TODAY: Thursday, 21 June 2018 marks the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Te Ranga in Tauranga.
Te Ranga was the sequel to the battle of Gate Pā (see 29 April). Following their humiliating defeat, some of the British force at Tauranga returned to Auckland. Meanwhile, their Ngāi Te Rangi opponents were reinforced by warriors from Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Porou. They began building a pā at Te Ranga, 5 km inland from Gate Pā.
Unfortunately for the Māori, British reconnaissance discovered this fortification before it was completed. On 21 June, Colonel H.H. Greer attacked the 500 defenders of the half-dug trenches with a 700-strong force. The 43rd – ‘mad for revenge’ for their losses at Gate Pā – 68th and 1st Waikato regiments stormed the rifle pits ‘in the most dashing manner’.
Amidst hand-to-hand fighting, the Māori slowly withdrew. When Rāwiri Puhirake, the hero of Gate Pā, was killed, the retreat became a rout. British cavalry gave chase, but could not penetrate the nearby bush.
More than 100 Māori, including the chivalrous Hēnare Taratoa, were killed or mortally wounded at Te Ranga, as were 13 British troops. The visiting iwi suffered heavy casualties, which contributed to their subsequent enthusiasm for the Pai Mārire(Hauhau) insurgency.
Peace came to Tauranga in July/August 1864, when Ngāi Te Rangi gave up some guns and some land in return for food and seeds with which to re-establish their crops. This was far from the ‘surrender’ the British claimed it to be.