Heritage Talk - The Genesis of Gunfighter Pā in Northland

Whats On

Archaeologist Dr James Robinson will present a talk exploring how the Māori defensive gunfighter pa evolved in Ōhaeawai and Ruapekapeka during the 1840s.

Following the Ngapuhi rangatira Hongi Hika’s return from England to Aotearoa with 200 muskets in 1820, the process of learning how to use muskets as an effective means of attack began. This is well documented in the 1820s during the period of intertribal fighting known as the 'Musket Wars'.

However, the first clear historic evidence of Māori defensive gunfighter pa appears over 20 years later at the Ohaeawai and Ruapekapeka Northern Wars battlefields. Here specialist flatland pa with an integrated range of defensive gunfighter pits, underground bunkers and tunnels to protect against British muskets, cannon and explosive artillery, suddenly appear fully formed in the archaeological record.

It is argued that gunfighter pa were present from the 1820s onwards and were the genesis of these complex pa built to fight the British Imperial forces in 1845-6.

This talk explores how these gunfighter pa evolved and why they are so hard to see archaeologically.

Free entry: limited spaces - prior registration essential.

Register online - buy tickets above or visit our website: www.wdc.govt.nz/library/events

Picture above shows a Plan of Ōhaeawai pa by Thomas Hutton, copied from a drawing taken by Mr Symonds of the 99th Regt [1845].
(https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/plan-ohaeawai-pa, Ministry for Culture and Heritage).

How to Find Us

Whangarei Central Library, Whangarei

Event Dates

Wednesday 29 March 2023