Story: Hākaraia, Ngāpiki

Page 1: Biography

Hākaraia, Ngāpiki

1888–1969

Ngā Rauru and Ngāti Apa; religious founder

This biography, written by Angela Ballara,  was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1998. It was translated into te reo Māori by the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography team.

Ngāpiki (Maggie) Waaka was born on 4 May 1888 at Kai Iwi, north of Whanganui. She belonged to Ngāti Pūkeko, a hapū of Ngā Rauru, and to Ngāti Apa. Her parents were Waaka Hākaraia and his wife, Ngāpiki Rēweti Pāponga. She attended Goat Valley School from 1897 to 1901, followed by a brief period in 1905 at Turakina Māori Girls' School. She was fully bilingual.

Little is known about Ngapiki's first marriage to Te Tue Te Uawiri at Parewanui; records of any children have not been found and he died in January 1926. Later that year, on 2 December, at Rātana, she married her brother-in-law, Hoani Hākaraia Te Uawiri, also known as Te Rua Hākaraia. She must by then have been a follower of Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana, the faith healer and religious leader, as the officiating minister was a registered apostle or minister of the Rātana church. Ngāpiki and Hoani Hākaraia had no children of their own but adopted several.

Hoani Hākaraia was of Ngā Rauru. He had been accepted as a Methodist probationer in 1921 and served first in Pātea as a home missionary. He was a Methodist minister until 1946, but in spite of his official status was a strong supporter of Rātana for many years. In 1925 with the blessing of the Reverend A. J. Seamer, the Methodist general superintendent, he was gazetted as a Rātana apostle.

In the later 1920s many Rātana followers were disturbed by what they saw as a progressive departure from Christian belief. In 1925 the Anglican church had declared the Rātana church schismatic, but the Methodists continued to work quietly behind the scenes in an endeavour to keep the new church Christian; Hoani Hākaraia was one of their agents working for that purpose in Rātana pā. The nature and status of the holy angels, who were included in the Rātana formula for the Godhead – which also featured the Māngai (Rātana) himself -, were much debated in Rātana pā. By 1928 Rātana had begun to teach his followers to use the name Tama instead of Christ. This seems to have been the last straw for Ngāpiki and her husband; probably in 1929 they resigned from the Rātana church and movement on the grounds that the name of Christ was not sufficiently honoured. They considered that the Bible had been abandoned, and that Rātana was tolerating the worship of himself as the second incarnation of Christ. During the debates preceding their departure Hoani Hākaraia was physically threatened more than once on the marae by angry Rātana adherents.

Ngāpiki and Hoani Hākaraia moved to Kai Iwi and lived, probably, at Te Hokomoa, a village near the Ōkehu Stream on the land of Ngāti Pūkeko and Ngāti Tamareheroto of Ngā Rauru. They either brought a few like-minded followers with them or were joined by them later, for during the 1930s they established a new settlement upstream from Te Hokomoa. In the early 1940s they experienced spiritual enlightenment and began to exercise a healing ministry. Both Hoani and Ngāpiki were regarded as prophets, but Ngāpiki was the leading figure of the new movement. She first called it Te Mārama; later the name Te Māramatanga (enlightenment) was adopted. Ngāpiki and Hoani exercised a ministry that went beyond Kai Iwi and Ngā Rauru; parties of visitors from Taranaki came to Kai Iwi to experience Ngāpiki's teaching.

In 1943 the church and its ministers were gazetted as Te Māramatanga Christian Society. There were four ministers at this stage: Kāponga Erueti, Toro Hetaraka, Keha Maraku and Tahiopipiri Moerua; most had previously been active Rātana followers or registered apostles or spiritual ministers. Ngapiki's movement, like Rātana's, believed that the ratification of the Treaty of Waitangi would help resolve Māori grievances over land and other issues. In August 1943, on behalf of 2,337 members of the movement, she and her husband signed an address to the prime minister and a petition to Parliament seeking that the Treaty become part of New Zealand law. The petition was favourably considered by the Native Affairs Committee in 1945, along with similar petitions from Rātana (1932) and Te Rauna Hape (1945). Parliament accepted the committee's recommendation that the treaty be published as a sacred reaffirmation of the 1840 agreement and that copies be distributed to all schools and Māori meeting places. Copies of the treaty were sent to schools in 1949, but the petition's main objective was not met in Ngāpiki's lifetime.

The Māramatanga movement continued to grow through the 1940s; at its highest point in 1945–46 there were seven ministers. In 1945 Kaponga Erueti stood against Matiu Rātana for Western Māori as an independent Labour candidate, but there seem to have been no other political ambitions in Ngāpiki's movement. In 1947 Hoani Hākaraia was registered for the first time as a minister of Te Māramatanga Christian Society. After his death in April 1949, Ngāpiki, now aged 62, married Mōrehu Toro Hetaraka at Kai Iwi on 6 September 1950. He was a farmer and the son of Toro Hetaraka, one of the ministers of Te Maramatanga.

In the 1950s the new church began to decline. From 1954 Ngāpiki herself was listed as a minister; by 1960 she and another woman, Raina Pine, were the only ministers, and by 1962 Ngāpiki was the only one. The movement came to an end in 1964, a few years before Ngāpiki's death at Kai Iwi on 9 November 1969. She was buried at Kai Iwi Māori cemetery on 12 November, survived by her third husband.

How to cite this page:

Angela Ballara. 'Hākaraia, Ngāpiki - Hakaraia, Ngāpiki', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1998. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/4h3/hakaraia-ngapiki (accessed 21 October 2020)