 1998, pp. 177–200
  • A.C. Bellamy (ed.), Tauranga: 1882–1982, Tauranga City Council, Tauranga, 1982
  • James Cowan, ‘Gate Pa and Te Ranga’, in The New Zealand Wars: a history of the Maori campaigns and the pioneering period: volume I: 1845–1864, R.E. Owen, Wellington, 1955, pp. 421–40
  • Gilbert Mair, The Story of Gate Pa, April 29th, 1864, Bay of Plenty Times, Tauranga, 1937
  • Steven Oliver, 'Ngatai, Hori - Biography', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 1 September 2010
  • Nigel Prickett, ‘The Tauranga Campaign, 1864’, in Landscapes of conflict: a field guide to the New Zealand Wars, Random House, Auckland, 2002, pp. 87–95
  • Chris Pugsley, ‘Walking the Waikato Wars: Maori Triumph at Gate Pa: 29 April 1864’, New Zealand Defence Quarterly, no. 19 (Summer 1997), pp. 32–8
  • Chris Pugsley, ‘Walking the Waikato Wars: The Battle of Te Ranga: 21 June 1864’, New Zealand Defence Quarterly, no. 20 (Autumn 1998), pp. 32–7

See also: image of Hōri Ngātai on the Alexander Turnbull Library's website.

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