Ngāti Hako, Ngāti Tamatera


Tukukino was one of a handful of land activists of his generation.1 He was a rangatira of Ngāti Hako and Ngāti Tamatera and fiercely resisted the opening up of Ohinemuri for goldmining. It's hard to imagine what it might have felt like back in his time to have had a road cut through one's backyard and be forced to defend tangible and intangible aspects of one's Māori legacy, traditions and life pathways.

Goldmining was eventually opened up at Ohinemuri and in the greater Thames district. Ngāti Hako and Ngāti Tamatera lands came into the hands of the government. Tukukino had kinship ties to Taraia Ngākuti and to Mere Kuru who was also an irrepressible environmental activist.2

In this portrait of Tukukino he is wearing a puhoi or skin of a huia, minus the tail feathers in his ear as adornment. A beautiful, trusting and inquisitive bird, the huia was reputed to sing soft and clear flute-like songs. The twelve white-tipped tail feathers of the huia were prestigious trading items and a treasured possession.

New settlers also wanted huia plumes to wear in hatbands and they were eagerly collected by museums to stuff and send to Europe for display. Along with this demand, the introduction of stoats, cats and rats, resulted in the extinction of the huia. The last recorded sighting of the bird was in 1907.



  1. ‘The Native Disturbance at Ohinemuri’, Evening Post, vol XVIII, issue 71, 20 September 1879, p 2, Papers Past, accessed 2 March 2010.
  2. ‘The Irrepressible Mere Kuru,’ Daily Southern Cross, vol XXVI, issue 4091, 1 October 1870, p 3, Papers Past, accessed 2 March 2010.
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