Regional | Taiaha

Gate Pā battle taiaha returned to Ngāi Te Rangi

The hapū of Ngāti Kuku and Ngāi Tūkairangi of Ngāi Te Rangi in Tauranga held a special pōwhiri today for the return of a taiaha belonging to their tupuna Enoka Te Whanake that was used in the 1864 Gate Pā Battle and gifted to Nathan Goldwater in 1867.

Along with the taiaha was a document written at the time of the gifting to explain the taiaha was used in the Pukehinahina battle and that it took the lives of many Pākehā soldiers.

It also explained Enoka gifting the taiaha to Nathan in friendship.

“Words fail me in a way because it is a gift to me to be able to return it and it is something that feels right it is the right thing to do. It came to me from my father, it came to him from his father, from his father, and from his father who was Nathan Goldwater. Nathan Goldwater was gifted it in 1867 by Enoka and it has been passed down the family to me,” fourth-generation recipient Aaron Goldwater said.

Enoka Te Whanake was a warrior who fought against the Crown at Gate Pā in 1864 and was a great leader among his Ngāi Te Rangi iwi.

Gifted to close friend

After the Tauranga land wars, Enoka Te Whanake and Nathan Goldwater, who owned a gold mine in Whangamata, became close friends and to immortalise this friendship, Te Whanake gifted Goldwater his taiaha.

“I am overwhelmed and remember those who are no longer with us, like my grandfather Kihi Ngatai, who responded to the Pākehā and his family’s idea to return this treasure,” Meremaihi Aloua of the Whareroa Marae hau kāinga said.

In 2017, Aaron Goldsmith prepared to return the taiaha to the people of Tauranga. There was a delay in its return due to the world pandemic of Covid- 19 but once the world reopened, the focus was on getting the treasure home.

Elisha Rolleston said the Goldwater family had contacted him to have te taiaha to Ngāi Te Rangi.

“And from there our friendship has grown, which has brought us to today’s completion of its return.”

Calling to return home

The taiaha has traveled the world with the Goldwater family and has also spent a lot of time in Aotearoa. While in the hands of Aaron Goldwater, the taiaha has travelled to Canada and back to Australia where it has been kept in a cupboard for the past four years for safekeeping.

“I felt the taiaha was calling me to have it returned home and now, being close to its waters, its mountains and its people, I am elated- so is the taiaha if you know what I mean,” Goldwater said.

The descendants of Enoka Te Whanake will look to have a written document signed between both families to legally acknowledge the return of the taiaha.

The taiaha and document will lie in the ancestral house Rauru Kī Tahi at Whareroa Marae and on April 29 will be presented once again on Pukehinahina to commemorate the 160 years since the Gate Pā battle.