Discover the history of Te Pōrere Redoubt

Discover the history of Te Pōrere Redoubt

Just off SH 47, 25 km from National Park Village, lies one of our region's many hidden gems - the historic Te Pōrere Redoubt. But what makes this site special and why is it famous? Find out here...


National Park Villages, blog post, Discover the history of Te Pōrere Redoubt, Te Pōrere Redoubt - Te Pōrere Redoubt - upper redoubt
Just off State Highway 47, 25 km from National Park Village, lies one of our region's many hidden gems - the historic Te Pōrere Redoubt. But what makes this site special and why is it famous? Read on to find out...

Te Pōrere redoubt is famous as the site of the last major fixed battle of the New Zealand Wars on 4 October 1869 and is listed as a Category 1 Historic Place. 

For those not familiar with military terms, a redoubt is a temporary or supplementary fortification, typically square or polygonal and without flanking defences, and Te Pōrere actually features two sets of fortifications. The first is a short walk from the car park off SH 47, with the second site a little further uphill with fine views of the Tongariro National Park.  

It was here that famed Māori leader Te Kooti made his last stand in the New Zealand Wars.

The final phase of the New Zealand Wars began in mid-1868, when Tītokowaru attacked colonial troops in South Taranaki and Te Kooti escaped from the Chatham Islands with several hundred followers. Tītokowaru’s armed resistance had collapsed by mid-1869, but Te Kooti’s guerrilla campaign on the East Coast dragged on until early 1872. 

Te Kooti’s generalship was mixed. He could hit and run with the best of them but he flunked set-piece, fixed-defence actions such as Te Pōrere. In an ineptly executed piece of cultural shoplifting, Te Kooti or an ally (it is not clear who) built this British-style redoubt/pā on the bleak pumice lands at the western edge of the Rotoaira basin. It was about 20 m square, had flanking angles (bastions) at the opposing corners and stood apart from a maze of trenches and rifle pits. 

But Te Pōrere – unredoubtable redoubt or below par pā – was a bad clone. The angles were poorly sited and the horizontal loopholes prevented the defenders from firing down into the ditch, which the government forces speedily occupied after taking out two small detached positions. On 4 October 1869, for the cost of four dead and four wounded, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas McDonnell's forces, Ngāti Kahungunu and Arawa as well as Europeans, killed 37 and captured nearly 30.

Te Kooti got one thing right, though. The bush next to the pā provided good cover for his flight, wounded, with other survivors. 

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of  the battle, Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga together to enable vegetation management, track upgrades, signage refresh, fence repairs and the installation of a pou whakairo onsite to mark the coming together of people.

Heritage New Zealand also recorded the two pā sites as high-resolution digital 3D models using drone-based aerial photogrammetry and ground-based laser scanning. These 3D models have been added to interpretation signs onsite at Te Pōrere. 


Posted in Blog on 19 April, 2020