Tamihana Te Rauparaha

Tamihana Te Rauparaha

Tamihana Te Rauparaha, known also as Katu, was the son of the great Ngati Toa leader Te Rauparaha and his fifth and senior wife, Te Akau of Tuhourangi. He took the name Tamihana (Thompson) when he was baptised by CMS missionary Octavius Hadfield on 21 March 1841, and was known from that time on as Tamihana. On 11 September 1843 he and Ruta (Ruth) Te Kapu, daughter of Tawhiri of Ngati Raukawa, were married at Otaki by Hadfield. He was at the storming of Kaiapoi pa in 1831 and was with his father when they were ambushed by Ngai Tahu at Kapara-te-hau (Lake Grassmere), about 1833. Tamihana subsequently wrote down accounts of these and other Ngati Toa campaigns, putting together information he had gathered from Te Rauparaha.

Christianity was brought to Kapiti, and also to Otaki where Katu was living, by Maori who had been taken as captives to the Bay of Islands and released when their masters became Christian. In November 1839 he and his cousin Matene Te Whiwhi went by ship to the Bay of Islands to seek a missionary for the Kapiti area. They returned with Henry Williams and Octavius Hadfield; Hadfield remained permanently on the Kapiti coast.

In 1843 Tamihana and Te Whiwhi went to the South Island and preached Christianity to their relations there and to Ngai Tahu, their former enemies. When he was asked by Ngai Tahu chiefs if his father was going to come to attack them he would reply, ‘He indeed will not come; for I have indeed come hither to you to bring an end to war-fare, and to bind firmly peace by virtue of the words of the Gospel of the Lord.

On 19 December 1850 Tamihana left for England, on the Wesleyan Missionary Society vessel John Wesley, together with Jane and William Williams, other missionaries and members of their families. They arrived in April 1851. On 30 June 1852 Tamihana was presented to Queen Victoria. Later in the same year he returned to New Zealand. He now sought to establish a monarchy for the Maori people, to give them a unity beyond that of the tribe and to bring law and security to their land. Potatau Te Wherowhero of Ngati Mahuta eventually agreed to become king and was installed at Ngaruawahia in 1858. Tamihana supported the King movement’s attempt to halt the sale of Maori land. He wanted to put a limit to further European encroachment so that the two races could live peacefully side by side.

When supporters of the King joined Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake of Te Ati Awa in his resistance to the government over the land purchase at Waitara in 1860, Tamihana broke with the King movement. In the later 1860s Tamihana and Te Whiwhi used their influence to prevent the wars from reaching the Wellington area.

Tamihana Te Rauparaha died on 22 or 23 October 1876, at the age of 57 according to one obituary. He is said to be buried in an unmarked grave at Otaki, beside his wife, who had died in 1870. They had had no children, but had an adopted son, Wiremu Kerei Kupapa.

Oliver, Steven. ‘Te Rauparaha, Tamihana ? – 1876’. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 7 July 2005, http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/ (abbreviated)

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