Battle for Ruapekapeka Pa January 1846

The attack on Ruapekapeka Pa (‘The Bat’s Nest’) was the last engagement of Hone Heki’s War.

Forces Present

British forces present (1610 men) on 10 January 1846:

European Order of Battle

  • 720 Regulars:
    • 58th regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Wynyard. 563 men.
    • 99th flank companies under Captain Reed. 157 men.
  • 397 Naval Brigade:
    • 313 seamen under Commander Hay, including gunners.
    • 84 marines under Captain Langford.
  • 43 Volunteers from Auckland, under Captain Atkyns.
  • Two naval 32 pdrs, one 18 pdr, two 12 pdr howitzers, two 6 pdrs, four 4½ in. mortars, and two rocket tubes. A third 32 pdr arrived late. Crewed by some of the Naval Brigade and Auckland Militia, two officers of the royal artillery and engineers, and 16 Artillerymen of the Royal East India Company.
  • 450 Maori (Kupapa) under Tamati Waka Nene.

Of these about a hundred British were detached to guard the line of communications and some of the Kupapa were detached to prevent Heke joining the garrison.

Even after these deductions the British and their remaining Maori allies outnumbered Kawiti’s garrison by about four to one. That means Kawhiti probably had about 400 men to defend the 110 m by 65 m pa. He also had two old cannon (although they were soon put out of action by the British). Hone Heke eluded the Kupapa blocking force and arrived late with 60 warriors.

(Thanks to Marcus Young for correcting me on some points.)

Wargaming the battle

See Wargaming the Battle for Ruapekapeka Pa.

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