Redevelopment of the land where the Battle of Te Ranga took place is underway with plans to create a special place of commemoration and storytelling.
Restoration plans for the reserve, near the corner of Pyes Pa Road and Joyce Road, were developed during the Te Papa Spatial Plan process.
The Pukehinahina Charitable Trust, in partnership with Ngāi Tamarāwaho, has received funding from Tauranga City Council as part of an initiative to improve the historic site and provide more opportunities for the community to engage in the stories by Tauranga Moana.
The Battle of Te Ranga took place on June 21, 1864, and was seen as an act of retaliation by British forces after their defeat at the Battle of Gate Pā the previous month.
The Māori defenders, consisting of local iwi and others from across the North Island, suffered heavy casualties during the battle.
Every year a commemoration takes place at the site where a marker was placed in 1964 to mark 100 years of the battle.
Tauranga City Council Director of Places and Spaces, Paul Dunphy, said it was possible to create a site of national significance.
“Because the site is quite spacious, it is possible to put together many elements for the community to commemorate the event and learn more about this part of the city’s history,” explains Paul.
Once initial funding has been secured, a waharoa and tomokanga (gateway), parking lot, walkway and signage can be developed, and work is underway to form a dyke (embankment) and begin hillside planting.
Sculptures, additional walkways, information panels and a covered structure near the existing landmark are also planned once additional funding is secured.
Buddy Mikaere, director of the Pukehinahina Charitable Trust project and spokesperson for Ngāi Tamarāwaho, says the development is a step towards properly recognizing the event and educating visitors.
“It had a major impact on the history of Tauranga but the site in its current state does not reflect its importance. We want to change that and capture the potential of the region.
“Once the work is completed, it will be an educational place and a quiet leisure space not only for locals, but also for national and international visitors.”
Residents of Tauranga are also encouraged to get involved in the project, with a community planting weekend planned for June.
“We want this site to be a beautiful place for all to enjoy and commemorate and invite the community to participate in achieving that goal,” Buddy said.
Traffic management will be in place for transporting soil to form the dyke and for community planting to take place. More detailed information will be provided in the coming weeks.
The Tauranga City Council has allocated $531,000 for the project under the Long Term Plan (LTP), and an additional $114,000 has been provided for site preparation, consultation and planting.
The funds are allocated for use over 2022 and 2023, with the project due to be completed in 2023. Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council have also contributed funds.