Te Morenga

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: 
Te Morenga
Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi, Te Uri Kāpana, Ngare Hauata
1835 residence: 
Tohu (signature): 

Te Morenga, the son of Whāingaroa, was a leading rangatira of significant mana based in the fertile Taiāmai district. Both a rival and an ally of Hongi Hika, he led numerous taua throughout the early 1800s and was a distinguished military leader.

With the arrival of missionaries, Te Morenga became a close friend of and guide for Samuel Marsden, who wrote: 'Te Morenga’s distinction is outstanding even among his great contemporaries.' [1] He accompanied Marsden on his journeys to the Hauraki Gulf, and also travelled with him to Sydney. The desire for access to European trade through the missionaries sometimes led to differences with Hongi Hika, but by the 1820s they were allies at battles such as Te Ika-a-Ranganui in 1825.

Te Morenga was one of 13 rangatira to sign the 1831 letter to King William IV, and is said to have joined Tītore’s taua to Tauranga in 1833. According to some accounts, his health was failing at this time and he died in 1834, which suggests it may have been his son, Kihiringi Te Morenga, who signed He Whakaputanga in his name on 12 July 1837. Others say Te Morenga signed himself.

[1]  ‘Te Morenga’, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, ed. A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

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Posted: 29 Sep 2020

this portrait is not te morenga-it is riwhi taramoeroa.there are no images of te morenga only his unfinished moko.

Jared Davidson

Posted: 07 May 2019

Kia ora, thank you for your comment. The identity of this rangatira has always been hard to confirm, and it does appear a mix of information has been joined into one entry. Any further information to help update this entry would be very much appreciated.

Ngā mihi,
Jared Davidson


Posted: 03 May 2019

Two different people?
1. Te Morenga of Taiamai (Te Uri Kapana, Ngare Hauata) b. ~1760. d. 1834. Son of Whaingaroa. Travelled with Marsden, voted on United Tribes flag, signed letter to King William IV.

2. (Haare Nepia) Te Morenga of Wainui/Ahipara (Te Rarawa, Ngati Moetonga) b. ~1780. d. 1875. Son of Wharewhare (Ngati Kahu) and Ngamotu (Te Rarawa). Signed He Whakaputanga, had a son Te Kihiringi.