Page 1: Biography
Ngā Rauru leader
This biography, written by Ian Church, 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.
Āperahama Tama-i-parea was by the 1850s the principal chief of Ngā Rauru of the Waitōtara Valley in South Taranaki. Born in the early nineteenth century, he was a youth in 1822 when Te Rauparaha occupied Te Ihupuku, the tribe's principal pā. Thereafter Ngā Rauru withstood successive raids by Pōtatau Te Wherowhero and other Waikato leaders. In the late 1830s they embraced Christianity, brought from the north by Ngāti Ruanui converts. At Te Ihupuku they erected a chapel which the Reverend Samuel Ironside visited in June 1840. When Anglican missionaries became established at Wanganui from June 1840 Āperahama came under their influence and became a teacher of his people. He accompanied the Reverend Richard Taylor on many missionary journeys. About this time he married Rīria: their infant daughter Rīria Kamuwai was baptised by Taylor on 15 October 1843. Rīria must have died, however, because, at Pūtiki on 23 December 1851, Āperahama married Te Wai Popopuwha of Waitōtara, whose Christian name was probably Arihia.
At Pātoka pā in August 1840 Ngā Rauru and their allies inflicted a humiliating defeat on raiders of Ngāti Pēhi, a hapū of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, who had swept down the Waitōtara River. They withdrew to Whenuakura to escape a retaliatory raid in April 1841; but in December 1844 Mananui Te Heuheu Tūkino II of Ngāti Tuwharetoa left Taupō with a party seeking revenge for the chiefs killed earlier. Āperahama headed a force of 280 warriors from Te Ihupuku, Tīhoi and Pātea, and Ngāti Ruanui and other Taranaki tribes sent assistance. European military and missionary intervention finally prevented an outbreak of intertribal war.
With peace secured Ngā Rauru developed tribal interests. In January 1851 Āperahama agreed to assist mail carriers across the Waitōtara River. His people began growing wheat and other crops, partly for the Wanganui market; in June 1852 Āperahama signed an agreement with H. C. Field of Wanganui to build a flour mill near Te Ihupuku. But expansion of European settlement brought new tensions.
Concern over land sales led Ngā Rauru to meet with Ngāti Ruanui and Taranaki tribes at Manawapou in May 1854. There they agreed on tribal boundaries within which land would not be sold. Āperahama was one of the seven Ngā Rauru chiefs to sign this compact. But Ngā Rauru were reluctant to take part in the tribal quarrels of North Taranaki in the late 1850s, and at a meeting at Perekama on 23 January 1858 they withdrew from the Manawapou compact. Āperahama was one of the speakers who declared that Ngā Rauru should follow peaceful pursuits and trust in God and the Queen.
When emissaries from the Māori King met Ngā Rauru at Heriko and Te Ihupuku in late January 1859 some were so incensed at being told what to do with their land that Āperahama and his son Pehimana decided to sell the Waitōtara block to the government. The land extended along the coast between the Waitōtara River and the Kai Iwi Stream. A £500 deposit was paid in May 1859 but negotiations over extensive tribal reserves, which comprised the most valuable land in the block, meant that the sale was not concluded until July 1863, just as British troops invaded Waikato.
The fighting of the 1860s, disruptive for combatants and non-combatants alike, produced new religious movements. In 1864 Āperahama and his people became Pai Mārire adherents. They received Captain T. W. J. Lloyd's head at Perekama in April on its way to Pipiriki, and again after the defeat of the Pai Mārire forces at Moutoa Island, in the Wanganui River, after which it was given up to Charles Broughton. Āperahama's name had not been on the final deed of sale of the Waitōtara block and he now repudiated the sale and joined other chiefs at Weraroa pā on the Waitōtara River; from there, in February 1865, they warned Lieutenant General Duncan Cameron to withdraw his troops south of the Kai Iwi Stream. Ngā Rauru villages of Perekama and Āreiahi were taken; Āperahama submitted to the government at Weraroa and was placed in the care of Te Āti-Haunui-a-Pāpārangi leaders at Pūtiki.
It was several years before Āperahama and his people returned to their lands. In November 1868 Tītokowaru tried to enlist Āperahama's support; he and other senior chiefs would not commit themselves, but the bulk of Ngā Rauru did. As a result, in April 1869, Ngā Rauru villages and cultivations up the Waitōtara River were devastated in retaliatory raids by government troops. It was many years before the tribe began to rebuild their economy through farming.
In the 1870s Āperahama corresponded with the editor of the Māori newspaper Te Wānanga; he was especially concerned over land issues. He may have lived for a time at Waikanae. In March 1872 he visited Taranaki Māori who were being released from gaol in Dunedin. In 1882 it was recommended that a Crown grant be issued to Āperahama and 17 of his people for the Hauriri and Te Ihupuku lands which comprised 932 acres. The date of Āperahama Tama-i-parea's death is not recorded.