RC2009/2/07/03 - Newspaper article

Newspaper article


[By telegraph. - Own correspondent].

Otorohanga, Monday.

Wahanui died yesterday at his settlement, near Te Kuiti. A large number of natives are leaving for the tangi. He is the last of the old war chiefs. He has been in ill-health for some years, and was a complete wreck physically for some months past.

Wahanui was one of the great chiefs of the Ngatimaniapoto, and consequently one of the principal owners of the territory known as "the King Country." Like all the men of influence among the Maoris, Wahanui could count a long descent. The possessions of his family lying in the centre and west of the island, Wahanui's people came under the influence of the Wesleyan missionaries, and Wahanui, when a boy, was sent down to be educated at the Three Kings Institution, near Auckland. Endowed with great natural ability Wahanui was an apt pupil of all the religious and secular knowledge communicated at the Three Kings, and whatever other effects it had upon him it certainly sharpened his intellect. Wahanui returned from school to his people in the upper part of the Waipa Valley during the years of inquietude and restlessness which preceded the war. He became at once, like all his kindred, decidedly hostile to the Europeans, and his residence amongst them and education seemed only to make keener the edge of his hostility. He was then known as Reihana te Whakahoehoe, and by this name he was known by old settlers as a prominent orator at King meetings. Then came the war, and Reihana was present at most of the fights on the line of the Waikato up to the defence of Orakau. During the years succeeding he lived mostly in the interior of the King Country, never seeing any Europeans, preventing them from coming into the country, and being more bitterly hostile than any of the other chiefs. Wahanui was the Prime Minister and principal advisor of Tawhiao. He belonged to Ngatimaniapoto, the owners of nine-tenths of the land in the King Country; he was not a land-seller, but always kept Europeans at their distance. He had a powerful dominating mind, from whose influence Tawhiao could not escape. He accompanied Tawhiao on his formal visit to Auckland after the war. Wahanui was a very tall man, and of late years had become enormously stout. He was a splendid orator. He had fine command of the language, and when occasion required could adorn his speeches with all those graces of poetic allusion and quotation, of reference to ancient tradition and the deeds of famous ancestors, essential to the Maori orator.


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