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Te Kehu (Te Whetū-o-te-ao)

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
86 Sheet 8 — The Cook Strait (Henry Williams) Sheet Kehu Te Kehu (Te Whetū-o-te-ao ) Te Āti Awa Ōtaki?, 19 May 1840

Te Kehu, also known as Te Whetū-o-te-ao (meaning 'star of the world'), was one of the few women to sign Te Tiriti, signing the Cook Strait (Henry Williams) sheet on 19 May 1840 at Ōtaki. She must have been in middle age or older at the time of the signing, as her son Wiremu Kīngi Te Rangitāke was born in the last years of the eighteenth century at Manukorihi.

Te Kehu was married to Te Rere-tāwhangawhanga, a prominent Te Āti Awa leader who migrated south with Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama in the great expeditions of the 1820s and 1830s. Te Kehu accompanied him from her home in Waitara, at least on the final expedition, and settled at Waikanae in 1839. Her husband Rere-tāwhangawhanga signed the same treaty sheet at Waikanae on 16 May 1840. They had at least three sons: Wiremu Kīngi Te Rangitāke, Matiu, and Enoka.

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