Pa at centre of Taranaki Wars bought by New Plymouth District Council for $715,000

Mayor Andrew Judd sees the newly purchased Te Kohia Pa site in Brixton as an extension of New Plymouth's Puke Ariki.
CHARLOTTE CURD/Fairfax NZ

Mayor Andrew Judd sees the newly purchased Te Kohia Pa site in Brixton as an extension of New Plymouth's Puke Ariki.

An historic pa site at the centre of the Taranaki wars has been bought by the New Plymouth District Council for $715,000. 

Known as the L-pa, due to its shape, Te Kohia Pa near Waitara was where the first shots were fired in the first Taranaki War in 1860. 

On Monday the council announced it had bought the four hectare Brixton property where the pa is situated from a private owner for $715,000.  

Otaraua Hapu chairman Rawiri Doorbar said the significance of Te Kohia Pa site could not be overstated.
Warwick Smith

Otaraua Hapu chairman Rawiri Doorbar said the significance of Te Kohia Pa site could not be overstated.

Otaraua hapu chairman Rawiri Doorbar has described purchase as "hugely significant"

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Council intends working with Te Atiawa governance entity Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa on a development plan for the site that could include memorials, heritage and cultural tourism and educational developments.

Mayor Andrew Judd said the council decided to buy the property in May after it came onto the market. The cost of the purchase will be met by the sale of surplus council property, leasing some of the land for grazing and from debt. 

 He said council was considering selling the old Brixton Hall site to fund the purchase, though this option was subject to further investigation. 

Buying the pa site was not part of any council plan, Judd said.

"As it was a listing on the open market, it is not part of any formal strategy of the council. However the council immediately saw the potential for the community in owning the site." 

Judd said he saw the site as an extension of New Plymouth's Puke Ariki library and museum.

"My vision is for this to be a place for Maori and Pakeha to come together to learn and better understand each other, and to heal." 

The site was not likely to be developed for a few years and any council funding for the development would be subject to the long-term plan process, Judd said.

Doorbar said the significance of the site could not be overstated.

"This was the flash-point of a forgotten war. A fire in which this country was forged, and where every tangible sign that it ever happened has nearly all been erased by farming and industry," he said.

"This is big, this is hugely significant to us. The council should be congratulated for including tangata whenua in this meaningful relationship, and for its foresight in actively seeking to secure our history for the benefit of our collective future."

The council will take possession of the site in August.

Te Kohia Pa is on Devon Rd between Waitara Rd and Big Jim's Hill in Brixton.

The site was identified through a review of the district's waahi tapu and archaeological sites by archaeological firm Geometria Ltd, with additional confirmation by hapu and historians.

The pa's exact location will be determined by archaeological investigations once a house on the land has been relocated.

The pa was known for its innovative covered trenches – a feature first used at Ruapekapeka in the Northern War of the 1840s then refined at Te Kohia.

These trenches were replicated by other iwi in their pa designs during the New Zealand Wars.

In February 1860 the surveying of the disputed Waitara block was interrupted by supporters of paramount Te Atiawa Chief Wiremu Kīngi Te Rangitāke.

The British Army based in New Plymouth occupied the land and a blockhouse was erected. Te Atiawa responded by building Te Kohia Pa on a ridge overlooking the British position.

On 17 March 1860, Colonel Charles Gold ordered an attack upon the pa, marking the start of the First Taranaki War.

 - Stuff

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