Battle breaks out in Puketaha

There were Saxons, there were Normans, there were mighty horses made out of cardboard – and paper swords and flour bombs too – at Puketaha School on Friday.

More than 100 students – and many teachers – kitted themselves up with helmets, shields and weapons to take part in the re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings. Principal Bob Moffit was in the thick of the fighting, looking splendid in an ensemble made from a former white sheet and a helmet made from an old bucket.

Forget the Bayeux Tapestry – this slideshow is the definitive record.


Alf’s Imperial Army, Northern Command, Fifth Waikato Dragoons Regiment, Officer Commanding Major Blunder issued an exclusive Press Release to N8N following the battle, which is repeated word for word here.

Ahh, Gentle Reader –

Oh what a wonderful war, wot!  Normans, Anglo-Saxons, paper swords, flourbombs filling the air, desperate last stands, a firm shield wall and gallant charges against a foe “standing as if rooted to the very earth itself” – all elements of the event that was the Battle of Hastings at Puketaha.

One finds at these events that particular vignettes stick in one’s mind, such as the moment when the first Norman charge, led by William Duke of Normandy, thundered home into the most vulnerable part of the Anglo-Saxon line – fewer shields and slightly battle-weary, only to be routed by a surprisingly spirited defence and well-aimed flourbombs; cricket must be alive and well among the student body.

And who could forget the massed charge of Normans as, having already suffered defection to the Anglo-Saxons that utterly shredded the shield wall towards the end of the fray.  Interspersed between these keystone events there were individual duels lasting mere seconds but containing all the elements of theatre one could hope for, the Nurses doing an excellent job keeping the troops of both sides functional, gallant deaths and fierce snarls on all sides.

One must say that the overall event, whilst lasting slightly less than half an hour, was thoroughly enjoyable and the children did their school proud with the depth of their various performances.  One certainly looks forward to the next event.

However, the day was not just about getting out on the field to get grubby and have fun, although that was certainly part of it.  Several classrooms had spent some time researching the events surrounding the actual Battle of Hastings in 1066, picking out the meat of the plethora of information that is available.  One was privileged to listen to a partial recounting of interesting facts that Room 6 had discovered in the course of their learning – every class is different, every child latches onto something that appeals to them personally

And that is precisely what the whole event was about; encouraging the children, and through them older siblings, parents, staff and anyone else whose lives they touch during the process, to ask questions about history, to get interested to dig a little deeper than the surface information easily found online or in standard texts; bringing the whole thing to life with a battle is a marvellous way to lock the raw knowledge into place with sound and scent – the imagination will do the rest.  We are nothing if we know not from whence we came.


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