Hongi Hika (c.1772â1828) was
Zealand MÄori rangatira (chief) and war leader of the Ngapuhi iwi (tribe).
Hongi Hika used European weapons to overrun much of northern New
Zealand in the first of the Musket Wars
He also encouraged PÄkehÄ
(European) settlement, patronised New Zealand's first missionaries,
introduced MÄori to Western agriculture and helped put Te Reo
), into writing. He travelled to England and met
King George IV.
military campaigns, and the other Musket
were one of the most important stimuli for the British
annexation of New Zealand and subsequent Treaty of Waitangi
with Ngapuhi and many
other iwi. He was a pivotal figure in the period when MÄori history
emerged from myth and oral tradition and PÄkehÄ began to settle
rather than just visit.
was born at Kaikohe into one of
the chiefly families of the Ngapuhi, being a son of rangatira
Hongi Hika once said he
was born in the year explorer Marion du
was killed by MÄoriâin 1772âthough other sources place
his birth around 1780. His name can mean fish smell (this does not
have an offensive connotation in MÄori).
Early campaigns, 1806â1814
Hongi Hika rose to prominence as a military leader in the Ngapuhi
campaign, lead by Pokaia
, against the Te Roroa
iwi in 1806â1808. In over 150 years since the Maori
first begun sporadic contact with Europeans, firearms had not
entered into widespread use. Ngapuhi held trials with small numbers
of them in 1808, and Hongi Hika was present later that same year on
the first occasion that muskets were used in action by MÄori. This
was at the battle of Moremonui
, and was
not a successâthe Ngapuhi using them were overrun by the opposing
Those killed included two of Hongi Hika's brothers and Pokaia, and
Hongi Hika and other survivors only escaped by hiding in a swamp
until NgÄti WhÄtua called off the pursuit as an act of mercy.
Within the next four years Hongi Hika became Ngapuhi's war leader,
and in 1812 he led a large taua
(war party) to
against NgÄti Pou
who had eaten some of his
relations. Despite his earlier experiences he seems to have become
convinced of the value of muskets after experimenting with them
during this campaign.
Contact with Europeans and journey to Australia, 1814â1818
controlled the Bay of
Islands, the first point of contact for most Europeans
visiting New Zealand in the early 19th century.
protected early missionaries and European seamen and settlers,
arguing the benefits of trade. He befriended Thomas Kendall
âone of three lay preachers
sent by the Church Missionary
to establish a Christian
toehold in New Zealand.
Hongi Hika and his uncle Ruatara,
the then-leader of the Ngapuhi, visited Sydney, Australia, with Kendall and met the local head of
the Church Missionary Society Samuel
Ruatara and Hongi Hika invited Marsden to
establish the first Anglican
mission to New
Zealand in Ngapuhi
territory. Ruatara died
the following year, leaving Hongi Hika as protector of the mission.
In 1819 he
sold land at Kerikeri to the
He personally assisted the missionaries
developing a written form of te reo
Hika himself never converted. In later life, in exasperation with
teachings of humility and non-violence, he described Christianity
as âa religion fit only for slavesâ. He protected the PÄkehÄ MÄori
Thomas Kendall when
he effectively âwent nativeâ, taking MÄori wives and participating
in MÄori religious ceremonies. Though Hongi Hika encouraged the
first missions to New Zealand, virtually no MÄori converted to
Christianity for a decade; large scale conversion of northern MÄori
only occurred after his death.
While in Australia Hongi Hika studied European military and
agricultural techniques and purchased muskets and ammunition. From
1818 he introduced European agricultural implements and the
, using slave
to produce crops for trade.
Hongi married the famous, blind Turikatuku
, who was an important military advisor
for him. He later took her sister Tangiwhare as additional wife.
Both bore at least one son and daughter by him. It is uncertain if
he had other wives.
Bay of Plenty campaign, 1818â1819
Hongi Hika led one of two Ngapuhi taua against East Cape and
Plenty iwi NgÄti Porou and
The taua returned in 1819 carrying nearly 2,000
Journey to England, 1819â1821
In 1820 Hongi Hika travelled to England on board the whaling
ship New Zealander
. He spent 5 months in
London and Cambridge where his moko visage
made him something of a sensation.
During the trip he met
King George IV
who presented him with
a suit of armour. He continued his linguistic work, assisting
professor Samuel Lee
writing the first MÄoriâEnglish dictionary. Written MÄori maintains
a northern feel to this day as a resultâfor example the sound
usually pronounced "f" in MÄori is written "wh" because of Hongi
Hika's soft aspirated
Campaigns against NgÄti WhÄtua, Waikato and Rotorua,
Hongi Hika returned to the Bay of Islands in July 1821. En route he
sold the gifts he was given in England and used the money to
, 300 muskets and other
weapons for his iwi. Using these within months of his return he led
a force of 2,000 men to attack a pa
(MÄori fort) at Tamaki
, killing 2,000
warriors and their women and children. Deaths in this one action
outnumber all deaths in 25 years of the sporadic New Zealand Wars
1822 he led his force up the Waikato river where
after initial success he was defeated by Te Wherowhero, before gaining
another victory at Orongokoekoe.
Te Wherowhero ambushed the Ngapuhi carrying NgÄti Mahuta
women captives and freed
1823 he made peace with the Waikato iwi and invaded Te Arawa
territory in Rotorua.
In 1824â5 Hongi Hika attacked NgÄti WhÄtua
again, losing 70 men, including his eldest son Hare Hongi, in the
battle of Te Ika a Ranganui. According to some accounts NgÄti
WhÄtua lost 1,000 menâalthough Hongi Hika himself, downplaying the
tragedy, put the number as 100. In any event the defeat was a
catastrophe for NgÄti WhÄtuaâthe survivors retreated south.
behind the fertile region of Tamaki
Makaurau with its vast natural harbours at Waitemata and Manukauâland which had belonged to NgÄti WhÄtua since they
won it by conquest over a hundred years before.
left Tamaki Makaurau almost uninhabited as a southern buffer zone.
Fifteen years later when Lt. Governor William
Hobson wished to remove his fledging colonial administration
from settler and Ngapuhi influence in the Bay of Islands, he was
able to purchase this land cheaply from NgÄti WhÄtua, to build
Auckland, a settlement that has become New Zealandâs
Although MÄori population had always been, to some extent, mobile
in the face of conquests of land, Hongi Hika altered the balance of
power not only in the Waitemata but also the Bay of Plenty,
Tauranga, Coromandel, Rotorua and Waikato to an extent which seems
unprecedented within the memory of his contemporaries. Although he
did not usually occupy conquered territory his campaigns and those
of other musket warriors triggered a series of migrations, claims
and counter claims which in the late 20th century would add to the
disputes over land sales in the Waitangi Tribunal
ânot least NgÄti WhÄtua
's occupation of Bastion Point
Waimate to Whangaroa, 1826â1827
In 1826 Hongi Hika moved from Waimate to conquer Whangaroa and
found a new settlement. In part this was to punish NgÄti Uru
âwho Hongi Hika displacedâfor burning the ship Mercury and
sacking the Wesleyan mission. However this shift soon split his
followers into two factions, those who stayed in Waimate
quarrelling with the colonists at Whangaroa.
Injury and death, 1827â1828
In January 1827, Hongi Hika was shot in the chest during a minor
engagement in the Hokianga. He invited those around him to listen
to the wind whistle through his lungs and some claimed to have been
able to see completely through him. Hongi Hika lingered for 14 months before
dying of infection from this wound on 6 March 1828 at Whangaroa.
The site of his burial was deliberately
kept secret and news of his death was suppressed for some time.
Hongi Hika was survived by 5 children.
The extent of Hongi Hika's plans and ambitions are unknown.
Although he said during his visit to England, "There is only one
king in England, there shall be only one king in New Zealand", this
is likely bravado. In 1828 MÄori lacked a national identity, seeing
themselves as belonging to separate iwi. It would be 30 years
before a MÄori king
be acclaimedâin imitation of the English the Kingite
was Te Wherowhero, a man who built his mana
defending the Waikato against Hongi Hika.
Hongi Hika never attempted to establish any form of long term
government over iwi he conquered and most often did not attempt to
permanently occupy territory. It is likely his aims were
opportunistic, based on increasing the mana MÄori accorded to great
Hongi Hika is mostly remembered as a warrior, although the smaller
but better recorded New Zealand
have tended to overshadow the Musket Wars
he started. History has generally
attributed Hongi Hikaâs military success to his acquisition of
muskets, comparing his military skills poorly with the other major
MÄori conqueror of the period, Te
. However Hongi Hika had the foresight to acquire
European weapons and pioneered the tactics of using them in MÄori
warfareâsomething which was a nasty surprise to British and
colonial forces in later years. Hongi Hika's military conquests may
not have endured, but his importance lies not only in his campaigns
and the social upheaval they caused, but also his encouragement of
early European settlement, agricultural improvements and the
development of a written version of MÄori.
Hongi Hika's whÄnau
would continue to
have a say in both settlement and warfare. Twelve years after Hongi
Hikaâs death, his nephew Hone Heke
the first signature on the Treaty of
, legitimating British annexation. Five years later the
first of the New Zealand Wars began
when Heke turned on the European settlers with the weapons they had
sold him and burned the settlement Hongi Hika had promoted at