This memorial obelisk commemorates unnamed men who were killed in action or died of wounds received in and around Opotiki during the New Zealand Wars. Six men known to be buried at Kelly Street are commemorated on a memorial tablet.
Of Taranaki and Te Āti Awa descent, Te Ua was born in Waiaua, South Taranaki, in the early 1820s. In 1862 he established a new religion, Hauhau, based on the principle of pai mārire – goodness and peace. But most settlers viewed Hauhau as a fundamentally anti-European religion, synonymous with ‘violence, fanaticism and barbarism’.
On 2 March 1865 Carl Sylvius Völkner, a German-born missionary, was hanged from a willow tree near his church at Opotiki. His death was attributed to the followers of a new religion, Pai Marire, who suspected Völkner of spying for the government.
Rāpata Wahawaha (?–1897) was a chief of the Te Aowera hapu (sub-tribe) of Ngāti Porou. Little is known of his early life, except that he was captured by Rongowhakaata (of Gisborne/Poverty Bay) in an inter-tribal conflict and later released.
Governor George Grey personally led a small force that captured the Pai Mārire (Hauhau) pā at Weraroa, Waitōtara. But this had long lost its strategic significance, and the small garrison had seemed willing to surrender.