Story: Kaiwhata, Pāora

Page 1: Biography

Kaiwhata, Pāora

?–1892

Ngāti Kahungunu leader

This biography, written by Patrick Parsons,  was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1993. It was translated into te reo Māori by the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography team.

Pāora Kaiwhata's father, Tareahi, of Ngāti Hinepare and Ngāi Tākaha, hapū of Ngāti Kahungunu in Hawke's Bay, was living at Te Rae-o-Tahumata near Ōmāhu when Kaiwhata was born. The tribes of the Heretaunga plain were assembled there to repel the raid of Ngāti Maru leader Tangi-te-ruru. His mother, Whareunga, of Ngāti Māhu, gave birth to him at nearby Rākātō pa on the shores of Ōingo Lake, and he was named Kahukuranui. He was also kin to Ngāti Te Ūpokoiri.

When Waikato tribes attacked Te Pakake pā at Ahuriri (Napier) about 1824, Kaiwhata was a child. He and his father were captured and spent 18 months in Waikato before being released. They did not join the majority of Ngāti Kahungunu at Nukutaurua, on the Māhia Peninsula, but instead returned to their ancestral lands surrounding Ōingo Lake. Thus they kept their fires of occupation alight on the land and the young Kaiwhata learnt the history and customs of his people from his father.

Kaiwhata was back in Hawke's Bay by the time Te Momo-a-Irawaru of Ngāti Te Koherā was killed at the second battle of Te Roto-a-Tara, near Te Aute, in 1824 or 1825. Ngāti Te Upokoiri, who were defending the pā of Te Roto-a-Tara, were defeated by the forces of Te Pareihe of Ngāti Te Whatu-i-apiti and Ngāti Kahungunu, and Te Wera Hauraki of Ngāpuhi. Many Heretaunga people took refuge at Nukutaurua, and Ngāti Te Ūpokoiri went into exile in Manawatū, but Kaiwhata and Tareahi continued to occupy their ancestral lands, making occasional visits to Māhia.

For many years much of Hawke's Bay was abandoned, but from about 1838 the exiled tribes gradually repopulated their territory. Ngāti Hinepare and Ngāti Mahu assembled at Wharerangi and Poraiti under the leadership of Tareahi and his eldest son, Porokoru Mapu. When William Colenso brought Christianity to Hawke's Bay in 1845 Kaiwhata was baptised Pāora (Paul). He became a teacher at Wharerangi.

In 1850 Pāora Kaiwhata accompanied the high-ranking leader Kurupō Te Moananui to a meeting with Ngāti Te Ūpokoiri in Manawatū. Te Moananui invited Ngāti Te Ūpokoiri to return to Hawke's Bay; in reply they asked Pāora to prepare cultivations for them at Ōmihi on the Ngaruroro River. By this time he had established himself at Ōmarunui on the TūtaekurĪ River, and assumed leadership of Ngāti Mahu and a section of Ngāti Hinepare. His half-brother, Porokoru, was a severe asthmatic and remained at Poraiti.

In 1854 Te Moananui contracted the sale of Ōmarunui, Mōteo and other lands. Pāora challenged Te Moananui's right to sell land in which he had interests, and refused to distribute the money. As a result Te Moananui agreed that the sale would be confined to the Ōkawa block.

Pāora supported Te Moananui in a series of disputes with Ngāti Te Whatu-i-apiti leader Te Hāpuku over the right to dispose of large tracts of Hawke's Bay land. After the fighting at Te Pakiaka in 1857, which resulted in Te Hāpuku being driven off the Heretaunga plain, the tribal leaders Tāreha, Rēnata Kawepō and Pāora worked in close co-operation, consulting each other on all matters of mutual concern. This unity was a major factor in keeping some of their lands intact during their lifetimes.

In September 1866 armed Hauhau took possession of Ōmarunui. Pāora had removed his people to safety at Pāwhakairo, Tāreha's pā, and joined Rēnata Kawepō, Karaitiana Takamoana and Lieutenant Colonel G. S. Whitmore's militia to drive the Hauhau out. Pāora Kaiwhata was also present at Mākāretu, Poverty Bay, in November 1868 with Tāreha, Rēnata and others, assisting the government forces against Te Kooti. He is recorded as having fought well. He continued the pursuit of Te Kooti in the spring of 1869, and was one of the chiefs who rode to Lake Taupō with Hēnare Tomoana and 120 men. On 8 September, while camped at Tauranga-Taupō on the shores of the lake, he roused the troops during the night to strengthen the pā. The next morning they successfully repelled an attack by Te Kooti and his entire force, which may have been as many as 200 warriors.

When Pāora Kaiwhata was living at Ngātahirā, near Mōteo, about 1865, the Ngāti Hinepare chief Pāora Torotoro mortgaged the land to Frederick Sutton, against Kaiwhata's will. Although he fought this action all the way to the Supreme Court, Ngātahirā was lost, and Kaiwhata was forced to move. About 1870 he relocated his people permanently to Mōteo, where he built Tuhirangi meeting house, a church and a solid wooden residence. Mōteo is the principal marae of Ngāti Hinepare and Ngāti Mahu today. He outlived his old comrades-in-arms, Tāreha and Rēnata. In the Native Land Court he was a principal witness in the Ōmāhu case in 1889, when Rēnata's inheritance was being disputed, and gave evidence in various cases including Ōwhāoko and Pirau. He was regarded as an authority on tribal custom and history, and as a shrewd businessman.

In 1891 Pāora Kaiwhata told the Native Land Laws Commission, 'I only am left of the old chiefs of Heretaunga'. Although he had played an important role in keeping Ngāti Kahungunu on the side of the government, opposed the King movement, and fought against Te Kooti, he had not served the government blindly. He supported the meeting in April 1873 which attempted to repudiate land sales in Hawke's Bay, and had tried to protect his tribal lands, but through ill-advised mortgages and sales had been left dissatisfied and his people dispossessed. He considered that the influence of the Native Land Court had been nothing but evil.

There was no issue from Paora's first marriage, to Pirihira Te Ihumanawa of Ngāti Hinepare. He and his second wife, Ruta Te Kahika, had one son, Māhanga Kaiwhata, whose line continues today. In 1885 Gottfried Lindauer painted Pāora Kaiwhata's portrait, but the present whereabouts of the painting is unknown. A contemporary described him as having a full body tattoo.

Pāora Kaiwhata died on 19 May 1892 and was buried at Mōteo on 27 May. He was said to be 80 years old. On the weekend of 11–12 June, Hēnare Tomoana held a large tangihanga for him at Waipatu marae, to coincide with the meeting there of the Kotahitanga parliament.

How to cite this page:

Patrick Parsons. 'Kaiwhata, Pāora - Kaiwhata, Paora', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1993. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2k5/kaiwhata-paora (accessed 24 September 2020)