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
87Sheet 8 — The Cook Strait (Henry Williams) SheetTe HakekeKāwana Te Hūnia HākekeNgāti Apa, Ngāti Kauae, Ngāti Tauira, Ngāti Rangitumoana, Rangitāne, MuaūpokoNgāti Kura, Ngāti Kitohu, Ngāti Maikuku, Ngāti Pouwhenua, Ngā Ariki, Ngāi TapuitiTawhirihoe 21 May 1840

Kāwana Te Hākeke signed the Cook Strait (Henry Williams) sheet of the Treaty of Waitangi on 21 May 1840 at Tāwhirihoe pā, which was located between the Rangitīkei and Manawatū rivers.

A paramount chief of Ngāti Apa, Te Hākeke was instrumental in limiting the expansion of Ngāti Raukawa into Rangitīkei and Manawatū during the 1830s, and was described as more than a match for Te Rauparaha. He is associated with a number of sites in the region, especially Parewānui, where two carved houses called Maringiowai and Huritaukari stood. His fighting pā was called Te Ika a te Mate, located on the south side of the Rangitīkei River.

The parents of Te Hākeke were Kokorewa (Te Okorewa in some accounts) and Te Rangihautu, a rangatira of Ngāti Tauira and Ngāti Kauae. After Te Rangihautu's death at the hands of Rangitāne, Te Hākeke was adopted by Ngāti Rangiwaho leader Te Ahuru o te Rangi. Te Hākeke came to prominence following the death of his whāngai father at the battle of Waiorua, the failed attack on Kāpiti Island, and led the Rangitīkei division of Ngāti Apa from this point forward. 

Te Hākeke saw action in a number of inter-tribal battles of the 1820s and avenged Te Rangihautu while fighting Rangitāne in the Tāmaki district. When Ngāti Toa and other tribes from the north began to migrate to Rangitīkei, Te Hākeke was involved in various conflicts of resistance - killing a high born woman of Ngāti Toa named Pohe (or Poa, wife of Te Rangihīroa) after surprising them at Waikanae. But he was also a diplomat, repairing relationships within his own tribes and making alliances with Rangitāne and Ngāti Raukawa.

Te Hākeke's wife Kaewa was a Muaūpoko woman of high rank, and on the birth of their son Te Rara-o-te-rangi (rib of the sky), Te Hākeke carried him to the summit of Pukehou near Ōtaki and composed a waiata (song) dedicating him to the task of retaining the mana of his ancestors over the surrounding lands. Te Rara-o-te-rangi was later known as Kāwana Hunia Te Hākeke, who rose to prominence in Muaūpoko affiars of the 1850s and 1860s.

Te Hākeke died in December 1848 and is buried with his wife Kaewa at O-Henga (or Tirotiro-whetu as it is also known).

This entry has been edited thanks to information provided by Grant Huwyler.

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

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3 comments have been posted about Kāwana Te Hūnia Hākeke

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Jamie M

Posted: 10 Nov 2017

Tēnā koe Grant. Thanks very much for this kind offer. We don't have your email address, so can you please contact me at [email protected] ? Naku nā, Jamie Mackay

Grant Huwyler

Posted: 01 Nov 2017

Looking at this again, if you want to acknowledge my contribution, this story needs serious revision to get it right, for example, calling him Muaupoko and Rangitane is factually incorrect and we have never heard of Tapuiti, just to highlight a couple of points. I would be more than happy to help get this fixed. I am a direct descendant and I have loads of research material to substantiate the points that I am making.