1 October 2009
Special ceremony for 140th Anniversary
The 140th anniversary of one of the last major engagements of the New Zealand Wars will be marked with a special ceremony at Te Porere, between Turangi and National Park, on Sunday.
A series of panels explaining the battle between Te Kooti and government forces will be formally unveiled on 4 October – marking 140 years to the day that Te Kooti fought alongside Tuwharetoa against more than 500 Government soldiers and Maori allies at Te Porere in 1869.
Opotaka and Te Porere are Maori and Historic Reserves that have been restored and maintained by Ngati Hikairo ki Tongariro with the support of the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board. They are cared for by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Pouhere Taonga in partnership with Ngati Hikairo. Both sites now have information panels that detail the extensive and rich history of the area.
Opotaka, on the shore of Lake Rotoaira, is the site of a Maori kainga (village) that was occupied in the 19th century and it remains a place of importance to Ngati Tuwharetoa.
Ngati Hikairo spokesperson Taina Tahi said the interpretation panels would give members of the public a better understanding of the significance of Opotaka and Te Porere. Opotaka was an important stopping place for travellers to the fortified village of nearby Motuopuhi, now an island in Lake Rotoaira.
Motuopuhi is a wahi tapu (sacred site) as it commemorates high chief Te Wharerangi of Ngati Hikairo ki Tongariro and many of his people who lost their lives when the pa was overcome in the 1820s. It was once joined to the mainland and was a place of refuge for people living in villages around the lake. Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha once sheltered at Motuopuhi and he acknowledged Wharerangi and his people by composing his famous ngeri Ka Mate.
At Te Porere there are two redoubts. On 4 October 1869 Te Kooti was driven from the Lower Redoubt to the Upper Redoubt where the battle continued the following day. The final assault was devastating for Te Kooti, with many of his followers killed, injured or captured. Te Kooti, who managed to escape, was never captured and was pardoned in 1883.
“The aim of the panels is to ensure these stories are told and to keep our history alive for visitors and new generations of New Zealanders,” Mr Tahi said.
NZHPT kaihautu Te Kenehi Teira said Ngati Hikairo could feel proud of their restoration work and maintenance at Opotaka and Te Porere.
“As well as the considerable history of the area, the natural and cultural beauty of Opotaka and Te Porere is here for all to see thanks to the tireless work of Ngati Hikairo as kaitiaki and the support of the Tuwharetoa Trust Board.”
In partnership with Ngati Hikairo, NZHPT organised the information panels and contributed funding to the project. There was also a generous grant from Genesis Energy.
For more information:
Ngati Hikairo ki Tongariro
(w) 07 386 8407
(m) 027 3433480
Te Kenehi Teira
New Zealand Historic Places Trust Pouhere Taonga
(w) 04 494 8042
(m) 027 2896293