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Coromandel, 4 May 1840

On 4 May 1840, four of six chiefs present signed the Herald sheet of the Treaty of Waitangi at Coromandel Harbour. The four Ngāti Whanaunga signatories were the chief Te Hōreta Te Taniwha, his son Kītahi, Puakanga and Hauāuru. Those who did not sign included Piko, an experienced orator, who asked for a delay to allow chiefs from further away to attend. [1] He ‘declined to relinquish any authority over his tribe although the British government was free to do as it wished with Pakeha; he also insisted that more time was needed for consultation among the Thames tribes before a decision could be reached.’ [2] The other chief who refused is believed by Claudia Orange to have been Taraia. He had heard of an apparent arrest of a Māori in the Bay of Islands, ‘which he took as a portent of future Pakeha influence in Maori affairs under the Treaty.’ [3]

Captain Joseph Nias acted as a witness, as did Edward Williams, son of Henry Williams, who was present as an interpreter. [4] Major Thomas Bunbury of the 80th Regiment, sent by Governor Gipps with 80 troops from New South Wales, arrived on 16 April. Nias delivered the news that Hobson was ill while preparing the Herald in Sydney for its journey around New Zealand. Bunbury was willing to take over as governor if Hobson died. Eliza Hobson and her children travelled with Bunbury from Sydney on HMS Buffalo. [5]

On 28 April Hobson sent Bunbury in the Herald to undertake negotiations, first in areas of the North Island that had not been covered and then in the South Island. On 30 April he anchored in Coromandel Harbour. [6] His orders were to ‘assemble the chiefs whenever an opportunity presents itself, and expound to them the principles on which Her Majesty proposes to extend to this country the advantages of a settled form of civil government, and obtain the signatures of such as may not have already given their adherence.’ [7]

The first meeting occurred on 4 May. The notice given was ‘not enough time for missives to be sent further afield (most importantly, to the populous Maori communities at the mouth of the Waihou) and for those additional chiefs to arrive.’ [8] As a result, only six chiefs were present. An attempt the following day to persuade more chiefs to sign, with the assistance of missionary James Preece, was unsuccessful.

[1] Monin–S.M.D. Martin, New Zealand, p. 73

[2] Claudia Orange, The Treaty of Waitangi, Allen & Unwin, Port Nicholson Press with assistance from the Historical Publications Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, 1987, p. 74

[3] Orange, p. 74

[4] Orange, p. 73

[5] Stone, p. 225

[6] Orange, p. 73

[7] Hobson to Bunbury, in H. Evison, Te Wai Pounamu, p. 127

[8] Monin, p. 104


Signature number Signed as Probable name Tribe Hapu
1 Te Horeta te Taniwha Te Hōreta Te Taniwha Ngāti Whanaunga Te Mateawa
2 Kitahi Kītahi Te Taniwha Ngāti Whanaunga, Ngāti Pāoa Te Mateawa
3 Puakanga Puakanga Ngāti Whanaunga?
4 Hauauru Hauāuru Ngāti Pāoa, Ngāti Whanaunga