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, he rose as their protector and saved them from annihilation.

European traders traded with and taught the natives to use muskets. Changing the balance of power, between the tribes and leading to 'The Musket Wars'. Great leaders arose, Te Rauparaha in the South, Hongi Hika at Rotorua, Pomare in the North, while the Waikato, Ngati Raukawa and Tuwhare-toa (Taupo), all had able leaders. Sorties and threats from these enemies put the East Coast in continual turmoil and fear. The 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 even met Samuel Marsden one evening in October 1819. It was after this he seemed no longer so set on utu.

Te Wera appeared on the East Coast as the enemy of Ngati-Kahungunu, c.1821 a party of the northern Ngapuhis led by him, raided the Mahia pa, Nukutaurua. Among the prisoners who were captured and taken to the Bay of Islands was a chief named Te Whare-umu. He then served under Te Wera as a warrior and upon Te Wera awarding him the return of a famous greenstone mere (an heirloom of his family) he became a head general for Te Wera serving him faithfully. Te Wera determined, in 1826, to return Te Whare-umu and his famous Mere to his home and people. Te Wera kept his promise and Te Whare-umu 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 stability he brought, hospitality towards missionaries became possible. By the time of his death, a Maori Christian mission was growing within the kinship networks of the area. Particularly 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. 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