Te Hapuku


Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Te Waha Hamamao, Ngāti Whatu-i-apiti ( ? – 1878)


Te Hapuku was also known as Te Hapuku Te Ikanui o te Moana. His father was Kurimate and his mother was Tatari. His personal household was large. Te Heipora, his principal wife, had become his spouse in the late 1820s. She was the mother of his recognised heir, Karanama (Cranmer). Other wives were Whaitiri, the mother of Eke-nga-rangi and Arapata; and Hinerangi, the mother of Tangata-ke and Te Pohuka. Other sons were Te Whakahemo and Nepia. Colenso knew of eight wives in 1850; Donald McLean reported ten.1 Te Hapuku rejected Christianity whilst permitting his people and his own children to become converts.

Te Hapuku was a signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi and an ardent proponent of land sales for Pākehā settlement.2 He was remembered as a 'typical' Māori chief in this account by a new settler at Te Aute where Hapuku held extensive land holdings. The settlers had made a long white road which snaked around the bush and hills, and were firing off their newly acquired firearms using an old tree stump as their target. Te Hapuku and his followers leapt out of the forest clad in woven mats and brandishing taiaha and mere. Te Hapuku wore large shark teeth as ear ornaments and his facial moko made him appear fierce. The stump the settlers were firing at was a tapu area. The matter was settled without loss of life.3

Te Hapuku died on 23 May 1878 at Te Hauke. His last illness continued for five weeks. As he lay dying he asked to be placed so that his eyes should close watching the sacred Kahuranaki hill. His funeral took place 31 May and was attended by 400 Māori and Pākehā; the service was conducted by Rev. Samuel Williams.4


  1. Angela Ballara, 'Te Hapuku ? - 1878', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007, http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/DNZB/alt_essayBody.asp?essayID=1T28, accessed 4 March 2010.
  2. John Wilson, ‘Government and nation – The origins of Nationhood’, Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 3 March 2009, accessed 24 February 2010.
  3. ‘New Zealand Chiefs Famed in Story’,Otago Witness , issue 2744, 17 October 1906, p 81, Papers Past, accessed 24 February 2010.
  4. Mary Boyd, 'Williams, Samuel 1822 - 1907', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007, accessed 4 March 2010.
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  • Patricia Gray - Ngati Porou/Tuhoe

    At 11pm on 2 July 2010

    First i just want to mention how honoured i feel to read about this great chief,an this is the man my deceased mother-inlaw spoke of often..as she is a direct decendant who is buried in the same cemeatry as him,her name was Whawhakiterangi June Hapuku,and am extremerly proud to know my chidren will carry his mana through there lives,an to their childrens,children..

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