Story: Turoa, Te Peehi

Page 1: Biography

Turoa, Te Peehi


Te Ati Haunui-a-Paparangi leader, warrior, composer of waiata

This biography, written by Steven Oliver, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1990.

Te Peehi Turoa, who was also known as Te Rakau-a-Peehi Turoa Papa-i-ouru, was born some time in the later eighteenth century. His father was Te Hitaua, the son of Tukai-ora; his mother was Tinanga. He was descended from the people of Te Arawa, Aotea, Tainui and Takitimu canoes. As leader of Ngati Patu-tokotoko hapu of Te Ati Haunui-a-Paparangi, Te Peehi Turoa was a major leader of the Wanganui tribes during the period of European impact in the first half of the nineteenth century. He was also a composer of many waiata.

Around the beginning of the nineteenth century Te Peehi Turoa defeated a war party raiding down the Wanganui River from Tuhua, on the Ohura River north of Taumarunui. In the same period he became involved in the wars between Ngati Apa and Ngati Kahungunu. Allied to Ngati Apa, he raided as far east as Porangahau in Southern Hawke's Bay. In 1819 or 1820 the Wanganui tribes were attacked by musket-armed northern tribes returning from the south. The invaders advanced far up the river before being forced back. Te Peehi Turoa and a large Wanganui army, reinforced with Taupo warriors, blocked their retreat at Kaiwhakauka. Nga Puhi chief Tuwhare, one of the leaders of the expedition, was fatally wounded in the ensuing battle and his nephew Toki-whati was captured and ransomed for a coat of mail. A year or two later Te Peehi Turoa defeated part of the Amiowhenua northern war expedition of 1821–22 at Mangatoa.

In the early 1820s Te Peehi Turoa besieged Ngati Raukawa leader Puke at Makakote pa. However, it is said that he lifted the siege when he realised the pitiful condition of the starving people in the pa. He opposed the migration in the 1820s of Ngati Toa and its allies, including Ngati Raukawa, to Horowhenua. With Te Anaua and Te Rangi Paetahi he plotted to kill Te Rauparaha at Papa-i-tonga, and about 1824 joined southern tribes in an unsuccessful attack on Ngati Toa at Kapiti Island. Later, in 1829, Te Rauparaha sought revenge for the killing of some migrating Ngati Raukawa at Wanganui, and for the death of a Ngati Raukawa leader at Makakote, by organising an attack, supported by Ngati Raukawa, on Putiki Wharanui, a major Wanganui pa near the river mouth. When Putiki Wharanui fell, Ngati Raukawa leader Te Whatanui allowed Te Peehi Turoa to leave because of his kindness to Te Whatanui's people at Makakote.

Probably some time in the late 1820s several tribes of the central North Island combined in an attack on the East Coast. Te Peehi Turoa, with 300 Wanganui warriors, joined Mananui Te Heuheu Tukino II and other leaders against Ngati Kahungunu. The war party went on to the Poverty Bay area, where it defeated an army drawn from Rongowhakaata and Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti. Te Peehi Turoa also joined Mananui in opposing the Tama-te-uaua migration of Te Ati Awa to Horowhenua in the early 1830s.

In 1840 Te Peehi Turoa signed the Treaty of Waitangi at Wanganui, with missionaries Henry Williams and Octavius Hadfield as witnesses. He also signed Edward Jerningham Wakefield's deed of purchase for Wanganui, but later, when the purchase was investigated by William Spain, denied having received payment for the land. He took part in the continuing negotiations over the Wanganui purchase in 1845.

Te Peehi Turoa had two wives: Utaora and Te Piki. Eight children are recorded. His sons Te Peehi Pakoro and Tahana became leaders of the Wanganui Hauhau forces in the 1860s. He was baptised by the CMS missionary Richard Taylor at Putiki Wharanui on 7 September 1845, and took the name Hori Kingi. He died the following night at Waipakura, and is buried in a cave at O-te-apu, near Pipiriki. A large carved canoe was erected at Waipakura in his memory, but was burned along with his home in 1847. Another was later built at Pukehika.

How to cite this page:

Steven Oliver. 'Turoa, Te Peehi', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1990. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 8 December 2019)