WAIKATO, or Hohaia Parati
Waikato was born about 1790 and was the son of Rakau, chief of the Hikutu hapu of Ngapuhi tribe. He was a brother of Wharepoaka, a brother-in-law of Hongi Hika, and a close relative of Ruatara. In Marsden's time Waikato was an important chief of Rangihoua at the Bay of Islands. Ruatara's adventures kindled in him the desire to visit England. Accordingly, in February 1820, he sailed with Hongi and Kendall in the whaler New Zealander. While Hongi showed an interest in military matters, Waikato evinced a desire to learn all he could about agriculture and received many implements and seeds as gifts.
After his return Waikato showed himself reluctant to engage in tribal warfare. Hongi prevailed upon him to join the expedition against Te Hinaki at Thames, but Waikato was so disgusted by the orgy of cannibalism after the battle that he told Marsden he would never fight again. He refused to accompany Hongi's Rotorua expedition. The apparently inevitable tribal wars, which constantly interrupted cultivation and brought famine to all districts, so discouraged Waikato that he contemplated moving his family to New South Wales. At this time he favoured offering Hongi kingship, on condition that he would cease fighting.
On 22 January 1827, after Hongi received his mortal wound, the missionaries feared the Maoris might sack Paihia; however, Waikato and Wharepoaka undertook to protect the station. Although Waikato never embraced Christianity, he continued to protect the missionaries until after the establishment of British Sovereignty. He supported Nakahi – the cult of the serpent – a native religion based upon certain Biblical teachings, which flourished in the 1820s and 1830s. During the 1830s Waikato devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits. In 1831 he signed the chiefs' petition to William IV requesting protection. In 1841, when Maketu murdered the Robertson family at the Bay of Islands, Henry Williams asked Waikato to protect the settlers and to use his influence to bring the culprit to trial. On this occasion Waikato presented to Williams, as a guarantee of his good faith, the helmet given him by George IV. During Heke's war he sided with Nene and the British forces. In his later years he lived at Te Puna (Rangihoua) and received a pension from the Government. He died at the Bay of Islands on 17 September 1877.
Waikato and Ruatara married sisters, and one of Waikato's sisters became the second wife of Philip Tapsell.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- Marsden's Letters and Journals, Elder, J. R. (ed.) (1932)
- The Early Journals of Henry Williams, 1826–40, Rogers, L. M. (ed.) (1961)
- New Zealand Herald, 21 Sep 1877 (Obit).