Story: Hinematioro

Page 1: Biography

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Ngati Porou leader

This biography, written by Angela Ballara, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1990.

Hinematioro was a woman of high standing among the East Coast peoples from Whangara to Uawa (Tolaga Bay), about the time that Captain James Cook first visited New Zealand, in 1769. Her mana and tapu derived from her father, Tane-toko-rangi, a grandson of Konohi, of Whangara, who could trace his descent from the ancestors Porourangi, Ruapani and Kahungunu. In a peacemaking alliance which ended years of fighting, Konohi had married Tane-toko-rangi to Hinematioro's mother, Ngunguru-te-rangi, a grand-daughter of Rerekohu from senior Ngati Porou and Te Whanau-a-Apanui lines.

Hinematioro is said to have chosen her husband, Te Hoatiki, the grandson of her own great-uncle, Te Riwai. They had four daughters. Two died in early childhood; the elder surviving daughter was Ngarangi-ka-hiwa, whose son (by Rongo-tu-mamao) was the great leader Te Kani-a-Takirau. The younger daughter, Te Kakari, became the wife of Te Amaru Kaitangata, a warrior of Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti.

After her marriage Hinematioro usually lived at Uawa; her pa of refuge was Te Pourewa, an island off the southern arm of Tolaga Bay. She was the acknowledged leader of Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti in that district, but her sphere of influence was much wider. Her mana was recognised from Poverty Bay to Hicks Bay, and she had other residences and property, including kumara gardens, as far afield as Te Kaha, in the eastern Bay of Plenty. She was often taken by litter, and, when danger threatened, attendants were set aside to take her to safety. Her importance was recognised by early Europeans in New Zealand. The missionary Thomas Kendall, stationed in the Bay of Islands, in 1815 informed the Church Missionary Society headquarters in London that Hinematioro was 'queen of a large…district' on the East Coast. In New South Wales the Reverend Samuel Marsden had often heard of her: the 'great Queen' who possessed 'a large territory and numerous subjects'.

A woman of great beauty, renowned for her kindness, hospitality and good management, Hinematioro was a focus for the collection and redistribution of her people's wealth, in the form of gifts and feasts. An early gift to her, from Tamatere, of Uawa, was a huge tree-trunk, which was hauled and floated out of the bush to the coast, and towed by canoe to Whangara. There it was trimmed and erected as a food storehouse. Known as Te Whatakai-a-Hinematioro and sometimes as Te Kauta-a-Hinematioro, it stood near her carved house, Te Hamuti. Its height was about 60 feet, and a carved storehouse may have been positioned in its upper branches. The remains of this tree-trunk, shortened from successive repositionings when the lower portion of the trunk rotted, was placed in the Gisborne Museum in 1954.

When Te Wera Hauraki of Nga Puhi came to the East Coast in 1823, after the Nga Puhi capture of Mokoia Island, Rotorua, Te Whanau-a-Ruataupare hapu of Tokomaru Bay, aided by other elements of Ngati Porou, were besieging Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti. Hinematioro, by now an ageing woman, was with her people in beleaguered Te Pourewa pa. As the fall of the pa seemed imminent, Hinematioro and her grandson, Te Hemanawa, were helped down the island's cliffs into a canoe to escape; but the canoe capsized and its occupants drowned. Unaware of this tragedy Te Kani-a-Takirau made peace with Te Wera and Nga Puhi: he hoped to enlist their aid to raise the siege of his grandmother's pa.

The body of Te Hemanawa was washed up on the beach. There are conflicting accounts of Hinematioro's fate, but Whangara elders maintain that her body was found and buried at Te Ana-a-Paikea (Whangara Island), where Te Kani-a-Takirau was buried in 1856.

How to cite this page:

Angela Ballara. 'Hinematioro', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1990. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 8 April 2020)