February 02, 2021
Ruapekapeka enemies find common ground in waahi tapu
While around the world monuments of colonialism are being torn down, in Northland this morning a memorial stone is being unveiled for British soldiers and sailors killed while trying to enforce colonial rule on Ngapuhi.
Ruapekapeka Trust interim chair Pita Tipene says the graves of the 12 soldiers were located in 2017 beside what had been the encampment from which the British and their Ngāpuhi allies launched the January 1846 attack on the fighting pa built by Te Ruki Kāwiti.
He says the hapū which make up the trust, Ngāti Manu, Ngāti Hau, Ngāti Hine and Te Kapotai, want to honour their historic enemies.
"Those graves have been trodden on, had cows grazing on them, even had maize planted on top of them. They're really only shallow graves too, only a couple of feet down. We just want to give them the respect and reverence our tūpuna had for them in life as they respected them as enemies fighting for their lives so as we say we will respect them in death as our tūpuna respected them in life," Mr Tipene says.
The ceremony on the ridge near Kawakawa started at 6 am with the raising of the flags of the hapū involved in the battle, and those attending include Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, and British High Commissioner Laura Clarke, with Defence Minister Peeni Henare, a descendant of Kāwiti, the Master of Ceremonies.
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