Tauranga is hosting this year’s Te Pūtake o te Riri – the national commemoration of the New Zealand Wars.
Community leader Charlie Rahiri told Māpuna last week that he was expecting about 2000 people to take part in events across the city in the lead-up to the annual observance of Rā Maumahara, the national day of commemoration for the New Zealand Wars, on October 28.
A mass haka pōwhiri involving more than 500 warriors would kick off the events on Monday, with historical talks and tours of battle sites also on the cards over the next few days.
Charlie says there’s a desire in the community to learn the region’s history, especially among young people.
He says the commemoration enables Māori to tell their own stories – and in the long run it will create a stronger sense of nationhood.
The focal point of this year’s commemorations is Pukehinahina – the site at the Greerton end of Tauranga where the conflict known as The Battle of Gate Pā took place between Māori and colonial troops 159 years ago, says Charlie.
“[The colonial forces] underestimated the people of Tauranga,” syas Charlie.
“That one was a huge battle of minds, as much as it was the battle of guns and cannons.”
Māori abided by the rules of engagement they had drafted in a letter to the British a month before The Battle of Gate Pā occurred, says Charlie.
Charlie says interest in the upcoming week’s events had been huge and marae across Tauranga would be hosting many visitors.