Te Ranga NZ Wars memorial

The New Zealand Wars battle site of Te Ranga is located in a paddock on Pyes Pa Road (SH36) near the corner of Joyce Road, about 10 km south of the centre of the Bay of Plenty city of Tauranga. Here, on 21 June 1864, British forces decisively defeated local Māori.

The heavy British defeat at Pukehinahina (Gate Pā) on 29 April 1864 shocked New Zealand’s European settler community, and its military and political establishment. Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron returned to Auckland, leaving Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Greer in command of a large British garrison on the Te Papa peninsula. Greer was ordered to attack immediately should Māori forces begin constructing another pā in the district.

On the morning of 21 June, Greer left Camp Te Papa (now the Tauranga CBD) with a force of 600 men. Five kilometres inland from Gate Pā, the British force discovered 500 to 600 Maori working on defensive earthworks at Te Ranga. Led by Rāwiri Puhirake, they comprised Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui, supported by Ngāti Porou from the east coast and Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Rangiwewehi from Rotorua. Early that afternoon, following the arrival of reinforcements, Greer ordered men from the 68th and 43rd regiments and 1st Waikato Militia to advance.

The battle that followed at has been described as among the bloodiest of the New Zealand campaigns. In desperate hand-to-hand fighting, British troops exacted terrible vengeance for Gate Pā. The Māori garrison was unable to hold the incomplete defences and, when Puhirake himself was killed, those able to do so retreated.

British casualties were nine dead and 39 wounded. More than 100 of the defenders – including Puhirake – were buried in the trenches at Te Ranga.

Twenty-seven severely wounded Māori were taken to hospital at Te Papa camp. Fourteen did not long survive the battle and were buried at Mission Cemetery. Among the mortally wounded was Te Tera of Ngāi Te Rangi, the only one to be identified in official reports.

The one-sided battle at Te Ranga largely crushed resistance in the vicinity of Tauranga Harbour. Some Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui surrendered arms to the British at Camp Te Papa in ceremonies on 21 and 25 July. Much of their land was subsequently confiscated.

This Historic Places Trust marker was erected at Te Ranga in 1964, 100 years after the battle.

Additional image

Detail of memorial plaque

Transcript

Here on 21 June 1864 after their / heroic stand at Gate Pa in April / Maori forces were overcome in / the decisive battle of Te Ranga

Further information

  • Tauranga. The Victory of the Rebels. Further Particulars. (From our own Correspondent.)’, Daily Southern Cross, 29 June 1864
  • The Engagement at Tauranga’, Taranaki Herald, 2 July 1864
  • James Belich, ‘The Tauranga Campaign’, in The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian interpretation of racial conflict, Penguin, Auckland, 1998, pp. 177–200
  • A.C. Bellamy, Tauranga: 1882–1982, Publicity Printing Ltd, Tauranga, 1982
  • Ernest E. Bush, ‘These Things We Must Not Forget’, Te Ao Hou, no. 76 (June 1975), pp. 38–40
  • James Cowan, ‘Gate Pa and Te Ranga’, in The New Zealand Wars: a history of the Maori campaigns and the pioneering period: volume I: 1845–1864, R.E. Owen, Wellington, 1955, pp. 421–40
  • Gilbert Mair, The Story of Gate Pa, April 29th, 1864, Bay of Plenty Times, Tauranga, 1937
  • Nigel Prickett, ‘The Tauranga Campaign, 1864’, in Landscapes of conflict: a field guide to the New Zealand Wars, Random House, Auckland, 2002, pp. 87–95
  • Chris Pugsley, ‘Walking the Waikato Wars: The Battle of Te Ranga: 21 June 1864’, New Zealand Defence Quarterly, no. 20 (Autumn 1998), pp. 32–7
  • Jinty Rorke, ‘Puhirake, Rawiri - Biography’, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 1 September 2010
  • War in Tauranga (NZHistory)

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