Rāpata Wahawaha (?–1897) was a chief of the Te Aowera hapu (sub-tribe) of Ngāti Porou. Little is known of his early life, except that he was captured by Rongowhakaata (of Gisborne/Poverty Bay) in an inter-tribal conflict and later released.
In 1865, members of the Pai Mārire or Hauhau movement arrived on the East Coast, and this created conflict within Ngāti Porou. Wahawaha and most of his hapu opposed the Pai Mārire religion and sided with the government against its followers. He was an effective war leader, and distinguished himself by killing a Hauhau chief at Tikitiki. He also took vengeance on his former captors, who had joined the Hauhau cause. The Hauhau were finally defeated, and the Ngāti Porou tribe became government supporters. Wahawaha later led them against the Hauhau of Poverty Bay and Wairoa.
By mid-1866 the East Coast was mostly peaceful, but warfare broke out again in 1868 with the return of Te Kooti from the Chatham Islands. Wahawaha and his warriors fought a bitter campaign against Te Kooti and his Tūhoe allies. In a conflict in December 1868 he won the New Zealand Cross for gallantry, and was promoted to the rank of major. Wahawaha assisted in capturing Te Kooti's pa at Ngātapa in January 1869. He then organised the execution of a number of prisoners, perhaps as many as 120, apparently with the concurring support of European officers.
When fighting ceased in the Urewera in 1873, Wahawaha returned to the East Coast. He remained a staunch ally of the government and opposed the Repudiation movement, which aimed to overturn land transactions that were said to be dishonest.
In 1870 he was awarded a Sword of Honour by Queen Victoria in recognition of his war services, he later also received an annual pension. He became a government land purchase agent, encouraging his people to pass land through the Native Land Court and sell or lease it. In 1887 he was appointed to the Legislative Council. For the rest of his life he continued to encourage Ngāti Porou to cooperate with the government. He died at Gisborne in 1897.
Adapted from the DNZB biography by Steven Oliver
He rangatira a Rāpata Wahawaha (?-1897) o Te Aowera, hapū o Ngāti Porou. Kāore i te tino mōhiotia ana nekeneke i te wā o tōna tamarikitanga, i tua atu i te mea, i te wā o ngā riri ā-iwi, i mauherea ia e te iwi o Rongowhakaata; nō muri ka tukua kia hoki ki tōna iwi.
I te tau 1860 ka kuhuna Te Tai Rāwhiti e tētahi tira Pai Mārire (Hauhau rānei); i tana rongotanga, kei te noho tōtara wāhi rua a Ngāti Porou. Ka whakahē a Wahawaha me te rahi o tōna hapū i te whakapono Pai Mārire, ka whakawhirinaki kē ki te kāwanatanga. He kaingārahu, i hau te rongo mōna i tana patunga i tētahi rangatira Hauhau i Tikitiki. Ka whai utu hoki ia i te iwi o Rongowhakaata, kua huri hoki rātou hei Hauhau. Ka hinga ngā Hauhau, ka kūpapa a Ngāti Porou ki te kāwanatanga. Taro iho, ko Wahawaha te kaingārahu o Ngāti Porou ka rīriri me te Hauhau ki Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, ki Wairoa.
Kia tae ki te pokapū o te tau 1866, kua āhua mau te rongo ki Te Tai Rāwhiti. Heoi, ka pakaru anō te riri i te tau 1868, i te hokinga mai o Te Kooti mā i Wharekauri. Ka kino te whawhai i waenganui i a Wahawaha me ana toa, ki a Te Kooti me ana haumi o Tūhoe. I tētahi pakanga i te tau 1868 ka whakawhiwhia a Wahawaha ki te Rīpeka o Niu Tīreni mō te māia, ka kake hoki ia ki te tūranga o meiha. I te marama o Hānuere o te tau 1869, ko Wahawaha tētahi o ngā kaingārahu i te taua o te kāwanatanga nā rātou a Ngātapa – te pā o Te Kooti – i whakaeke. Nāna i whakarite kia patua ētahi mauhere kia mate, tērā pea 120 te rahi. Te āhua nei, i tautokona ana mahi e ngā āpiha Pākehā i reira i taua wā.
I te mutunga o ngā riri i Te Urewera i te tau 1873, ka hoki a Wahawaha ki Te Tai Rāwhiti. Ka pūmau tonu ia ki te kāwanatanga. I whakahē ia i te kaupapa Whakahētanga Hoko Whenua, e rapu ana kia huripokina ngā hokonga whenua i kīia rā he whānako.
I te tau 1870 ka whakawhiwhia ia ki tētahi penihana ā-tau me te Hoari Whakahirahira mai i a Kuini Wikitōria mō ana mahi i te wā o ngā pakanga. Ka tohungia ia hei āpiha hoko whenua a te kāwanatanga. Ka whakatenatena ia i te iwi kia heria ō rātou whenua ki mua i te Kōti Whenua Māori, kia taea ai te hoko, te rīhi rānei. I te tau 1887 ka tohungia ia ki te Kaunihera Ture. Kāore he mutunga o tana whakahau i tōna iwi o Ngāti Porou kia tautoko i te kāwanatanga. Ka mate ia ki Turanganui-a-Kiwa i te tau 1897.