Paremata Redoubt: colonial follies


  • Pam Chester PIC Archaeology & Palynology



Military architecture (New Zealand), 19th century, History, New Zealand, Architecture, Paramate Redoubt (Paraparaumu, New Zealand)


The construction of Paremata Redoubt, 1846-47, at the entrance to Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour, was commissioned by Lieutenant-Governor George Grey. The redoubt was built to subdue Māori opposition to New Zealand Company immigrants settling in the wider Wellington area. In 1846 the entrance to Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour was a strategic military location being on the main Māori route from the west Wellington coast, via Pāuatahanui, to the Hutt Valley and Wellington. The redoubt, was built on the site of Paremata Pā, which had been occupied from about the early 1830s to about the mid 1840s, just prior to the building of the redoubt, by members of Ngāti Toa Rangatira iwi, which included the tohunga and older half brother, Te Watarauihi Nohorua, of Te Rauparaha. When the first soldiers arrived on 16 April 1846, there was no accommodation provided, and the troops had to sleep in tents; the camp was on "tabued" ground. Barracks, to house imperial troops, were completed in August 1847, but this was after the two fighting chiefs who were the main opponents of European settlement, Te Rauparaha and his nephew, Te Rangihaeata, were considered subdued; Te Rauparaha had been captured at his kainga, Taupo, on Plimmerton beach and Te Rangihaeata had fled northwards from his pā, Mataitaua, at Pāuatahanui.

Clearance of the ruins of the barracks from late 1959 to early 1960 by the Wellington Regional Group of the New Zealand Archaeological Association revealed that they were rectangular with towers in opposing corners. The main building material was natural beach boulders, probably sourced locally, with brick quoins and window openings. The stonework had been knapped into line with a mortar made of sand, lime, and crushed sea shells. The outside walls were 700mm thick, and inner walls were 500mm thick. The foundations were particularly strong; 1.1m wide, and the lower part of the walls were 750mm wide to a height of 750mm. The ground floor had been divided into four main rooms, with a corridor leading to an entrance to the west. A small room, near the centre of the building, with walls as thick as those of the exterior, may have been an arsenal. The two-storeyed barracks were the subject of many early European picturesque drawings and paintings. The towers had loopholes, probably to accommodate cannon, but the first shot fired so shook the fabric of the building that the gun was not used again. Further, the barracks were occupied only briefly. An earthquake in October 1848 damaged the barracks so severely that they could not be repaired and they were evacuated, and the troops were accommodated in huts. Another earthquake in January 1855 caused the upper storey to collapse. Today the ruins of the barracks can be seen in Ngātitoa Domain.


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How to Cite

Chester, P. (2014). Paremata Redoubt: colonial follies. Architectural History Aotearoa, 11, 82–95.