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Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

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Rawiri Motutere (or Koheta)

Died about 1870

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Rawiri Motutere was also known as Rawiri Koheta. He was the son of Nukutara and Mapuna and was of the Te Atiawa and Taranaki iwi.

His principle Taranaki home, the place of his tupuna, was Hauranga Pa near Tahikara in the Cape Survey District He was also closely connected to Te Kawau Pa, New Plymouth. He was married to Maweu and they had five children. The children included Maweu, Rawinia Komata who married Ihaia Tipao of Ngati Rahiri, Mere Ngamai who first married the whaler James Harrison and then second in 1847/48 married Wi Tako Ngatata of Ngati Te Whiti/Ngati Ruanui, Te Kawau and Mere Te Hamene who married Wi Tako Ngatata in 1853 following the death of her older sister Mere Ngamai who died at the Hutt in 1852.

Rawiri was tall, athletic and “straight as a spear”. He had a beautiful tamoko which had a particular blue texture. He was very fair, that is, as white in the face as a Pakeha with red hair. When he went out he always wore a mata-huna (mask) to protect his fair skin from the sun. The tamoko of the mask was an exact replica of that upon his face.

According to Matene Tauwhare and Enoka Taitea Hohepa, Rawiri came in the last great Taranaki migration from Nga Motu to Raukawa Moana in 1832, long after the 1824 Battle of Waiorua, Kapiti. This heke came under the rangatira toa leadership of Te Wharepouri of Ngati Tawhirikura hapu and was named Tama Te Uaua. Te Wharepouri’s division or party in this heke numbered 400 toa besides women, children and old people

Unlike the many others who at that time traveled on from Te Uruhi and Kapiti to Te Whanganui-a-Tara and then followed Te Wharepouri, Te Puni, Rauakitua and others to the Wairarapa, Rawiri settled at Porirua with Paipai, Te Awataia and Rawakawe on land named Koangaumu. At the time of his residence at Te Uruhi, Te Puni Kokopu had ngakinga (cultivations) for a season at Koangaumu.

Ngati Toa or Ngati Rarua did not occupy Koangaumu in this period. In essence Koangaumu, in the Porirua takiwa, remained Rawiri’s principle residence. According to Ihaia Porutu, Rawiri did go to the Wairarapa but did not become ensconced there with Taranaki Whanui. He returned instead, to Koangaumu, no doubt employing his own waka which was named Hakitaia.

Although Rawiri lived at Koangaumu, he was a regular visitor to Poneke. He came for extended visits to relatives, in particular his three daughters, Rawinia Komata, Mere Ngamai and Mere Te Haumene.

While in Poneke he lived at Ngauranga with Te Wharepouri. Rawiri’s sojourns at Ngauranga did not begin until after Te Wharepouri made Ngauranga his principle residence at Poneke and until Te Wharepouri had supervised the building of his two houses, Te Akitiwha and Te Pukeatua. Te Wharepouri lived in Te Pukeatua until his death in 1842. This means that Rawiri and his whanau were not at Ngauranga until sometime in 1836.

After the death of Te Wharepouri, the first and principle Taranaki Whanui rangatira at Ngauranga by right of first residence was Manihera Te Toru. Manihera told the Native Land Court at Wellington in 1868 that Rawiri Koheta was not at Ngauranga at the time of the McCleverty land agreements and so he also added that he did not include him, nor did he include many of Rawiri’s whanau in the award. In the context of the hearing, an adversarial one in which they were giving evidence, he added that Rawiri had no rights. This latter contention of Manihera gave no substance to this case and Rawiri’s descendants were adduced to have rights at Ngauranga. In the 1888 Native Reserves court decision Rawiri’s descendants were included among the original owners of the New Zealand Company Wellington Reserves.

In Taranaki Rawiri had land interests in the Ahu Ahu Town Belt at Oakura, Hauranga, and Patuha Blocks and at Te Ngaere.

He died about 1870.


Judge Ward MB no. 39, p. 191
Wellington MB no. 1C, p. 25-52, 53, 74-125
Wellington MB no. 2, p. 167-168
Wellington MB no. 4, p. 28-30, 311-313
Taranaki MB no. 2, p. 22-32
Maori Land Court, Wanganui, Ngauranga Block File no. 60
Maori Land Court, Wanganui, New Zealand Company Wellington Tenths Block File no. 139.
Alexander Turnbull Library MS-Papers-0039

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