Historic site: Battle Hill Farm Park
"History: the category of human phenomena which tends to catastrophe."
- Jules Romains, Men of Good Will.
The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume I: 1845–1864 James Cowan, F.R.G.S. R. E. Owen, 1955, Wellington.
The battle between Ngati Toa and Government forces
In 1846 a battle took place here between government forces and Te Rangihaeata's Ngati Toa near the summit of Battle Hill. Te Rangihaeata had previously established a pa, Matai-taua pa, at the site which is now the Pauatahanui Public Burial Ground.
At what became known as Battle Hill, Te Rangihaeata built a temporary pa on the razorback ridge near the summit of the hill to defend himself and his people from pursuing Government troops. On the 6th of August the Government force attacked but was unsuccessful. They were forced to send to Porirua for backup mortars and then continued to lay siege to the pa for several days.
Neither the Government forces nor Te Rangihaeata's Ngati Toa can claim victory at Battle Hill. With 300 men Te Rangihaeata was outnumbered, with the government forces, comprising British troops, police, militia and Te Atiawa allies, numbering 500. Then, a few hundred Ngati Toa, led by Rawiri Puaha, joined the allied forces.
Puaha and his men were actually loyal supporters of Te Rangihaeata. They supplied him with ammunition and on the 13 August, after losing at least nine people and surviving on mamaku, they assisted him to escape to the north. Te Rangihaeata lived out the remaining 10 years of his life in exile with his Ngati Huia relations, at Poroutawhao, north of Levin.
Battle Hill was sold as farmland
Without the leadership and protection of Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata, Ngati Toa were forced to concede to the Crown's demand for the sale of their land. Around 608,000 acres in the Wairau and 25,000 acres in Porirua (including what is now the Battle Hill Farm Forest Park) were sold to the Crown for a few thousand pounds and the promise to release Te Rauparaha.
In 1860 the land comprising Battle Hill Farm Park was sold to 62 year old Henry Abbott who cleared the bush and stocked the land with cattle. He died in 1882 leaving the farm to his two sons, Roderick and Nicholas. The land remained in his family until 1975. In 1987 it was sold to Wellington Regional Council.
The graves of two or three of the government militia who were killed in 1846, as well as those of Henry Abbot, his son and two of his daughters, still remain on Battle Hill.
The park is now a recreational reserve for walking, horse riding, mountain biking, camping and picnicking.
Continue to Belmont Coach Road or return to Pauatahanui, Judgeford and Whitby.