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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.


Signature Sheet Signed as Probable name Tribe Hapū Signing Occasion
110 Sheet 8 — The Cook Strait (Henry Williams) Sheet Hohepa Matahau Matahau Ngāti Raukawa Waikanae, 16 May 1840

Matahau signed the Cook Strait (Henry Williams) sheet of the Treaty of Waitangi on 16 May 1840 at Waikanae. From the Ngāti Raukawa iwi (tribe), Matahau married the daughter of Wiremu Kīngi te Rangitāke at Waikanae. 

Matahau had been taken to the Bay of Islands as a slave in his youth. In Paiha he lived with Reverend William Williams and studied at the mission station before travelling back to Ōtaki, and then to Waikanae on the Kāpiti Coast. Here, Tāmihana te Rauparaha and his cousin Mātene Te Whiwhi became interested in Matahau’s knowledge of Christianity and the sections of the New Testament and the Book of Common Prayer he had brought with him. They also wanted to learn to read. After obtaining paper from a nearby whaling station, Matahau taught Tāmihana, Mātene and 10 others to read. Soon after, a party from Rotorua arrived with another prayer book, a catechism and part of the Gospel of St Luke, which helped in Matahau’s teaching. Facing some opposition in Waikanae, the group moved to Kāpiti Island for six months, after which they could read some of the text. 

When the missionaries Henry Williams and Octavius Hadfield arrived in November 1839, they found that many of Ngāti Raukawa were eager to learn from them. Matahau was baptised as Hōhepa (Joseph) Ripahau on 4 December 1839. By 1841, 13 chapels had been built in the area.

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