HIPANGO, Hoani Wiremu
A new biography of Hipango, Hoani Wiremu appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Hoani Wiremu (John Williams) Hipango was a chief of the Ngati Tuamango hapu who lived at Putiki-waranui, near Wanganui. Although not the senior member of the ariki line, Hipango was the most influential chief among the Wanganui tribes and the largest landowner in the district. He welcomed the missionaries in the 1840s and became a lifelong friend of Richard Taylor. In 1845, when Te Heuheu Mananui and Te Mamaku threatened the Wanganui settlement, Hipango and the other Putiki chiefs garrisoned the town until Government troops arrived. In 1846, following the Gilfillan massacre, Hipango led a small party up the river in pursuit of the murderers, whom he brought back for trial. As a result of this Sir George Grey granted him a pension and in 1849 appointed him Native Assessor. In 1855 he was selected by the local chiefs to accompany Taylor to England to present gifts and make their formal submission to the Queen. While in London, where Queen Victoria received him in private audience, Hipango was impressed by the magnitude of the task of feeding so many people – especially as the English farm land seemed to him to be very barren. On his return to New Zealand Hipango accompanied Taylor to Taranaki where they interceded, unsuccessfully, in a dispute between Rawiri Waiaua and Te Katakore. About this time he entered St. Stephen's College, Auckland, to train for the ministry; however, failing eyesight forced him to abandon his studies and he reluctantly accepted a position of trust at Wanganui which Grey offered. During the Hauhau wars Hipango fought on the Government side, and after the Battle of Moutoa he led the Maori force which pursued the retreating enemy. These were besieged in Ohoutahi pa, about 60 miles up river from Wanganui, but Hipango was mortally wounded on 23 February 1865 during the skirmishing which preceded the assault. He was carried back to Wanganui where he died on 24 February 1865.
Early in life Hipango married Rawinia Rere. One of his sons, Wata (Walter) Hipango, later presented Hipango Park to the citizens of Wanganui.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- The Past and Present of New Zealand, Taylor, R. (1868)
- Te Ika-a-Maui, Taylor, R. (1870)
- Wanganui Chronicle, 25 Feb 1865.