Northland iwi join forces for Ruapekapeka Pā commemorations

By Wepiha Te Kanawa
  • Northland

Northland iwi are joining forces to help commemorate the battle of Ruapekapeka Pā which took place in 1845. Wānanga for descendants who want to take part in the official commemoration have started, the event will take place at a historic site just south of Kawakawa in January.

The strength of the tail of the North Island was heard.

According to Hemi Taitin from Ngāti Hine “The main reason for this is to re-build the bonds of Ngāti Hine with the sub-tribes of Te Pewhairangi in the North.”

In December 1845, British forces of around 1,600 and aligned Māori set battle against Ngāpuhi leaders Te Ruki Kawiti and Hone Heke.

For Ngāpuhi and Te Rarawa descendant Wiremu Sarich the event is a very significant occasion “It's to commemorate them because if they didn't do what they did many years ago, we wouldn't be standing here, we wouldn't have kapa haka, warriors and Māori language speakers.”

Māori land war commemorations have been seen up across the country this year, but the battle at Ruapekapeka was one of the earliest recorded between Māori and European.

“This is an occasion that people will travel to, under one reason, there's no other reason, brothers and sisters”, says Kristin Ross from Ngāti Kahu and Ngāti Tara.

“This is huge for Ngāpuhi, so that we come together under one roof to honour our ancestors who fought in the battle field”, says Raninikura Waitai-Henare.

Some Northland tribes have been left divided over treaty settlement claims, but Hemi Taitin hopes this event will bring them closer, “At the end of the day, we need to come together as one, at the moment our people are divided, while people are undergoing their treaty settlements.”

The Ruapekapeka commemoration will take place on January 10 at the site originally known as Ngā Tapuwae Haruru.