RC2009/2/07/13 - Te Horeta Taniwha

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.

James Mackay

Late Civil Commissioner NZ


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