Ruapekapeka is the site of the last battle in the Northern War of 1845-46. This war broke out when part of the Ngapuhi tribe joined the British in fighting other Ngapuhi who felt that promises made to them in the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi had been broken. At Ruapekapeka Te Ruki Kawiti built a fortress he hoped would stand up to the firepower of the British. A ‘bats nest’ of tunnels, rifle pits and trenches surrounded by a strong palisade. Because of these cunning defences Ruapekapeka is a site of national and international importance.
Ruapekapeka Pa Historic Reserve encompasses the pa, and the advanced and main British positions below it. The ditch and bank defences of the pa are still visible, along with one of Kawiti’s cannon and the well which supplied water to the defenders. The earthen defences of the advanced British position are also still visible.
Ruapekapeka is a wahi tapu or sacred site, where blood was shed. Please treat the site with respect.
A loop track around the site, complete with interpretation panels, was created in 2003 when Ruapekapeka was designated a Historic Icon Site. A modern waharoa (carved gateway) provides access to the pa site.
Ruapekapeka is the best preserved New Zealand Wars site. It's large size (110m by 65m) saved it from immediate demolition, and its isolation helped later.
Image: Impression of Ruapekapeka Pa