There is quite a collection of artefacts that relate to the battle at Te Ruapekapeka. Te Ruapekapeka Trust (TRT) and Department of Conservation (DOC) have considerable interest in artefacts that relate to the Battlefield but have control over only a small portion. The TRT and DOC are always open to the gifting and care of artefacts that directly relate to Te Ruapekapeka.
The late Bert Timperley (Ngati Hine) was a man who lived on the Ruapekapeka Battlefield in what was the old school. He collected items that revealed themselves, and was on occasion known to have dug for items. Today such activity would be considered illegal (both under the Reserve's and the Antiquities' Acts).
At the time of the land purchase the Department of Lands and Survey negotiated the artefacts to be part of the deal. Bert was pleased with the resolution i.e. that they would be protected for all time and be part of New Zealand's heritage.
Te Ruki Kawiti's toki (hatchet) courtesy of the Waitangi National Trust and the Kawiti whanau.
Photo: James Robinson
The Timperley collection is a result of Bert Timperley. Bert lived in the old school building on what is the area in front of the Main Advanced Gun Battery (British position). Bert’s collection arose from collecting farmer found “stuff” and his fossicking -the latter would be illegal now and was probably then too.
On the crown gaining possession of the property, part of the agreement was the collection came to the crown - DOC. He retained the collection post the agreement as he had a right to live on site during his life. However when he went to town in his later years DOC went and collected the collection at his request. This James Robinson lead and Raumoa Kawiti, Allan Halliday and others helped with its storage etc at the Museum ie the best environmental conditions close to site. If Te Ruapekapeka Trust were ever able to build a Whare Taonga at or near the site with appropriate environmental management conditions they would be shifted even closer to site and entrusted to the care of TRT.
In a strict legal sense the collection is owned by the crown administered by DOC ie part of the land deal. The reality is DOC have always acted (Since the RPMT and now TRT) as if the collection were joint owned.
Ruapekapeka Pa Management Committee and others at the Whangarei Museum during the ceremony prior to storing the Timperly collection there.
Photo: Department of Conservation
The story goes that Bridie’s parents were at the pā when the "farmer' was turning over a nearby "paddock" with his plough. He was frustrated by the things he was turning over and offered them to Mr Wilson. The artefacts included a broken sword, cannon balls and a chain. A member of the public Mrs Bridie Wilson handed in a number of artefacts. These he gifted to the joint custody of the TRT & DOC. They are currently housed with the "Timperley Collection" in the Whangarei Museum until a closer public venue with appropriate environmental controls is available.
Wilson Family gifted artefacts. Bridget (Bridie) Wilson
Thor Stewart Wilson my father and Phyliss (Phillipa-Anne) Burns Wilson nee Billing my mother were on their honeymoon in the Bay of Islands and visited Ruapekapeka Pā.
My understanding is this was around November 1959.
As they left the pā site they met a farmer ploughing the paddock near a picnic spot they had chosen. The field as described to me was at the bottom of the road that leads from the pā site on the North Eastern side.
Thor went over to chat to the farmer who like the honeymooners was having a tea break whilst ploughing his field. The farmer explained to Thor the curse of harrowing paddocks with so much shrapnel. My father, Thor who came from a family of Roman Gypsies and was a blacksmith himself was fascinated by the metal unearthed in the ploughing.
During the conversation the farmer explained that there had been a lot of relics un-earthed over a period of years ploughing. (He wasn't too pleased with the damage they had done to his machinery over the years!)
Thor expressed an interest in the farmers excavations and the farmer gave him a freshly ploughed cannonball, bayonet and the grenade as souvenirs. Also what my sister Andrea and I believed was a nail that hung on our lounge wall for years was a grenade pin. The cannonball, grenade, bayonet and 'nail' lived on the hearth of each house we lived in beside the wrought iron fire stand our blacksmith grandfather made. The fire stand with genuine horsehair is still with us today at Opotiki.
When Thor died (1967) Mum kept the artefacts and as part of her will in 1996 they were bequeathed to me. Subsequently, I, Bridie Wilson nee Wilson gave the artefacts to the Department of Conservation and the Te Ruapekapeka Trust to hold them in perpetuity for the benefit of all people.
The rongomai seal was gifted to Maihi Paraone Kawiti son and heir to Te Ruki Kawiti. This seal was gifted by the government in recognition of Maihi's pledge of allegiance in 1858. Waitangi National Trust. (LINK to Kene video)
Rongomai seal courtesy of the Waitangi National Trust and the Kawiti whanau.
Toki and other weapons of Kawiti are on permanent loan to the Waitangi National Trust