Story: Hutana, Ihaia

Page 1: Biography

Hutana, Ihaia


Ngati Kahungunu leader, newspaper editor, assessor

This biography, written by Angela Ballara and Don Hutana, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1993.

Ihaia Hutana was born at Poroutawhao, near Otaki, probably in 1843 or 1844. His parents had been taken there as captives by Ngati Raukawa after a battle at Te Roto-a-Tara in Hawke's Bay. His mother was Te Ahiahi of Ngati Te Whatu-i-apiti. In the genealogies recorded by the Native Land Court, his father is given as Te Hutana Rangipuawhe (or Hutana Puawhe) of Ngai Toro-i-waho, a hapu of both Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane descent with kin links to earlier Hawke's Bay descent groups. Te Hutana Rangipuawhe also belonged to Ngati Te Whatu-i-apiti.

While Te Hutana may have still been alive in 1863, Ihaia's mother did not live long after his birth. She had kinship links to Ngati Raukawa, and for her sake they permitted the young boy's relatives to take him back to Hawke's Bay. Recognised as one of the senior members of Ngai Toro-i-waho, he was settled by his aunt Kararaina at Oruawharo, but when his Ngai Tahu kin in Hawke's Bay heard he had returned, they took him to live at Takapau. About 1851 he moved to Waipukurau, but when the land he was living on was sold, he moved to Whenuahou to live with Ngai Toro-i-waho until he was old enough for his 'beard to be sprouting.'

Land sales had adversely affected Hutana's people, and the grievances arising from the government's acquisition of the Aorangi block remained unsettled at the time of his death. The worst problems, however, stemmed from Hori Niania Te Aroatua's sales in 1854. In 1864 Hutana went to Pakowhai to consult with Karaitiana Takamoana. He remained there to live, and in 1866 fought against the Hauhau under the command of Henare Tomoana and George Whitmore at Omarunui. In 1867 he spent five months on the East Coast, and later recorded that he greatly admired the good order and strong faith evident in the Maori villages he visited. He fought in the 1868–69 campaigns against Te Kooti. In 1867 he married Mereaira, a close relation of Henare Tomoana. They were to have three children: Hutana Ihaia, Waiariki Ropiha and Rerekohu Tupaea. Although Mereaira died early, his kinship through marriage bound Ihaia closely to Tomoana.

Through this relationship Ihaia became involved in land issues and politics. He wrote letters to Te Wananga, the newspaper published from 1874 to 1878 under the authority of Tomoana as the instrument of the Repudiation movement. His letters show him to be deeply religious (he was an Anglican) and to have an analytical intelligence capable of measuring the particular issues of the day against the broad context of New Zealand's past. In later years he was part of a group striving for the appointment of the first Maori Anglican bishop.

Ihaia also demonstrated his disillusionment with colonial land policy. In 1876 he spent four months on the East Coast, probably assisting Henare Tomoana to campaign for the return of his brother Karaitiana Takamoana as member of the House of Representatives for Eastern Maori. Ihaia recounted that, in contrast to his first visit into the territory of Ngati Porou, dishonesty was prevalent; many had abandoned their faith in the church and were suffering from disease and poverty. These ills he attributed to the government and to the operation of the Native Land Court. He complained that the selection of owners to be grantees in the various blocks was entirely made by Rapata Wahawaha, whose choices were biased and arbitrary.

From 1879 to 1884 Ihaia continued to assist Tomoana in his work as an MHR, acting as his secretary. In this capacity he accompanied Tomoana to Wellington. They habitually lodged in a boarding house, where Ihaia met his second wife who worked there. She was Sarah Alice Gaffney, who had been twice widowed and was originally from Dublin, Ireland. Alice (Arihi), as she was known, and Ihaia were to have one son, Henare Tomoana Hutana.

During the 1880s Ihaia had personal experience of the land court during the protracted hearings in connection with the Waikopiro block and others, which were originally reserves out of the Waipukurau block. In 1884 he was a member of the Hawke's Bay Native Committee which dealt with land and other matters. When called on to give evidence to the 1891 Native Land Laws Commission he said that Maori had held meetings for years to attempt to establish a scheme to resolve land problems, but that without the sanction of Parliament they had seen no results. He drew attention to the fact that the Native Equitable Owners Act 1886 had become a dead letter. This act would have given protection to beneficial owners against the tendency of grantees to use blocks as their personal property. He also drew the attention of the court to Crown failures in connection with the Waipukurau and Haowhenua blocks.

Ihaia was involved with the Kotahitanga movement, which chose Waipatu for the first meeting of its parliament in 1892. He was appointed organiser of nominations for the upper house, the Council of Paramount Chiefs. But his major work in support of the movement was as editor of the newspaper Huia Tangata Kotahi, printed in Hastings. Ihaia explained in the first and subsequent editions that its aim was to create unity among Maori by carrying to both islands news of their common misfortunes. It was intended to publish election results and the minutes of the Maori parliament sessions, and would also include news from abroad, and local news related to Europeans as well as Maori. Ihaia published the minutes and bills passed by Te Kauhanganui – the parliament of the Maori King, Tawhiao; the proceedings of innumerable other Maori meetings and local organisations; and debates from the colonial Parliament. He also published letters recording births, baptisms, deaths and marriages, often including genealogies.

The first edition of Huia was published on 8 February 1893; it appeared fortnightly (weekly for a period) in 1893 and weekly in 1894. It was produced entirely in Maori, although in 1894 Ihaia reported persistent rumours that Europeans wanted to support the paper financially provided it was published in both languages. By 1894 it had run into financial difficulties. A scheme to finance it through a company with Maori shareholders also foundered. The last issue appeared on 9 February 1895. Ihaia, in his last editorial, explained that it was because of lack of means rather than lack of energy that the bird (the huia) would cease to fly.

Ihaia Hutana's editorship of Huia Tangata Kotahi ensured his prominence as a national leader of Te Kotahitanga, and later, of many institutions affecting Ngati Kahungunu. In 1898 he wrote to his paper's successor, Te Puke ki Hikurangi, reflecting on the performance of the Kotahitanga movement. He spoke of divisions within Te Kotahitanga and between tribes, and noted its failure to achieve mana motuhake (self-determination). He also discussed the negative response to the petition of 1897 asking that remaining Maori lands be reserved in perpetuity; it had been carried to Queen Victoria by the Maori contingent attending her diamond jubilee.

Ihaia was at the apex of his public life in the years after 1900. He went to Wellington to help put the Maori Councils Act 1900 into operation by drawing up by-laws and guidelines. He was chairman of the Tamatea Maori Council, established under the act, in 1901 and 1902. Also in 1901 he represented Ngati Kahungunu at the reception for the duke and duchess of Cornwall and of York. On this occasion he was described as a 'tall, fine old chief…erect, [and] white bearded'. He worked with James Carroll in 1903 to settle Maori grievances at Kaikohe. In 1905 he sat on a royal commission which investigated Maori complaints that lands given for school trusts in Porirua, Otaki, Waikato, Wairarapa and Motueka were not being used for this purpose. From 1907 to 1914 he was an assessor in the Native Land Court, and he served on the Te Aute Trust Board from 1908 to 1915. An authority on things Maori, he was noted for his composing of music and haka, his oratory and writing. He was also known to make accurate predictions.

In 1914 Ihaia Hutana retired to farm his lands, probably at Mataweka, near Waipawa. He lived on for more than two decades, and died there, aged 94, on 9 November 1938 after an illness of six weeks. Messages of sympathy were sent by the prime minister, Michael Joseph Savage, and the minister of Maori affairs, Frank Langstone. Ihaia was buried on 12 November at the family burial place at Mataweka. He was survived by Arihi Hutana, and by his children.

How to cite this page:

Angela Ballara and Don Hutana. 'Hutana, Ihaia', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1993. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 31 May 2020)