There is always something about fortifications and the sense of battles won and battles lost? New Zealand’s got plenty of places to get the imagination fired up… Whitianga Headland Reserve and Rock Pa is impressive. Even Captain Cook was taken with the Pa site associated with Ngati Hei. When Captain Cook visited the Pa site it had been abandoned with blackened stumps, an attack by Ngati Rangi (Tauranga region) had resulted in a retreat.
Captain Cook commented in his diary, ‘A little within the entrance of the river… are the remains of a fortified town, the situation is such that the best engineers in Europe could have not chosen a better place’
Situated on a promontory, the Pa for over 600 years guarded the entrance to the Whitianga estuary. Visible are the defensive ditches, the post holes for wooden watchtowers, middens with shellfish remains and cliff rock holes to support structures. For a society where warfare is a threat the Pa headland site was a superb use of the natural landscape. As with any fortification the view is spectacular.