Skip to main content

Ruapuke, 10 June 1840

HMS Herald anchored at Port Pegasus, Stewart Island, on 4 June 1840. On the following day Thomas Bunbury and Joseph Nias claimed sovereignty over Stewart Island ‘by right of discovery’ by Captain Cook without visiting the Māori settlements on the island. [1] The Herald sailed to Ruapuke Island in Foveaux Strait on 9 June, and three Ngāi Tahu chiefs signed the Herald sheet of the Treaty of Waitangi the following day: Hone Tūhawaiki, Kaikoura and Taiaroa. [2]

Tūhawaiki apparently signed ‘without hesitation’, then informed Bunbury that Ruapuke Island was the property of himself and his iwi (tribe). Bunbury responded by writing on the back ‘I have seen this paper, but am not prepared to give an opinion or any information on the purport of it. The treaty guarantees the full and exclusive possession of their lands and other properties to the natives.’ [3]

HMS Herald then sailed to Otago.

[1] Bunbury to Hobson, 28 June, in H. Evison, Te Wai Pounamu, 1993, p. 131

[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. 79

[3] Bunbury to Hobson, 28 June, in Evison, p. 131