Story: Tareha, Kurupo and Tareha, Te Roera

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Tareha, Kurupo

1871–1938

Ngati Kahungunu leader, landowner, golfer

Tareha, Te Roera

?–1941

Ngati Kahungunu leader, landowner

This biography, written by Angela Ballara and Taape Tareha-O'Reilly, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, vol. 3, 1996

Te Roera and Kurupo Tareha, prominent landowners in Hawke's Bay, were sons of Tareha Te Moananui, a principal chief of Ngati Kahungunu. Tareha had many wives in his youth, but the offspring of these marriages had all died by 1850; Te Roera and Kurupo were the children of his old age. Te Roera was born in the 1850s; his mother was Mere Te Huia Te Apatari. Kurupo was born in 1871; his mother was Harata Te Apatari, the daughter of Mere Te Huia. Te Roera was thus Kurupo's uncle as well as his half-brother, and always took care of his younger brother in a semi-parental role. The principal hapu of the Tareha family in the Ahuriri (Napier) area were Ngati Hinemoa, Nga Tuku-a-te-rangi, Ngai Takaro, Ngati Te Rehunga, Ngati Te Rangikamangungu and Ngati Hinepare. They were also connected to the major tribe, Ngati Te Whatu-i-apiti, and its hapu, Ngati Parau. The name of this hapu refers to the time when a son of Tareha was lost in reeds near the Ahuriri lagoon.

It is probable that both brothers were born at Waiohiki, near Taradale. Te Roera was trained in tribal lore; Kurupo was sent to the Catholic mission school at Meeanee, and later to Te Aute College. After his schooling he joined Te Roera in developing the family properties left to them by Tareha, who died in 1880.

The brothers were deeply involved in a continuing struggle to defend their rights to the land their father had acquired. Tareha had been from 1868 to 1870 the first MHR for Eastern Maori. He supported the colonial government's military actions against Hauhau tribes and the followers of Te Kooti in the 1860s and early 1870s. Having lost his own land interests in the Ahuriri and Heretaunga blocks through sale and debt, Tareha was rewarded for his loyalty to the Crown with land shares in many blocks in the confiscated Mohaka–Waikare district; in the Kaiwaka block he was registered as the sole owner.

On 20 May 1885 Te Roera applied to the Native Land Court to succeed to Tareha's interest in the Kaiwaka block, in accordance with his father's will. Instead of granting him sole ownership, the court made an order for him to succeed with several others and the block was divided up. Toha Rahurahu and others then petitioned for the title to the Mohaka–Waikare blocks to be investigated in the court, claiming that Tareha's interest in these blocks, as in Kaiwaka, was in the nature of a trust for other owners who had been loyal to the Crown in the wars of the 1860s. In this instance, however, a posthumous certificate of title was granted to Tareha in 1894, and a Crown grant to Tareha's heirs in 1895. Te Teira Te Paea, a Mohaka chief, disputed Te Roera's claim to Kaiwaka through the Supreme Court, and then the Court of Appeal; Te Roera won. In 1898 the case was taken again to the Supreme Court, with the same result. The case got as far as a Privy Council hearing in 1901, but again went in Te Roera's favour.

This was not the end of the disputes over land ownership. In 1924 there were petitions for Native Land Court rehearings of the title to the Tataraakina block in which the Tareha brothers had shares, on the grounds that others had rights to the land by virtue of ancestry and occupation. Because Te Roera and Kurupo did nothing to discourage these petitions, it was assumed they acknowledged that there was a case. The hearings took place, and after further petitions the Native Land Court in 1929 redefined the shares of the claimants. As a result the shares of the Tareha brothers in the block were reduced substantially.

In 1936 Te Roera and Kurupo petitioned for the return of their shares in Tataraakina, or compensation. In correspondence they stated that they had been dispossessed in favour of descendants of rebels, and reminded the government of its solemn promise in 1870 to return parts of the confiscated lands to loyal Maori. In 1940, after Kurupo's death, this petition was referred to the government and a commission of inquiry was set up in 1949 to examine the whole issue. Its decisions favoured the status quo before 1920; consequently the remaining Tareha holdings were restored to the family.

Despite the legal difficulties they faced, Te Roera and Kurupo Tareha were successful farmers and managers. By 1908 they had 500 acres at Waiohiki, stocked with nearly 400 cattle, and another property at Pakowhai of 90 acres, on which they ran 70 dairy cows. Over 30,000 acres of their lands at Kaiwaka were leased for a period to George Prior Donnelly. In 1910 Te Roera as sole owner of Kaiwaka No 2A and Kurupo with another as sole owners of Kaiwaka No 1 sold these blocks to the Crown because they needed capital for their dairying venture. They subsequently sold other land interests.

The profits from their farming operations and sale of land enabled the brothers to live in some style. Kurupo had a 10-roomed residence on the Waiohiki property, which later burnt down. A second, smaller house was built on a rise overlooking the main road: it had a private bathroom (an almost unheard-of luxury at the turn of the century) and a secret trapdoor. Kurupo was interested in horseracing, owning four horses, and drove one of the first Wolseley motor cars seen in Hawke's Bay.

Throughout his life Te Roera was a highly respected elder in the Maori world, but almost unknown to Pakeha. It is probable that he did not speak English. In contrast, Kurupo was the ambassador of the Tareha family in the Pakeha world. He was a prominent member of Hawke's Bay society, a member of various sports clubs, the Hawke's Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Society and the Scinde Masonic Lodge. In 1897, as a reward for the loyalty of the Tareha family, he was selected to travel to England with the New Zealand Diamond Jubilee Contingent. He was company sergeant major; Hoani Paraone Tunuiarangi was captain. To mark the occasion he was presented with a ceremonial sword, which was afterwards kept in the dining-room of the house at Waiohiki. Five years later as captain of the contingent of Maori representatives he attended the coronation ceremonies for Edward VII.

While in Great Britain in 1897 Kurupo was taken to see the St Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and, according to family tradition, first acquired his interest in the game of golf. He was already a considerable athlete, winning medals and trophies in football, cycling, boxing and other sports. On his return to New Zealand, he and Te Roera developed golf-links on 100 acres of their Waiohiki property, which became known as the Waiohiki Links and later as the Napier Golf Links. Both Te Roera and Kurupo were in the Hawke's Bay team at a tournament at Gisborne in 1899. Two other team members were also young Hawke's Bay rangatira, Paraire Tomoana and Taranaki Te Uamairangi.

Kurupo developed into a formidable player. He won the New Zealand Amateur Golf Championship at the Waiohiki Links in 1903, the Manawatu championships in 1905, and competed in championship tournaments in Dunedin and Auckland. He was an active member of the Napier Golf Club for years, and when he could no longer play, was a coach. Kurupo was one of the founders of the New Zealand Maori Golf Association, and at his death was its patron. His eldest son, Nga-whakapinga-o-te-rangi Tareha, better known as Kapi, was also an expert golfer who won many amateur golf championships and eventually became a professional player.

Te Roera had at least two wives. His first wife was Tuhitio, a descendant of the famous Heretaunga chief Te Hauwaho. Their only only son was Tuiri. Tuhitio died in 1929. Te Roera's second wife, who survived him, was Hera Greening. There were no children of this marriage. Twin daughters were born of another union. One of the twins, Arepa (Alpha), was adopted by Kurupo, and Omeka (Omega), was brought up by Airini Donnelly.

Kurupo had several marriages. His first wife was Paranihia Panapa, who was part European. Local tradition relates that after his marriage Kurupo went to the sea people to seek their help in having children (lines of descent linked him with Tangaroa, god of the sea, Pania of the sea people, and her taniwha son, Moremore). In his dealing with the sea people, Kurupo formed a liaison with one of them, a copper-haired woman named Hinewera. The sea people agreed to help Kurupo, but only if his first-born son was given back to them. However, when his son Kapi was born in 1888 or 1889, Kurupo refused to give him back; the perceived consequence was that Kurupo had no other natural children. Kapi's descendants are sometimes referred to as Ngati Hinewera.

Later, Kurupo married Alice Ransfield of Ngati Raukawa from Otaki. This marriage was said to heal the rift that had remained between Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Raukawa from the time of the great battles of the 1820s at Te Pakake and Te Roto-a-Tara. The marriage was childless, so Kurupo and Alice adopted Te Roera's daughter Arepa, and then Douglas, one of the twin sons of Alice's sister Mabel. After the child's death they adopted the other twin, John. Alice died at an early age and Kurupo then married Hiraina Puano, of Nga Rauru, from Hawera in Taranaki. Again, there were no children of this marriage, but the couple adopted Kapi's son, Hori Ngakawhe Tareha, and a girl, Hine Pene.

Kurupo Tareha died on 18 May 1938 at Waiohiki after a long illness, and was buried on 21 May at the Waiohiki cemetery. He was mourned by his surviving wife and children and many Maori, but also by a wide circle of Pakeha friends. Te Roera Tareha survived Kurupo, but in contrast to the publicity given his brother's passing, his own death at Napier on 21 November 1941 was not recorded in the press. He lies buried with his brother at Waiohiki.

How to cite this page:

Angela Ballara and Taape Tareha-O'Reilly. 'Tareha, Kurupo and Tareha, Te Roera', first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, vol. 3, 1996. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3t5/tareha-kurupo (accessed 26 September 2017)