Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.

POMARE II, Whetoi

(c. 1775–1850).

Ngapuhi chief.

A new biography of Pomare II appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Whetoi was born about 1775, the son of Haki, the sister of Pomare-nui, and of Te Tauroto, a Ngapuhi chief who was killed at the Waima engagement in 1810. In 1826, after his uncle's death, Whetoi succeeded him as chief of the Uri Karaka hapu of the Ngapuhi. He assumed the name Pomare so that his people might be reminded of their duty to avenge his uncle's death. A very hot-headed man, who achieved an unenviable reputation for the craftiness of his dealings, Pomare was constantly quarrelling with neighbouring Ngapuhi hapus and with other tribes. In March 1828 he took part in a skirmish at Waima, where he had gone to avenge the death of Whareumu. He was involved in the “Girls' War” in 1830 and was obliged to cede the site of Kororareka to Te Uruoa as utu for killing the chief Hengi. On 26 June 1832 he and Kawiti led an expedition to the Waikato, where they attempted, unsuccessfully, to avenge Rangituki's death. In 1832 Pomare sold Captain J. R. Clendon some land for a trading post at Okiato. In the following year he seized a whaleboat because the captain refused to pay him for some spars. This incident was a cause célèbre at the time, but Pomare accepted fair compensation when HMS Alligator arrived in March 1834. He also levied a toll upon ships calling at Otuihu and Wahapu until the establishment of British sovereignty put an end to this lucrative source of revenue. On 2 June 1837 Pomare killed the chief Titore in the course of a tribal brawl at Kororareka. Two months later Captain Hobson, who visited the port in HMS Rattlesnake, observed that both chiefs were “violent fellows” and added that the missionaries were working hard to resolve the dispute.

Pomare signed the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840 and was the third chief to do so. During the early years of British sovereignty his general demeanour caused the Government much disquiet, while his propensity towards violence rendered his loyalty suspect. A few years later, when the Maoris were becoming dissatisfied with the effects of the transfer of sovereignty, the American Consul at the Bay of Islands persuaded him that the British flag flying at Kororareka was the cause of all their troubles. About the time of Heke's incident the authorities intercepted some letters, supposedly written by Pomare to Te Wherowhero, urging him to make a common cause against the Europeans. Governor FitzRoy decided to arrest the former on suspicion of treason. On 30 April 1845 Colonel Despard and Colonel Hulme went to Otuihu and – notwithstanding that the Maoris were flying a flag of truce – effected the arrest, after which the troops razed the pa. Pomare was taken to Paihia, but was released soon afterwards when Nene convinced the Governor that his action had been precipitate. For his part, Pomare demanded that the Governor should give him, as compensation for his arrest, the ship upon which he had been carried. He brought a large war party to serve in the subsequent campaign against Heke, but withdrew before the battle at Ohaeawai.

After Heke's war Pomare seemed to become more reconciled to the Government and, in 1849, he welcomed the Bay of Islands Magistrate's intervention to settle a dispute between the Ngapuhi and Whangaroa tribes. During the last year of his life he ceased to oppose the missionaries in his district and embraced Christianity. Pomare died towards the end of July 1850.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • Marsden Letters and Journals, Elder, J. R. (ed.) (1932)
  • The Early Journals of Henry Williams, 1826–40, Rogers, L. M. (ed.) (1961)
  • New Zealand's First War, Buick, T. L. (1926)
  • Southern Cross, 20 Aug 1850.


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This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

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