Topics: Education, Youth

Tauranga Moana commemorates the invasion of Te Irihanga

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

The mayor of Western Bay of Plenty thinks it's appropriate that all New Zealanders should recognise the New Zealand Māori wars. He was one of nearly 100 people who attended an early morning ceremony to commemorate the 150 anniversary of the invasion of Te Irihanga near Tauranga. 

Today symbolises the suffering experienced by the people of Te Irihanga it was here that the New Zealand Colonial Forces invaded with the aim of ending opposition to land surveyors.

Wairoa Settlement Trustee Te Ruruanga Te Keeti told Te Kāea, “We are remembering our ancestors who died on this very land when colonial troops came with the intention of killing them.”

Researcher Dr Des Kahotea says, “This is the home of Ngāti Rangi, they populated the region from Taharoa to the mouth of the Wairoa River, through to Tauranga.” 

For the newly elected mayor of the Western Bay of Plenty, the New Zealand Māori wars maybe hard to talk about but it is part of our heritage and history. 

Western Bay of Plenty Major Garry Webber says, “The thing we got to learn from this is that the pen or the word, the reo is mightier than the patu.  We have got to understand that we can work things out without fighting and I think that is the critical thing we have to learn from the past.”  

Following the invasion of Te Irihanga, the Pai Marire religion and Hauhau ideology was adopted by the people of Te Irihanga.  Today those connections are still very strong. 

Kingitanga spokesperson Rahui Papa says, “Kingmaker Wiremu Tamihana has been represented today by his grandson Anaru. The Pai Marire faith is here to represent, so those connections from 150 years ago are still present.”

The people of Te Irihanga hope to maintain the history here and to pass it on to the younger generation.