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
28Sheet 3 — The Waikato-Manukau SheetTe WharepuPene Te WharepūWaikatoNgāti Hine Waikato Heads Late March or early April 1840

Te Wharepū (known also as Pukewhau) signed the Waikato-Manukau sheet of the Treaty of Waitangi in late March or early April 1840 at Waikato Heads. He was a Ngāti Hine rangatira (chief) from Taupiri on the Waikato River.

In 1853, Te Wharepū held a meeting at Whangamarino at which it was decided to lay a tapu (religious restriction) on the district between the Mangatāwhiri River and the Firth of Thames, so that no individual could sell the land. In 1857 he, along with Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, who was to become the first Māori king, and others, asked Governor Thomas Gore Browne for ‘a Magistrate and laws, and runanga or tribal councils’. [1] Francis Fenton, who later became chief judge of the Native Land Court, was appointed as a magistrate, but this system was not fully developed before Fenton was recalled.

In 1863 Te Wharepū engineered a strong redoubt (fortification) at Rangiriri as a Kīngitanga (Māori King movement) stronghold. On 20 November 1863 Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron led imperial troops against Rangiriri. While around 40 Māori were killed and 200 taken prisoner, Te Wharepū escaped with a large number of people. Wounded in five places. Te Wharepū, was taken to the headwaters of the Mangatāwhiri river. On 23 November a letter from Te Wharepū asking for peace was delivered to Cameron. The general‘s response was that he would continue to advance until Governor Grey told him to stop. Te Wharepū died later of wounds to his neck.

[1] James Cowan, The New Zealand wars: a history of the Maori campaigns and the pioneering period, vol. 1, Government Printer, Wellington, 1922, p. 232

If you have more information about this treaty signatory please add a community contribution below or contact us at [email protected].

Community contributions

No comments have been posted about Pene Te Wharepū

What do you know?

Can you tell us more about the information on this page? Perhaps you have a related experience you would like to share?

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Comments will be reviewed prior to posting. Not all comments posted. Tell me more...