April 2014: Battle of Gate Pa 150th Anniversary
Battle of Gate Pa 150th Anniversary.
While the great battles of Gallipoli, Passchendaele, El Alamein and for us Naval types the Battle of the River Plate, come immediately to mind when we think of Kiwi military bravery, few people think about New Zealand’s own civil war and the battles that took place between 1860 and 1872.
One such battle was the battle of Gate Pa on 29 April 1864, where heavily outnumbered Maori warriors defeated the attacking British Army and Naval forces. After an initial 8 hour artillery assault on the Pa, the Naval Brigade advanced into the well constructed and defended earthen defences and savage skirmishes took place as the British forces were funnelled into the tight confines of the Pa.
Above: Maori Warriors perform the Haka.
Right: VIPs include Governor General, Ministers of Maori Affairs and Defence and Chief of Defence Force.
After losing most of their Officers in the initial assault and believing the Maori were reinforcing their defenders from the rear, the attacking British forces fled the Pa in panic, leaving their wounded and dead behind. Some of the Maori defenders, in a display of great kindness gave water to the wounded and dying attackers, then with the rest of the defenders retreated into the darkness from the Pa and past the British cordon into the night.
Between the Maori and British forces over a 150 were killed and wounded in the Battle of Gate Pa. So while we commemorate our fallen from the Boer War to Afghanistan, perhaps we should also remember the estimated 3000 casualties from our own New Zealand Wars.
The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gate Pa was commemorated at Tauranga on the 29th of April 2014, just four days after the 99th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign. The Navy was represented by HMNZS NGAPONA (Tauranga Division) at the commemoration also attended by the Governor General, the Ministers of Maori Affairs and Defence and Chief of Defence Force.
Reference - New Zealand History Online - http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/war-in-tauranga/gate-pa
Above: Naval Platoon platoon includes - Left to right, front rank - LT CDR Andrew Wilson (OIC Tauranga), LT CDR Stefan Hansen (XO NGA) and Gerard McGrath (CO NGA).
All photos provided by Chris Weissenborn.
Above: Naval and Army personnel marching in the Parade.