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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


TE WHEROWHERO, Te Rata Mahuta Tawhiao Potatau


Fourth Maori “King”.

A new biography of Te Rata Mahuta Potatau Te Wherowhero appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Te Rata Te Wherowhero was born at Waahi, Huntly, in 1880 and was the eldest of the five sons of Mahuta and Te Marae. In 1911 he represented his father at the conference at Parewanui, near Bulls, when the Maori “King” was asked to intercede among the Taranaki tribes to find a candidate for the Western Maori seat in succession to Henare Kaihau. As a result of this intervention, Maui Pomare received the nomination. After his father's death Te Rata was elected to the kingship, being enthroned and crowned on 24 November 1912. He also succeeded to a personal estate of £20,000, together with other native interests vested in his father and nominally valued at £100,000.


In 1913 Te Rata visited England where he was received by King George V. While he was on this trip his health broke down and his remaining years were marred by illness. Recurrent bouts of ill health prevented Te Rata from taking an active part in the political and national life of the Maori people. Nevertheless, he was held in great respect; and shortly before his death he had been invited to visit the Ngati Porou who had previously been less connected with the “King” movement than had the Waikato and central tribes. Te Rata died at Waahi on 1 October 1933. He was survived by his widow, Te Uranga, and one son. This son, Koroki, succeeded to the kingship.

Te Rata had the advantage over his predecessors of a good education and was considered to be more in touch with progressive European ideas and trends.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • New Zealand Herald, 11 Nov 1912
  • 2, 4, 9 Oct 1933;Man of Two Worlds – a Biography of Sir Maui Pomare, Cody, J. F. (1953).


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.