Story: Whanganui region

Letter from Tītokowaru

The Ngāti Ruanui chief Riwha Tītokowaru campaigned against colonial forces in 1868. In this letter, written in June of that year, he asserts his belief that he can survive any challenges. Although his campaign collapsed after he lost the support of his followers, Tītokowaru was feared by Pākehā for many more years.

A translation reads:

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

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Alexander Turnbull Library
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.

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How to cite this page:

Diana Beaglehole, 'Whanganui region - A troubled decade – the 1860s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 16 April 2024)

Story by Diana Beaglehole, updated 1 Jun 2015