Cyprian Bridge’s watercolour shows the heavily fortified pā built by Te Ruki Kawiti at the older pā of the rangatira Pene Taui, about 4 kilometres from Ōhaeawai. The defensive palisades consisted of two, and in places three, lines of timbers, with trenches inside each line. The outer defence was a wall of green flax, clearly visible in Bridge’s painting, which deadened the effect of incoming bullets but allowed the defenders to poke their guns through it. The Māori defenders also had some obsolete artillery, but they were heavily outnumbered by Colonel Henry Despard’s 600-strong force. After a week of bombardment, Despard decided on a frontal attack on 1 July 1845. The assault party failed even to breach the outer stockade and were mown down by the defenders. 41 British and a handful of Māori lost their lives. Having served its purpose, the pā was abandoned on the night of 10 July.
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Alexander Turnbull Library
Pencil and watercolour sketch by Cyprian Bridge
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.