The Northern War 1845-46

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The New Zealand Wars | Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa Northern War took place around the Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) and began with the sacking of Kororāreka by Hone Heke in 1845. Its origins lay in the colonial government’s increased imposition of British sovereignty over Ngāpuhi in direct opposition to the Te Tiriti o Waitangi | Treaty of Waitangi. SCIS no. 1965934

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Heke’s flagstaff

One of the most famous scenes from New Zealand history is Hone Heke cutting down the flagstaff at Kororareka (present-day Russell.) In fact, the flagstaff wasn’t cut down once but 4 times between 1844-5! Each time the British undertook increased security until finally a moat and blockhouse protected the flagstaff. But even that wasn’t enough. The fourth time it was cut down (at the beginning of the Northern War) Māori taua simply walked into the blockhouse. Incredibly the door had been left open by British soldiers!

relic, flagstaff

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Northern war, 1845

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The Northern War - The Northern War

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96th Regiment NZ Wars memorial plaque

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Ruapekapeka - The Northern War

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Ōhaeawai - The Northern War

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Relic of Maori War, Ruapekapeka

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

Sketch Plans, New Zealand Wars Battlefields

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Tāmati Wāka Nene of Ngāti Hao, Hokianga

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Ruapekapeka Pā, 11 January 1846

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

Ruapekapeka Pā, 11 January 1846

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

Hone Heke.

University of Otago

Hōne Heke, Kawiti and Hariata Rongo

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Johnny Heki [i.e. Hone Heke] [picture] /

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Hone Wiremu Heke Pokai (left) and Eruera Maihi Patuone by George French Angas

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Plan of Ōhaeawai pa

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Te Ruki Kawiti

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Kawiti's pa, Ruapekapeka

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Proclamation by Governor Robert Fitzroy

In 1845 after the second flagstaff was cut down, Governor FitzRoy issued a proclamation: “I will cause the sum of ONE HUNDRED POUNDS to be immediately paid for his (Hone Heke’s), apprehension, on his delivery into custody of the Police Magistrate at Russell, or of the police Magistrate at Auckland...” Angry that a reward for his capture had been placed on his head Heke declared, “am I a pig... to be bought and sold?” and immediately responded by issuing his own reward for the capture of Governor Fitzroy.

Hōne Heke Wanted Poster

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Battle at Puketutu

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Ruapekapeka

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Ruapekapeka pā

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Robert Fitzroy (1805-1865)

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"Pomare"

Puke Ariki

Tāmati Waka Nene

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Tamiti Waka Nene

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Tamati Waka Nene

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Wāka Nene NZ Wars memorial

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A sketch of Ruapekapeka pa, 11 January 1846, by Cyprian Bridge

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Henry and William Williams

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Henry Williams

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George Grey

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Kororāreka (Russell): After the Fire, 1845

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Letter from Marianne Williams to Marianne Davies, April 8, 1845

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Kororāreka

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Kororāreka painting, 1845

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Ships at anchor, Kororāreka

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Kororāreka residents NZ Wars memorial

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Position of the Rifle Pits at Ahuahu

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Pomare II's pā

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Ōhaeawai NZ Wars memorial

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Plan of Ōhaeawai pa

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Eruera Maihi Patuone

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Eruera Maihi Patuone

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Flagstaff fragment

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Ruapekapeka pā painting

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The widow (Harata Rewiri Tarapata, Ngapuhi)

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Ruapekapeka 1970

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Reminiscences of the Northern War

When Nene’s war party found Hone Heke’s forces at Lake Omapere both commenced building pa. Over the days the only Pakeha in Nene’s camp, John Webster, recounted that both taua conducted a chivalrous campaign. After breakfast, both parties would straggle out to confront each other, taking up positions behind clumps of flax, and tea-tree. After shots were fired the scouts would chat with the other side. At dusk, someone would rise up from his pit and shout, “Ka po te ra” (the sun is setting). Then one taua party would haka, and the other would make a similar response. Next, out of the ranks of both fighters, a few warriors would meet, hongi, and ask about each other's losses for the day.

Battle of Ōkaihau

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Ruapekapeka

Built by Kawiti in 1845, the pa Ruapekapeka was an extraordinary feat of architecture. There were almost no substantial buildings behind its twin palisades, instead, shelter consisted of a series of tunnels, pits and bomb-proof bunkers. This gave the pa its name, (Ruapekapeka or “the bats nest”) as Kawhiti and his taua sheltered like bats in the darkness, safe from British bombardment. The double wooden palisades were almost impregnable to musket and cannon-fire. This was due to the hardwood Puriri tree trunks and harakeke (flax) padding which absorbed the impact of musket balls and cannon shot.

Heaphy, Charles 1820-1881 :Ruapekapeka. Kawiti's Pa near the Bay of Islands, 1846. From 'House of Commons Papers, 1847'. [ca 1860]

Alexander Turnbull Library

Nga Pakanga o Aotearoa

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New Zealand Wars

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Ruapekapeka

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Hone Heke

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Congreave rocket launcher

It seems surprising but in the Northern Wars, rocket launchers were used by the British troops against pa. These were Congreve rockets and their use in-part was designed to both terrify Māori and blast the pa palisades. They were employed at the Battle of Puketutu and also at Ruapekapeka. However, the most notable thing about their use was their failure. Only one rocket struck the pa leading Hone Heke to comment “what prize can be won by such a gun?’ The painting here shows the battle of Puketutu (at Lake Omapere, near Okaihou, between the Bay of Islands and Hokianga Harbour.) In the foreground, Royal Marines are firing a Congreve rocket.

Bridge, Cyprian, 1807-1885 :Sketch of the action at Mawe, New Zealand, on the 8th May, 1845 by the forces under command of Lt Colonel Hulme 96th Re...

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A living Thing

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Attack on Ōtuihu

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