The remains of 12 British soldiers who lost their lives in the final battle of the Northland Wars have been discovered in a mass grave more than 170 years after their deaths.
The soldiers’ remains were found in Kawakawa on Wednesday.
Jono Carpenter is an archaeologist who has been searching for the mass grave since 2013.
"It’s hugely significant. These men took the Queen’s shilling. They came from halfway around the world and ended up dying here and now they’re bones – have become part of the earth,"Mr Carpenter says.
The men died during an attack on the Ruapekapeka Pa on January 11, 1846.
Pita Tipene is a descendant of both Maori chief Kawiti, who defended the Pa, and Colonel Robert Wynyard, who led the British troops.
"For us and Ngati Hine, we’ve been wondering for years and years, ever since 1986, where the soldiers were buried and because we didn’t know where they were buried, we couldn’t give them the reverence and the respect that they deserved so this is absolutely huge," Mr Tipene says.
Local hapu and the Department of Conservation will decide how the soldiers will be remembered in the coming months.