Bob Kerr: The Great South Road. The Road of Invasion.

The Great South Road was built as a road of invasion. As Governor Grey explained to the Secretary of State For the Colonies in January 1862 this road would mean, "The Waikato River will lie quite open to our attacks at any moment."

  • Opening Date: Tuesday, 24 October 2017
  • Closing Date: Sunday, 12 November 2017
  • Opening Time: Tue-Fri 11-5pm, Sat 11-4pm

On the 12th of July 1863 General Cameron declared war on the Waikato by crossing the Mangatawhiri River. There were battles along the Koheroa Ridge, at Meremere and at Rangiriri. Cameron's British Army troops occupied Ngāruawāhia then by-passed the great defensive line that had been built at Pātirangi and went on to attack the village of Rangiowhia where Colonel Marmaduke Nixon's cavalry galloped into the village and burnt a whare with a number of occupants inside, killed non-combatants who may have been attempting to surrender and fired on residents of the village who had taken refuge inside the catholic church.

There were further skirmishes at Waiari and Hairini and the final battle at Ōrākau. Of the three hundred defenders at Ōrākau one hundred and sixty were killed inside the Pā or as they attempted to escape. The crown then confiscated 1.2 million acres of the Waikato north of the Punui River.

Earlier this year I drove down The Great South Road and through the Waikato visiting these sites. I was inspired to do this after reading Vincent O'Malley's book The Great War for New Zealand - Waikato 1800 - 2000.

These paintings are the result of that journey.


ARTIST TALK: Saturday 28th October, 2pm.


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