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Te Rauparaha (1760s-1849) was a Māori rangatira (chief) and war leader of the Ngāti Toa tribe who took a leading part in the Musket Wars. He was influential in the original sale of land to the New Zealand Company and was a participant in the Wairau Incident in Marlboroughmarker.

Early days

At some time around 1815, muskets became the weapon of choice and changed the character of tribal warfare. In 1819 Te Rauparaha joined with a large war party of Ngā Puhi led by Tāmati Wāka Nene; they probably reached Cook Straitmarker before turning back.


Over the next few years the intertribal fighting intensified, and by 1822 they were being forced out of their land around Kawhia. Led by Te Rauparaha they began a fighting retreat or migration southwards,(this migration was called Te-Heke-Tahu-Tahu-ahi) one which ended with them controlling the southern part of the North Islandmarker and particularly Kapiti Islandmarker, which became the tribal stronghold. Attempts by various Southern Māori tribes to recover Kapiti Island in 1824 were decisively defeated.

Trade and further conquest

Pākehā whaling stations became established in the area, and Te Rauparaha encouraged them and many maori worked in them and some wahine married Pākehā whalers, establishing a lucrative trade of supplies for muskets thereby increasing his mana and military strength. In 1827 he began the conquest of the South Islandmarker, and by the early 1830s he controlled most of the northern part of it.

In 1831 he took the major Ngāi Tahu at Kaiapoimarker after a three month siege[45059][45060], and shortly after took Onawemarker in the Akaroamarker harbour, but these and other battles in the south were in the nature of revenge raids rather than for control of territory.

Planned European settlement

Te Rauparaha, contemporary sketch
last years of Te Rauparaha's life saw the most dramatic changes. On 16 October 1839 the New Zealand Company expedition commanded by Col William Wakefield arrived at Kapiti. They were seeking to buy vast areas of land with a view to forming a permanent European settlement. Te Rauparaha sold them some land in the area that became known later as Nelsonmarker and Golden Baymarker. On 14 May 1840 Te Rauparaha signed a copy of the Treaty of Waitangi, believing that the treaty would guarantee him and his allies the possession of territories gained by conquest over the previous 18 years. On 19 June of that year, he signed another copy of the treaty, when Major Thomas Bunbury insisted that he do so (Oliver 2007).

Te Rauparaha soon became alarmed at the flood of British settlers and refused to sell any more of his land. This quickly led to tension and the upshot was the Wairau Affair when a party from Nelson tried to arrest Te Rauparaha and 22 of them were killed when they fired upon Te Rauparaha and his people out of fear. The subsequent government enquiry exonerated Te Rauparaha which further angered the settlers who began a campaign to have the governor, Robert FitzRoy recalled.

Capture and eventual death

Then in May 1846 fighting broke out in the Hutt Valley between the settlers and Te Rauparaha's nephew, Te Rangihaeata. Despite his declared neutrality, Te Rauparaha was abducted but under the guise of being arrested, near a tribal village Taupo Pa in what would later be called Plimmertonmarker, by the Governor, George Grey, and held without trial before being exiled to Aucklandmarker. He was allowed to return to his people at Otaki in 1848, where he died the following year, 27 November 1849...


The most common haka, or challenge, performed by the All Blacks and many other New Zealand sports teams before international matches is "Ka Mate" - composed by Te Rauparaha to celebrate his escape from death in a battle in the early 1800s.

External links



  • Oliver, Steven. 'Te Rauparaha ? - 1849'. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007. URL: [45061]

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