Tāmati Pukututu

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: 
Tāmati Pukututu
Ngāpuhi, Te Uri-o-te-Hāwato, Ngāti Rangi, Te Uri-o-Ngongo
1835 residence: 
Tohu (signature): 

Tāmati Pukututu was a rangatira based at Kawakawa. He was closely allied to Te Hiamoe, Te Ruki Kawiti and Pōmare II – all signatories to He Whakaputanga and members of Ngāpuhi’s southern alliance.

In 1829 Pukututu succeeded Te Koki as the principal Te Urio-Ngongo leader of the fertile western arm of the Kawakawa River. He was also a friend of missionaries such as the Reverend Henry Williams, and was baptised in the 1830s. Williams, writing in August 1834, noted Pukututu’s move towards Christianity:

I passed on to Pukututu; he and his wife were in their house; they called me to enter. After some conversation they desired to have service. This is one of the places which has been under the particular domination of Papahurihia [of the Nākahi movement], whose Sabbath is on the Saturday. After service was concluded, Pukututu said he must have a relative of his to live with him, one of our youths, as domestic chaplain… He observed that his wife and nearly all the others had gone over to us and he would be left alone, that the tide was rising higher and higher and that it was needful for him to flee for his life. This man appeared in great earnest. [1]

Tāmati Pukututu signed He Whakaputanga on 28 October 1835 at James Busby’s Waitangi house; his tohu followed that of Te Hiamoe. He also signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and was the first to speak in favour of Governor William Hobson:

This is mine to thee, O Governor! Sit, Governor, sit, a Governor for us – for me, for all, that our lands may remain with us – that those fellows and creatures who sneak about, sticking to rocks and to the sides of brooks and gullies, may not have it all. Sit, Governor, sit, for me, for us. Remain here, a father for us, &c. These chiefs say, 'Don’t sit,' because they have sold all their possessions, and they are filled with foreign property, and they have also no more to sell. But I say, what of that? Sit, Governor, sit. You two stay here, you and Busby – you two, and they also, the missionaries. [2]

During the 1845–46 Northern Wars, Pukututu hosted British forces when they were preparing to attack Ngāpuhi leader Te Ruki Kawiti at Ruapekapeka. He also later hosted Kawiti when he came to make peace with Tāmati Wāka Nene.

[1] Lawrence M. Rogers (ed.), The Early Journals of Henry Williams, Senior Missionary in New Zealand of the Church Missionary Society, 1826–40, Pegasus Press, Christchurch, 1961, p.388.

[2] William Colenso, The Authentic and Genuine History of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand, February 5 and 6, 1840: Being a Faithful and Circumstantial, Though Brief, Narration of Events Which Happened on That Memorable Occasion: With Copies of the Treaty in English and Maori and of the Three Early Proclamations Respecting the Founding of the Colony, George Didsbury, Government Printer, Wellington, 1890, pp.21-22.

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