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Ngā Tohuwhenua Mai Te Rangi: A New Zealand Archeology in Aerial Photographs

In the north, pā are typically on the coastal terrace and along river escarpments up to 5 km inland. In the south, pā lie on prominent ridge ends in the river valleys for many kilometres inland. 8 Many of the aerial photographs in this chapter are of south Taranaki sites, partly because Alastair Buist, who lived in Hawera, did most of his flying there; several of his photographs are used in this chapter.

The ring-ditch pā is a feature of the Taranaki landscape, especially in the north around New Plymouth and in the west. On the ring plain, ring-ditch pā on lahar mounds are distinctive. These pā are created by a single, occasionally double, ditch and bank around a rounded hilltop. 9 The full form is not needed where the hill country is steep or cliffed, as it is in the south and on the coast; here, the ditch simply encloses the cliff. Types of pā other than ring-ditch are also common in the region. On cliffs or points, the defensive perimeter of the pā was created by distinctive combinations of ditch and bank defences. The precise locations of these defences always shrewdly used the tactical advantages of localised landforms: the narrowest point on a ridge, the crest of a steep slope or the edge of a swamp. In the south, along the Pātea, Whenuakura and other rivers, are some of the largest and most distinctive pā in New Zealand. Putake, near Hawera, consists of four separate lines of ditch and bank defences, lying transversely across a broad ridge, narrowing to the principal platform. A pā near Otautu, on the Pātea River, presents three major platforms, each defended by double transverse ditches and banks and lying on a distinctive arrangement of ridges that defies simple description. This pā is not associated with the defeat of Titokowaru in 1869 at this locality, since he was attacked in an undefended village. 10 1 had long admired Alastair Buist's photographs of this site, 11 and when I first photographed it in light overcast conditions in August 1991,1 was surprised by how small it seemed, occupying a low, offshoot ridge, dominated by the mass of the surrounding, higher terraces.

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Putake, a pā 5 km inland on the Tāngāhoe River, near Hāwera

Putake, a pā 5 km inland on the Tāngāhoe River, near Hāwera

There are five sets of ditch and bank defences on the pā. The unique combination of defences of this pā show clearly the tactical combinations of ditch and bank and steep natural slope sought by Maori. The forward defences (nearest the viewpoint) are broad and enclose a large area between the gullies. In the rear (top centre) is a small 'citadel' with terraces and storage pits. The larger open area in the interior of the pā is pitted with the characteristic indentations of collapsed rua.