Battle Hill itself was the site of a fierce altercation between the Crown and Te Rauparaha’s nephew, Te Rangihaeata, in August 1846.
The hill commands views over the Horokiwi Valley and was covered in podocarp-broadleaf forest previous to European settlement. Today most land is devoted to pasture, however the hillsides above the Horokiwi Stream support a dense forest of kohekohe.
The gates are open between 8 am and dusk daily. Check http://www.gw.govt.nz/battlehill/ for updates.
Battle Hill Farm Forest Park is signposted on the Paekakariki Hill Road 10.5 km from Paekakariki and 6 km from Pauatahanui. There is a parking area by an information panel and toilets.
Follow the sealed farmtrack beside the stream, marked with orange circles. The track starts on the right a few minutes later, first passing through a gate.
The wide grass track is even as it winds up the steep pasture covered hillside to an information panel and bench overlooking the Horokiri Valley and battle site (40 minutes).
After passing the junction with the Farm Track, there’s a short detour to the summit of the hill. The track then narrows and descends to the forest (5 minutes), passing through a gate.
The metalled track now zigzags through the lush shaded kohekohe forest, descending steeply to Horokiri Stream (25 minutes).
At the junction with Bush Reserve Short Loop, veer right over the footbridge and cross the grassed paddocks to the Gravestone Paddock and toilets, 100 m further up for the start of the track.
The New Zealand Company had established the city of Wellington in 1840 following the purchase of land from Te Ati Awa. Ngati Toa, led by chief Te Rauparaha and his nephew, Te Rangihaeata, disputed the sale, claiming no consultation had been made with the traditional landowners.
In 1843 an altercation between settlers and Te Rangihaeata resulted in the death of 22 Maori, including one of Te Rangihaeata’s wives. This confrontation in Wairau made Wellington settlers jittery and defences were constructed around the nascent settlements in the region. The trouble brewed until February 1846, when Governor Grey sent British troops south in an attempt to tame the growing unrest.
Following Ngati Rangatahi’s delays in abandoning Maraenuku Pa, sited on land owned by settlers, the troops looted the pa, an act which incensed the Maori and prompted Hutt settlers’ houses to be burned. Grey declared martial law and the squabbles escalated. When Te Rauparaha was kidnapped by Grey’s troops in 1846, the tension reached bursting point.
Te Rangihaeata took refuge on Battle Hill and dug trenches to protect his warriors from the advancing Crown forces. The raid was met with vehement defence, however Te Rangihaeata was eventually forced to flee to Otaki, where he avoided future incursions south. Battle Hill thus gained its European name.
The gravestones mark the resting place of two soldiers killed in the battle and members of the Abbott family, the first settlers who cleared the land for farming.
North Island ▷ Wellington Region ▷ Porirua
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