The waharoa at the entrance to Ruapekapeka Pa

Image: Jonathan Carpenter | DOC

Introduction

It was on this day, 169 years ago, that the Northern War came to a close at the Battle of Ruapekapeka.

By Rebecca Nuttall, Historic Intern

Unrest surrounding the Treaty of Waitangi was to blame for the nearly two years of fighting between British authorities and Māori iwi of the northern North Island.

Historic Ruapekapeka Pā.
View of Ruapekapeka pa at the time it was entered and captured. By artist Cyprian Bridge (Lieutenant-Colonel), 1807-1885

While the British claimed victory following the battle, the strategic location and abandonment of the pā by the Māori warriors suggest another side to the story. Who won the Battle of Ruapekapeka?

Historic Ruapekapeka Pā.
Fence surrounding the one remaining well at the pā

DOC actively manages Ruapekapeka Pā in the hope to conserve this nationally significant site for today and future generations. DOC’s work, alongside Te Ruapekapeka Trust, has brought the pā back to life so that we can better understand our heritage.

Historic Ruapekapeka Pā.
The pits, trenches and tunnels that gave Ruapekapeka its name (the bats’ nest), are still visible today

Why not visit the pā yourself and see the tunnels, rifle pits and trenches used as defensive tactics by Māori warriors.

Historic Ruapekapeka Pā.
Overseen by Te Warihi Hetaraka, the figures on this carved gateway represent Te Ruki Kawiti and the Māori chiefs who defended the pā

A carronade still sits at the pā that is thought to have been owned by Ngāpuhi chief, Te Ruki Kawiti, at the time of the battle.

Ruapekapeka Pā.
Stunning views from Ruapekapeka Pā

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