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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 6 (September 1, 1936)


Now and again in Maori history a woman has arisen to impress her force of character, her intellect and her high standards of conduct on the life of her people. Such a woman leads to-day the ranks of the tribes in the South Auckland country in a noble effort to restore the race to its olden plane of happiness and independence. This Waikato high chieftainess Te Puea Herangi is rightly styled Princess. That pakeha title has sometimes been misused by lesser people of the race. But Te Puea is in every sense worthy of being called Princess, for she is the great-granddaughter of Potatau to Wherowhero, the first Maori King, and her career is in keeping with her aristocratic descent. There is a beautiful Maori title, Ariki tapairu. It signifies a sacred chieftainess, a queen among the tribes. Te Puea is not only hereditary Ariki tapairu of Waikato, but is a great philanthropist, a great organiser, an inspiration and a guide to her people. There is a strain of the mystic in her, but a very practical mystic. Greatly patriotic, she is restoring the old Maori culture in many forms at her model village at Ngaruawahia. She is a tired and sick woman to-day, for she assumed burdens almost greater than she can bear, and she deserves the warm sympathy and assistance of her pakeha fellow New Zealanders in her heroic work of pure unselfishness for the industrial and social and moral uplift of her Waikato tribes.

(Photo by courtesy of the Auckland Star.) Te Puea Herangi.

(Photo by courtesy of the Auckland Star.)
Te Puea Herangi.

Te Puea Herangi is the grand-daughter of King Tawhiao, the old tattooed monarch of the Waikato and the Rohepotae frontier of whom we saw a good deal in the early days on the southern border of pakeha settlement. Life was still adventurous then, when the King Country was a closed territory against the whites, and when many a sturdy rebel against the Queen's authority lived a few miles beyond our frontier farms, with the Puniu River, a kind of New Zealand Tweed, flowing between. We saw the King and six hundred men, most of them armed, come out from their long seclusion after the war, and march in peaceful if lively parade through the townships. We lived on their good lands, reft from them by conquest, and the losses of war still embittered the Maori mind, long after the return of peace. Those losses have never been made good; the old wounds remain.