Te Rangihaeata: Exodus to Battle Hill #3

The 3rd of 3 of Te Rangihaeata and Ngati Toa vacating their pa at Pauatahanui for Battle Hill in 1846 under pressure from British colonial forces. An ongoing battle for the summit resulted in only 1 casualty on either side it seems, a British midshipman* buried at the foot of the hill (manhandling cannon up very steep hillsides in thick wet bush and winter mud under fire seems a bit optimistic given Ngati Toa’s skill in trench and guerilla warfare).  Eventually Ngati Toa vacated the summit and moved north to Otaki, a whole lot warmer and more fertile place to spend a winter although not “home” (presumably also displacing the occupants there to some degree).

Inspired by Kandinsky’s various Improvisations. Oils on canvas on board 60x60cm

Various colonial and Maori symbols included – fantails/piwakawaka (friendly little birds which brought death into the world according to the Maui legends), koru (circular patterns based on fern fronds), waka (war canoes), European houses and imported lupin plants. The hills are in the form of waves to suggest the oncoming colonial tide. Originally included Ches, an iconic Pakeha farmer, dancing with a European woman in Breton costume (although we have had few migrants from there) in front of St Alban’s Church, built on Te Rangihaeata’s pa site – colonial hubris in action.

Sold at Mana Arts Trail 2019.

* 4 British are buried there but 3 died of other causes, 1 from a fall from the topsails, possibly HMS Calliope

2 Comments

    1. Thanks Claudia, I had under-rated this one but it sold quickly at the Arts Trail. Very local history, I can see Battle Hill from my window, the story is not so well known or taught, so doing my bit. Cheers

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