Page 1: Biography
Taukē, Te Hāpimana
Ngāti Ruanui leader, mission teacher, historian
This biography, written by Ian Church, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1990. It was translated into te reo Māori by the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography team.
Taukē, of Te Inu-ā-wai hapū of Ngā Ruahine, a section of Ngāti Ruanui, was born probably in 1810 or 1811, in Waikato, where his mother was being held in captivity. When Taukē was born she thought of killing him to spare him a life of slavery, but a Waikato chief extended his protection to the child and ordered the mother to desist. Taukē was baptised and named Te Hāpimana, after Thomas Chapman, the CMS missionary at Rotorua. Released in boyhood, he returned to South Taranaki and was present, in August 1840, at the battle of Pātoka pā, Waitotara, where he witnessed the work of the missionary Wiremu Nēra Ngātai. He soon had a thorough knowledge of the Bible and became a lay preacher. In 1859 he was listed as the Anglican teacher at Weriweri, in South Taranaki. At the same time he was instructed in ancient lore by his close kin, Rāwiri Waimako.
In the 1850s Taukē was a supporter of the move to have a Māori king. He was present at Pūkawa, Lake Taupō, when Pōtatau Te Wherowhero was formally nominated at the end of 1856. At Ngāruawahia, on 2 May 1859, when Te Wherowhero's mana as King was confirmed, Taukē crawled through his thighs (whakahoro hauhauaitū), a symbol of being born again (whānau hou).
He remained a committed Anglican; when Bishop G. A. Selwyn walked through South Taranaki in November 1861 Taukē rebuked the Taranaki people who had forcibly detained Selwyn for a time. Taukē welcomed the bishop to Māwhitiwhiti, and arranged services and the baptism of many children. On reaching home Selwyn sent him a large parcel of books. Shortly after he appears to have joined the Pai Mārire movement; he was injured in the hand at the battle of Te Mōrere (Sentry Hill) in April 1864. In 1868 he was present at Tītokowaru's pā Te Ngutu-o-te-manu but took no part in the fighting.
After the wars Taukē became a peacemaker and preacher, and a teacher of traditional lore at Weriweri. His people grew large amounts of cocksfoot seed, some of which was sold to William Williams, a Hāwera merchant. On one occasion Williams overpaid them and Taukē returned the money.
In the 1870s Taukē was a follower of the prophet Te Whiti-o-Rongomai, and a friend of Tohu Kākahi. During the Parihaka campaign in 1881, when colonial troops searched the houses looking for arms and destroying Māori property, Taukē wavered in his Christian faith. However, his friendship with the Reverend T. G. Hammond supported him and he provided information for Hammond's The story of Aotea (1924). In 1883 he was one of four trustees named in a Crown grant of a 20 acre block for his hapu, but he refused to take rents for reserve lands leased by the public trustee; he considered the leasing an unwarranted intrusion on Māori rights.
In 1911 the Waikato people agreed to allow the Taranaki tribes to nominate the candidate for the Western Māori constituency. Taukē, who was the living link with the King movement, was influential in securing the nomination of Māui Pōmare. At the time Taukē was living at Ketemarae pā, near Normanby.
Te Hāpimana Taukē died on 2 June 1915 and was buried at Weriweri. According to his headstone he was aged 104 years. A leading elder of his hapū, he had become the guardian of his people's tribal lore and history.