The Ngāpuhi rangatira Hongi Hika became a pivotal figure in New Zealand history. He was a skilled and driven leader in war and trade, and his actions had far-reaching consequences.
Ngāpuhi and rival iwi Ngāti Whātua fought in 1807 or 1808. Ngāpuhi were decisively beaten, and their war leader Pokaia was killed, as were two of Hongi Hika’s brothers. Hongi succeeded Pokaia, and thereafter was determined to avenge the Ngāpuhi losses.
The Northern War, fought in the Bay of Islands in 1845-46, was the first serious challenge to the Crown in the years after the Treaty of Waitangi. Its opening shots marked the beginning of the wider North Island conflicts that are often referred to as the New Zealand Wars.
Musket Wars map
Māori also explored non-violent ways of resolving disputes. Diplomacy, arranged marriages, gifts and escape were all used to avoid fighting. When these methods failed, the common response was to seek an advantage by gaining more weapons.
Bay of Islands communities armed themselves with muskets for self-defence against Hongi’s hapū. Then the heavily armed northern tribes attacked those to the south, who had few or no muskets. Panic helped Ngāpuhi secure many of its victories.
Moka, as he was originally known, was the youngest of three brothers, all influential Nga Puhi chiefs. Following the battle of Te Ika-A-Ranginui at Kaiwaka in 1825 (where he was shot but rescued by fellow Nga Puhi chief Rawiri Taiwhanga), he took the name Te Kainga-mataa - meaning either 'Wounded by a bullet' or 'The holder of ammunition'.
Originally of the Ngai Tawake hapu, from Okuratope Pa, Waimate North, Moka and his brothers, Te Wharerahi and Rewa, later formed the Patukeha hapu, in memory of their mother who had been slain by a Ngare Raumati taua in 1800.
James Hēnare (1911–1989) was born at Mōtatau in the Bay of Islands. He was descended from a number of famous northern warrior chiefs, including Hōne Heke and Kawiti. His father Taurekareka Hēnare, elected Member of Parliament representing Northern Māori in 1914, was of Ngā Puhi and Ngāti Whātua. His mother, Hera Paerata, was of Te Rārawa, Ngāti Kuri and Te Aupōuri.
Bay of Islands Ngā Puhi chief Te Pahi (? -1810) was the first influential Māori leader to have significant contact with British colonial officials. In 1805 Te Pahi and four of his sons spent three months at Government House in Sydney as guests of Governor Philip King. Both were keen on establishing good relations: King because he wanted protection for British whaling crews and Te Pahi because he wanted access to trade and technology. He also met and impressed Samuel Marsden and returned home with gifts, including potato seeds and a small prefabricated house.
Aperahama Taonui, of the Te Popoto sub-tribe of Nga Puhi, was born in about 1816. He is thought to have signed the Treaty of Waitangi under a different name (Aperahama Tautoru). He fought with Wāka Nene and the government against Hōne Heke in the northern war of 1844–5, and was severely wounded. While recovering in Auckland he met Governor Grey, who was impressed by him.
Hirini Taiwhanga, of Ngā Puhi, was born in the Bay of Islands in 1832 or 1833. He was educated at the Waimate mission school and St. John's College, Auckland. He later worked as a carpenter, surveyor and schoolmaster.
From the mid-1870s he began to make his mark at tribal gatherings, vigorously speaking out against government policy and demanding that Treaty of Waitangi grievances be heard. He began to attract a following among Māori.
Pomare II, of Nga Puhi, known as Whiria as a young man, was born in the latter part of the eighteenth century. He became a significant leader around the southern Bay of Islands in the 1830s. He was heavily involved in trading with European shipping and became a major dealer in spirits and trader in pork, potatoes and timber. He also profited from prostitution of slave women and encouraged gambling.