Waikato War History & Te Reo Trip

09 Jun Waikato War History & Te Reo Trip

On 2 June the Level 2 History and Level 1 Te Reo class completed a day trip exploring key sites from the Waikato War 1863-4. The largest of the New Zealand Wars, the Waikato War began on the outskirts of Auckland and our students followed the path of the conflict via the Mangatāwhiri stream, Rangiriri, Rangiaowhia, and eventually Ōrākau.

At Rangiriri students investigated the site of the former Pā built to repel the British and Colonial forces. Students could see the remnants of where the strategically designed trenches stood and interact with information displayed by Heritage NZ. Students commented:

I have seen the pou at Rangiriri before from the motorway but never knew what they were and that there had been a battle there.” – Anneke

We first went to a pā that still had trenches dug out around it. It was as though you were following in the same footsteps that the Māori and Pākehā took hundred and fifty years ago” – Owen

I enjoyed visiting Rangiriri Pā and reading the different signposts. These helped me envision the intense conflict in the landscape, revealing the visually different perspectives in the battles fought.” – Mahek

Onwards we journeyed past Hamilton, arriving at Te Awamutu in the Waipa district. Whilst here we visited the museum where local historians shared their perspectives on this conflict and allowed students to interact with replicate weaponry. 

I enjoyed the museum – I liked the people that spoke and how they really involved us in the discussion” – Boss

Te Awamutu museum was fun, I was captivated.” – Michael

It was a fun trip, I liked all the replicas that they had in the museum in Te Awamutu.Austin

Our museum guides showed us around two key sites from the war. Firstly, Rangiaowhia which in 1864 was the farming heartland for Waikato iwi, when its noncombatants were attacked by imperial forces circumventing the Paterangi line. Secondly, Ōrākau Pā the climactic battle site of the war, where fighting in the Waikato came to a bloody end.

“I found it interesting how unassuming the memorials and statues of the attack on Rangiaowhia were, I don’t think it was something that most people were aware of.” Angela

I found it interesting that even though many important events occurred in the places we visited, there were hardly any memorials. This means that hardly anyone knows that these places exist and hold meaning.” – Aaminah

Students had come to further their understanding of our nation’s often challenging past and to enhance their research for a Level 2 History internal. If you have found hearing about this trip thought provoking you may wish to consider the merits of exploring the senior subjects Te Reo and History yourself, so you too can walk the paths of those who came before. Or as one student put it:

This is likely the best road trip I have ever taken. I still have goosebumps thinking about the immense fun I had. Te Awamutu, I will never forget you.” – Michael


Lance Martin – 12HIS Teacher

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