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Titokowaru's Tauranga-ika -pa


Tauranga-ika Pa Tauranga-ika Pa Tauranga-ika Pa

Tītokowaru’s Taurangaika was a masterpiece of modern pā construction. Click on thumbnails to see an enlarged version of the main image, a cross-section of the pā and a detail of the entrenchments.

Its four concave sides were each ‘topped by a strongpoint’ and a ‘labyrinth of trenches and bomb-proof shelters’ provided both protection and the ability to move men quickly around the pā.

Seeking to explain why Tītokowaru abandoned this formidable pā, Whitmore concluded that ‘it is difficult to imagine any reason, except fear'. This explanation seems highly unlikely. Whitmore himself conceded that ‘no troops in the world could have hewn their way through … [had it been] defended by excellent shots and desperate men’. The most likely reason for its abandonment was Tītokowaru’s alleged sexual encounter with the wife of one of his chiefs. This undermined his mana to such an extent that most of his followers refused to go into battle with him, prompting the decision to abandon the pā during the night.


James Cowan, The New Zealand Wars: a history of the Maori campaigns and the pioneering period, Government Printer, Wellington, 1955–6

How to cite this page

Titokowaru's Tauranga-ika -pa, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated