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Wiremu Eruera Te Tauri

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
121 Sheet 8 — The Cook Strait (Henry Williams) Sheet Te Tauri Wiremu Eruera Te Tauri Ngāti Te Rangi-ita, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi Whanganui, 23 May 1840

Wiremu Eruera Te Tauri signed the Cook Strait (Henry Williams) sheet of the Treaty of Waitangi on 23 May 1840 at Whanganui. He was a rangatira (chief) of Ngāti Te Rangi-ita, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, and a descendant of Tūwharetoa. Te Tauri was enthusiastic about Christianity from a young age and was made a lay-reader in Taupō, where he was born. After his marriage he moved to Whanganui. His son, Wiremu Te Tauri, was born in 1838 at Kaurapawa pā (fortified village), near Taupō.

When Henry Williams and Octavius Hadfied of the Church Missionary Society travelled to Whanganui they were asked to provide a missionary for the area. Whanganui already had many Christians and Te Tauri was acting as their teacher. Richard Taylor became the Whanganui missionary in 1843 and developed a close friendship with Te Tauri. He and his son went on mission tours with Taylor.

In 1846, Te Tauri and Taylor held a burial service for those killed in a landslide at Waihī, beside Lake Taupō, when a natural dam burst. Later that year, Te Tauri gave his Sunday clothes to Te Manihera and Kereopa, who were about to set off for what proved to be their last pilgrimage. He was at their tangi (funeral) in 1847 after they were shot dead as utu (payback) for the earlier killing of some Ngāti Tūwharetoa. He argued against utu for their deaths, stating that:

A minister was like a lofty Kahikatea tree full of fruit, which it sheds on every side around, causing a thick grove of young trees to spring up; so that although the parent tree may be cut down, its place is thus more than supplied by those which proceed from it. [1]

Te Tauri was taken back to Taupō before his death.

[1] ‘Wiremu Te Tauri: Missionary in Wanganui’, Anglican Church of New Zealand document

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