Ōrākau pā

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Ōrākau pā, sketched by Brigadier-General G.J. Carey (1822–1872), from the Illustrated London News, 1864. The illustration shows British troops in the foreground behind trees and in a trench leading up towards the pā. The smoke of gunfire can be seen at several points around the pā. This image is fanciful in several respects: no British flag flew on the pā, which was not palisaded and was built on a less prominent position.

The Battle of Ōrākau is perhaps better known as ‘Rewi’s last stand’, a name immortalised by Rudall Hayward’s 1925 silent film (remade as a ‘talkie’ in 1940). It was a brutal affair in which between 80 and 160 of the pā’s defenders were killed, most of them during a pursuit that followed a daring breakout towards the safety of the King Country.

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