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
3Sheet 3 — The Waikato-Manukau SheetTe PakiHōne Wētere Te PakiWaikatoNgāti NgaungauWaikato Heads Late March or early April 1840

Hōne Wētere Te Paki signed the Waikato-Manukau sheet of the Treaty of Waitangi in late March or early April 1840 at Waikato Heads, witnessed by Anglican missionaries Robert Maunsell and Benjamin Ashwell. He was of Ngāti Ngaungau and lived at Rangiriri on the Waikato River. A fluent speaker, he was referred to by his people as ‘pūtea kōrero’, or bag of talk. 

Ashwell met Te Paki in 1839, when he was being taught to read by his 12-year-old son. Ashwell reported that by 1841 Te Paki could read fluently. He was baptised by Maunsell under the name John Wesley, or Hōne Wētere. Some years later, his favourite son died when a waka (canoe) overturned in Manukau Harbour and all on board drowned. According to Ashwell, Te Paki said that his atua (gods) were angry with him for becoming a Christian, and he stayed away from Ashwell for several weeks. However, Te Paki returned to the mission station and spent the rest of his life trying to make peace between hostile tribes.

Te Paki had died by 1867, when Ashwell’s report was published. Before he died, he called his tribe to him and said to them:

Hold fast Gospel principles. Be decided for Christ. Pray without ceasing. Hear what St. Paul says, – if God be with us, who can be against us? [1]

[1] Quoted in Daily Southern Cross, 6 June 1867, p. 4

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