Māori pa fortifications under construction

[above] Hone Heke and Kawiti inspect my new Māori pa fortifications under construction for my New Zealand Wars project. Whilst waiting for the glue to dry, I’ve quickly photographed my initial experiment at making Māori fortifications for my New Zealand Wars project.

You can see they’re made of ordinary twigs. The ends of the main posts have roughly shaped ‘heads’ on them done with a rasp.

I’ve given the palings points with a pencil sharpener. Some of them are cut a bit shorter at the bottom to leave loopholes at ground level. The unique thing about Māori fortifications was that the warriors fired from underneath the fence. This was quite unlike most other nations’ fortifications, where defenders stood on platforms to shoot over the tops of their walls. Māori warriors were further protected by standing in a trench behind the wall. This made them very difficult indeed to winkle out.

The palings are somewhat out of scale (too thick), but will, I hope, give the right impression. Once the glue is dry, they’ll also be tied in with a criss-cross thread. Then I have to make raised bases for the fences with the protective trench behind them.

Below are a couple of inspiring pictures by ‘Jen 64’ of model Māori pa at the Tawhiti Museum in Hawera. Mine is not going to be anywhere as dramatic, but instead will be just a few modular fence sections that I can arrange on the edge of the board to form an indicative part of a pa.

Anyway, the glue is nearly dry now, so on I must go with the next stage in assembly …

10 thoughts on “Māori pa fortifications under construction

    1. Yes, I’ve got a pile of photos from Jen 64 of the Tawhiti Museum. I plan to add them to this blog before very long if I can get permission.

      It is many years since I’ve been there myself, but I have fond memories of it, and want to return there one day soon if I can.

    1. While I can keep up the good work, Scott, I couldn’t keep up the fences – they both fell to bits in my hand tonight!!! @#%* PVA glue!!!

  1. Looking very promising, Roly. Good to see that you have followed due process and consulted with your local iwi on the construction ….and you even have the photographic proof of them inspecting it!

    1. Aaargh! Maybe I didn’t consult enough! Or maybe PVA just isn’t strong enough glue. I started weaving cotton round the palings tonight, and the whole fence assemblies just fell to bits in my hands! @#*!

      So a whole evening wasted last night! Back to square one. With firstly buying some stronger glue. And maybe consulting with the local iwi a little more …

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