Rangiriri is the site of the most important battle of the New Zealand Wars. The British victory here in November 1863 opened the way for an advance into the Waikato heartland of the King Movement, an alliance of Maori tribes who were fighting to hold onto their land.
After the British bypassed Meremere, the Maori retreated to a line of fortifications at Rangiriri which blocked the south route. An outnumbered Maori force was attacked by 1,500 British troops, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. Part of the central redoubt has been preserved and the grassed over ditches and banks give some idea of the formidable task the British undertook in attempting to drive the Maori from their defences.
The low-profile defences of Rangiriri were largely artillery proof, and helped the defenders to withstand several frontal assaults by British forces. The pa's deep trenches protected whare, stores and ammunition from shelling.
There is a cemetery in Rangiriri township containing the graves of British soldiers and memorials. Across the road from the cemetery is the Rangiriri Battle Site Heritage Centre and tearoom which has a model of the pa and an audiovisual presentation of the battle.