Battle of Ohaeawai remembered
A memorial event at a key battle site in the New Zealand land wars is an important event to mark the progress in relations between Māori and the Crown as we head towards Waitangi Day, Minister for Te Arawhiti Kelvin Davis said.
The Battle of Ohaeawai in June 1845 saw the loss of life on both sides, particularly the British, and was a watershed moment in Aotearoa’s history.
The historical site and other sites including Ruapekapeka Pā, the Rangiriri Trenches, and Parihaka have been restored with support from the Government.
“While New Zealanders may not be as familiar with these sites, the introduction of Aotearoa, New Zealand histories means that whole generations of young kiwis will learn about important sites like Ohaeawai,” Kelvin Davis said.
“Thanks to the work of Ngāti Rangi, they will also be able to visit these sites and learn more about their important whakapapa.”
The event will also celebrate and remember the generosity of British woman Charlotte Dorothea Weale, who supported a Māori party that had become stranded in England in 1863 return home.
To repay her generosity, the party built a church on the Ohaeawai pā site.
- In 1863 a Māori party, most of whom were from the North Island, sailed to England with William Jenkins, a Wesleyan preacher. Jenkins proposed to give a series of lectures about the Māori culture but fell out with the travelling party and abandoned them, leaving them destitute and homeless.
- Birmingham woman Charlotte Dorothea Weale heard of their plight and took them into her home, providing food and shelter. She eventually secured them passage through the Colonial Office back to Aotearoa, New Zealand.
- Reihana Taukawau, a rangatira within the party, asked her how they could repay her generosity. She replied, “build a church”. Enough pūtea was raised to build two churches, The Good Shepherd in Mangakāhia and St Michael’s Church in Ohaeawai. St Michael’s Church was built in 1871, on the site of the Ohaeawai pā (in remembrance of the battle) and in honour of Charlotte Dorothea Weale who helped the Ngāpuhi Rangatira return to Aotearoa, New Zealand. The church in Mangakāhia burnt down in the 1920’s.
- In 2020 the Ohaeawai Cultural Community Centre received $1.7 million in funding through the Provincial Growth Fund to support the restoration of Saint Michael’s Church and the Te Haara Farm. Work was completed in last year, with an official reopening taking place in October 2022.
- The presentation of taonga to key representatives represents the closing chapter in Ngāti Rangi’s journey to appropriately restore the Ohaeawai Pā site.