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Remembering the Northern War

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The battle of Ruapekapeka, fought in January 1846, was the final engagement in the war that Britain lost, as James Belich famously described it. But whether that means Ngāpuhi won the Northern War that had begun nine months earlier is in some ways a moot point.

After 1846 the Crown turned its back on the north, which was left to become a backwater as the rest of the New Zealand economy boomed. Arguably, it has never really recovered.

And so the story of the war is one of neglect, but also of remembering those who died in the conflict and the enormous damage it caused.

It is said that many generations of Ngāti Manu women have been named Te Noota, after HMS North Star, the naval vessel that destroyed their pā at Ōtuihu on 30 April 1845.

The conflict also serves as a reminder of the remarkable leaders from this period and their efforts to protect and defend their rangatiratanga.

And that is relevant today as Ngāpuhi contemplate a path ahead with their Treaty settlement. T…