Page 1: Biography
Ngāti Whakaue woman of mana
This biography, written by Mark Tapsell, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1990.
Hine-i-tūrama Ngātīki now known by her descendants as Hineatūrama, was of Ngāti Whakaue, a section of Te Arawa. She was the only daughter of Te Koeke and her husband Kahana-tokowai, of Mokoia Island, Rotorua. She was born probably in 1818, and brought up in the household of her kinsman Te Amohau at Ōhinemutu.
In 1830 the Danish trader Phillip Tapsell established a trading station at Maketū. After the death of his second Ngāpuhi wife a year or so later, he married Hine-i-tūrama. Tapsell, in his mid 50s, was some 40 years older than his young bride. During the wars between Te Arawa and Ngāi Te Rangi in the Bay of Plenty in the mid 1830s, Hine-i-tūrama, by virtue of her kinship with Ngāi Te Rangi leader Tūpaea, ensured the safety of Tapsell and their family and was able to mediate between the warring pā rties. In March 1833, at the missionary Henry Williams's persuasion, she and Tapsell went into Te Tumu, the Ngāi Te Rangi pā near Maketū, to attempt to make peace. A short-lived ceasefire was negotiated with Tūpaea and Hine-i-tūrama was presented with a musket as a token of goodwill.
War intensified in the district in 1836, after Te Hunga, a relative of Ngāti Hauā leader Te Waharoa, was killed probably by Haerehuka of Te Arawa. Maketū , which served as a base for Te Arawa in the Bay of Plenty, was captured and sacked by Ngāti Hauā and Ngāi Te Rangi on 28 March. Tapsell's house and store were destroyed. During the sack, an attempt was made to take Hine-i-tūrama as a slave by throwing a mat over her, but she was saved by the wife of Ngāti Hauā leader Murupara. She and her daughter Kataraina were then taken by Tūpaea to safety at Te Tumu pā . Tapsell soon joined them and they were escorted by Tūpaea to Matatā, and from there made their way to Ōhinemutu. Through the difficult terrain between Te Kapenga and Ōhinemutu Hine-i-tūrama, with the birth of her second child imminent, was carried on a litter. The family took refuge for several months at Mokoia Island. Their first son was born there, and Hine-i-tūrama named him Retireti (Retreat) in memory of the flight from Maketū.
After the capture of Te Tumu by Te Arawa in May, a captive woman was brought to Hine-i-tūrama at Mokoia for her to kill in revenge for the attempt to take her as a slave at Maketū. Hine-i-tūrama refused to do so, saying that it was madness to punish one's neighbour with fire. The Tapsells returned to Matatā some time after Te Waharoa's attack on Ōhinemutu in August, and a few weeks later sailed for Sydney, where Tapsell acquired a new cargo of trade goods to re-establish his store. On their return they settled at Whakatāne. When the Catholic missionary Bishop J. B. F. Pompallier visited there in August 1841 he sanctified the union of Hine-i-tūrama and Phillip Tapsell and baptised their children. They had six children: Kataraina, Retireti, Philip, Ieni (Hans), Ewa and Dorathy (Tote).
Hine-i-tūrama's son, Retireti, later described his mother as a woman of mercurial temperament. Articulate and forthright, she would be roaring with rage one moment and all smiles and contrition the next. She preferred European dress, and spent much time composing love songs and verse. In 1936 two of her grandsons visited the place where her remains were reputed to lie, and returned with a quantity of soil which they deposited between the graves of her sons Ieni and Retireti at Wharekahu cemetery, Maketū. In 1978 a memorial to Hine-i-tūrama was unveiled at Wharekahu cemetery during a bicentennial gathering of over a thousand descendants of the Tapsell family.