Today marks 151 years since the battle of Te Kupenga, which resulted in the Crown confiscating 245,000 acres of Ngāti Awa land. The day was remembered by the descendants of those who died and fought in the battle at Te Teko.
It was near this area that Crown forces outnumbered Māori in 1865. This re-enactment has been set up to re-educate people about the battle of Te Kupenga.
The Minister of Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell says, “The battle of Te Kupenga, which took place here, is no different from the battle of Te Tarata, Maungapōhatu, Pukehinahina and Te Ranga. The main thing is that our children are being educated about this.”
The battle of Te Kupenga was the result of accusations that Ngāti Awa was involved in the killing of Rev Carl Volkner and James Fulloon, a representative of the Crown. 31 men were implicated in these killings. 27 were Ngāti Awa.
Ngāti Awa affiliate Horipawa Himone Teira says, “Our love for them remains today. Today were remembered and have returned to us.”
In 2005, as part of the Ngāti Awa settlement, they received an apology from the Crown. The area of Te Kupenga was marked as a historical site. Today also marks a new beginning for Ngāti Awa youth who are exploring traditional Māori educational models to keep the memory of Te Kupenga alive.
Hakahaka Hona (Ngāti Awa) says, “Our traditional school has started, the school of Te Kupenga Otaramainuku. The purpose of the school is to hold fast to the traditions of our ancestors. We have started with the school of weaponry. This is a way to teach our children.”
Next year Ngāti Awa hopes to work on this event with the possibility of holding the commemorations again.