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


page 38


Topeora was a kawai rangatira from Ngati Toa, a niece of Te Rauparaha — her mother being Waitohi — and a sister of Te Rangihaeata. She was a descendant of Hoturoa, a rangatira of the Tainui canoe. She was born at Kawhia.

She is renowned for her compositions — both waiata aroha and kaioraora. On one occasion when the Ngati Pou people killed some of her younger brothers and sisters, Te Rauparaha who defended his people fiercely, set off in search of them, and she composed a special kaioraora in which was described some horrific violent deaths for them, and which did indeed occur. But as mentioned, she was also capable of writing the most beautiful love songs.

She had many husbands which was unusual for women. One such husband was Te Ratutonu, a rangatira from Taranaki. She allegedly stole him from another composer from Te Atiawa, Nekepapa and the story has it that she married him by throwing her dog-skin cloak over him. He was later killed by the Nga Rauru.

Only two women signed the Treaty of Waitangi — and Topeora was the first of them.

Being a very proud woman, when she was baptised she took the name "Kuini Wikitoria".

It is said that she refused to wear Pakeha clothing — her clothing was the korowai, parawai and other types of Maori clothing.

She died in 1873 in Otaki.


Mererikiriki was a leader and tohunga at Parewanui marae near the mouth of the Rangitikei river. She was a member of the Church of England and set up Te Haahi o te Wairua Tapu", — (The Holy Ghost Mission), to combat what she perceived to be Maori superstition, but through this became a recognised traditional tohunga in her own right.

She was a prophet, forseeing the emergence of Ratana, and preparing him to take "the cloak of the spirit of Tawhiao and Te Whiti", subsequent to Te Whiti's death. She named Ratana's sons, Arepa and Omeka, but refused to baptise them because their mana was too great. She advised and guided Ratana who learnt from her the psychology of faith healing.