Rangi Topeora

 

Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa (?- 1865-1873?)

Iwi map - Rangi TopeoraIWI / HAPU AFFILIATIONS

Topeora was a chiefly woman of the Ngāti Toa Rangitira iwi and was born in Kawhia.  She joined the southern migration by Ngāti Toa and other iwi to Kapiti Island and the nearby Cook Strait coast.  Her uncle, the chief, Te Rauparaha, led this migration in about 1820. She was a direct descendant of Hoturoa, rangatira of the Tainui waka, which came from Hawaiki during the great migration.  Her mother was Waitohi, Te Rauparaha's sister and her father, Te Rakaherea.

Known to have had four marriages and many other relationships, she had one son, Matene Te Whiwhi, who became chief of both the Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Raukawa iwi.  She also had a daughter, Rakapa Kahoki, who was a 'notable composer' taking after her mother, whose waiata are still sung today. 1 As well as love songs and those with historical references, Topeora composed 'perfectly diabolical cursing songs' directed at her enemies.2 She fought in many battles and was a noted orator who sought and was given the right to speak at meetings.

Topeora called herself Kuini Wikitoria (Queen Victoria) and her husband, Arapeta (Albert) when she was christened by Bishop Selwyn in the 1840s.3 Topeora was one of only five women to sign the Treaty of Waitangi, which she did at Kapiti on 14 May 1840.4

In Lindauer's portrait, which we know to have been painted in about 1863,5 Topeora wears multiple pounamu heitiki denoting the high regard with which she was held by her people.  The portrait is taken from a photograph by Edward Smallwood Richards (1834-1917) and shows the sitter wearing feathers from the now-extinct huia bird in her hair and a kaitaka korowai (flax cloak).

CM

  1. W.H. Oliver and Teremoana Sparks, ‘Topeora, Rangi Kuini Wikitoria ?- 1865-1873?’, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 7 July 2005, accessed 5 March 2010.
  2. MS Papers 7888, Folder 026, p 183; 88 Folder 026, p 183, Elsdon Craig Papers, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.
  3. Warren E. Limbrick, 'Selwyn, George Augustus 1809 - 1878', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007, accessed 5 March 2010.
  4. John Wilson, ‘Government and nation – The origins of Nationhood’, Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 3 March 2009, accessed 24 February 2010.
  5. Tamihana Te Rauparaha in a letter to Governor Grey, Grey New Zealand Maori Autograph GNZMA 103, 27 June 1863.
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