Story: Ngāti Ruanui

Tītokowaru’s letter

Tītokowaru’s letter

Tītokowaru wrote this famous letter, ‘I shall not die’, as he marshalled support against government forces. But when his people mysteriously withdrew the night before the final battle at Taurangaika, the settlers took control and Ngāti Ruanui paid for it with the loss of their land.

The letter reads:

Warekura 25 Hune /68 [1868]
Ki a Puano ma, he kupu ano koutou. Kati te haere i nga rori me waka mutu rawa te haere i nga rori e anga atu ana ki Mangamanga [Waihī]. Kei takoto koutou ki nga rori hei kai ma nga manu o te rangi ma nga kireke o te parae maku ra nei. No te mea kua kai a hau [ahau] i te pa keha [Pākehā] ano, he kau e tunua ana ki te patu kai kau ana nga wahine me nga tamariki. Kua timata taku kai I te tangata kua hamama tonu toku Korokoro ki te kai i te tangata. E kore a hau e mate ka ore [kāore] a hau e mate, ka mate ano te mate. Ka ora ano a hau pena tonu te kupu ano koutou puta noa i Matangarara he kupu mara ma [marama] tena naku ki a koutou, puta noa i o koutou rohe, kati.
Na Titoko

A translation is as follows:

Warekura 25 June /68 [1868]
To Puano and the others. A word for you. Cease travelling on the roads; cease going on the roads which lead to Mangamanga [Waihī], lest you be left on the roads as food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the field, or for me because I have eaten the European, as beef, he was cooked in a pot; the women and children partook of the food. I have begun to eat human flesh, and my throat constantly craves for the flesh of man. I shall not die; I shall not die. When death itself is dead I shall be alive. I shall live forever. You all too shall live if you leave Matangārara. These are my faithful words to you all throughout your many regions. I end here.
From Titoko

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Riwha Titokowaru Collection
Reference: MS-Papers-3006-02

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Tony Sole, 'Ngāti Ruanui - A new order emerges', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/document/497/titokowarus-letter (accessed 13 July 2024)

Story by Tony Sole, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 22 Mar 2017