Page 1: Biography
Tūroa, Te Peehi
Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi 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 Tūroa, who was also known as Te Rākau-ā-Peehi Tūroa Papa-i-ōuru, was born some time in the later eighteenth century. His father was Te Hītaua, the son of Tūkai-ora; his mother was Tinanga. He was descended from the people of Te Arawa, Aotea, Tainui and Tākitimu canoes. As leader of Ngāti Patutokotoko hapū of Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Te Peehi Tūroa was a major leader of the Whanganui 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 Tūroa defeated a war party raiding down the Whanganui River from Tūhua, on the Ōhura River north of Taumarunui. In the same period he became involved in the wars between Ngāti Apa and Ngāti Kahungunu. Allied to Ngāti Apa, he raided as far east as Pōrangahau in Southern Hawke's Bay. In 1819 or 1820 the Whanganui 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 Tūroa and a large Whanganui army, reinforced with Taupō warriors, blocked their retreat at Kaiwhakauka. Ngāpuhi 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 Tūroa defeated part of the Amiowhenua northern war expedition of 1821–22 at Mangatoa.
In the early 1820s Te Peehi Tūroa besieged Ngāti Raukawa leader Puke at Makakote pā. However, it is said that he lifted the siege when he realised the pitiful condition of the starving people in the pā. He opposed the migration in the 1820s of Ngāti Toa and its allies, including Ngāti Raukawa, to Horowhenua. With Te Ānaua and Te Rangi Paetahi he plotted to kill Te Rauparaha at Papaitonga, and about 1824 joined southern tribes in an unsuccessful attack on Ngāti Toa at Kapiti Island. Later, in 1829, Te Rauparaha sought revenge for the killing of some migrating Ngāti Raukawa at Whanganui, and for the death of a Ngāti Raukawa leader at Makakote, by organising an attack, supported by Ngāti Raukawa, on Pūtiki Wharanui, a major Whanganui pā near the river mouth. When Pūtiki Wharanui fell, Ngāti Raukawa leader Te Whatanui allowed Te Peehi Tūroa 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 Tūroa, with 300 Whanganui warriors, joined Mananui Te Heuheu Tūkino II and other leaders against Ngāti 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 Tūroa also joined Mananui in opposing the Tama-te-uaua migration of Te Āti Awa to Horowhenua in the early 1830s.
In 1840 Te Peehi Tūroa signed the Treaty of Waitangi at Whanganui, with missionaries Henry Williams and Octavius Hadfield as witnesses. He also signed Edward Jerningham Wakefield's deed of purchase for Whanganui, 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 Whanganui purchase in 1845.
Te Peehi Tūroa had two wives: Utaora and Te Piki. Eight children are recorded. His sons Te Peehi Pākoro and Tāhana became leaders of the Whanganui Hauhau forces in the 1860s. He was baptised by the CMS missionary Richard Taylor at Pūtiki Wharanui on 7 September 1845, and took the name Hōri Kīngi. He died the following night at Waipākura, and is buried in a cave at Ō-te-apu, near Pipiriki. A large carved canoe was erected at Waipākura in his memory, but was burned along with his home in 1847. Another was later built at Pukehika.