Te Pōrere

Te Porere redoubt Te Porere redoubt Te Porere redoubt Te Porere redoubt

Te Pōrere (1869)

The last major fixed battle

The final phase of the New Zealand Wars began in mid-1868, when Tītokowaru attacked colonial troops in South Taranaki and Te Kooti escaped from the Chatham Islands with several hundred followers. Tītokowaru’s armed resistance had collapsed by mid-1869, but Te Kooti’s guerrilla campaign on the East Coast dragged on until early 1872. Later resistance was non-violent, as at Parihaka in 1881. Some argue that the last bastion of resistance held out until 1916, when jumpy wartime politicians sent the police into Rua Kēnana’s Urewera community at Maungapōhatu.

Te Kooti’s generalship was mixed. He could hit and run with the best of them but he flunked set-piece, fixed-defence actions such as Te Pōrere. In an ineptly executed piece of cultural shoplifting, Te Kooti or an ally (it is not clear who) built this British-style redoubt/pā on the bleak pumice lands at the western edge of the Rotoaira basin. It was about 20 m square, had flanking angles (bastions) at the opposing corners and stood apart from a maze of trenches and rifle pits. But Te Pōrere – unredoubtable redoubt or below par pā – was a bad clone. The angles were poorly sited and the horizontal loopholes prevented the defenders from firing down into the ditch, which the government forces speedily occupied after taking out two small detached positions. On 4 October 1869, for the cost of four dead and four wounded, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas McDonnell's forces, Ngāti Kahungunu and Arawa as well as Europeans, killed 37 and captured nearly 30. Te Kooti got one thing right, though. The bush next to the pā provided good cover for his flight, wounded, with other survivors. Heriage New Zealand has administered Te Pōrere for more than half a century. Its ‘restoration’ of the fort may not meet modern conservation practice but that does not detract from the importance of the site of the last major battle of the Wars.

Further information

This site is item number 35 on the History of New Zealand in 100 Places list.



  • James Belich, The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian interpretation of racial conflict, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1986
  • Judith Binney, Redemption songs, Auckland University Press/Bridget Williams Books, Auckland, 1995
  • David Green, Battlefields of the New Zealand Wars: a visitor’s guide, Penguin, Auckland, 2010
  • Matthew Wright, Two peoples, one land: the New Zealand Wars, Reed Books, Auckland, 2006

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