For Ngāti Maniapoto, like many other tribes, early European contact was with whalers, traders and missionaries. Early European settlers had the biggest impact on the tribe, taking prominent Maniapoto women as their wives.
Louis Hetet was a settler with an English mother and French father who married a Maniapoto woman. He first visited New Zealand around 1835 on a whaling ship, and returned in 1842 to settle at Paripari (near Te Kūiti). He married Te Rangituatahi, daughter of the influential Maniapoto chief, Taonui Hīkaka. They had four children: George Ngātai, John Taonui, Henry Mate-ngaro, and Mere Te Wai. The three sons proved themselves as businessmen in the early days of the King Country. Their descendants are well-known members of Ngāti Maniapoto. Mere Te Wai married Te Toko Turner, the son of another prominent Pākehā–Māori, William Turner, who gave rise to the large Turner family.
Numerous notable Maniapoto families grew from other mixed marriages – the Searanckes, Barretts, Ormsbys, Bells, Andersons, Emerys, Hughes (Huihi) and others. Their descendants have featured prominently in the affairs of the tribe and the region since.
Louis Hetet managed one of several flour mills which supported the tribe’s thriving endeavours in cultivation and industry up until the 1850s. Wheat, oats and maize were grown, pigs were reared and flax was dressed and sent to the Auckland market and beyond. Ngāti Maniapoto also owned the ships Rere-wiki, Parininihi, Re-wini and Aotearoa.