Paterangi, 1864

Paterangi, 1864, by Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky (1828–1868).

This painting shows four soldiers and one Māori in the foreground, firing towards a Māori fortification on Pāterangi hill. See enlarged version for detail.

Following its defeat at Rangiriri the Kingite force fell back to a third defensive line centred on Pāterangi, between Te Awamutu and the Waipā River. Unable to be outflanked along the river, Pāterangi consisted of 2 km of trenches with critical junctions supported by redoubts.

At its peak 2000 men from a dozen iwi were present at Pāterangi, the largest Māori mobilisation of the war. General Cameron had no intention of attacking this line. On 20 February 1864 a British force of 1200 men bypassed Pāterangi without alerting the lookouts. Next morning they attacked the agricultural centre of the district, Rangiaowhia.

The artist, Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky, was a Prussian soldier of fortune who won a reputation as ‘one of the most colourful characters of nineteenth century New Zealand’. He served with the Forest Rangers – an irregular colonial force established during the Waikato War – and the Armed Constabulary before being killed at Te Ngutu-o-te-manu in 1868 during the campaign against the south Taranaki leader Riwha Tītokowaru.

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