Te Tiki o Te Ihingārangi was the home of Te Ihingārangi, tūpuna of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, who moved to the area from the Te Rohe Pōtae / the King Country after a disagreement with his stepbrother Maniapoto around AD 1600. In 1831 the battle of Taumatawiwi was fought between Te Waharoa of Ngāti Haua and Ngāti Maru on the river terraces east of Te Tiki o Te Ihingārangi, bringing the occupation of Hauraki tribes in the area to an end. Te Tiki o Te Ihingārangi hosted the one of the first recorded Koroneihana (Coronation Celebrations) of King Tāwhiao. The Kīngitanga under Wiremu Tāmihana had built the pā at Te Tiki o Te Ihingārangi around December 1863, utilising existing features from the pre-European Māori phase of the pā. Following Ōrākau, the British arrived via the Waikato River and fired toward the pā, although documents do not record any large-scale battle occurring. The British took over the pā on 24 April 1864.
Around the mid-20th century a transmission tower was installed on the pā. Transpower New Zealand Ltd needs to undertake routine tower stabilisation work around the country, and works at this tower were required. It included the excavation of an 11 x 11 m area around the base of the tower at depths from 300 mm to 1.9 m to expose the legs of the tower, remedy any corrosion, then fill the excavation with cement to protect the steel foundations. No other earthworks such as access tracks, machinery benching or vegetation removal was undertaken. The archaeological excavation was undertaken by Danielle Trilford.
The works exposed the evidence of the 1864 Māori defensive features as part of Te Tiki o Te Ihingārangi Pā in the form of rifle pits / trenches. Postholes exposed in the excavation are also likely to be associated with these defences, although too few were exposed to propose any alignments. The known presence of buildings based on drawings by the British military after the site abandonment suggests that some at least of the postholes may belong to these.
A gunflint found within the rifle pit was probably made in Brandon in the UK and the evidence of use wear and size suggests it is smaller than usually associated with flintlock muskets – it may have been used to fire a pistol, but it is more probable that it had been skilfully reworked and conserved as a musket flint.
Evidence of burning was found in the base of a rifle pit indicating that the British military burnt any wooden superstructures such as rifle pit roofs and filled the trenches after the abandonment by the Kīngitanga.
The presence of pig and cow may be associated with either the Kīngitanga or subsequent British site use. Cattle bone and associated fire cracked rock in the base of a burnt and stone lined feature may be associated with cooking in situ, or deposition in the feature soon after use. An 1863 drawing of rifle pits states “…food was also cooked in them.”