If you’re on this page, you’re clearly wondering this: Why is June 21st so important to the people of Tauranga?
Lucky for you, we know the answer!
June 21st marks the anniversary of the Battle of Te Ranga. It was fought in 1864 during the New Zealand Wars. The battle was a turning point in the relationship between local iwi and British troops. Commemorations are held yearly as evidence of its lasting impact on Tauranga’s history.
A Turning Point in the History of Tauranga
The Battle of Te Ranga is a poignant moment that forever changed Tauranga. This fierce clash between Māori and British forces took place on June 21st, 1864, instigating a wave of transformation in the region.
The conflict was an offshoot of the larger Tauranga Campaign, which was part of the New Zealand Wars fought over land and sovereignty.
The Māori defended their land and autonomy, while the British forces sought control over these territories. The battle saw the Māori, led by the brave chief Rāwiri Puhirake Tuaia, pitted against a significantly larger British contingent.
In a surprise attack, 530 British troops descended upon Te Ranga, leading to a bloody engagement with heavy casualties on both sides. Chief Rāwiri Puhirake Tuaia was among those who lost their lives.
The defeat of the Māori marked a significant turning point in the Tauranga campaign, leading to considerable changes in the local landscape.
Its Significance to Tauranga
The battle marked the end of the Tauranga campaign, with settlers celebrating it as a brilliant achievement. Yet, for the Māori, it represented a devastating loss of life and land.
This tragic event has had a profound impact on the Tauranga district, reshaping its social, cultural, and economic fabric.
The loss of lives was especially consequential, leading to a severe raupatu (confiscation) of Māori land and the destruction of local papa kainga (villages) and crops.
Remembering the Battle of Te Ranga
Today, the Battle of Te Ranga is a stark reminder of the sacrifices and price the Maori paid in the quest for sovereignty and freedom. It’s a day of remembrance, reflection, and respect, a day when Tauranga stands united in honouring its past and envisioning its future.
The annual commemorations, held at the battle site near Joyce Road and Pyes Pa Road, begin at dawn, mirroring when the Māori started to build their trenches. Hundreds of people from all walks of life gather to pay homage to those who lost their lives in this historic battle.
A notable tradition associated with the anniversary is the Dawn Service. This deeply moving ceremony marks the exact time of the beginning of the battle. The service is a solemn occasion filled with prayers, hymns, and the sharing of stories about the significance of the battle.
In addition to the Dawn Service, the commemoration also includes educational activities aimed at passing on the history of the Battle of Te Ranga to younger generations. These activities underscore the importance of remembering our past and learning from it.
Over the years, the Battle of Te Ranga commemorations have grown in scale and significance. The 150th anniversary, for instance, saw a large-scale event, with various stakeholders coming together to remember the battle.
Plans are underway to transform the historic site, with a significant portion being set aside for a commemorative landscape.