Several important taonga from the Tauranga Heritage Collection are on display at the Tauranga Art Gallery as part of Te Rangi Haupapa – A Woven History (19 October 2019 – 8 March 2020). The exhibition, curated by Arpege Taratoa, also features taonga from The Elms along side works by contemporary artists Brett Graham and Rachael Rekena, Tawhai Rickard, James Ormsby, Nikau Hindin, Greg Semu, Te Marunui Hotene and Sarah Hudson.
Otumoetai Peace stone
On 23 September 1845 at Otumoetai Pa, a meeting took place beneath the scared Titoki tree that ended ten years of warfare between Ngāi Te Rangi (Tauranga) and Te Arawa (Rotorua & Maketu). According to stories told by the old rangatira Hori Ngatai, the meeting under the tree was perhaps the most important occasion in the history of the site. This gathering of rangatira was witnessed by various missionaries of the time. Archdeacon Alfred Nesbit Brown recorded in his journal "A large stone was brought over from Maunganui and placed on the spot where peace was made, to remain as a token between the tribes - Mispah”. The large stone from Mauao was placed on the spot over which the chiefs made their peace, each placing a foot on it, performing a hongi and shaking hands.
Otumoetai Catholic Church Alter
Relics of the Roman Catholic alter were part of the church built at the western end of the Otumoetai Pa in the 1840s. Immediately before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Captain Hobson assured the Catholic Bishop Jean Baptiste Francois Pompallier that religious freedom would be guaranteed in the new colony. The Bishop had earlier promised to visit the chiefs of Tauranga and, true to his word, arrived in Tauranga harbour on 7 March 1840, where the ship was quickly surrounded by welcoming waka. When Pompallier stepped ashore, he would have made an impressive sight with his tall stature and bright coloured robes. Pompallier wrote: “I hastened in the schooner’s boat to the nearest tribe of this bay, where Tupaea, the principal chief lived. The shore was lined with Maori who, both by voice and gesture, invited us to come to them. They fired off guns as a sign of rejoicing. A large number of the young people came into the water and dragged our boat ashore. Directly we set foot on the shore the crowd threw themselves in our way: each one saluted us and wished to shake hands with us.”
In the events leading up to the Battle of Gate Pa, Pukehinahina, as the talk of war started to stir throughout the wider Bay of Plenty Maori allegiances began to be better coordinated. In April 1864, Cameron received information that a strong Maori force of eight hundred warriors of Whakatohea, Ngati Porou and Tuhoe were making their way towards Tauranga to support the efforts and actions of those contemplating war. As a large group of these so-called rebels came ashore they were confronted by fire from the HMS Falcon and Arawa warriors loyal to the crown. After several days this force was repelled during a conflict at Kaokaoroa (the “long ribs”) near Matata, and the threat of Maori reinforcements for the Gate Pa campaign was brought to a halt. This kakauroa (long handed axe) was taken during the campaign at Matata by a British soldier and remained in a private collection until 2004 when it was sold at auction and returned to the Bay of Plenty.