New Defence Minister, Andrew Little, attended his first official event yesterday, receiving a taiaha from Ngāti Rangi at a church service at Ohaeawai to acknowledge and honour the sacrifice of Māori and British Troops who died at the Battle of Ohaeawai in June 1845.
The taiaha was carved by kaiwhakairo Adrian Hau to recognise the NZDF.
“Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Dines received a carved musket in recognition of British Troops, and the British High Commissioner Iona Thomas received a muka korowai to commemorate Charlotte Dorothea Weale for her generosity and assistance to Ngapuhi Rangatira,” Mr Little said in an online statement.
“Then, as Treaty Negotiations Minister, together with Ngāti Rēhia, we had a signing ceremony for the terms of engagement to return Kororipo Pā – one of Hongi Hika’s Pā that was a significant historical place of learning and trade between Ngāpuhi and Pākeha.”
Maori Crown Relations Minister, Kelvin Davis said the memorial event at a key battle site in the New Zealand land wars was an important event to mark the progress in relations between Māori and the Crown as Waitangi Day approaches.
“The Battle of Ohaeawai in June 1845 saw the loss of life on both sides, particularly the British, and was a watershed moment in Aotearoa’s history,” the Minister said.
The historical site and other sites including Ruapekapeka Pā, the Rangiriri Trenches, and Parihaka have been restored with support from the Government, he said.
“While New Zealanders may not be as familiar with these sites, the introduction of Aotearoa, New Zealand histories means that whole generations of young kiwis will learn about important sites like Ohaeawai.”
“Thanks to the work of Ngāti Rangi, they will also be able to visit these sites and learn more about their important whakapapa,” Mr Davis said.
The event also celebrated and remembered the generosity of British woman Charlotte Dorothea Weale, who supported a Māori party that had become stranded in England in 1863 return home.
To repay her generosity, the party built a church on the Ohaeawai pā site.