Site of Te Kohia pā

On the night of 16/17 March 1860, Te Ātiawa fighters led by Wiremu Kīngi Te Rangitāke built Te Kohia pā, the ‘L-pā’, on disputed land in plain view of Camp Waitara.

Colonel Emilius Gold, the commander of the British forces in Taranaki, observed that Te Kohia was ‘curiously hollowed out’ but failed to recognise its anti-artillery bunkers. Its two arms were both about 35 m by 10 m. Its shape made it difficult to surround.

On 17 March, Gold and men from the 65th Regiment moved out from their camp and ordered Kīngi and his 70 or so men to surrender. This demand was predictably rejected. A concentrated bombardment of the pā by 24-pounder howitzers began. Māori responded with ‘a heavy and well-sustained fire’ that wounded several of the attacking force, two of whom later died. Approximately 200 rounds were fired into the pā during the day. At dawn next morning the British guns were moved forward but it was soon discovered that Kīngi and his men had left during the night with no loss of life. The British had captured an abandoned pā, the first of many such ‘victories’ in what was to be a frustrating campaign.

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