TE WHAREPOURI or TE KAKAPOI-o-te-RANGI
Ngati Awa chief.
A new biography of Te Wharepouri, Te Kakapi-o-te-rangi appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Te Wharepouri was born in Taranaki, the son of Te Whiti and Hine-te-Uru. He was a grandson of Te Whitikatura by his principal wife, Rongouaroa, and was thus a senior chief of the Ngati Tawhirikura branch of Te Ati Awa, being senior to his cousins Makore Ngatata-i-te-rangi and Te Puni. He was also closely related to Te Whiti, the prophet of Parihaka.
Te Wharepouri fought at Motunui in 1822 and in the defence of Pukerangiora. In 1826 he served with Whatanui's taua against the Ngati Kahungunu. He was one of the Te Ati Awa party when Te Karawa was killed at Putiki pa by the Ngati Ruanui and joined the party of Waikatos under Te Waharoa, Tarapipipi, and Naera, whom Ngatata summoned to avenge this insult.
About 1828 he is said to have swum out to Love's schooner to urge Barrett to settle at Ngamotu pa (New Plymouth). Te Wharepouri is believed to have visited Sydney twice with Love and to have purchased muskets. In 1832 he successfully defended Ngamotu against Te Wherowhero's Waikatos. In the same year he emigrated to the Wellington district and settled at Ngauranga. During the following years Te Wharepouri fought several campaigns against the Ngati Kahungunu, whom the Ngati Awa had displaced, and when peace was restored the former tribe agreed to withdraw into the Wairarapa.
After these wars portions of the Ngati Awa moved to Te Awaiti and to Waikanae. In 1838, because Te Wharepouri feared that this dispersion would weaken the tribe's hold on the Wellington district, he visited Te Awaiti where he tried, unsuccessfully, to induce the hapus to return. Accordingly, when the Tory arrived in 1839 Te Wharepouri was ready to sell large tracts of land to Colonel Wakefield because, as he saw it, the presence of European settlers would ensure that the remaining Te Ati Awa lands in the district would be adequately defended.
Te Wharepouri's last years were burdened by serious illness and he died at Ngauranga on 22 November 1842. On his deathbed he is said to have advised his successor, Te Puni, “Muri nei ki aku taonga Maori ki aku taonga Pakeha”. (“Care for my Maori and European people when I am gone”.) Te Wharepouri was buried at Petone and a cenotaph was erected to his memory on the hill by the side of the Waitohi Stream.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- History of Taranaki, Wells, B. (1878)
- The Great Harbour of Tara, Adkin, G. L. (1959)
- New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, 26 Nov 1842.