PATUONE, Eruera Maihi
A new biography of Patuone, Eruera Maihi appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Patuone was born at Hokianga and was the son of Tapua, a priest and warrior chief of the Ngati Hao hapu of the Ngapuhi tribe, by his wife, Te Kawehau. He was the elder brother of Nene. Although educated for priestly office, Patuone took part in the tribal wars of the early 1800s, where he gained a notable reputation as a warrior. He was present at the Waituna engagement (1806) and at Warina (1810), when the Ngapuhi were defeated by the Ngati Roroa branch of Ngati Whatua. In 1814 Patuone and Nene welcomed the establishment of Marsden's mission and afterwards protected missionaries of all denominations. In 1819, when Thomas McDonnell founded a trading post and shipyard at Hokianga, Patuone and Nene gave the settlement their protection. Six years later they extended their protection to the first New Zealand Company's settlement in the same district.
In 1819 Patuone and Nene accompanied the joint Ngapuhi – Ngati Toa expedition, which was led by Tu Whare, Te Rauparaha, and Te Rangihaeata. This taua travelled through Taranaki, fought a series of engagements in the Wanganui district, and visited Cook Strait before returning home. In 1822 Patuone supported Hongi's cause against Te Hinaki and it was on his advice that Hongi pressed the siege of Mauinaina pa at a crucial moment. He was present at the battle of Te Ika-a-ranga-nui in 1825, when all earlier reverses at the hands of Ngati Whatua were avenged. Two years later Patuone and Nene intervened in one of Hongi's campaigns and rescued the missionaries from Wesleydale, Whangaroa. In 1831 Patuone signed the petition to William IV, requesting British protection. Later in the same year, while supporting a Ngati Paoa campaign against Te Waharoa, Patuone married Riria Takarangi, a sister of Te Kupenga, the Ngati Paoa chief of Whakatiwai. He lived with his wife's people for some years, but returned to Hokianga after her death. In 1835 he visited Thames with Henry Williams in the Columbine and afterwards went to Sydney.
Patuone was one of the first chiefs to sign the Treaty of Waitangi. Later in the same month he was baptised by Henry Williams, when he took the names Eruera Maihi (Edward Marsh) as a compliment to Williams' son. During Heke's revolt he took the field on the Government side and distinguished himself at the siege of Ruapekapeka pa. In the tribal unrest which followed, Grey invited Patuone to live at Waiwharariki on the North Shore. There he acted as a bulwark against the northern tribes. On one occasion, when a large fleet of Ngati Paoa war canoes appeared in Auckland Harbour bent on rescuing one of their chiefs who had been arrested, Patuone met them and persuaded them to disperse. When the Ngati Paoa made a subsequent foray against the city, Patuone's men garrisoned the redoubts against them. In order that he might be on hand should any further attack threaten he took up residence in Auckland, where he was in constant communication with the government of the day. In 1863, when war seemed imminent in the Waikato, he advised Grey that the side whose forces crossed the Maungatawhiri Stream first would be considered the aggressor. During Whitaker's superintendency (1865–67), Patuone was consulted on all phases of the Provincial Government's native policy.
In his later years the Colonial Government gave Patuone 200 acres in the Takapuna district and a pension of £100 per annum. He was well known to Auckland settlers in the 1860s and invariably wore the semi-undress uniform of a Grenadier Guards officer with an Inverness cape. On 19 July 1872 Patuone addressed a farewell letter to his many European friends. He died on 19 September 1872 and was buried, with full military honours, in the Church of England cemetery at the foot of Flagstaff Hill, North Shore. Dr Pollen was one of the chief mourners. Patuone is buried beside the son of his old commander and friend, Colonel Wynyard, and his grave is marked by a monument erected by the Colonial Government.
Patuone's monument gives his age as 96 years, but the old chief always claimed that, as a child of eight, he had in 1769 gone on board Captain Cook's ship at the Bay of Islands.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- Marsden Letters and Journals, Elder, J. R. (ed.) (1932)
- Early Journals of Henry Williams, 1826–40, Rogers, L. M. (ed.) (1961)
- The Life and Times of Patuone, Davis, C. O. (1876)
- New Zealand Herald, 23 Sep 1872 (Obit).