Battle of Battle Hill
|Part of New Zealand land wars|
Chief Rawiri Puaha in European dress holding a Mere
|Commanders and leaders|
|250 bayonets: Regulars of the 58th, 65th, and 99th, the Hutt Militia, and the Wellington armed police
150 Ngāti Awa
2 small mortars
12 Royal Artillery men
|300 including women and children|
|Casualties and losses|
|3 killed||At least 9 killed|
The engagement was between Ngāti Toa, and a colonial force of European troops, police, and Ngāti Awa allies. The colonial force commanded by Major Last was seeking to end resistance to European settlement in the Hutt Valley region. It was pursuing over 300 Ngāti Toa, including women and children, led by Te Rangihaeata.
The battle took place over several days in early August 1846, on a forest ridge around 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) north of Pauatahanui; three government soldiers and at least nine Ngāti Toa were killed. On the Government side was Rawiri Puaha and 100 Ngati Toa warriors, as well as 150 Ngati Awa "friendlies".
On 6 August, the colonial force encountered Te Rangihaeata defending a breastwork at the crest of the narrow forest ridge. Elements of the colonial force advanced to within 50 yards (46 m) of the fortification, but pulled back to around 80 yards (73 m) after losing three men, including acting-brigade-major Ensign Blackburn, who was killed by a Ngāti Toa fighter concealed in a tree. Last was unwilling to launch a suicidal frontal assault, terrain and vegetation prevented a flanking manoeuvre. Over the next several hours, the colonials unleased a musket barrage of thousands of rounds, but with little effect. On 8 August, Last had two small mortars brought up to about three-quarters of a mile from the defenders. They fired around 80 shells, many landing in or near the fortification. Disinclined to attack, and vulnerable to counter-attack, Last withdrew the regular troops on 10 August, leaving Ngāti Awa troops to launch an occasional skirmish.
On 13 August, Ngāti Awa discovered Te Rangihaeata had slipped away under cover of rain and darkness. They set off northwards in pursuit. The final skirmish occurred on the seaward side of the Pouawha Range, inland of Wainui. Ngāti Awa lost three men, in return killing four Ngāti Toa, before Te Rangihaeata made good his escape.
The engagement pushed Te Rangihaeata out of the area and was one of the last fought between Maori and early colonial forces in the region. The site of the battle has been preserved as a recreational area named Battle Hill Farm Forest Park.
- Cowan, James (1955). "Chapter 13: Paua-Taha-Nui and Horokiri". The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period. Volume I: 1845–1864. Wellington: R. E. Owen. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
- "New trail depicts Battle Hill history". Northern Courier. Retrieved 2009-01-22.[dead link]
- "Battle Hill Farm Forest Park - History". Greater Wellington Regional Council. Retrieved 12 May 2011.