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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



(c. 1790–1862).

Paramount chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa.

A new biography of Te Heuheu Tukino III, Iwikau appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Iwikau was born about 1790, the second surviving son of Te Heuheu Tukino I (Herea) (q.v.), and of Rangiaho, a chieftainess of the Maniapoto. He was a brother of Te Heuheu Tukino II (Mananui), and in his early days took part in all the latter's campaigns. On Mananui's death in May 1846, Iwikau arranged the funeral rites, preparatory to having his brother's body exhumed for reburial on the slopes of Tongariro. As this meant extending his personal mana he came into open conflict with Te Herekiekie, the young Tokaanu chief who belonged to the senior branch of the Tuwharetoa chiefly line. This enmity lasted until 1850, when the Rev. T. S. Grace brought the two together and effected a reconciliation. Iwikau was chosen paramount chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa because of his family ties with the powerful Waikatos and with Ngati Maniapoto, and also because Horonuku (Te Heuheu Tukino IV) was too inexperienced to accept the responsibility. Te Herekiekie's ties were with Ngati Awa and the Arawa tribes, which were considered not so suitable. Fearing a further landslide at Te Rapa, Iwikau made Pukawa his principal pa. It was situated near the beautiful Waihi Falls at the western end of Lake Taupo and lay within the district where his favourite wife, Ruingarangi, was the high chieftainess.

In 1840, much to Mananui's annoyance, Iwikau had signed the Treaty of Waitangi and, in 1850, Sir George Grey visited Pukawa and presented him with a flag as a reward for his loyalty to the Queen. Because he sympathised with their grievances and feared that the Maori race was doomed to rapid extinction, Iwikau was interested in the Maori “King” movement from its inception. He was so much impressed by the great meeting in the Ngati Ruanui country in 1854 and by the rise of the Maori Land League that he convened a second meeting, at Pukawa, a few months later. In doing this he was anxious to display his personal mana to offset that of his relative Potatau Te Wherowhero who was soon to be elected the first Maori “King”. Although he was presented and assisted Tamihana at Potatau's investiture in June 1858, Iwikau allowed himself to be dissuaded by the Rev. T.S. Grace from becoming a follower of the “King”. In this way he avoided implicating his Tuwharetoa tribe in the disastrous Taranaki and Waikato Wars, and thereby saved their territories from being confiscated by the Government.

Acclaimed “the fighting chief of Taupo”, Iwikau was probably better known as a warrior than was his more famous brother. His campaigns, however, were not always successful, as, for instance, when he challenged Matakatea in the early 1840s. His rule as paramount chief of Tuwharetoa is remembered for three reasons: he embraced Christianity; he helped to unify the Waikato and Taranaki tribes under Potatau; and he confirmed the boundaries of the Tuwharetoa tribal lands. He died in October 1862.

Iwikau was a man of medium height, slighter in build and less prepossessing than his brother. Grace says he was the sole surviving chief of the old school – a great patriot, yet an admirer of the Europeans.

by Robert Ritchie Alexander, M.A., DIP.ED.(N.Z.), B.T.(CALCUTTA), PH.D.(MINNESOTA), Teachers' Training College, Christchurch.

  • Tuwharetoa, Grace, J. te H. (1959)
  • The New Zealand Wars, Cowan, J. (1955).


Robert Ritchie Alexander, M.A., DIP.ED.(N.Z.), B.T.(CALCUTTA), PH.D.(MINNESOTA), Teachers' Training College, Christchurch.