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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 9 (January 1, 1934)

The Ariki-Tapairu

The Ariki-Tapairu.

One frequently sees the exotic title of “Princess” prefixed to the name of a Maori woman of rangatira rank. We have no princesses here, though the daughters of the successive heads of the old Maori kingdom have been styled such. That vigorous and enlightened chieftainess Te Puea Herangi is often termed princess, but those who really know the Maori people do not refer to her by this rather meretricious title.

There is a fine old Maori term applied to a chieftainess of long pedigree and semi-sacred mana, and that is “Ariki-Tapairu.” It is an ancient and venerated expression. Ariki is a high chief, the hereditary head of his tribe, and tapairu signifies the female ariki, the first-born female in a family of rank, a woman invested with sacred attributes. When a Maori address of loyalty and felicitation was sent to Queen Victoria on the occasion of her diamond jubilee, she was addressed not only as Queen but as the Ariki-Tapairu of both races.

As for Te Puea Herangi, first lady of Waikato, she needs no pakeha title. She is the real leader of Waikato to-day, the pioneer of the new order of industry and progress among her people. Her force of character, intellect and high standards of social organisation are doing much to set the Waikato tribes on the way to a settled and prosperous life on the land. By the way, Te Puea is “the daughter of a double race,” like “the island maid, the island rose,” Kaiulani, of Hawaii, to whom Robert Louis Stevenson wrote one of his poems. Her father, the late Tahuna Herangi, well beknown to the present writer in other days, was the son of a Mr. Searancke (“Herangi” is the Maori pronunciation), a magistrate who was in Waikato in the early days; and her mother was Tiahuia, daughter of King Tawhiao, who died in 1894.

Te Puea has established a model village at Ngaruawahia, and she gives her people a personal example of energy and hard work and high ideals.