The Battle of "Gate Pa" (a "pa"
is a fortified settlement) is probably the battle which made the
greatest impact in the history of the New Zealand Wars. In an effort
to cut off reinforcements and food supplies which where filtering
through to the Māori rebels in the Waikato area, the British
sent their troops to Tauranga, where Gate Pa was situated, in order
to attack the fortress.
Gate Pa was situated near the entrance of Tauranga Harbour, and
was so named because of a gate which was nearby, and which bordered
on land bought by the Church Missionary Society.
Around 200 warriors from the Ngai-te-Rangi tribe were in place
one side of the "pa", and around 35 warriors, mainly from the Ngati
Koheriki tribe, reinforced the other side. The chief Rawiri Puhirake
was in charge.
On 29th April 1864, the 43rd British regiment attacked the Pa.
1.700 soldiers armed with a strong artillery train : 8 mortars,
2 howitzers, 2 naval canon and 5 Armstrong guns. The Armstrong gun
was a relatively new weapon, having been invented in 1854. The British
troops knew by this time that an extremely well fortified Pa, even
manned by armed Māori warriors who were numerically inferior in
number, was not a future battle to be taken lightly.
General Cameron was in charge of the Imperial troops. The soldiers
opened fire on Gate Pa, and during a short time bombarded it heavily.
The following day the troops bombarded again, for a longer period,
and this time succeeding in breaking opening a large point of entry
to the pa. Cameron then sent an elite assault force to penetrate
the breach opened up during the bombardment.
The assault force was made up of the 43rd Regiment and a naval
brigade, an approximate total of 300 men. The party advanced, succeeded
in entering the pa, but within ten minutes were forced to rapidly
withdraw, leaving around 100 dead and wounded soldiers inside the