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Te whakatuwheratanga o Te Tumu Herenga Waka : 6 Tihema 1986, Poneke, Te Whare Wananga o Wikitoria


page 35




Te Wharepouri was one of the principal chiefs of the Nga Motu hapu of Te Atiawa of north Taranaki. The territory of Nga Motu includes the area in the vicinity of the Sugar Loaf Islands at the Port of the modern city of New Plymouth and as such forms the southern limit of Te Atiawa's Taranaki lands. Te Wharepouri was well known to the early European traders at New Plymouth in the late 1820's and it was he who encouraged Richard Barrett and Hakirau (Love) to establish a regular trade route between there and Poihakena (Port Jackson or Sydney, Australia). On one trip Te Wharepouri and several other Nga Motu chiefs even accompanied the vessel to Sydney, returning by way of the Bay of Islands.

Te Wharepouri is probably better known however for his exploits in the Poneke (Port Nicholson, Whanganui-a-tara, or Wellington) area. It is not clear whether Te Wharepouri moved south to Wellington with the rest of Te Atiawa in the late 1820's in the migration known as the Heke-whiri-nui or whether he moved down at some later date. There are references to him being in both places over a number of years.

It is clear that Te Wharepouri had become one of, if not the principal chief of Te Atiawa in the Wellington region by 1840 when the first European settlers whom he befriended were starting to arrive here.

Te Atiawa however had moved into the Wellington area some ten to fifteen years earlier displacing Ngati Ira and Ngati Kahungunu as the tangata-whenua group and it was Te Wharepouri who was eventually instrumental in establishing peaceful relations between the warring tribes. This was achieved after a party of Ngati Kahungunu under Nukupewapewa had captured Te Wharepouri's wife and daughter, Te Ua-mai-rangi and Te Kakapi and very nearly killed Te Wharepouri himself. However Ngati Kahungunu desired to establish peace between the tribes so Te Ua-mai-rangi and Te Kakapi were returned unharmed. It was this kind action that lead to peace when a large contingent of Ngati Kahungunu came to Pito-one (Petone). Te Atiawa vvere informed by Tu-te-pakihi-rangi of Ngati Kahungunu that they need not return to their Taranaki lands. His advice to Te Atiawa was,

"Live all of you on this side of the mountains (Remu-taka) — you on this side, I on the other. I will call those mountains our shoulders; the streams that fall down on this side are for you to drink, on the other side for us."

On the poupou in Te Tumu Herenga Waka Te Ua-mai-rangi and Te Kakapi are depicted below Te Wharepouri.