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“To mark the 152nd commemoration of the Battle of Gate Pā exact replicas of the shotguns used by Maori warriors will be available for history fanatics and gun enthusiasts to own,” reports. “The Pukehinahina Charitable Trust has decided to sell its collection of 20 handcrafted tupara, or double-barrel shotguns, which were manufactured in Italy and assembled in New Zealand.” With “carvings on the butt” from Thailand. Kidding. As for the battle itself, the Brits got their you-know-whats handed to them.

The Tauranga Campaign was a six-month-long armed conflict in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty in early 1864, and part of the New Zealand wars that were fought over issues of land ownership and sovereignty. The campaign was a sequel to the invasion of Waikato, which aimed to crush the Māori King (Kingitanga) Movement that was viewed by the colonial government as a challenge to the supremacy of the British monarchy.

British forces suffered a humiliating defeat in the Battle of Gate Pā on 29 April 1864, with 31 killed and 80 wounded despite vastly outnumbering their Māori foe, but saved face seven weeks later by routing their enemy at the Battle of Te Ranga, in which more than 80 Māori were killed or fatally wounded, including their commander, Rawiri Puhirake.

The link is worth perusing; it reveals the superb tactics deployed by the Maori fighters to defeat the British forces. It does not, however, specifically identify the types and numbers of firearms (and other weapons) used by either side. For that we turn to


Māori had constructed a fighting pā at Pukehinahina specifically for the battle which would become known as Gate Pā. A pekerangi (outer screen palisade) provided a protective screen around the pā which also included concealed trenches, underground anti-artillery bunkers (rua), passages and several shallow covered firing galleries.

  • Flint tower (Brown Bess) muskets.
  • Hakimana (single barrelled shotgun).
  • Kakauroa (short and long handled tomahawks).
  • Purukumu (Brown Bess muskets).
  • Tewhatewha (two handed fighting weapon). A whale bone tewhatewha was dug up from Gate Pā in 1875.
  • Toki Patiti (war  hatchet).
  • Tūpara (William Sparks Riley double-barrelled shotgun). ‘Specifications: Maker: William Sparks Riley, Lench Street, Birmingham. Pattern: 11 bore Percussion double gun for ball and shot. Introduced: c1861. Withdrawn: c1890s. Barrels: 3 wire fine twist (damascus), 30″ smooth bore, Birmingham proofed with hooked breech and keyed to forewood. Caliber: 11 bore (.75″) tapering to 12 bore (.73″) at muzzle. Action: Side locks, non rebounding hammers. Stock: Walnut, all steel furniture, brass tipped wooden ramrod. Sights: brass pin foresight. Muzzle velocity: about 1100ft/s. Range: effective to about 80 yards. Rate of fire: about 6-10 rounds per minute. From the mid 1830s the percussion Tūpara that would fire the standard military 1 ounce .69″ diameter musket ball became the Māori warriors favourite arm’ (John Osborne).
  • Tūpara (Lovell’s double-barrelled shotgun). ‘Pattern: Lovell’s musket bore double gun Pattern 1839. Introduced: c1847. Withdrawn: c1880s. Specifications: Maker: Tower, London. Barrels: Iron 26” smooth bore, Tower proofed with hooked breech and keyed to forewood. Caliber: 11 bore (.733”) cylinder. Action: Back action locks. Stock: walnut, brass furniture with Bakers pattern trigger guard, steel ramrod. Sights: pin foresight no backsight. Muzzle velocity: about 1100ft/s. Range: effective to about 80 yards. Rate of fire: about 6‐10 rounds per minute. Māori warriors including some women soon realized that two barrelled guns they called Tupara (double barrel guns) were better than the single barrel muskets in the close‐quarter bush fighting encountered in New Zealand. The Tūpara soon became the Māoris’ favourite firearm’ (John Osborne).


There were a total of 15 Artillery guns at the Battle of Gate Pā. Most were taken to within firing distance of Gate Pā at Pukereia (Green Hill) where they would be used in an artillery bombardment that lasted eight hours.

  • 1853 Enfield percussion-lock rifle: Standard infantry weapon of the 1860s. Ammunition carried in a cartridge box on a wide crossbelt worn over the left shoulder, with a small pouch on the front for percussion caps, and in another ‘expense’ pouch worn on the right-hand side of a waist belt for a bayonet.
  • Carbine (light automatic rifle). ‘Pattern: Terry P1861 BL carbine. Introduced: NZ 1861. Withdrawn: c1881. Specifications; Maker: Calisher & Terry until 1870. Bolt action, capping breech loading carbine. All steel furniture, plain one piece walnut  stock fitted with sling swivels some fitted with a saddle bar. 21” barrel Birmingham proofed secured to stock with front band, central wedge & rear vertical breech screw, also fitted with 2 part clearing rod, extension in butt, brass nipple protector & chain. Caliber: 30 bore  (.54”) 5 groove Enfield rifling, RH twist 1 in 36”. Length O/A 38½”. Weight: 6lbs 15oz. Serial Number: 6575 (c1863). Butt tang  marked NZ  329. Vee fore sight, vee rear sight ramp to 400 yards & flip up ladder to 1000 yards. Cartridge: Nitrate treated combustible paper cartridge containing 55 grains of rifle grade black powder propellant, a solid lead 530 grain conical projectile & a wad of greased felt  attached to the base, muzzle velocity about 950fps. The Colonial New South Wales Police & Victoria Colonial Government & Australian Arms Dealers from 1861 supplied Terry carbines  to New Zealand. It is estimated well over 3000 Terry Carbines were imported into NZ 1861-68. In 1863 cost 180 shillings including sling & bullet mould. 10 cartridges cost 1 shilling. The Terry carbine was used extensively during the Land wars to May 1872 by the New Zealand Colonial Defence Force including the Forest Rangers’ (John Osborne).
  • Swords.
  • 5 shot Adams revolver: Commonly carried by officers.
  • 2 x 8 inch mortars firing explosive shell projectiles. It is presumed that these were sea service  on block beds with removable trucks (wheels). Naval brigade.
  • 2 x 6 pounder Armstrong Field Guns firing solid and explosive projectiles. Royal Artillery/Colonial Artillery from Australia. Rifled breech-loading Armstong guns were first brought to New Zealand in 1861 and had superior range and accuracy.
  • 6 x 12 pounder Coehorn mortars. ‘These 4½ inch bomb shell throwing mortars were cast in bronze (gunmetal) and when charged with ½ pound of black powder propellant and set to shoot at 45 degrees would throw a bomb shell 750 yards’ (John Osborne). There is a possibility but as yet no hard evidence that there were a mix of mortars including a 24pdr 5.5” Royal Mortar and 24pdr 5.5” Mann Mortar.
  • 2 x 24 pounder land service smooth bored brass Howitzer Field Guns firing explosive shell projectiles. Royal Artillery/Colonial Artillery from Australia.
  • 2 x 40 pounder land service field gun from Australia (previously used at Meremere) OR possibly 2 x 40 pounder sea service Armstrong Guns on pivot mounts firing solid and explosive projectiles from HMS Esk.
  • 1 x 110 pounder breech loading sea service Royal Navy Armstrong Gun on pivot mount firing solid and explosive projectiles (from HMS Esk – carriage drawn by bullocks).

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  1. In thick cover a shotgun has it’s strong points. Load one barrel with a single patched ball and the other with a heavy shot load. Back that up with one of those hatchets and you got the makings of a nightmare for the dummy trying to come onto your turf.

  2. If I wanted to commemorate minorities shooting tons of white people I could just watch the local news.

    • Nice try but the British where minorities in this battle, they where invading someone else’s country. They got what they had coming to them.

      • Treaty of Waitangi nominally transferred sovereignty over NZ (at least its North Island, whose chiefs have signed it) to the British Crown, and was signed 20 years before this, so it’s not quite as simple in this case.

        • Its still really simple. They where rebelling against foreign rule. This is a concept you would think gun owners, particularly american gun owners, would be familiar with.

        • The Treaty of Waitangi guaranteed Maori undisputed possession of their lands, forests and fisheries in return for surrendering sovereignty to the British and becoming subjects (with full rights) of the crown. Under the terms of the treaty Maori could only sell their land to the crown.

          The government wanted more land to give out to settlers and the Maori weren’t selling it as quick as they’d like, so they decided to take it and consequently the Maori fought back. The Maori were extremely tenacious fighters and developed strategies to neutralize the superior firepower of the British. Often there were no decisive victories. The undoing of the Maori was that they were only part-time warriors and had to do double time as farmers which meant a sustained campaign was biased in favor of the British.

          It’s a classic example of resisting tyranny with arms.

          TL;DR The Brits were trying to steal their land, the Maori fought back, with guns.

        • I don’t disagree that Maori had the moral high ground in that fight. My point was that they were not resisting foreign invasion, as by that time they had agreed to voluntarily recognize the rule of the Crown over them. They were, rather, resisting British actions that violated the agreement they have negotiated wrt their rights.

          In other words, it was a rebellion of the subjects against government that was not treating them fairly or legally – not defense against a foreign invasion.

      • Taking the side of cannibals over Western Civilization? No thanks, I am not a SJW. The Maori got what was coming to them seven weeks later.

        • Western Civilization is so civilized.

          “The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are.”

  3. Cannibalism was rare by 1839. It was practiced on the bodies of the defeated in warfare to rid the world of their reputation or mana. The Greeks often thought of as the originators of Western thought ate the bodies of their family members at death.

    No one’s closet is clean.

    Aligning yourself with the Brits? Why? The colonizers finally figured out what it was like to be a colony. Hence this great nation was born. Same Brits are a glowing example of knowing what’s good for their people. Confiscating guns.

  4. Early explorers had discovered the Maori as scary bad warriors, hence the decision to base the next off shore prison colony (after America shut the door with its Revolution) in the “uninhabited” territories of Australia, rather than New Zealand. Three of my ancestors arrived in Australia this way, two as convicts, one as a Marine guard (and he was the worst of the bunch). One was sent to Norfolk Island, to provide naval masts and spars, rather than sourcing them from NZ. Only after another two generations was it safe for my family to move to NZ.

    And yes, cannibalism was a thing. Maori attacked other tribes, especially during the musket wars of the early 1800s. War parties would drag slaves behind them as they went, using them as food on the way. Imagine being a slave in those circumstances… There were other ceremonies when worthy slain enemies would be eaten to absorb their mana (status).

    In nearly all of the early battles between the Crown (usually some fat dumb bastard placed in charge due to political connections) and Maori tribes, Maori either came out on top or extracted a severe price for victory. There was a genius for design of protective fortifications, which the British firepower was barely able to overcome. Often the British would spend days reducing a defensive position, only to enter it and find the Maori had gone by the back door. Only later, when they enlisted enemies of those tribes into their armies did the British begin to gain any ascendancy. It took Maori to defeat Maori. By the late stages there were far more Maori allies than enemies. This did not necessarily protect the allied tribes from having land confiscated by unscrupulous land agents.

    Bear in mind, much of this history is unknown to many New Zealanders. This was seldom taught in schools. I was lucky to have a teacher who spent six months fully covering Maori/European relations. Only to find it wasn’t in the final exam!

    Much of the trench warfare design of WWI was based originally on the siegeworks created by Maori.

    Irwin Rommel said that if he had had his own division of the Maori Battalion, he would have broken through to the Caucasus. The Germans greatly feared coming up against the Maoris because of their fondness for the bayonet (and a perhaps justified terror of being eaten). Our armed forces have a very high proportion of Maori in their ranks, all the way to the top.

    But when not eviscerating their enemies, Maori are the most charming hosts and are born entertainers and story tellers. You can’t be bored when among them. BTW, tupara is phonetic Maori for “two barrelled”.

    • As a Son of the American Revolution, it tickles me that the Maori gave the Redcoats a “taste” of their own medicine. Eating the enemy…not so much… I don’t eat junk food.

    • My understanding is that a big part of why Maori fortifications posed such an issue for the Brits is their temporary nature. They could literally be disassembled, carried over land by warriors on the march, and then reassembled in a new place. This was so totally unlike the conventional European warfare involving massive but stationary fortresses that Brits simply didn’t know how to deal with Maori forts springing up literally overnight in important points, only to vanish as soon as they assembled a force large enough to actually take one (and then reappear elsewhere).

      Also, Maori forts were historically placed on hills (and frequently terraced), and had underground storage – which made gunfire that much less efficient for attacking infantry wielding firearms, offering good protection for the defenders (similar to trenches), and underground storage spaces provided shelter during artillery bombardment. This was largely a lucky coincidence – the choice of hills was for defensive reasons, but didn’t have anything to do with firearms originally, and underground storage wasn’t intended as shelter – but it worked great. And Maori noticed that very quickly, and started to deliberately emphasize these aspects when building new forts to fight the Brits.

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