Story: Hakaraia, Ngapiki

Page 1: Biography

Hakaraia, Ngapiki

1888–1969

Nga Rauru and Ngati Apa; religious founder

This biography, written by Angela Ballara, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1998.

Ngapiki (Maggie) Waaka was born on 4 May 1888 at Kai Iwi, north of Wanganui. She belonged to Ngati Pukeko, a hapu of Nga Rauru, and to Ngati Apa. Her parents were Waaka Hakaraia and his wife, Ngapiki Reweti Paponga. She attended Goat Valley School from 1897 to 1901, followed by a brief period in 1905 at Turakina Maori Girls' School. She was fully bilingual.

Little is known about Ngapiki's first marriage to Te Tue Te Uawiri at Parewanui; records of any children have not been found and he died in January 1926. Later that year, on 2 December, at Ratana, she married her brother-in-law, Hoani Hakaraia Te Uawiri, also known as Te Rua Hakaraia. She must by then have been a follower of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, the faith healer and religious leader, as the officiating minister was a registered apostle or minister of the Ratana church. Ngapiki and Hoani Hakaraia had no children of their own but adopted several.

Hoani Hakaraia was of Nga Rauru. He had been accepted as a Methodist probationer in 1921 and served first in Patea as a home missionary. He was a Methodist minister until 1946, but in spite of his official status was a strong supporter of Ratana for many years. In 1925 with the blessing of the Reverend A. J. Seamer, the Methodist general superintendent, he was gazetted as a Ratana apostle.

In the later 1920s many Ratana followers were disturbed by what they saw as a progressive departure from Christian belief. In 1925 the Anglican church had declared the Ratana church schismatic, but the Methodists continued to work quietly behind the scenes in an endeavour to keep the new church Christian; Hoani Hakaraia was one of their agents working for that purpose in Ratana pa. The nature and status of the holy angels, who were included in the Ratana formula for the Godhead – which also featured the Mangai (Ratana) himself -, were much debated in Ratana pa. By 1928 Ratana had begun to teach his followers to use the name Tama instead of Christ. This seems to have been the last straw for Ngapiki and her husband; probably in 1929 they resigned from the Ratana church and movement on the grounds that the name of Christ was not sufficiently honoured. They considered that the Bible had been abandoned, and that Ratana was tolerating the worship of himself as the second incarnation of Christ. During the debates preceding their departure Hoani Hakaraia was physically threatened more than once on the marae by angry Ratana adherents.

Ngapiki and Hoani Hakaraia moved to Kai Iwi and lived, probably, at Te Hokomoa, a village near the Okehu Stream on the land of Ngati Pukeko and Ngati Tamareheroto of Nga Rauru. They either brought a few like-minded followers with them or were joined by them later, for during the 1930s they established a new settlement upstream from Te Hokomoa. In the early 1940s they experienced spiritual enlightenment and began to exercise a healing ministry. Both Hoani and Ngapiki were regarded as prophets, but Ngapiki was the leading figure of the new movement. She first called it Te Marama; later the name Te Maramatanga (enlightenment) was adopted. Ngapiki and Hoani exercised a ministry that went beyond Kai Iwi and Nga Rauru; parties of visitors from Taranaki came to Kai Iwi to experience Ngapiki's teaching.

In 1943 the church and its ministers were gazetted as Te Maramatanga Christian Society. There were four ministers at this stage: Kaponga Erueti, Toro Hetaraka, Keha Maraku and Tahiopipiri Moerua; most had previously been active Ratana followers or registered apostles or spiritual ministers. Ngapiki's movement, like Ratana's, believed that the ratification of the Treaty of Waitangi would help resolve Maori grievances over land and other issues. In August 1943, on behalf of 2,337 members of the movement, she and her husband signed an address to the prime minister and a petition to Parliament seeking that the Treaty become part of New Zealand law. The petition was favourably considered by the Native Affairs Committee in 1945, along with similar petitions from Ratana (1932) and Te Rauna Hape (1945). Parliament accepted the committee's recommendation that the treaty be published as a sacred reaffirmation of the 1840 agreement and that copies be distributed to all schools and Maori meeting places. Copies of the treaty were sent to schools in 1949, but the petition's main objective was not met in Ngapiki's lifetime.

The Maramatanga movement continued to grow through the 1940s; at its highest point in 1945–46 there were seven ministers. In 1945 Kaponga Erueti stood against Matiu Ratana for Western Maori as an independent Labour candidate, but there seem to have been no other political ambitions in Ngapiki's movement. In 1947 Hoani Hakaraia was registered for the first time as a minister of Te Maramatanga Christian Society. After his death in April 1949, Ngapiki, now aged 62, married Morehu Toro Hetaraka at Kai Iwi on 6 September 1950. He was a farmer and the son of Toro Hetaraka, one of the ministers of Te Maramatanga.

In the 1950s the new church began to decline. From 1954 Ngapiki herself was listed as a minister; by 1960 she and another woman, Raina Pine, were the only ministers, and by 1962 Ngapiki was the only one. The movement came to an end in 1964, a few years before Ngapiki's death at Kai Iwi on 9 November 1969. She was buried at Kai Iwi Maori cemetery on 12 November, survived by her third husband.

How to cite this page:

Angela Ballara. 'Hakaraia, Ngapiki', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1998. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/4h3/hakaraia-ngapiki (accessed 25 June 2019)