Ō-Rākau Remembrance Bill passes first reading

The return of the historic Ō-Rākau battle site to the descendants of those who fought there moved one step closer today with the first reading of Te Pire mō Ō-Rākau, Te Pae o Maumahara / The Ō-Rākau Remembrance Bill.

The Bill will entrust the 9.7-hectare battle site, five kilometres west of Kihikihi, in ngā tūpuna o Ō-Rākau, to the ancestors of Ō-Rākau. This unique arrangement acknowledges all those who were present during the battle or had traditional connections to the land. It gives effect to a deed signed between the Crown and iwi representatives from Maniapoto, Raukawa and Waikato-Tainui in October 2023.

Minister for Māori Crown Relations - Te Arawhiti, Tama Potaka, said the reading was a significant step toward the return of this historic battle site, and an appropriate acknowledgement of those who fought and died there.  

“The story of Ō-Rākau is one of national significance, as well as to the descendants of the ancestors of Ō-Rākau, in whose names the whenua will be vested.”

Ō-Rākau was the site of the last major battle in the Crown’s 1863-64 invasion of Waikato. Between 31 March and 2 April 1864, around 300 Māori, many of them women and children, defended themselves against an attack by 1,400 British troops. According to reports, around half the defenders were killed during the fighting and their subsequent retreat.

Minister Potaka, who attended the recent 160th anniversary commemorations at Ō-Rākau, acknowledged the work of Maniapoto, Raukawa and Waikato-Tainui in negotiating the return of the whenua, and the tireless work of the students of Otorohanga College and others to ensure this battle – among others – is commemorated.

“We cannot change the past, but the ongoing work of iwi, together with Government, means that the stories of the whenua and the land itself will be in safe hands.” 

The battle site will be managed by a body representing the descendants of ngā tūpuna, as well as their whānau, hapū and iwi.

Pire mō Ō-Rākau, Te Pae o Maumahara, i te pānuitanga tuatahi

I tēnei rā kua whakatūtatahia te hokinga atu o te pae o te riri whai hiranga nunui o Ō-Rākau nā te pānuitanga tuatahitanga o Te Pire mō Ō-Rākau, Te Pae o Maumahara.

Ka tukuna e te Pire te pae o te riri e 9.7 heketea te rahi, e rima kiromita te tawhiti ki te uru o Kihikihi, ki ngā tūpuna o Ō-Rākau. Mā tēnei whakaritenga ahurei e āhukahukatia te katoa o ērā i reira i te wā o te pakanga, i whai kāwai whakapapa rānei ki taua whenua. Ka whakamana i te pukapuka he mea haina i waenga i te Karauna me ngā kanohi ā-iwi nō Maniapoto, Raukawa me Waikato-Tainui i Oketopa 2023. 

E ai ki Te Minita o Te Arawhiti, ki a Tama Potaka, he hipanga hira tēnei i te tukanga o te whakahoki i tēnei pae o te riri whai hiranga nunui, ā, he āhukahukatanga tōtika o ērā i whawhai, i hinga anō hoki i reira.  

"He hiranga ā-motu tō te kōrero mō Ō-Rākau, he hiranga nunui anō hoki ki ngā uri a ngā tūpuna o Ō-Rākau e tukuna ai ki a rātou taua whenua.”

Ko Ō-Rākau te pae o te pakanga whakamutunga o tā te Karauna urutomo ki Waikato i te 1863-64. I waenga i te 31 o Maehe ki te 2 o Aperira 1864, i whakangungu tōna 300 Māori, he tokomaha o rātou he wāhine me te tamariki, i a rātou anō ki te whakaeke a ngā hōia Piritene 1,400. E ai ki ngā pūrongo, i whakamatea tata ki te haurua o ngā kaiwhakangungu i te pakanga me te taui i whai ake. 

I mihia e Minita Potaka, nāna i tae ki te whakanuinga 160 tau o mua tata nei i Ō-Rākau, ā, ngā iwi taketake mahi whakariterite i te whakahokinga o te whenua, katoa atu me ngā rangatahi o te Kāreti o Otorohanga i whakapau kaha ki te whakamaumahara i ngā pakanga uri o tērā rautau. 

"Tē taea ngā mahi o mua te panoni, engari mā ngā mahi tahi haere tonu a ngā iwi me te Kāwanatanga, ka noho ora ngā kōrero mō taua whenua."

Ka whakahaeretia te pae o te riri e tētahi rōpū e whakakanohi ana i ngā uri o ngā tūpuna, me ō rātou whānau, hapū, iwi anō hoki.