Matene Te Whiwhi

Matene Te Whiwhi

Henare Matene Te Whiwhi (?–1881) was of Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Toa. As a young man he lived through the turmoil of his people’s migration to the Cook Strait region. This may have formed the major theme in his life – to preserve peace.
In 1839 he travelled to the Bay of Islands seeking a Christian missionary for his people. As a result Octavius Hadfield later settled at Waikanae. In 1840 Te Whiwhi signed the Treaty of Waitangi, brought south by another missionary, Henry Williams.
In the mid-1840s Te Whiwhi himself became a missionary among the Ngāi Tahu people of the South Island. In 1847 he was took part in selling Ngāti Toa’s Wairau lands to the government. At this time Te Rauparaha was held captive – without charge or trial. Some historians claim that the land sale was a ransom for his freedom, rather than a genuine sale.
In the 1850s Te Whiwhi began to push for a Māori King as a way to protect remaining Māori lands. However, he favoured peace and moderation. When war broke out in the 1860s his main goal was to keep the violence away from Ngāti Toa’s lands. He was even prepared to cooperate with the government to achieve this. As W. H. Oliver notes, his final aim – peace – drove him into the arms of the government. He died in 1881.

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