Page 1: Biography
Te Rangi-i-paia II
Ngati Porou woman of mana
This biography, written by Steven Oliver, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, vol 1, 1990, and updated in August, 2011.
Te Rangi-i-paia II was a woman of rank of Ngati Porou and Te Whanau-a-Apanui. She was born probably at Tokomaru Bay; her father was Te Pori-o-te-rangi and her mother, Hinerori. Her grandmother was Te Rangi-i-paia I. She was descended from Tu-whaka-iri-ora and his wife, Ruataupare, and had kinship ties with Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti of the East Coast.
As a young woman Te Rangi-i-paia married Nga-rangi-tokomauri, a Ngati Porou chief; they had a daughter, Makere Te Materonea. In 1818, when Nga Puhi attacked and devastated Ngati Porou, they escaped the slaughter, and also the capture of several hundred prisoners, who were taken to the Bay of Islands. But in 1820 Pomare I, with Te Wera Hauraki and Titore, led another Nga Puhi attack on the East Coast. Ngati Porou in the East Cape area withdrew to two pa, Okau-whare-toa, on the eastern side of the Awatere River, and Te Whetu-matarau, on the western side. Te Rangi-i-paia took refuge in Te Whetu-matarau. Pomare, laying siege to the pa, taunted her husband: 'Sleep with our wife tonight, friend, for tomorrow night she will be mine.' The pa was taken, Nga-rangi-tokomauri killed, and Te Rangi-i-paia taken captive. Pomare 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 Whetu-mata-rau, Pomare, wishing to make peace with Ngati Porou, returned to Te Kawakawa (Te Araroa) with Te Rangi-i-paia. They landed at the bay in September 1823. As was customary when peace was sought, Te Rangi-i-paia was sent as a messenger to her people, who had taken refuge in the Taitai hill country near Hikurangi mountain. A Nga Puhi 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-a-Kura, having become a Christian in the Bay of Islands, returned home and began to spread Christian teaching through the hapu.
After the peacemaking Te Rangi-i-paia left with her husband, who went on to new campaigns. In May 1826 he and his son Titaha were killed on the Waipa River, during a Nga Puhi raid on Waikato. Te Rangi-i-paia later married Te Kariri of Ngati Haua and lived at Maungatautari. She and Te Kariri returned briefly to Hicks Bay in 1829. At Whakawhitira, 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 Turei, the well-known Anglican minister of the East Coast. The daughter of Te Rangi-i-paia, Makere, whom she had been forced to leave in 1820, married the Ngati Porou leader Enoka Te Potae-aute.
The last days of Te Rangi-i-paia 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.