Te Hapuku

( ? - 1878)

A painting of Te Hapuku by Gottfried Lindauer from the Partridge collection.


Nga Pepeha O Ngati Rangikoianake

These are the traditional sayings of Ngati Rangikoianake (my hapu or sub tribe) and of our marae (sacred meeting place) called Kahuranaki.


"Ko Kahuranaki te maunga,
ko Poukawa te waiu,
ko Ngai Te Whatuiapiti te iwi"

"Kahuranaki is our (sacred mountain),
(Lake) Poukawa is the source of our sustenance,
Ngai Te Whatuiapiti is our tribe."


"Ko Kahuranaki te marae,
Ko Te Hapuku Ika Nui O Te Moana te tangata"

"Kahuranaki is the marae, Te-Hapuku-Ika-Nui-O-Te-Moana is the chief"


"Haere koe i mua i te tuara o Te Hapuku,
kia kai koe nga kai whakairo i te rangi."

"Go forth under the mantle of Te Hapuku, and you will eat of the food of gods"


Brief Biography

(For a fuller biography see 1990, W.H.Oliver (Gen Ed) The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Volume I, Allen & Unwin and Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, pp 443 - 445).


Te Hapuku, who sometimes called himself Te-Ika-Nui-O-Te-Moana, was born in the late eighteenth century before the coming of the European to our region of Heretaunga. He was a chief of our Ngai Te Whatuiapiti tribe and his main hapu (sub tribes) were Ngati Te Manawakawa and Ngati Rangikoianake. He had kinship links within Ngati Kahungunu, Rangitane, Ngati Ira and other tribes throughout the Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa regions, and was therefore very influential. His father was Kurimate, also known as Te Rangikoianake II, and his mother was Tatari of the Ngati Tapuhara and Ngati Hinepare sub tribes of Ngati Kahungunu.

In 1839 Te Hapuku visited the Bay of Islands in the Far North and on 25 September he signed the 1835 Declaration of Independence of New Zealand. In June 1840 therefore Major Bunbury called at Hawke's Bay to obtain his signature on the Treaty of Waitangi which had been signed at Waitangi on 6 February 1840. Te Hapuku and his two kinsmen, Hoani Waikato and Harawira Mahikai, signed the Treaty on or about 24 June 1840.

With the coming of the Pakeha (European) government to our region in 1851 Te Hapuku established contact with many government officials and was instrumental in selling lands to the government. He was acquainted with both Donald McLean, the chief land purchase agent, and with the Governor, Sir George Grey. He used the proceeds of his land sales to establish farming, milling, shipping and other businesses to support his large tribe.

He was also the prime instigator of a gift of lands by our tribe, Ngai Te Whatuiapiti, to the Anglican Church for the establishment of a school to educate Maori pupils. Te Aute College was established by the Church in 1854.

In 1876, in response to an ancient prophecy, Te Hapuku built the house Kahuranaki at Kahuranaki Marae at our village of Te Hauke. That house was burnt down in 1913 and was replaced by the present carved and embellished meeting house, also called Kahuranaki. After the accidental burning of the first Kahuranki some people jokingly referred to us as Ngati Hikareti (the Cigarette tribe).

Te Hapuku died on 23 May 1878 at Te Hauke. As he lay dying he asked to be placed so that his eyes should close watching our sacred Kahuranaki mountain. Sir George Grey visited him on his deathbed.


The three Ngai Te Whatuiapiti Signatories to the Treaty of Waitangi

... signed on board HMS Herald at anchor in Hawke's Bay on or about 24th June 1840.