Page 1: Biography
Nga Rauru leader
This biography, written by Ian Church, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1990.
Aperahama Tama-i-parea was by the 1850s the principal chief of Nga Rauru of the Waitotara 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 pa. Thereafter Nga Rauru withstood successive raids by Potatau Te Wherowhero and other Waikato leaders. In the late 1830s they embraced Christianity, brought from the north by Ngati 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 Aperahama 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 Riria: their infant daughter Riria Kamuwai was baptised by Taylor on 15 October 1843. Riria must have died, however, because, at Putiki on 23 December 1851, Aperahama married Te Wai Popopuwha of Waitotara, whose Christian name was probably Arihia.
At Patoka pa in August 1840 Nga Rauru and their allies inflicted a humiliating defeat on raiders of Ngati Pehi, a hapu of Ngati Tuwharetoa, who had swept down the Waitotara River. They withdrew to Whenuakura to escape a retaliatory raid in April 1841; but in December 1844 Mananui Te Heuheu Tukino II of Ngati Tuwharetoa left Taupo with a party seeking revenge for the chiefs killed earlier. Aperahama headed a force of 280 warriors from Te Ihupuku, Tihoi and Patea, and Ngati Ruanui and other Taranaki tribes sent assistance. European military and missionary intervention finally prevented an outbreak of intertribal war.
With peace secured Nga Rauru developed tribal interests. In January 1851 Aperahama agreed to assist mail carriers across the Waitotara River. His people began growing wheat and other crops, partly for the Wanganui market; in June 1852 Aperahama 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 Nga Rauru to meet with Ngati Ruanui and Taranaki tribes at Manawapou in May 1854. There they agreed on tribal boundaries within which land would not be sold. Aperahama was one of the seven Nga Rauru chiefs to sign this compact. But Nga 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. Aperahama was one of the speakers who declared that Nga Rauru should follow peaceful pursuits and trust in God and the Queen.
When emissaries from the Maori King met Nga Rauru at Heriko and Te Ihupuku in late January 1859 some were so incensed at being told what to do with their land that Aperahama and his son Pehimana decided to sell the Waitotara block to the government. The land extended along the coast between the Waitotara 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 Aperahama and his people became Pai Marire 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 Marire forces at Moutoa Island, in the Wanganui River, after which it was given up to Charles Broughton. Aperahama's name had not been on the final deed of sale of the Waitotara block and he now repudiated the sale and joined other chiefs at Weraroa pa on the Waitotara River; from there, in February 1865, they warned Lieutenant General Duncan Cameron to withdraw his troops south of the Kai Iwi Stream. Nga Rauru villages of Perekama and Arei-ahi were taken; Aperahama submitted to the government at Weraroa and was placed in the care of Te Ati-Haunui-a-Paparangi leaders at Putiki.
It was several years before Aperahama and his people returned to their lands. In November 1868 Titokowaru tried to enlist Aperahama's support; he and other senior chiefs would not commit themselves, but the bulk of Nga Rauru did. As a result, in April 1869, Nga Rauru villages and cultivations up the Waitotara 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 Aperahama corresponded with the editor of the Maori newspaper Te Wananga; he was especially concerned over land issues. He may have lived for a time at Waikanae. In March 1872 he visited Taranaki Maori who were being released from gaol in Dunedin. In 1882 it was recommended that a Crown grant be issued to Aperahama and 17 of his people for the Hauriri and Te Ihupuku lands which comprised 932 acres. The date of Aperahama Tama-i-parea's death is not recorded.