Rapata Wahawaha


Ngāti Porou, Te Aowera (c1820 – 1897)

Iwi map - Rapata WahawahaIWI / 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 Legislative Council.2

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. Te Hata 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 year, Mere 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'.


  1. Judith Binney, 'Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki ? - 1893', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007, accessed 26 February 2010.
  2. Steven Oliver, 'Wahawaha, Rapata ? - 1897', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007, accessed 26 February 2010.
  3. Steven Oliver, 'Wahawaha, Rapata ? - 1897', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007, accessed 26 February 2010.
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