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Sheet No: 304
Manawatu / Horowhenua

Biographical information provided for the He Tohu exhibition:

According to Tania Rei's Māori women and the vote (1993), Mary Bevan was better known as Mere Ruiha Hakaraia, but signed the Petition under her anglicised name as was common practice for Māori at that time. She was one of at least six Māori women who are known to have signed the 1893 Petition.

Mere was born about 1862 at Te Ngākau (Tarukenga), north of Rotorua. Her father, Tāmati Pahika Hakaraia, and her mother, Erana Te Wainui, were both of Ngāti Raukawa. Her whānau spent considerable time on Kāpiti Island cultivating land that had been given to them by Te Rauparaha. Mere and her sister became adept at preparing traditional medicines from plants.

Mere appears to have had early connections with the temperance movement, and married Hakaraia Te Whena (Zacharia Bevan), who had assisted Mary Hewett when she was Māori superintendent of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Mere and Hakaraia lived in Ōtaki and had eleven children. Mere was registered on the Ōtaki and Manakau general roll in 1893. She died in 1908 and is buried by the Rangiātea Church at Ōtaki.

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.

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