Story: Tāreha, Kurupō and Tāreha, Te Roera

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Tāreha, Kurupō

1871–1938

Ngāti Kahungunu leader, landowner, golfer

Tāreha, Te Roera

?–1941

Ngāti Kahungunu leader, landowner

This biography, written by Angela Ballara and Taape Tareha-O'Reilly, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1996.

Te Roera and Kurupō Tāreha, prominent landowners in Hawke's Bay, were sons of Tāreha Te Moananui, a principal chief of Ngāti Kahungunu. Tāreha had many wives in his youth, but the offspring of these marriages had all died by 1850; Te Roera and Kurupō were the children of his old age. Te Roera was born in the 1850s; his mother was Mere Te Huia Te Apatari. Kurupō was born in 1871; his mother was Hārata Te Apatari, the daughter of Mere Te Huia. Te Roera was thus Kurupō's uncle as well as his half-brother, and always took care of his younger brother in a semi-parental role. The principal hapū of the Tāreha family in the Ahuriri (Napier) area were Ngāti Hinemoa, Ngā Tuku-a-te-rangi, Ngāi Tākaro, Ngāti Te Rēhunga, Ngāti Te Rangikāmangungu and Ngāti Hinepare. They were also connected to the major tribe, Ngāti Te Whatuiāpiti, and its hapū, Ngāti Parau. The name of this hapū refers to the time when a son of Tāreha was lost in reeds near the Ahuriri lagoon.

It is probable that both brothers were born at Waiōhiki, near Taradale. Te Roera was trained in tribal lore; Kurupō was sent to the Catholic mission school at Meeanee, and later to Te Aute College. After his schooling he joined Te Roera in developing the family properties left to them by Tāreha, who died in 1880.

The brothers were deeply involved in a continuing struggle to defend their rights to the land their father had acquired. Tāreha had been from 1868 to 1870 the first MHR for Eastern Māori. He supported the colonial government's military actions against Hauhau tribes and the followers of Te Kooti in the 1860s and early 1870s. Having lost his own land interests in the Ahuriri and Heretaunga blocks through sale and debt, Tāreha was rewarded for his loyalty to the Crown with land shares in many blocks in the confiscated Mōhaka–Waikare district; in the Kaiwaka block he was registered as the sole owner.

On 20 May 1885 Te Roera applied to the Native Land Court to succeed to Tāreha's interest in the Kaiwaka block, in accordance with his father's will. Instead of granting him sole ownership, the court made an order for him to succeed with several others and the block was divided up. Toha Rahurahu and others then petitioned for the title to the Mōhaka–Waikare blocks to be investigated in the court, claiming that Tāreha's interest in these blocks, as in Kaiwaka, was in the nature of a trust for other owners who had been loyal to the Crown in the wars of the 1860s. In this instance, however, a posthumous certificate of title was granted to Tāreha in 1894, and a Crown grant to Tāreha's heirs in 1895. Te Teira Te Paea, a Mōhaka chief, disputed Te Roera's claim to Kaiwaka through the Supreme Court, and then the Court of Appeal; Te Roera won. In 1898 the case was taken again to the Supreme Court, with the same result. The case got as far as a Privy Council hearing in 1901, but again went in Te Roera's favour.

This was not the end of the disputes over land ownership. In 1924 there were petitions for Native Land Court rehearings of the title to the Tataraakina block in which the Tāreha brothers had shares, on the grounds that others had rights to the land by virtue of ancestry and occupation. Because Te Roera and Kurupō did nothing to discourage these petitions, it was assumed they acknowledged that there was a case. The hearings took place, and after further petitions the Native Land Court in 1929 redefined the shares of the claimants. As a result the shares of the Tāreha brothers in the block were reduced substantially.

In 1936 Te Roera and Kurupō petitioned for the return of their shares in Tataraakina, or compensation. In correspondence they stated that they had been dispossessed in favour of descendants of rebels, and reminded the government of its solemn promise in 1870 to return parts of the confiscated lands to loyal Māori. In 1940, after Kurupō's death, this petition was referred to the government and a commission of inquiry was set up in 1949 to examine the whole issue. Its decisions favoured the status quo before 1920; consequently the remaining Tāreha holdings were restored to the family.

Despite the legal difficulties they faced, Te Roera and Kurupō Tāreha were successful farmers and managers. By 1908 they had 500 acres at Waiōhiki, stocked with nearly 400 cattle, and another property at Pākōwhai of 90 acres, on which they ran 70 dairy cows. Over 30,000 acres of their lands at Kaiwaka were leased for a period to George Prior Donnelly. In 1910 Te Roera as sole owner of Kaiwaka No 2A and Kurupō with another as sole owners of Kaiwaka No 1 sold these blocks to the Crown because they needed capital for their dairying venture. They subsequently sold other land interests.

The profits from their farming operations and sale of land enabled the brothers to live in some style. Kurupō had a 10-roomed residence on the Waiōhiki property, which later burnt down. A second, smaller house was built on a rise overlooking the main road: it had a private bathroom (an almost unheard-of luxury at the turn of the century) and a secret trapdoor. Kurupō was interested in horseracing, owning four horses, and drove one of the first Wolseley motor cars seen in Hawke's Bay.

Throughout his life Te Roera was a highly respected elder in the Māori world, but almost unknown to Pākehā. It is probable that he did not speak English. In contrast, Kurupō was the ambassador of the Tāreha family in the Pākehā world. He was a prominent member of Hawke's Bay society, a member of various sports clubs, the Hawke's Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Society and the Scinde Masonic Lodge. In 1897, as a reward for the loyalty of the Tāreha family, he was selected to travel to England with the New Zealand Diamond Jubilee Contingent. He was company sergeant major; Hoani Parāone Tūnuiārangi was captain. To mark the occasion he was presented with a ceremonial sword, which was afterwards kept in the dining-room of the house at Waiōhiki. Five years later as captain of the contingent of Māori representatives he attended the coronation ceremonies for Edward VII.

While in Great Britain in 1897 Kurupō was taken to see the St Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and, according to family tradition, first acquired his interest in the game of golf. He was already a considerable athlete, winning medals and trophies in football, cycling, boxing and other sports. On his return to New Zealand, he and Te Roera developed golf-links on 100 acres of their Waiōhiki property, which became known as the Waiōhiki Links and later as the Napier Golf Links. Both Te Roera and Kurupō were in the Hawke's Bay team at a tournament at Gisborne in 1899. Two other team members were also young Hawke's Bay rangatira, Paraire Tomoana and Taranaki Te Uamairangi.

Kurupō developed into a formidable player. He won the New Zealand Amateur Golf Championship at the Waiōhiki Links in 1903, the Manawatū championships in 1905, and competed in championship tournaments in Dunedin and Auckland. He was an active member of the Napier Golf Club for years, and when he could no longer play, was a coach. Kurupō was one of the founders of the New Zealand Māori Golf Association, and at his death was its patron. His eldest son, Ngā-whakapinga-o-te-rangi Tāreha, better known as Kapi, was also an expert golfer who won many amateur golf championships and eventually became a professional player.

Te Roera had at least two wives. His first wife was Tuhitio, a descendant of the famous Heretaunga chief Te Hauwaho. Their only only son was Tuiri. Tuhitio died in 1929. Te Roera's second wife, who survived him, was Hera Greening. There were no children of this marriage. Twin daughters were born of another union. One of the twins, Ārepa (Alpha), was adopted by Kurupō, and Ōmeka (Omega), was brought up by Airini Donnelly.

Kurupō had several marriages. His first wife was Paranihia Pānapa, who was part European. Local tradition relates that after his marriage Kurupō went to the sea people to seek their help in having children (lines of descent linked him with Tangaroa, god of the sea, Pānia of the sea people, and her taniwha son, Moremore). In his dealing with the sea people, Kurupō formed a liaison with one of them, a copper-haired woman named Hinewera. The sea people agreed to help Kurupō, but only if his first-born son was given back to them. However, when his son Kapi was born in 1888 or 1889, Kurupō refused to give him back; the perceived consequence was that Kurupō had no other natural children. Kapi's descendants are sometimes referred to as Ngāti Hinewera.

Later, Kurupō married Alice Ransfield of Ngāti Raukawa from Ōtaki. This marriage was said to heal the rift that had remained between Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Raukawa from the time of the great battles of the 1820s at Te Pakake and Te Roto-a-Tara. The marriage was childless, so Kurupō and Alice adopted Te Roera's daughter Ārepa, and then Douglas, one of the twin sons of Alice's sister Mabel. After the child's death they adopted the other twin, John. Alice died at an early age and Kurupō then married Hiraina Puano, of Ngā Rauru, from Hāwera in Taranaki. Again, there were no children of this marriage, but the couple adopted Kapi's son, Hōri Ngākāwhe Tāreha, and a girl, Hine Pene.

Kurupō Tāreha died on 18 May 1938 at Waiōhiki after a long illness, and was buried on 21 May at the Waiōhiki cemetery. He was mourned by his surviving wife and children and many Māori, but also by a wide circle of Pākehā friends. Te Roera Tāreha survived Kurupō, but in contrast to the publicity given his brother's passing, his own death at Napier on 21 November 1941 was not recorded in the press. He lies buried with his brother at Waiōhiki.

How to cite this page:

Angela Ballara and Taape Tareha-O'Reilly. 'Tāreha, Kurupō and Tāreha, Te Roera', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1996. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/3t5/tareha-kurupo (accessed 1 October 2020)