by Defyd Williams

Pāora Tapu Haka finds a new context

What better way to learn about history than to walk in the shoes of those who wrote it? A group of Year 12 students on their annual two-day field trip re-enacted the Battle of Rangiriri, a decisive battle for Waikato fought in 1863.

The kaitiaki from the heritage centre divided the class in two. Half of the class represented the British army and settler militia who invaded the Waikato, homeland of Kingitanga. Armed with ladders the British and colonial militia set about scaling the five-metre walls of the musket pa site. The other half, awaiting them, were the 'defenders' of Rangiriri, who replied to the St Paul's haka. 

Rangiriri means 'angry skies', and students asked to reflect on their experience used words like scared, challenging, impressed, confused, worried and hyped to fight.