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Story: Te Rangi-i-pāia II

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Te Rangi-i-pāia II

fl. 1818–1829

Ngāti Porou woman of mana

This biography, written by Steven Oliver, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1990. It was updated in August, 2011. It was translated into te reo Māori by the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography team.

Te Rangi-i-pāia II was a woman of rank of Ngāti Porou and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui. She was probably born at Tokomaru Bay; her father was Te Pori-o-te-rangi and her mother, Hinerori. Her grandmother was Te Rangi-i-pāia I. She was descended from Tūwhakairiora and his wife, Ruataupare, and had kinship ties with Te Aitanga a Hauiti of the East Coast.

As a young woman Te Rangi-i-pāia married Ngārangitokomauri, a Ngāti Porou chief; they had a daughter, Makere Te Materonea. In 1818, when Ngāpuhi attacked and devastated Ngāti Porou, they escaped the slaughter, and also the capture of several hundred prisoners, who were taken to the Bay of Islands. But in 1820 Pōmare I, with Te Wera Hauraki and Tiīore, led another Ngāpuhi attack on the East Coast. Ngāti Porou in the East Cape area withdrew to two pā, Ōkau-whare-toa, on the eastern side of the Awatere River, and Te Whetū-matarau, on the western side. Te Rangi-i-pāia took refuge in Te Whetū-matarau. Pōmare, laying siege to the pā, taunted her husband: 'Sleep with our wife tonight, friend, for tomorrow night she will be mine.' The pā was taken, Ngārangitokomauri killed, and Te Rangi-i-pāia taken captive. Pōmare made her his wife and some months later took her back to his village, Matauwhi, near present-day Russell, in the Bay of Islands.

A few years after the battle known as Te Whetū-matarau, Pōmare, wishing to make peace with Ngāti Porou, returned to Te Kawakawa (Te Araroa) with Te Rangi-i-pāia. They landed at the bay in September 1823. As was customary when peace was sought, Te Rangi-i-pāia was sent as a messenger to her people, who had taken refuge in the Taitai hill country near Hikurangi mountain. A Ngāpuhi warrior, Taotaoriri, guarded her. A large party returned to Te Kawakawa and in time peace was made. This peacemaking was to lead to the introduction of Christianity to the East Coast: Piripi Taumata-ā-Kura, having become a Christian in the Bay of Islands, returned home and began to spread Christian teaching through the hapū.

After the peacemaking Te Rangi-i-pāia left with her husband, who went on to new campaigns. In May 1826 he and his son Tītaha were killed on the Waipā River, during a Ngāpuhi raid on Waikato. Te Rangi-i-pāia later married Te Kariri of Ngāti Hauā and lived at Maungatautari. She and Te Kariri returned briefly to Hicks Bay in 1829. At Whakawhitirā, on the Waiapu River, she saw a new-born male child whom she named Te Karu-harare (sealing-wax eyes), after her father, Te Pori-o-te-rangi; Te Whanau-a-Apanui were said to have filled the eye sockets of Te Pori-o-te-rangi's skull with red sealing wax. When the child grew up he became Mohi Tūrei, a well-known Anglican minister on the East Coast. The daughter of Te Rangi-i-pāia, Makere, whom she had been forced to leave in 1820, married the Ngāti Porou leader Ēnoka Te Pōtaeaute.

The last days of Te Rangi-i-pāia remain obscure; the place and date of death of this great woman are not known. But in her yearning to return to the East Coast she composed a lament:

I eat and swallow my food,
But my many thoughts keep welling up.
I cared little, if at all, for the living,
But should death come remorse will be my lot.
Let death quickly overtake me,
That my spirit may sooner reach Taupo;
Lest it remain on earth wandering and yearning
Towards the cloud glowing from the south
Over the mountains at Tikirau;
Beyond are you, my dear ones, who gnaw at my heart.


How to cite this page:

Steven Oliver. 'Te Rangi-i-pāia II', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1990, updated August, 2011. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1t65/te-rangi-i-paia-ii (accessed 5 December 2023)