Nga Tohu

In 1840 more than 500 chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document. Ngā Tohu, when complete, will contain a biographical sketch of each signatory.


SignatureSheetSigned asProbable nameTribeHapūSigning Occasion
29Sheet 1 — The Waitangi SheetRewaRewaNgāpuhiNgāi Tawake, Te Patukeha, Ngāti Tautahi, Te Uri-o-NgongoWaitangi 6 February 1840

Rewa, also known as Manu, was the brother of Moka and Te Wharerahi. Rewa was among the chiefs who wrote to King William IV in 1831 asking for protection against the French. He also signed the Declaration of Independence in 1835. Though he signed the treaty at Waitangi on 6 February 1840 at Waitangi, he soon withdrew his support and tried to persuade other chiefs not to sign.

Rewa was closely linked with Bishop Pompallier and the Catholic mission, but was said in 1846 to have ‘defected to the protestants’.

In the early 1820s, Rewa’s daughter Matire Toha was married to Kati, a chief who was a close relative of Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, to formally make peace with the Waikato iwi, on which Ngāpuhi had inflicted heavy losses during the Musket Wars.

Moewaka, another of Rewa’s daughters, lived with the English whaler William Brind. Their daughter was baptised Eliza Isabella Brind by Anglican missionary Octavius Hadfield and cared for by Elizabeth Roberton. In 1841 Eliza, Elizabeth and three other people were killed by Wiremu Kīngi Maketū. One of the reasons Maketū was handed over to the European authorities for trial by his father, Ruhe, was to prevent a tribal war breaking out to avenge Eliza’s death.

In 1837, in a letter to the British trader Thomas McDonnell, Rewa asserted his independence: ‘We are not like the King of England – we are all chiefs here’. [1]

[1] Quoted in Waitangi Tribunal, He Whakaputanga me te Tiriti – the declaration and the treaty: the report on stage 1 of the Te Paparahi o Te Raki Inquiry, Wellington, 2014,

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