Hāre Hongi Hika

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: 
Hare Hongi
Probable name: 
Hāre Hongi Hika
Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Uru, Ngāi Tawake, Te Tahawai
1835 residence: 
Tohu (signature): 

Hāre Hongi Hika was the second son of Hongi Hika and Turikatuku. He was originally known by several other names, including Ruinga, Pūao and Poihākena (Port Jackson), but after his brother’s death at the battle of Te Ika-a-Ranganui in 1825 he took the name Hāre in his honour. He was also the brother of Hariata Rongo (Hōne Heke’s widow, later the wife of Arama Karaka Pī, and a leader in her own right).

In July 1814 the older Hāre (then aged eight) travelled with their father Hongi, the missionary Thomas Kendall and six other Māori to Sydney. The younger brother stayed aboard the Active before it departed, but due to his age he did not travel with them. However, he was taught to read and write at the mission schools established in Pēwhairangi (the Bay of Islands). Despite his youth, he often joined his father on taua. After his father’s death he became a prominent leader of Te Tahawai, and while he had interests throughout Whangaroa, Te Wainui was his principal residence.

Hāre Hongi Hika was one of six rangatira to sign He Whakaputanga by writing his name, rather than by making a tohu or mark. He signed on 28 October 1835 after his uncle Ururoa, who was also a leader of Te Tahawai. During the ‘Girls’ War’ of 1830, both led taua muru (expeditions to take payment for crimes or breaches of tikanga) against Kiwikiwi’s people at Pāroa. According to some sources, the behaviour of Hāre’s sister Pehi was one cause of the ‘Girls’ War’.

Like the other Whangaroa chiefs who signed He Whakaputanga, Hāre did not sign the Treaty of Waitangi. During the nineteenth century he was prominent in Māori struggles for sovereignty. In 1862 he was appointed to the first government-sanctioned rūnanga in Pēwhairangi, and at the time of his death in 1885 he was president of the Ngāpuhi Kotahitanga (unity) movement, sometimes known as the Treaty of Waitangi Parliament.

In September 1878 Hāre organised a petition to the government asking for money to build a meeting hall at Te Tii marae, near the grounds where the Treaty was signed. Hāre and others declared 'that their petition emanates from hearts thoughtful of the covenant made by the Treaty of Waitangi. They pray that a fine house should be erected on the spot where the treaty was signed… The petitioners think that the house should be used as a place where the Governor might explain the instructions of the Queen in regard to the Maori people, and where the Native chiefs could return thanks for the benefits they have received from Her Majesty.' [1]

They raised the money themselves, and in 1881 a meeting house called Te Tiriti o Waitangi was opened at Te Tii, Waitangi. A monument inscribed with the Māori text of Te Tiriti still stands today, and Te Tii marae has hosted regular Waitangi events. As a result, in 2013 the New Zealand Herald named Hāre Hongi Hika its ‘New Zealander of the Year’ for 1878.

Hāre Hongi Hika is said to have died at Te Ikanui on 6 August 1885, aged in his seventies. Two years later, at a large hui at Te Pupuke, a monument to him was unveiled at the church where he is buried.

[1] ‘Petition of Hare Hongi Hika and Others’, [Reports of] Native Affairs Committee, p.8, Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR), 1878 I-03, George Didsbury, Government Printer, Wellington, 1878, Papers Past Parliamentary Papers.

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