Friday, 29 March 2019

Monmouth Redoubt

Te Redoubt, Tauranga Harbour, showing the Mount in the distance
Undated postcard by unknown publisher. Collection of Justine Neal
The Monmouth Redoubt was built on the Tauranga foreshore early in 1864 by British troops, including the 43rd Monmouth Light Infantry after whom it was named, when a 600 strong force was sent to the mission settlement. Its task was to block the flow of reinforcements and supplies from the Maori tribes in the Bay of Plenty and further east to the Waikato where the Kingitanga was resisting the occupation of land declared confiscated by the settler government in 1863.

The redoubt was erected on an early pa site overlooking the harbour as this excerpt from J W Stack’s book Early Maoriland Adventures shows. He was living in Tauranga pre 1842 and during this time was taken by his father to see a fort which Maori were building under the direction of the missionaries as a place of refuge. It was close to their houses and on the edge of a cliff. A wide and deep ditch was being dug, and the earth taken out of it was formed into a wall. To prevent the soil, as it was being heaped up, falling back into the ditch, alternate layers of fern and soil were placed one above the other, till the wall reached the desired height.

Tauranga, from the Redoubt
Undated postcard by Mary Humphreys. Collection of Justine Neal
This was actually the rebuilding of the fortifications of the old Taumatakahawai Pa (abandoned in 1828) on the site where the Monmouth Redoubt now stands. The following excerpts from the Bay of Plenty Times give some idea of its subsequent history.
  • 14 Sept 1872. A new and lofty flagstaff was erected from which the New Zealand ensign fluttered proudly in the breeze. The redoubt has been largely reconstructed with its commodious barracks occupied by the Armed Constabulary.
  • 6 Sept 1873. The cells within the redoubt have been lined and altered to prevent the escape of prisoners.
  • 6 Aug 1874. Members of the town board thought it would be desirable to take some steps to endeavour to obtain the service of prisoners confined in the Monmouth Redoubt upon roadworks within the township.
  • 17 Nov 1875. A lightning conductor to be installed on the magazine in the Monmouth Redoubt. This should have been done long since.
  • In 1882 a large corner lot near the old Redoubt allotment in Monmouth St would have set you back 200 pounds.
  • Jan 1896. His Excellency the Governor came to visit and a salute of 17 guns was fired from the Monmouth Redoubt as His Excellency stepped from the wharf platform onto The Strand and the Band played a selection of Scottish airs.
  • Nov 1877. The Justice Department closed the local gaol which stood in the Redoubt.
  • Jul 1898. There was disagreement between the Government and the Borough Council over the ownership of the Monmouth Redoubt, caused by the gaol being situated in the Redoubt and the Government’s wish to keep it in reserve for future use at some time, but a considerable part of the Redoubt stood on the public streets of the Borough.
  • Nov 1898. There were hopes that the Redoubt may at length be able to be thrown open to the public and the gaol re-established elsewhere.
  • Dec 1898. Monmouth Redoubt is secured as a reserve and handed over the Borough. The Redoubt contained a tumble down old barracks building, almost valueless, the gaol and its offices and the powder magazine. There was some suggestion to utilize one of the buildings as a morgue! Not one of their better ideas.
Monmouth Redoubt, Tauranga
Undated postcard by RJ Rendell. Collection of Justine Neal
In 2013 the story came full circle, when, in recognition of the history of the area and the old pa site, carvings were commissioned for the new Tauranga Police Station. These hang on the wall facing Taumatakahawai Pa/ Monmouth Redoubt.

Papers Past
A Centennial History of Tauranga, by W.H. Gifford & H.B. Williams, published 1940
Tauranga Memories Kete

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