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Story: Hinematioro

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Ngāti Porou leader

This biography, written by Angela Ballara, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1990. It was translated into te reo Māori by the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography team.

Hinematioro was a woman of high standing among the East Coast peoples from Whāngārā to Ūawa (Tolaga Bay), about the time that James Cook first visited New Zealand, in 1769. Her mana and tapu derived from her father, Tānetokorangi, a grandson of Konohi, of Whāngārā, who could trace his descent from the ancestors Porourangi, Ruapani and Kahungunu. In a peacemaking alliance which ended years of fighting, Konohi had married Tānetokorangi to Hinematioro's mother, Ngunguru-te-rangi, a grand-daughter of Rerekohu from senior Ngāti Porou and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui lines.

Hinematioro is said to have chosen her husband, Te Hoatiki, the grandson of her own great-uncle, Te Rīwai. They had four daughters. Two died in early childhood; the elder surviving daughter was Ngārangikahiwa, whose son (by Rongotūmamao) was the great leader Te Kani a Takirau. The younger daughter, Te Kakari, became the wife of Te Āmaru Kaitangata, a warrior of Te Aitanga a Hauiti.

After her marriage Hinematioro usually lived at Ūawa; her pā of refuge was Te Pourewa, an island off the southern arm of Tolaga Bay. She was the acknowledged leader of Te Aitanga a Hauiti in that district, but her sphere of influence was much wider. Her mana was recognised from Poverty Bay to Hicks Bay, and she had other residences and property, including kūmara gardens, as far afield as Te Kaha in eastern Bay of Plenty. She was often carried by litter, and, when danger threatened, attendants took her to safety. Her importance was recognised by early European settlers. The missionary Thomas Kendall, stationed in the Bay of Islands, informed Church Missionary Society headquarters in London in 1815 that Hinematioro was 'queen of a large … district' on the East Coast. In New South Wales, the Reverend Samuel Marsden had often heard of this 'great Queen' who possessed 'a large territory and numerous subjects'.

A woman of great beauty, renowned for her kindness, hospitality and good management, Hinematioro was a focus for the collection and redistribution of her people's wealth, in the form of gifts and feasts. An early gift to her, from Tamatere, of Ūawa, was a huge tree-trunk, which was hauled and floated out of the bush to the coast, and towed by canoe to Whāngārā. There it was trimmed and erected as a food storehouse. Known as Te Whatakai-a-Hinematioro and sometimes as Te Kāuta-a-Hinematioro, it stood near her carved house, Te Hamuti. Its height was about 60 feet, and a carved storehouse may have been positioned in its upper branches. The remains of this tree-trunk, shortened from successive repositionings when the lower portion of the trunk rotted, was placed in Gisborne Museum in 1954.

When Te Wera Hauraki of Ngāpuhi came to the East Coast in 1823, after the Ngāpuhi capture of Mokoia Island, Rotorua, Te Whānau-a-Ruataupare hapū of Tokomaru Bay, aided by other elements of Ngāti Porou, were besieging Te Aitanga a Hauiti. Hinematioro, by now ageing, was with her people in beleaguered Te Pourewa pā. As the fall of the pā seemed imminent, Hinematioro and her grandson, Te Hēmanawa, were helped down the island's cliffs into a canoe to escape, but the canoe capsized and its occupants drowned. Unaware of this tragedy Te Kani a Takirau made peace with Te Wera and Ngāpuhi: he hoped to enlist their aid to raise the siege.

The body of Te Hēmanawa was washed up on the beach. There are conflicting accounts of the fate of Hinematioro, but Whāngārā elders maintain that her body was found and buried at Te Ana-a-Paikea (Whāngārā Island), where Te Kani a Takirau was buried in 1856.

How to cite this page:

Angela Ballara. 'Hinematioro', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1990. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1h23/hinematioro (accessed 22 June 2024)