Rangiriri: Honouring the past


It is one of the most important historical landscapes of the nineteenth century and has helped to shape New Zealand’s political and social history but for many people Rangiriri’s rich past is still undiscovered.

As part of construction of the Rangiriri Section of the Waikato Expressway the NZ Transport Agency has teamed-up with the NZ Historic Places Trust and well-known Waikato Archaeologist Warren Gumbley to highlight the history of Rangiriri through a public presentation: The Battle of Rangiriri (1863) – Honouring Our Past.

On November 13 the public are invited to a presentation organised by the NZ Historic Places Trust at the Waikato Museum to hear the landscape’s history and what Mr Gumbley found as part of a six-week excavation of the battlefield, Rangiriri Pa site and British Military redoubt.

“Rangiriri is one of the most important historical landscapes of the nineteenth century in New Zealand. It was the site of the battle which ultimately determined the outcome of the Waikato invasion which has had long-reaching implications for New Zealand's political and social history,” Mr Gumbley says.

“The development of the Rangiriri Section of the Waikato Expressway along with the impending 150th anniversary of the battle has led to archaeological work around the battlefield. This talk looks at the history of that landscape and describes some of the results of the related archaeological investigations.” 

The evening will open with a short documentary “Rangiriri, Angry Sky” which was made to record the excavation and some of the area’s history as it was uncovered. There will also be a presentation by Waikato-Tainui about the battle and its significance to the iwi.

The presentation is one of five archaeological talks the NZ Historic Places Trust has organised in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty area to profile sites of historical significance, and to offer the public an insight into the archaeology of these areas.

Rachel Darmody, NZ Historic Places Trust’s Lower Northern Regional Archaeologist says it is a great opportunity for anybody with an interest in archaeology and the history of the Waikato wars to come along and learn more about this nationally significant site.
The Transport Agency’s State Highways Manager Kaye Clark says preserving the history of Rangiriri for all New Zealanders is a priority for the organisation in partnership with the community and Tangata Whenua.

The Expressway project will see the current State Highway 1 realigned to the west, away from the historic Rangiriri Pa site.

Interpretive panels and carved pou will be installed to recognise these significant areas including the historic battle trench.

“This is an incredibly important piece of New Zealand’s history. This project will help to provide a focal point for all visitors to this area,” Mrs Clark says.

The event will take place in the lecture theatre of the Waikato Museum, Hamilton, starting at 7.30 pm on November 13. Admission is free but numbers are limited, so bookings are essential– please contact the NZHPT’s Tauranga office on Ph 07-577-4530 or email jhetherington@historic.org.nz