Hine-matioro was one of the women of the Ngati-Kahungunu tribe to have been elevated to the majestic position of high priestess, or queen. The others were Tamai-rangi and Mahina-a-rangi. Hine-matioro was well known as the Great Queen of the East Coast, so often referred to in the missionary journals of that period. The reason she was so highly respected was that all the lines of aristocratic descent converged in her, as shown by her genealogy recorded in this book.
She was set apart by her people and strenuously guarded by them. Her life was always made safe from an attacking force, or war party, and safe conduct was always offered to her and her guardians. She had very great privileges and was looked upon as a divine person. She was alwavs kind and generous to the tribe and people. All the food planted by the people was for her benefit alone, such was the law of the tribe with respect to her. Whatever food was procured, whether from sea or forest, was all taken to her. She did no cultivating nor any other work, but all her needs were supplied by the people.
Hine-matioro left but one child, Rangikahiwa, her daughter. page 149This issue, however, patented Hine's famous grandson, Te Kani-a-takirau, who was held to be the highest chief of the whole of the East Coast. It was on this account that Te Heuheu (the paramount chief of Ngai-Tuwhare-toa), of Taupo, who had a strong objection against the sovereignty of a Pakeha Queen, proceeded to ask Te Kani-a-Takirau to be the Maori king. The late Mr. Percy Smith stated, "Te Kani-a-Takirau was without doubt the most powerful chief on the East Coast in the eighteenth century, being a grandson of the more celebrated Hine-matioro, who was more like a queen than any other chieftainess of New Zealand. It was therefore no wonder that he was offered, in 1854, the Maori Kingite crown, an honour which he politely, but wisely, declined."
In reply to the request of Te Heuheu, Te Kani-a-Takirau pointed out that he was already born a king and did not require election. But Te Heuheu said, "You may be the king of the East Coast, but I want you to be the king of the whole of the Maori people of Aotea-roa, and stamp out the mana of that pakeha woman-queen." But Te Kani said, "My kingdom is like unit my Mountain Hikurangi, which is an inherited and permanent one, and was not like yours, Tongariro, a wanderer." Hikurangi is the rocky peak (5,600 feet) inland from Ruatoria. Tradition says that Maui landed on this mountain after fishing up the North Island. The summit of Hikurangi is the first spot in Aotea-roa to be kissed by the rising sun and is the first part of the British Empire to see the dawn. The mention of Tongariro refers to a mythical story told about these mountains.
Pihanga was a smaller mountain (a female), whilst Tongariro and Taranaki (Mount Egmont), which were males, stood some distance away from each other. It came to pass that the two male mountains fell in love with the female mountain (Pihanga) and proceeded to press their suits. Tongariro came from the North, while Taranaki came from the South. There was a contest, but Tongariro won the lady's hand and banished Taranaki. The two lovers dwell side by side, while the broken-hearted Egmont stands aloof and extinct on the sea coast of his province.
There is an ancient song composed about these alpine love affairs, but as this version of the eternal triangle is not of direct interest we do not repeat it here. Suffice it to say that it was usual to couple the names of all chiefs of high standing with the name of the highest mountain in the district as their throne.