Tauranga in 1864

Tauranga in 1864.

View of Tauranga taken by an unidentified photographer around the time of the battle of Gate Pā. A note on the back of the file print reads: ‘From the right … the cemetery (with the Mount in the background); Monmouth redoubt; residence of Capt Sellars of coasting steamer Tauranga; school; field H. Q, Durham redoubt’.

Alfred Brown purchased land on behalf of the Church Missionary Society at Te Papa, the peninsula on which Tauranga developed, in 1839. His mission house, The Elms, was completed in 1847 and still stands. Remnants of the nearby Monmouth redoubt are also still visible.

In January 1864 a 700-strong British force commanded by Brigadier-General G.J. Carey arrived at Tauranga by sea from Auckland. Two redoubts were built near the mission station. The aim was to prevent the flow of reinforcements and supplies from local Ngāi Te Rangi to the main Kīngitanga force in Waikato. Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and other Tauranga Māori who had been fighting in Waikato returned home to oppose the occupation of their lands.

Ngāi Te Rangi rebuilt an old pā at Te Waoku, about 15 km from the British camp at Te Papa. The new British commander, Lieutenant-Colonel H.H. Greer, was invited to ‘bring his soldiers to fight at Te Waoku’. The British were goaded further when the Ngāi Te Rangi leader Rāwiri Puhirake offered to build a road for the ‘convenience’ of the troops. When the challenge still went unheeded, the potential battle site was moved closer: the fortifications that became known as Gate Pā were built at Pukehinahina, just 3 km from Te Papa.

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