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
90Sheet 8 — The Cook Strait (Henry Williams) SheetTe OtaWi Te OtaRangitāne, Ngāti KahungunuNgāi Te Upokoiri, Te PaneiraManawatū 26 May 1840

Wi Te Ota signed the Cook Strait (Henry Williams) sheet of the Treaty of Waitangi on 26 May 1840 in the Manawatū District. He was the third child of Te Kori and the grandson of Urukahika. He was also the grandson of Ruaiti, who in turn was the daughter of Tarahe. His mother Te Kori lived on the Awarua block and was buried there; Wi Te Ota lived at Te Aputa Pā and Te Awaheahea.

Wi Te Ota had four siblings: Rāwiri Paturoa (the oldest and another Treaty signatory), Te Poke/Te Poki (second), Enoka Te Urukahika (fourth) and Te Awhu (fifth). He had at least two wives. His first wife Retapu was a descendant of Te Ngahoa, the eldest child of Hinemanu. With Retapu he was the father of Wi Wheko (aka Wiremu Te Ota), and when she died he married Ruta. With Ruta he was the father of Keita Ruta (f).

Wi Te Ota took part in at least one of the battles for Te Roto-a-Tara, an island-based pā at the lake of the same name (now drained), near the site of Te Aute College in Hawkes Bay. Indeed, Wi Te Ota and Ngāi Te Upokoiri appear to have supported Tūwharetoa during a number of conflicts in the 1820s, and may have taken refuge around Taupō at times. Wi Te Ota is said to have carried his son Wi Wheko from the defeat at Roto-a-Tara all the way to Manawatū on his back. From there Wi Wheko was taken by his great uncle to Awarua.

In 1849 Wi Te Ota signed a letter addressed to Queen Victoria concerning the transportation of English prisoners to New Zealand. He signed the sale document for Ngā Wahi Tapu in Hawke’s Bay in 1851 and signed in 1855 for the land called Matau-a-Māui, also in the Hawke’s Bay District for £2000. He sold land in 1857 to the Crown in Hawke’s Bay called Manga-a-Rangipeke. In 1859, Te Ota received £50 from Donald McLean for his land at Mangamate.

Wi Te Ota died on 27 September 1884 at Ōmāhu. 

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