Special ceremony held for returned Rangiriri Pā land

By Mānia Clarke
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has started making a step toward a restoration project that would see the battle site of Rangiriri Pā returned to its original site. The move is an offering to heal past wounds.

The descendants of Rangiriri Pā recall a vision by their ancestors to have their land returned.

Ngāti Naho descendant Brad Totorewa says, “Today, the vision of Tāwhiao was realised "as the land was taken, it should be returned."  

$750,000 will be spent to restore the old SH1 and Rangiriri Pā to a cultural heritage battle site.

Kiingitanga spokesperson Rahui Papa says, “We want to erect panels similar to those at the battle sites of Godesberg and Hastings in England.”

Waikato descendant Pania Tata says, “I think it's very significant as a student of Te Kauwhata, cause it's where we are from and it gives us an identity and sense of belonging.’

In 2009, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) began talks with Waikato to build a new state highway. NZTA agreed to return the former highway.

“This site will be used as a place of learning.  An ornamental grace of the history here, one for our descendants and two for the nation,” says Totorewa.

Te Kauwhata College principal Deborah Hohneck says, “This is an opportunity to study history, to study people, to study motivation, power, and imbalance.”

The Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway is expected to be finished in April next year.