Te Horeta Taniwha (Hook Nose)
Principal chief of the Ngatiwhanaunga tribe of Thames and
Coromandel. At the time of Captain Cooks arrival at Mercury Bay he
was a youth, and was in the habit of relating reminiscences of that
famous navigator, especially of his giving the chief of that place
two hands full of potatoes to plant. He was styled the Taniwha
because in a fight on board a canoe, he was speared and fell into
the water, his assailant jumped after him to renew the attack, but
was killed by Te Horeta (a Taniwha is the name of a fabulous
reptile, which the Maoris describe as a species of crocodile, or
alligator, probably originating in their early sojourn in Egypt,
and its neighbourhood; and handed down in their ancient traditions)
hence through his prowess he was said to resemble that monster.
On the discover of gold at Coromandel in 1852, the old man was
one of the first to agree to allow prospecting on his lands. He was
always friendly to Europeans. He was rather a rough specimen of the
old class of chief. He allowed the Government storeship
"Coromandel" to load kauri spars and squared timber at Waiau and
the Captain named the harbour Coromandel in commemoration of that
event. Te Horeta Taniwha died early in the sixties, being nearly a
hundred years of age at the time.
Late Civil Commissioner NZ
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