Skip to main content

Hāmiora Mangakāhia

Hāmiora Mangakāhia, of Ngāti Whanaunga, was born in 1838 on the eastern Coromandel Peninsula. Like many of his contemporaries he was raised as a Christian, but was also trained in the genealogy and traditions of his tribe.

For the rest of his life he struggled to retain his family lands, rich in kauri and other timber. He was generally unsuccessful, and developed a lasting distrust of Europeans.

He became an expert in Native Land Court procedure, and was invited to conduct cases from far afield. Nevertheless he was not a supporter of the Court, which he saw as a destroyer of Māori land and rangatiratanga (authority/chieftainship).

In 1891 he told the Native Land Laws Commission (the Rees-Carroll Commission) that the Court should be abolished.

Mangakāhia's major achievement was his contribution to the Kotahitanga movement. This pushed for the abolition of the Native Land Court and all Māori land legislation. These would be replaced by Māori committees which would settle disputes according to Māori traditional law.

The movement also sought a degree of local self-government through a Māori (Kotahitanga) Parliament. According to Mangakāhia this Parliament did not challenge the British Queen, but might allow Māori to control their lands and manage their own affairs. In his view such independence was protected and guaranteed by the Treaty of Waitangi, and by the unused section 71 of the Constitution Act 1852. This allowed Māori customary law to be used in predominantly Māori districts.

In 1892 Mangakāhia was elected Premier of the Kotahitanga Parliament. His first step was to ask for a petition to be sent to the colonial Parliament. This called for the abolition of all laws relating to Māori land, and for Māori to control their own affairs. He continued to take an active role in the Kotahitanga Parliament and land issues until his death in 1918.

Hamiora's third wife was the suffragist Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia

Adapted from the DNZB biography by Angela Ballara

How to cite this page

Hāmiora Mangakāhia, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated