Matene Te Whiwhi

Matene Te Whiwhi

Matene Te Whiwhi, about 1870

Henare Matene Te Whiwhi was of Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Toa. As a young man he lived through the turmoil of his people's migration to the Cook Strait region. This may have formed the major theme in his life – the preservation of peace.

In 1839 he travelled to the Bay of Islands seeking a Christian missionary for his people. As a result Octavius Hadfield later settled at Waikanae. In 1840 Te Whiwhi signed the Treaty of Waitangi, brought south by another missionary, Henry Williams.

In the mid-1840s Te Whiwhi himself became a missionary among the Ngai Tahu people of the South Island. In 1847 he took part in selling Ngati Toa's Wairau lands to the government. Some historians claim that this sale was a ransom for the freedom of the Ngati Toa leader Te Rauparaha, who at this time was being held captive, without charge or trial, by the government.

In the 1850s Te Whiwhi began to push for a Maori King as a way to protect remaining Maori lands. However, he favoured peace and moderation. When war broke out in the 1860s his main goal was to keep the violence away from Ngati Toa's lands. He was even prepared to co-operate with the government to achieve this. As W.H. Oliver notes, his final aim – peace – drove him into the arms of the government. He died in 1881.

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