Te Wera Hauraki

Rangatira to Ngati Kahungunu


greenstone mere
Te Wera Hauraki
Rangatira to Ngati Kahungunu
Image: Greenstone Mere - The mark of a Rangatira, sacred and granting status, often given to seal peace agreements.

Basil Keane, 'Pounamu – jade or greenstone - Pounamu and peace-making', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/object/7725/mere-pounamu-hauraki-tribes (accessed 15 May 2018)

Te Wara Hauraki was a Nga Puhi leader from the Bay of Islands, his name means, 'The Burning' he gained this when his child from his first wife was accidentally burned. He is commemorated with great gratitude by the Ngati-Kahungunu people when they faced the greatest crisis in their history, this Nga Puhi leader rose as their protector and saved them from almost certain annihilation.

During the Musket Wars. Ngati-Kahungunu were slow to get involved with the weapons trade. Te Wera's first contact with the missionaries was likely Thomas Kendall and John King. They gave him some assistance with planting his wheat near Kerikeri in 1817. He had even met Samuel Marsden one evening in October 1819. It was after this he seemed no longer so set on utu.

Around 1821 Te Wera led a party of northern Ngapuhis on a raid against Mahia pa, Nukutaurua. Among the prisoners who were captured and taken to the Bay of Islands was a chief named Te Whare-umu. As a slave he served under Te Wera as a warrior, Te Wera then awarded him the return of a famous greenstone mere (an heirloom of his family). Te Whare-umu became head general for Te Wera and served him faithfully.

In 1826, Te Wera promised to return Te Whare-umu and his famous heirloom to his home and his people. Te Whare-umu upon his return, seeing the situation of his people, requested that Te Wera become as a father to them. “You will be a fence against this wind and that, and you and your tribe must permanently remain here.“ Te Wera consented to become their leader.

By the 1830s Te Wera was one of the most significant chiefs on the East Coast. He formed alliances with other tribes in the area and provided some much needed stability and protection, Although still actively engaged in tribal warfare, Te Wera picked his quarrels judiciously, and was respected for his total integrity.

Because of the peace and order he introduced, hospitality towards missionaries became possible. By the time of his death in 1839 an indigenous Maori Christian mission was growing within the kinship networks of the area. This was particularly so among the relatives of Te Wera.

Te Wera’s principal biographer, Takaanui Tarakawa, says that Te Wera died of old age, mourned by all the tribes of the East Coast. In some traditions it is said that he returned to the Bay of Islands in his last year and is buried there on Te Ahuahu Hill.

BORN: Unknown, New Zealand

DIED: 1839, East Coast, New Zealand