Sunday, 3 January 2016

Tauranga Mission Cemetery - Otamataha Pa

After nearly 3 days of rain we decided to venture out into the drizzle, cabin fever was starting to creep in. This morning we had read about a local historical place not far from home, the Tauranga Mission Cemetery. Located in Marsh Street it's apparently the oldest European burial ground in the Bay of Plenty area, and has approximately 100 troops and 14 Maori warriors who perished in while on active duty during the NZ wars.

This place has a lovely outlook through the surrounding trees of Tauranga harbour and is near The Strand. The site was once used by the Ngai Te Rangi Pa of Otamataha.

In the 1820s the Church Missionary Society missionaries visited from the Bay of Islands searching for supplies but left after most of them were killed in 1828 by Ngati Maru raiders from the nearby Coromandel Thames area. 

In 1838/1839 Reverand Afred Brown bought the land and started up the Te Papa Mission Station and the pa site (above) became a cemetery.

In 1908 after the cemetery fell into disrepair, with land erosion playing a major part a trustee contacted the Under Secretary for lands. They decided a type of retaining wall needed to be built, concrete slabs were made to replace the wooden headboards on most of the graves which were then in time replaced by memorial plaques on the ground surface - some of which we saw today.

On 20th May 1884 a notice was issued in the Bay of Plenty Times that no more burials were to be allowed here.

37 men have been commemorated with name plaques but the names of 11 were not found on casualty lists. The cemetery also contains graves of 7 British soldiers who died between 1864 and 1870.

As you can see these are the fences and railings are still in fairly good condition, although moss has grown in places they are not falling apart.

Although Mission Cemetery was officially closed in 1881, some of the early settlers and their families were also buried here. In May 2014, one month after the 150th commemoration of the Battle of Gate Pa, the cemetery was part of a 7863 square metre site transferred from the New Zealand Mission Trust to the Otamataha Trust - the Hapu of Ngati Tapu and Ngaitamarawaho.

More information at Papers Past, Tauranga MemoriesNZ History and this post at Timespanner is alot more well researched than what i have done :-)


eileeninmd said...

Hello, what a lovey old cemetery. I like the moss and lichen, the old gravestones and the big beautiful trees. Wonderful photos and post. Happy New Year to you and your family.Happy Sunday, enjoy your new week ahead!

Pauline said...

I guess it's to be expected that there would be a mission cemetery in the Bay area but I've never thought to look when I've been in the area. Thanks for the reminder. It looks to be well worth a visit. Your photos are lovely! Happy New Year!

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

Glad you were able to get out and about after all that rain. Thanks for the tour of this historic cemetery. Happy New Year, Amy!

Felicia said...

Lovely cemetery. Love the tree in image 7

Haddock said...

Such a good and well maintained cemetery.

betty-NZ said...

It's interesting that newcomers find more things to see than those who have been there forever! Great find.


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