The theft of gardening equipment and machinery used for maintaining the site of the Battle of Rangiriri has left Ngaati Naho Executive Chair [Kaitiaki] Brad Totorewa without equipment to maintain the land.
Rangiriri was the site of the second battle during Governor Greys' 1863 invasion of the Waikato, where Ngaati Naho and other allies of the Kiingitanga fought to stem the tide of invaders.
“Equipment can always be replaced but invading my family's space has a long-enduring pathway to recovery," Totorewa says.
A weed eater, water blaster and a blower vac were among items stolen. The photos provided below are similar to the equipment stolen from a Huntly address along Rotowaro Rd at one of the residences of Maaori King, Tuuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII.
Totorewa discovered the equipment had been stolen Saturday morning. He took his disappointment to social media pleading to the public for any information.
“Your [Perpetrator] actions are intergenerational and you need help. This possessed behaviour of yours kills the extraordinary contributions other people to empower and transform the lives of the minority of people such as yourself to be better citizens in the world.
"Get some help! You need it!” he says.
The stolen items represented most of the equipment Totorewa and volunteer crew used to keep the historic Pā site tidy for tourists and locals wishing to visit the land.
Totorewa said, “I felt angry and hurt only because of my passion and commitment and unwavering dedication to volunteer my time to maintain a site of significance such as Rangiriri.”
In 2016 the titles to Rangiriri Pā and Te Wheoro Redoubt historical reserve were handed back to iwi in a ceremony at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawāhia.
“The blood sweat and tears of the past and present-day has been for this moment of time trampled on in the most abusive manner."
The significance of the 1863 battle site is that after the defeat at the hastily prepared Meremere pā, Waikato defenders were then able to dig in at Rangiriri and put up a powerful defence. The battle was only lost due to the defenders running out of ammunition and led to the Kiingitanga being routed out of the Waikato. This was then followed by mass land confiscations across the region.
The land has since been maintained by Totorewa, he adds locals and people abroad including former Kiwi Intentional Bronson Harrison who played 197 first grade NRL matches for West Tigers [2004-08], Canberra Raiders [2009-12], and St George-Illawarra [2013-2014] have lent a hand to tidy up the place over the years.