IWI / HAPU AFFILIATIONS
Rapata Wahawaha belonged to the Ngāti Porou people. His father
was Hipora Koroua and his mother Te Hapamana Te Whao. Rapata was
named for Rapata Whakapuhia, a Rongowhakaata chief. The chief
captured him after a skirmish between Rongowhakaata and Ngati Porou
and kept Rapata as a slave. Rapata was eventually released from his
captor and left Poverty Bay to return to his Ngāti Porou people.
Rapata married Harata Te Ihi at Turanga (Gisborne) in 1849.
Rapata is a notable figure in the New Zealand wars. He led a
military life on the East Coast to Kahungunu, Wairoa and into Te
Urewera, creating allies with iwi and Colonial forces determined to capture Te
Kooti.1 This campaign would
become his most notorious because after four attempts he still had
not captured him. Rapapta was awarded the New Zealand
Cross for gallantry in this action and raised to the rank of Major.
In 1878 Rapata was awarded a sword of honour by Queen Victoria for
his services in the wars and in 1887 was appointed to the
Rapata had a meeting house built at Waiomatatini and called it
Porourangi. Carvings were made for it by Tamati Ngakaho; it was
completed and dedicated in 1888. Later it was re-sited on higher
ground to protect it from floods. The house still stands and some
of the original carving has survived.3
In June 1901 several comments was left in the Māori Visitors'
Book at the Lindauer Art Gallery. These were by Wiremu
Parata of Nuhaka saying he visited Wahawaha and Ihaka Whaanga.
Pokiha and Tame Hapata acknowledged Wahawaha,
Whaanga and Renata Kawepo and Tuta Nihoniho of Waipiro Bay left a
comment praising the portrait of Wahawaha. In September of the same
Arihi Tinotahi of Whareponga Waipiro Bay wrote that the
portrait looked just as he was in real life. In October that
same year, Rameka Poi of Waiapu credits Rapata in
this way: 'te tangata nānā i ora ai tōna hapū a Ngāti Porou'.
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