Te Tarata Pā commemorations honour lives lost

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

It's been 150 years since the people of Te Whakatōhea were invaded by Crown troops at Te Tarata Pā; many of them losing their lives.

Today Ōpotiki locals returned to the scene of the battle, where the lives of 45 people were taken.

Te Whakatōhea descendant Te Kāhautu Maxwell says his people weren’t responsible for instigating the battle, “It’s about supporting Te Whakatōhea in their endeavor to seek justice for their lost loved ones.”

Under Crown orders the people of Ngāti Ira and other allied tribes were invaded, subsequently over 140,000ha of land was confiscated.

“They are the authorities who uphold the law, and it’s interesting that the criminals in this case are also writing the legal terms,” says Te Kāhautu Maxwell.

MPs and dignitaries converged on Ōpōtiki for today's commemoration and were met by over 400 warriors, from Tauranga, Waikato/Tainui, Raukawa, Tūwharetoa and Tūhoe.

Carved posts were unveiled in tribute to Te Whakatōhea chief, Mokomoko. He was wrongly prosecuted for the killing of missionary, Carl Volkner.

150 years on, the descendants of Te Whakatōhea still grieve and say they will never forget the horrific events that happened.