Wiremu Kingi

Wiremu Kingi

Infobox Person

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caption = Wiremu Kingi
birth_name = Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake
birth_date = 1795
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death_date = 13 January 1882
death_place = Kaingaru near Waitara
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nationality = Te Āti Awa Māori
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occupation = Chief of the Te Āti Awa iwi and warrior
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Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake ("c". 1795–1882), Māori Chief of the Te Āti Awa Tribe, was leader of the Māori forces in the First Taranaki War.

Wiremu Kingi was involved in the major disturbances and migrations caused by the Musket Wars. He and his father probably fought alongside Te Rauparaha during his tribe's journey from Kawhia to Waikanae. However, he is mainly associated with Waitara in Northern Taranaki.

In 1839 Colonel William Wakefield toured the area and persuaded the Māori chiefs to sign various deeds that transferred ownership of most of the tribal land to the New Zealand Company. To what extent this was deliberate fraud and to what extent it was an example of two cultures failing to understand each other is hard to say. However, the transaction was to cause a great deal of trouble and eventually led the two people to war.

Te Āti Awa initially accepted the changes brought about by the arrival of the Pākehā and their new government. In May 1840 their chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi and in 1843-44 they built a large and beautiful church for the missionaries. However, disenchantment began when the Land Commissioner, William Spain, awarded the New Plymouth settlers 200 km² of tribal land around New Plymouth. Wiremu Kingi wrote to Governor Robert FitzRoy making it clear that they would not yield their tribal lands, particularly around Waitara. Their case was weakened in the minds of settlers because the bulk of the tribe were then living around Waikanae about 250km to the south. However, despite opposition from the Government, they returned to Taranaki in 1848 and settled around Waitara.

Over the next 11 years the government and settlers made numerous attempts to acquire more of the tribal land, but were restricted to about 20km² around New Plymouth. Wiremu Kingi remained firm in his refusal to part with any of the tribal land. Gradually relations between the two peoples deteriorated.

In 1859 a minor tribal chief, Teira, who was feuding with Kingi, made an offer of some land directly to Governor Thomas Gore Browne. The government accepted the offer despite warnings from many influential missionaries such as Octavius Hadfield and a previous Chief Justice, William Martin, that the purchase was illegal.

The stakes grew as Kingi refused to budge. Prominent settlers called for him to be surrounded, deported and, if he fired one shot, hanged. The Government pressed ahead and sent in surveyors, declaring that once the survey was complete, the land would be occupied by the military to prevent any Māori occupation. They were blocked by the Te Atiawa people, so the army was sent in. The first shots of the First Taranaki War were fired on 17 March 1860. The war lasted a year and decided nothing except that the Māori were better tacticians than the Pākehā. There followed an uneasy truce when the government agreed to re-examine the question and, three years later, Governor George Grey renounced the purchase.

After the war Kingi withdrew inland beyond the areas influenced by the Pākehā, probably to the Pa of Rewi Maniopoto. After 12 years he returned to New Plymouth to make his peace with the Pākehā government and later retired to Parihaka where he lived with the prophet Te Whiti o Rongomai for several years. His last years were spent at Kaingaru near Waitara where he died on 13 January 1882.

Every subsequent investigation has justified the stand Wiremu Kingi took over his land at Waitara.Fact|date=November 2007 As recently as August 2003 the New Plymouth District Council, which found itself owning 1.4 km² of the controversial land, decided to investigate the means by which it could be returned to Māori ownership.

External links

* [http://www.teara.govt.nz/1966/R/TeRangitakeWiremuKingi/TeRangitakeWiremuKingi/en Te Ara's article on Wiremu Kingi]

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