Topic: Te Ārei Road (TDN 20/06/2020)

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Te Arei Road

Te Ārei Road in Sentry Hill was named after a pā built by Te Ātiawa. Meaning “the barrier” in Māori, Te Ārei pā was designed to protect the mighty Pukerangiora pā situated on a cliff top overlooking the Waitara River. About eight kilometres inland, the original stronghold was besieged twice during the Musket Wars but is now better known for its role in the First and Second Taranaki Wars during the 1860s.

After their defeat at Puketakauere in 1860, government forces generally avoided pā, but as the campaign wore on they decided to try and destroy Te Ātiawa strongholds around Waitara. Major General Thomas Pratt ordered tunnelling up the slopes of the bluff in zigzag ‘saps’ (covered trenches) towards the new Te Ārei pā, constructed lower down in front of the ancient Pukerangiora.

Te Ātiawa chief Hapurona commanded both sites and Māori fighters and their families retreated into Te Ārei. Pratt built eight redoubts and dug two stretches of sap along which, supported by artillery fire, the British advanced. By March 1861 the closest redoubt was just 75 metres from Te Ārei, which was being heavily bombarded. Hapurona sought a truce which came into effect in March 1861 and a white flag flew at Te Ᾱrei pā.

An uneasy peace descended on Taranaki but in 1864 Te Ārei was again the site of conflict. Under cover of thick fog, the pā was taken by Colonel Henry Warre. Encroaching farmland destroyed about a third of Pukerangiora but since 1910 the rest has been a Crown reserve, now managed by the Department of Conservation.

Te Ārei Road used to extend all the way to what is today the eastern end of De Havilland Drive in Bell Block. But the western end of the road was renamed Catalina Place in 1997 and is now separated from the rest of the original road by several industrial sites and farmland.

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