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Port Nicholson, 29 April 1840

Thirty-two rangatira (chiefs) of Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Toa were first to sign the Cook Strait (Henry Williams) copy of the Treaty of Waitangi. This was brought from the Bay of Islands by the Anglican Church Missionary Society missionary Henry Williams on the small schooner Ariel. The vessel was owned by Captain George Thomas Clayton, who also witnessed the signatures.

On his journey south Williams had stopped at Tūranga (now Gisborne) on 8 April to give the East Coast treaty sheet to his brother William Williams. The Ariel anchored off Port Nicholson (Wellington) on 19 April. It was 10 days later, on 29 April, that the 32 rangatira boarded the vessel to sign the treaty.

Williams reported back to Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson that the rangatira had signed unanimously. However, there may have been Ngāti Ruanui and Taranaki people at Te Aro pā (fortified village) who were not at the event because of an ‘ancient grudge’ with Te Āti Awa (the main tribe in Port Nicholson). [1] Williams believed their readiness to sign was due to the protection the treaty offered Māori in common with British subjects.

The 10-day delay was caused by arguments between Williams and the New Zealand Company’s main agent, William Wakefield. Wakefield had received orders on 21 April to assist Hobson’s mission to get chiefs to sign, but kept these to himself because the treaty threatened his intended purchase of a 40-acre (16-ha) block of valuable Wellington land. By 25 April Williams was preparing to leave without gaining any signatures. Wakefield now relented, presumably to avoid getting in trouble with his New Zealand Company superiors. With this settled, the 32 rangatira were ‘disposed to come forward’. [2]

The fourth signature on the Henry Williams copy of the treaty was that of Kahe Te Rau-o-te-rangi, a female Ngāti Toa leader. All but one of these signatories made a unique mark next to their name. Reihana Rēweti wrote his own name.

[1] William Spain, quoted in R.S. Bennett, Treaty to treaty: a history of early New Zealand from the Treaty of Tordesillas 1494 to the Treaty of Waitangi 1840, vol. 3, R.S. Bennett, Auckland, 2012, p. 293

[2] Jane Williams, quoted in 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. 72


Signature number Click to sort this column in Ascending order Signed as Probable name Tribe Hapu
1 Tuarau Tuarau Te Āti Awa Ngāti Tāwhirikura
2 Te Hiko-o-te-rangi Te Hiko-o-te-rangi Ngāti Toa, Te Āti Awa Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Te Maunu
3 Tungia Tūngia Ngāti Toa Ngāti Te Maunu
4 Kahe Kahe Te Rau-o-te-rangi Ngāti Toa, Te Āti Awa
5 Te Ware Pouri Te Wharepōuri Te Āti Awa Ngāti Tāwhirikura
6 Matangi Matangi Te Āti Awa Ngāti Te Whiti, Ngāti Tāwhirikura, Ngāti Hāmua, Ngāti Mutunga
7 Te Tarenga Kuri Te Kāeaea / Taringakurī Ngāti Tama Ngāti Wai
8 Te Whakakeko Noa Te Whakakeko Ngāti Tama
9 Porutu Te Rīrā Pōrutu Te Āti Awa Ngāti Hāmua, Pūhoromanga, Te Matehou
10 Ngatata Ngātata-i-te-rangi Te Āti Awa, Taranaki Ngāti Te Whiti
11 Te Puakawe Wiremu Kīngi Te Puakawe Te Āti Awa Te Matehou?
12 Napuna Mohi Ngāponga Taranaki Ngāti Haumia
13 Wairarapa Wiremu Kīngi Wairarapa Te Āti Awa Te Matehou
14 Mohiroa Te Ropiha Moturoa Te Āti Awa Te Matehou
15 Te Tute Hōne Tūtenuku? Te Āti Awa? Ngāti Tāwhirikura?
16 Ingo Takata Ingo Te Āti Awa Te Matehou
17 Paka Pamarihi Paka? / Wī Hape Pākau? Te Āti Awa? Ngāti Tāwhirikura?
18 Te Wakatauranga Te Whakatauranga Ngāti Tama
19 Hore Hōri Pakihi Ngāti Tama Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Rongonui
20 Pani Pani Wharetītī Ngāti Tama Ngāti Rongonui
21 Rawi Aperahama Rawi Ngāti Tama
22 Kopiri Hōhepa Kōpiri Te Āti Awa Te Matehou
23 Wanga Rota Whanganga Ngāti Tama
24 Ngapapa Ngāpapa Te Kēpa Ngāti Tama
25 Reihana Reweti Reihana Rēweti Te Āti Awa
26 Patuhiki Hōne Wētere Tuhata Te Patuhiki Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Toa Ngāti Kaitangata, Ngāti Tūaho
27 Te Huka Te Huka Te Arawa
28 Te Kahu Hoani Te Iwikāhu Te Āti Awa Te Matehou
29 Kopeka Harawira Kōpeka Te Āti Awa Ngāti Tāwhirikura
30 Rerewa Hōhepa Rerewa Te Āti Awa Ngāti Tawhirikura
31 Te Puni Hōniana Te Punikōkopu Te Āti Awa Ngāti Te Whiti, Ngāti Tāwhirikura
32 Tuhatu Tūhoto Moengarangātira Te Ati Awa Ngāti Tāwhirikura
33 Pakewa Pākewa Te Āti Awa Puketapu?
34 Popuka Popukā Makere Te Āti Awa Ngāti Te Whiti, Ngāti Tawhirikura