PUHIWAHINE, or Rihi (Elizabeth) Gotty
A new biography of Puhiwahine Te Rangi-hirawea, Rihi appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Puhiwahine was born about 1816 on the Taringamotu Stream opposite the Petania pa. Her father was Rawiri Te Rangihirawea, who was a close relative of Te Heuheu Horonuku's wife, and her mother was Hinekiore, a famous song leader and a high priestess of the bird cult. Puhiwahine learnt from her mother the traditions and songs and dances of her people and at an early age became an accomplished performer at Ngati Tuwharetoa gatherings. In these years she travelled widely, visited many tribes, and composed many waiatas and action songs. Some of her love songs and lullabies enjoyed wide popularity. Her plaintive He Waiata Aroha mo Te Mahuta Te Toko is still sung as a farewell at tribal gatherings.
In the early 1840s, at Poaru, Taupo, Puhiwahine married Johann von Goethe (c. 1809–93), a German immigrant who had arrived in New Zealand in 1838. He was an innkeeper at Auckland and, later, at Wanganui. Goethe, or Gotty, as he anglicised his name, is believed by some to have been a grandson of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), the great German poet.
After her marriage Puhiwahine lived at Wanganui and, later, at Gotty's farm in the Rangitikei district. She died at Ongarue on 18 February 1906 leaving two sons. Her songs and poetry, for which she is remembered, follow traditional Maori forms and rhythms and abound with traditional imagery. p. te H.J.
- Puhiwahine – Maori Poetess, Jones, P. te H. (1961).