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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.



(also known as Major Te Wheoro).


A new biography of Te Wheoro, Wiremu Te Morehu Maipapa appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Maori chief and member of Parliament.

Te Wheoro was chief of the Ngati Naho and also belonged to the Ngati Hourua, Ngati Mahuta, and Ngati Hinetu, subtribes of the Waikato. He was a close relative of Tawhiao. His mother was Ngapaoa, of the Ngati Hinetu, who was killed at Maungatautari by the Ngati Pukenga. Te Wheoro's high birth, intelligence, and independent nature gave him standing among the Waikato tribes. At the great King-ite meeting in 1859 he favoured cooperation with the European Government and he reiterated these views at Kohimarama in 1860. He supported Fenton in his magistracy in the Waikato and became a staunch admirer and advocate of Pakeha institutions. In 1861, as magistrate of the runanga of the Ngati Mahuta at Te Kohekohe (near Mercer), Te Wheoro resisted the Kingites who attempted to prevent him building his own courthouse and police barracks. When war seemed inevitable he moved his headquarters to Te Ia, on the “King” country border, but did not possess sufficient mana to prevent his young men from rejoining their tribes to fight against the Pakeha. In 1863 Te Wheoro was appointed Captain in the Militia, and General Cameron employed him as a guide during his Waikato campaigns. Te Wheoro accompanied Sir George Grey to Taupiri after the Rangiriri battle, and thereafter both sides used his services on an unofficial liaison basis. This work continued after the war, and for many years he was almost the only person who possessed the confidence of “King-ite” and European leaders.

Te Wheoro was a member of Parliament for Western Maori from 1879–84 and refused to join Hall's Ministry when he found that the Maori members would not have responsible portfolios. In 1884 he accompanied Tawhiao to England and, because of his standing with both sides, facilitated negotiations between the “King” and the Colonial Office. In January 1890 Te Wheoro accompanied the Waikato chiefs to Auckland where, in an inspiring ceremony, they pledged their loyalty. Major Te Wheoro died on 30 October 1895.

A lifelong friend of the Pakeha and of their institutions, Te Wheoro consistently urged larger representation for Maoris in Parliament and a separate Executive to handle native affairs. But this “short, thickset man, with heavy features, a strong shrewd expression and genial personality” will be best remembered for his liaison services in the Maori Wars.

by Walter Hugh Ross, Journalist, Taupo.

  • The Maori King, Gorst, J. E. (1959)
  • The New Zealand Wars, Cowan, J. (1955)
  • New Zealand Herald, 30 Oct 1895 (Obit).


Walter Hugh Ross, Journalist, Taupo.