here for a map (25k) showing the position of the Wairau
now established at Kapiti, commenced a flourishing trade
with passing ships for guns, with a view to invading Te
Wai Pounamu (The South Island). Flax and the cultivation
of potatoes were in particular demand by passing traders.
Trade was so successful that Ngati Toa soon had a higher
ratio of guns than any other tribe south of the Bay of
The first taua which Te Rauparaha led into
Te Wai Pounamu territory was around 1827 - 28. The warriors
made their way up the river Awanui and into the Wairau,
leading raids on the way. Once at Wairau there was a great
battle. Four pa were taken by the Ngati Toa and many opposing
warriors killed or captured. The Wairau was Te Rauparaha's
first victory in the South Island, and where he established
It was some years later that Captain Stewart,
of the brig "Elizabeth" willingly transported
Te Rauparaha to Akaroa, in order to lead a taua against
the Ngai Tahu tribe, inhabitants of large areas of the
By 1832 Te Rauparaha controlled an area
of the South Island from the Wairau to Hakaroa on the
east coast, and to Hokitika, on the west coast.
Meanwhile, on hearing rumours that the British
Government was considering negotiating a Treaty with the
Māori in 1839, and which would give the Crown pre-emptive
rights over land sales, the New Zealand Company hastily
sent it's ship "Tory" towards the Cook Strait
area, with surveyors on board, who were to buy and then
survey land for settlers. Captain William Wakefield was
in charge, sent by his brother Edward Gibbon.
Back in London, the New
Zealand Company was selling land which had not yet
been bought from Māori chiefs in New Zealand.
Unclear and confused negotiations had been
entered into concerning the sale of the Wairau Plain,
in the South Island in 1839. Colonel Edward Wakefield,
for the "New Zealand Company" - formed without
the British Government's official approval - had been
purchasing land via his agents in New Zealand before
the Treaty of Waitangi had been signed.
Edward Gibbon Wakefield had gained doubtful
notoriety in Great Britain by abducting a schoolgirl heiress,
aided by his brother Colonel William Wakefield. He had
formed his "systematic colonisation" theory while in prison.
The basics of the theory were that land should be sold
at a "reasonable price" so that labourers not accede to
that statute of proprietor too rapidly, and that the proceeds
of the sales be used to finance the voyage of "suitable"
Many future settlers were buying land from
the Company, in spite of warnings from the British Government
that it could not guarantee legal recognition of land
bought from The New Zealand Company. The New Zealand Company
determined to continue its operations, independent of
the British Government's position.
Land at Port Whakatu had been purchased
by The Company via negotiations with Te Rauparaha. However,
it soon became evident that more settlers had purchased
land than Port Whakatu could provide for. This fact was
reported back to Colonel Edward Wakefield, along with
the fact that the Wairau Plain, between Cape Farewell
and Cape Campbell, would prove sufficient extra land to
accommodate the settlers.
The Company declared that the Wairau area
had been included in the land sale negotiated with Te
Rauparaha. Te Rauparaha equally insisted that the Wairau
area had not been sold, and warned the Company surveyors
not to take action.
Not taking any
notice of Te Rauparaha's warning, Company contractors
left Nelson on 15th April 1843 to survey different parts
of the Wairau area. On hearing of the forthcoming survey,
tensions arose between the Company and these two mightiest
chiefs in the south of the North Island, Te Rauparaha
and his nephew Te Rangihaeata.
Wakefield continued to dismiss Te Rauparaha
and Te Rangihaeata's grievances, and sent another brother,
Captain Arthur Wakefield, to conduct a survey on the land.
This was immediately taken as provocation, and Te Rauparaha,
accompanied by Te Rangihaeata and another warrior Hiko,
made their way to Nelson to speak with Wakefield about
the matter. The negotiations did not terminate successfully,
Te Rauparaha claiming the Wairau had never been sold,
Colonel Wakefield equally convinced that it belonged to
The New Zealand Company.
The two chiefs ordered Wakefield to stop
the survey. Wakefield refused to listen, and instructed
his brother Arthur to continue surveying the Wairau land.
In view of this further provocation, Te Rauparaha and
his nephew Te Rangihaeta led a small party to interrupt
the survey. The surveyors were taken, sent off in boats,
and a surveyor's hut was burnt. The burning of the surveyor's
hut was taken as an excellent excuse to arrest both Te
Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeta on arson charges.
The issue of this charge was unwarranted
as Te Rauparaha, although on Te Wai Pounamu land which
had been taken in battle, and was, strictly speaking,
not his to sell, had not included this land in the sale
with the Wakefields.
However, the objective of the New Zealand
Company was to remove Te Rauparaha in order to claim the
Wairau. An armed posse of Europeans, including Chief Constable
H. Thompson, set out to arrest Te Rauparaha. On arriving
at Te Rauparaha's pa Thompson tried to handcuff the Warrior.
Te Rangihaeta became infuriated, insisting that he was
on his own land, saying the Māori did not go to England
to take "pakeha" land. Fighting broke out, and nine Europeans
and seven Māori were killed. Wakefield's men had to
During a discussion about the fate of the
captives, Te Rauparaha may have been inclined to spare
their lives. Te Rangihaeta, on the other hand, demanded
"utu" (revenge) for the killing of his wife Te Rongo during
the fighting. As "utu" was the Māori custom, Te Rauparaha
ceded to his nephew's request. The thirteen European prisoners
were therefore killed, including Arthur Wakefield. Te
Rangihaeta killed most of the captives with his "mere"
(club). This violence could have been averted had the
decision by the Europeans to handcuff one of the country's
mightiest warriors over a doubtful land sale not taken
The news of this outbreak of violence spread
with shock throughout the colony, yet the official Governmental
view was that the Māori had been provoked by Wakefield's
reckless actions in continuing the land survey.
This event became known in New Zealand history
as "The Wairau Affair".
the Governor General of New Zealand, Governor Grey, captured
Te Rauparaha. The dispute was over the Hutt area of land,
in the Wellington area.
On 2 April 1846 a Ngati Rangatahi chief
murdered two settlers. Te Rauparaha informed Grey by letter
that the Ngati-Toa were not involved in this killing.
Further raids took place by warriors against the settlers
in this area. Te Rauparaha's nephew Te Rangihaeta was
involved in the actions.
The Māori excelled as usual in their
guerrilla type attacks, of which the European was totally
unused to. Although Te Rauparaha did not take part in
these raids, Wakefield, of "The New Zealand" company,
made it constantly clear to Governor Grey that Te Rauparaha
was untrustworthy. The complaint was that Te Rauparaha
was making no move to stop his nephew's actions.
"The New Zealand Company" was still seeking
to obtain the Wairau Plain area. On 23 July 1846 Grey,
swayed by the unfounded reports from "The New Zealand
Company", sent 200 men to capture Te Rauparaha. Although
Te Rauparaha was one of the neutral chiefs in the wars
with the Europeans, the excuse for his arrest was his
secret support of Te Rangihaeta.
The British had been unable to capture Te
Rangihaeta, so by taking the unwitting Te Rauparaha, famous
and mighty chief, the Government probably hoped to renew
the settler's confidence, and at the same time discourage
support for Te Rangihaeta and his raids.
Te Rauparaha, by now aged and unwell, was
not anticipating an arrest by Governor Grey. He was taken
by surprise in his "pa", overcome, and taken by the Inspector
of Police and his men. At no time did Te Rauparaha nor
his warriors attempt to resist the capture. Te Rauparaha
gave instructions to his son Tamihana, a converted Christian,
that the tribes should not act in retaliation for his
Te Rauparaha was held for some time, without
trial or charges. He was never brought to trial, but Grey
eventually issued charges - vague and unfounded - aimed
mainly at satisfying The New Zealand Company. According
to the clergyman the Reverend Henry Williams, who visited
Te Rauparaha during his confinement, Te Rauparaha and
the Ngati Toa people never fully understood the reason
for the warrior chief's arrest.
In January 1848 Grey finally released Te
Rauparaha, after 18 months of imprisonment. Te Rauparaha
returned to his Ngati-Toa tribe, who had been awaiting
his return. At the time of his release, Te Rauparaha did
not know that the sale of Ngati Toa land at Wairau had
been a condition of his being freed.
Grey had bought the land which Te Rauparaha
and Te Rangihaeata had never sold. The New Zealand Company
had been involved. It was Tamihana, Puaha and Matene Te
Whiwhi who had signed over the Wairau to Grey. They had
been informed that only the sale of the Wairau would ensure
Te Rauparaha's freedom.
Te Rauparaha died on 27th November 1849.