Like many of the North Island tribes, Te Whakatōhea initially welcomed the new British laws and Christian religion as a way of stopping tribal warfare. This had been particularly intense during the first 40 years of the 19th century – the period of the musket wars.
With the arrival of the missionaries and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, a generation experienced peace.
The killing of Carl Völkner
The German missionary Carl Völkner had been warned to stay away from Te Whakatōhea territory by local Māori after they began to suspect he was a government spy. In 1865 he was murdered at Ōpōtiki during the Hauhau disturbances. As punishment for the murder and to satisfy settler demand for land, 144,000 acres (58,000 hectares) of Te Whakatōhea land was confiscated under the New Zealand Settlements Act, 1863. Te Whakatōhea lost the coastline from Maraetōtara to the Waiaua River, and the sub-tribes were jammed into the Ōpape native reservation.
This injustice was partially redressed in 1952 when a government grant established the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board.
Te Whakatōhea today
Te Whakatōhea consists of six sub-tribes: Ngāti Ruatakena (Ngāti Rua), Ngāti Patumoana, Ngāti Ngahere, Ngāi Tamahaua, Ngāti Ira and Te Ūpokorehe.
The Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board administers assets such as buildings and dairy farms. In addition to providing preschool and health services for Te Whakatōhea, the board provides training in dairy farming, hospitality, horticulture, aquaculture and commercial fishing, business administration and computing. In 2016, the Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust was negotiating with the government to settle its land claim.