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Eruera Maihi Patuone

He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tirene

On 28 October 1835 at the Waitangi residence of James Busby, 34 chiefs signed He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tirene (known in English as the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand). By 1839, 18 more chiefs had signed He Whakaputanga, which was acknowledged by the British government. This biography of one of the signatories was originally written for the He Tohu exhibition.

Signing details

Signature number
Signed as
Probable name
Eruera Maihi Patuone
Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa, Ngāti Hao, Ngāti Pou, Ngāti Rangi
1835 residence
Tohu (signature)

Eruera Maihi Patuone, the elder brother of Tāmati Wāka Nene and a relation of many He Whakaputanga signatories, was one of the principal leaders of Ngāti Hao. He was the eldest son of Tāpua and Te Kawehau, and had links to many neighbouring hapū in Hokianga and Pēwhairangi (the Bay of Islands).

Patuone first made his mark in the battle at Waituna around 1806, when he famously killed Tātakahuanui with a greenstone adze in hand-to-hand fighting. With his brother and other Ngāpuhi leaders he took part in the great taua that travelled as far south as Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington Harbour) in 1819–20.

Keen on the advantages of European settlement, Patuone was a friend to missionaries, and he visited Sydney on several occasions. When missionaries visited him in 1819 he was already experimenting with growing wheat, and a shipbuilding and trading centre established that same year may have been under his patronage.

Losing his first wife, Te Wheke, and two children left him restless, and during the 1830s he was involved in numerous inter-hapū conflicts. He signed the letter to King William IV in 1831, and signed He Whakaputanga sometime between 29 March 1836 and 25 June 1837. He also signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi less than two weeks after being baptised Eruera Maihi (Edward Marsh).

Patuone was said to have been around 108 years of age when he died in 1872. His grave in the Mt Victoria cemetery at Devonport, Auckland, features a government plaque in his honour.