Story: Hine-i-turama Ngatiki

Page 1 - Biography

Hine-i-turama Ngatiki

1818–1864

Ngati Whakaue woman of mana

This biography was written by Mark Tapsell and was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand BiographyVolume 1, 1990

Hine-i-turama Ngatiki, now known by her descendants as Hineaturama, was of Ngati Whakaue, a section of Te Arawa. She was the only daughter of Te Koeke and her husband Kahana-tokowai, of Mokoia Island, Rotorua. She was born probably in 1818, and brought up in the household of her kinsman Te Amohau at Ohinemutu.

In 1830 the Danish trader Phillip Tapsell established a trading station at Maketu. After the death of his second Nga Puhi wife a year or so later, he married Hine-i-turama. Tapsell, in his mid 50s, was some 40 years older than his young bride. During the wars between Te Arawa and Ngai Te Rangi in the Bay of Plenty in the mid 1830s, Hine-i-turama, by virtue of her kinship with Ngai Te Rangi leader Tupaea, ensured the safety of Tapsell and their family and was able to mediate between the warring parties. In March 1833, at the missionary Henry Williams's persuasion, she and Tapsell went into Te Tumu, the Ngai Te Rangi pa near Maketu, to attempt to make peace. A short-lived ceasefire was negotiated with Tupaea and Hine-i-turama was presented with a musket as a token of goodwill.

War intensified in the district in 1836, after Te Hunga, a relative of Ngati Haua leader Te Waharoa, was killed probably by Haerehuka of Te Arawa. Maketu, which served as a base for Te Arawa in the Bay of Plenty, was captured and sacked by Ngati Haua and Ngai Te Rangi on 28 March. Tapsell's house and store were destroyed. During the sack, an attempt was made to take Hine-i-turama as a slave by throwing a mat over her, but she was saved by the wife of Ngati Haua leader Murupara. She and her daughter Kataraina were then taken by Tupaea to safety at Te Tumu pa. Tapsell soon joined them and they were escorted by Tupaea to Matata, and from there made their way to Ohinemutu. Through the difficult terrain between Te Kapenga and Ohinemutu Hine-i-turama, with the birth of her second child imminent, was carried on a litter. The family took refuge for several months at Mokoia Island. Their first son was born there, and Hine-i-turama named him Retireti (Retreat) in memory of the flight from Maketu.

After the capture of Te Tumu by Te Arawa in May, a captive woman was brought to Hine-i-turama at Mokoia for her to kill in revenge for the attempt to take her as a slave at Maketu. Hine-i-turama refused to do so, saying that it was madness to punish one's neighbour with fire. The Tapsells returned to Matata some time after Te Waharoa's attack on Ohinemutu in August, and a few weeks later sailed for Sydney, where Tapsell acquired a new cargo of trade goods to re-establish his store. On their return they settled at Whakatane. When the Catholic missionary Bishop J. B. F. Pompallier visited there in August 1841 he sanctified the union of Hine-i-turama and Phillip Tapsell and baptised their children. They had six children: Kataraina, Retireti, Philip, Ieni (Hans), Ewa and Dorathy (Tote). In 1864 Hine-i-turama left Whakatane to travel to Waikato to visit her daughter, Ewa, who had married a doctor, Robert Hooper, and to renew her relationship with Ngati Maniapoto. It is said that she was also going to a rendezvous with her lover, Ropata of Ngati Haua. It proved to be a fateful trip, for she became involved in the fighting between government and King movement forces. Hine-i-turama, Ropata and Ewa were among the defenders of Orakau, where the King's forces were heavily defeated in April 1864 after a siege of three days. When the pa was stormed on 2 April, William Mair attempted to save Hine-i-turama from the bayonets of the British soldiers, but when he turned to help another woman she was killed. Her daughter Ewa also died in the attack. They were buried on the battlefield with other Maori casualties.

Hine-i-turama's son, Retireti, later described his mother as a woman of mercurial temperament. Articulate and forthright, she would be roaring with rage one moment and all smiles and contrition the next. She preferred European dress, and spent much time composing love songs and verse. In 1936 two of her grandsons visited the place where her remains were reputed to lie, and returned with a quantity of soil which they deposited between the graves of her sons Ieni and Retireti at Wharekahu cemetery, Maketu. In 1978 a memorial to Hine-i-turama was unveiled at Wharekahu cemetery during a bicentennial gathering of over a thousand descendants of the Tapsell family.