Te Kaeaea

The Following is a brief History of Te Kaeaea and Ngati Tama in Wellington
Researched and compiled by Michelle Marino, 2008 (co-claimant WAI 377)

‘Ko te putake o tatou whenua, tenei tonu i te rakau kauri. I whanau tonu i konei, I tipu ake tatou i konei, Ko tatou te tangata whenua. E matau ana tatou, Kei te mohiotia tatou e te Tiriti o Waitangi, tenei kaupapa, hei kawenata mo aua tikanga.

The source of our rights is that, like the kauri, we are grounded here, we were nurtured here, we are the people of this land … and we know that the Treaty protected our place … covenanted our rights’.

Ngati Tama signed the Treaty of Waitangi on 29th April 1840 at Port Nicholson known as Wellington. The Treaty was signed by seven rangatira of Ngati Tama who were Te Kaeaea or Taringa Kuri, Te Whakakeko or Noa Te Whakakeko, Te Whakatauranga, Hore or Hori Pakihi, Pani or Pane Wharetiti, Wanga or Rota Wanganga and Ngapapa or Te Keepa Ngapapa. (1)

Te Kaeaea was a chief of Ngati Tama of northern Taranaki. He was born in the later eighteenth century; his father was Whangataki II and his mother, Hinewairoro; Te Puoho-o-te-rangi was his brother. They were also closely connected with Ngati Toa.

Te Kaeaea , also known as Taringa Kuri, was reported to be 112-117 years old in 1871 when he died. Before the 1820s, Te Kaeaea was an independent war leader in the tradition of warfare between his own people and Ngati Maniapoto to the north. In 1821, Te Kaeaea led an attack against Ngati Maniapoto in retaliation to earlier defeats, which, however, resulted in further failure. He was out of the area on an excursion when Ngati Tama were hosts to the first migration of Te Rauparaha and the Kawhia people. Shortly after this period Te Kaeaea led a war party north to inland Mokau to take vengeance upon Ngati Urunumia, a hapu of Ngati Maniapoto. He had returned from this battle when Te Rauparaha and his Taranaki allies asserted a defeat on Waikato, who had chased Ngati Toa into Taranaki, at Motunui. Afterwards, Te Rauparaha cautioned his defeated enemies not to depart to the north. (2)

‘Mehemea ka hoki whakararo koutou, ka kati iho te kauaerunga ki te kauaeraro’.
‘If you go south you will be safe; if you go north the upper jaw will snap on the lower’. The ‘upper jaw’ was Te Kaeaea leading his force southwards’.

Parties of Ngati Tama joined the migrations to the Kapiti coast during the 1820s. They were demoralised by their numerous defeats, and conscious of their adversity. Their lands were the buffer between the Tainui opponents of Te Rauparaha to the north and his Taranaki allies to the south. Te Kaeaea and his brother Te Puoho, were likely to have been the convoy for a number of these parties, and returned at times to the north.

One of these groups had settled in, at Te Tarata, in Wairarapa on the west of Onoke, the southern Wairarapa Lake, although inland from the sea, and at Wharepapa, closer to the forest. Relationships with the tribes prior to their settlement there, Rangitane and Ngati Kahungunu, were ambiguous however peaceful by 1830.

At that time many Ngati Tama of both pa were killed by Nuku-pewapewa, Pehi Tu-te-pakihi-rangi and other chiefs, a Wairarapa force, who then strengthened themselves at Pehikatea pa, near Greytown. When the sabotage became known Te Kaeaea, he came to Wairarapa with a small force of Ngati Tama, Ngati Toa and Ngati Mutunga confederate. At dawn, he attacked Pehikatea and by midday the pa was in his control; The people of Te Kaeaea pursued those who fled and retrieved many Ngati Tama hostages.

By 1831 Te Kaeaea returned to Taranaki. In the same year Waikato war party invaded Taranaki again, taking the most significant pa Pukerangiora. Many immigrants had taken shelter with Te Wharepouri and the Te Ati Awa people at Ngamotu, in New Plymouth, triumphantly defending Otaka pa against a Waikato charge.

During this three week invasion, Te Kaeaea arrived by waka with 30 to 40 followers from his pa Patangata, built on a shingle island at the Tongaporutu river mouth. He forced himself through the invading force and was able to join the defenders inside Otaka.

In dread of further reprisals, most of Ngati Tama and Te Ati Awa moved south, with other Taranaki people, on the journey known as Te Heke Hauhaua. Te Kaeaea was one of the leaders. He may have returned to Wairarapa during this time. In 1834, after the battle between Te Ati Awa and Ngati Raukawa at Haowhenua pa, in Otaki, Te Kaeaea came to the Kapiti coast with his section of Ngati Tama in an undertaking to acquire some living space from those who were a part of the fight and who were not predicted not to resist. He settled south of Paremata.

Still, Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata came on two waka with Ngati Kimihia, a hapu of Ngati Toa, and Ngati Raukawa to oppose Te Kaeaea. No fight followed, however Te Kaeaea was sent off with his people by Te Rangihaeata. Te Kaeaea then attempted a second time to lay the foundation of finding a new home for his people, on Mana Island at this time. Once more Te Rangihaeata had sacked him out.

It was from this event that he was called Taringakuri forever linked to Te Kaeaea. Te Rangihaeata tauntingly said that if Te Kaeaea could not understand his words he must have a dog’s ears:
‘Taringakuri, he turinga ki te kupu o Mokau’
Taringakuri, taking no heed of the words of Mokau (Te Rangihaeata).

In the 1840s Ngati Tama lived at Ohariu where many were still living. Te Kaeaea, or Taringakuri as he was frequently known from this time, may have resettled in Wairarapa.

In the late 1830s Te Wharepouri, of Te Atiawa, had tried to convince the Taranaki people to leave Wairarapa to Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane in return for his niece and adopted daughter, Ripeka Te Kakapi. Te Kaeaea was adamant about not leaving due to the Ngati Tama people that were killed there. Te Wharepouri, expected further attacks by Nuku-pewapewa, and said to Te Kaeaea,
‘Kia noho iho hei toutou, a hei wahie hoki mo nga ahi a Nuku. ‘Ka whakahoki atu tera, he rite a ia ki te rakau whakarae, e kore e ngiha’. ‘You can stay to light Nuku’s fires; remain as firewood for him.’ To this Te Kaeaea replied, ‘I’m green wood, and won’t burn’.

Possibly uncertain of his safety in Wairarapa than his words implied, by 1839 Te Kaeaea had resettled his people at Kaiwharawhara in te Upoko o te Ika a Maui (Port Nicholson). In September 1839, at the arrival of the Tory, the New Zealand Company ship, Te Kaeaea was with those chiefs who accepted payment for the greater Wellington area. He welcomed the settlers arrival, then on 29 April 1840 he signed the Treaty of Waitangi. In 1842 the relationships with the settlers had deteriorated. Though assurances were made that his village and ngakinga (cultivations) were put aside for him and his people, settlers asserted to claim his clearings, and their cattle trampled his crops.

Due to these plunder of his clearings and crops. Te Kaeaea had determined that he was free from any earlier agreements to sell. Te Rangihaeata supported him and he wanted Ngati Tama to provide for his client hapu, Ngati Rangatahi of Wanganui, Te Kaeaea took thirty or more of his warriors and commenced clearing bush for cultivations on land claimed by William Swainson in the Hutt Valley. Swainson objected in the newspapers and made petitions to the authorities; while in 1842 William Spain, the commissioner of land claims, Michael Murphy, the chief police magistrate, and others were involved in effort to remove Te Kaeaea, but they were unsuccessful. Swainson was so angered by Te Kaeaea felling trees close to his house that he assaulted the chief, by this time an old man.

Afterwards Spain’s investigation declared that the New Zealand Company had precedence but required that payment be paid to Maori owners who had been deceived. Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata were paid £400, but Ngati Tama and Ngati Rangatahi did not receive any compensation either in land or money. Between 1842 and 1845 Te Kaeaea steadfastly secured his position in the Hutt; the pa Maraenuka was situated in Lower Hutt and houses were built on the land Swainson had claimed.

In March 1844 William Spain called upon Te Kaeaea again and found him with his people occupied in cutting a line 30 or 40 yards wide and nearly a mile in length. He was asked his objective Te Kaeaea responded, ‘I am cutting a line in accordance with the directions of Te Rauparaha, to separate between the lands of the European and our own.’ When Spain disagreed, Te Kaeaea jogged his memory by saying that Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata had disagreed to the boundaries set by Spain for the New Zealand Company. His intent was to proceed with the line across the valley.

The tenacious nature of Te Kaeaea to maintain mana over Heretaunga (Upper Hutt) could not be challenged formally until 1846, when George Grey arrived as the new Governor. Prepared with adequate troops to force the issue, within two days of his arrival he had persuaded Te Kaeaea to pledge to remove his people from the Hutt Valley, but Te Kaeaea demanded payment for the 300 acres of potatoes and cultivations he had. The Governor was unwilling to discuss any compensation until Te Kaeaea had actually left. Te Kaeaea and his people did leave, however when he saw that settlers instantly commenced possession and occupation, he returned.

On 24 February 1846 the military were advanced into the Hutt; the next day Richard Taylor, CMS missionary at Wanganui, came to negotiate. He was successful in influencing Ngati Tama and Ngati Rangatahi to withdraw, but stated that ‘low Europeans’ had plundered the houses and property, broken in and entered into the chapel and stolen canoes. Te Kaeaea declared:
“I poohehe au he tapu te kupu a te Kaawana. Kua kite au i naaianei, he kurumetoometoo noa iho a ia ki toona iwi“.

‘I thought the word of a Governor was sacred, but now I see that he too is worth nothing in the eyes of his own people’.

By May 1846 Grey was successful in separating Te Kaeaea and Ngati Tama from Ngati Rangatahi. Their immediate needs were met with 300 acres at Kaiwharawhara and with monetary compensation for their produce. Te Kaeaea as the Ngati Tama leader was transferred to Auckland for a short time.

In the 1850s government agents feared that Te Kaeaea may join the return of Taranaki peoples to their ancestral lands. To avoid this course of action, Donald McLean purchased £400 worth of land in the Hutt for Te Kaeaea and Ngati Tama; the old chief and his people had paid the debt by 1860. In 1856 some of the Taranaki people of Te Kaeaea squatted on the Pakuratahi reserves so that they could live near their chief.

An inquiry to Grey to give them reserves was refused and some people returned to Taranaki in 1868; Te Kaeaea joined them on a last visit to his ancestral lands. In the same year Te Kaeaea received an annual pension for ‘Services rendered to the Government’. (3)

He was listed as ‘Wikitoa Taringa Kuri’. He died 5 October 1871 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery, on the east side of Te Puni Street, Petone. The Bishop of Wellington, Octavius Hadfield, performed the service.(4)

Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama arrived in a migration called the Nihoputa and peacefully settled at Waikanae and Ohariu respectively.(5) Probably that same year, in 1824, Ngati Tama extended their Ohariu settlement into the harbour itself, once again choosing Pipitea, notably Tiakiwai as the focal point of initial settlement.(6)

Ballara speculates that Tiakiwai was established in 1824 as an extension of the Ngati Tama Nihoputa migrants’ settlement at Ohariu.(7)

(1) Te Ataria , cited in Jackson, M “The Crown the treaty, and the Usurpation of the Maori Rights (26-28 May 1989), Proceedings of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Human Rights in the Pacific and Asia Region: A Policy Conference, Wellington

(2) Signed on 29 April, on Ariel at Port Nicholson (Wellington), witnessed by Henry Williams and George Thomas Clayton

(3) Walzl, Tony Ngati Tama in Wellington 1840-1870 (June 1996), Wellington

(4) Ballara, Angela The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Vol. 1 1769-1869 (1990), The Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Wellington

(5) Ballara, pp16-18

(6) Best Pt 4 p103; Ballara pp l8 and 25. Note Ngati Tama soon established other settlements at Kaiwharawhara and at Mukamuka (at Palliser Bay). Neither settlement was opposed by earlier inhabitants, Ibid p18.

(7) Adkin

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