Hoani Te Heuheu, of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, was born in 1897 at Waihī on the shores of Lake Taupō. His father Tūreiti Te Heuheu Tūkino V was an ariki (senior chief) of Ngāti Tūwharetoa and one of the most prominent Māori leaders of his time. When Tūreiti Te Heuheu died in 1921 Hoani took on his father's title and status.
He also inherited a number of urgent problems. Several Ngāti Tūwharetoa hapū (sub-tribes) had been making a significant income by selling fishing rights and by charging European fishermen a fee to move through their lands. Angry fishermen complained, and the government stepped in. In return for the tribe giving Taupo waters and access to the Crown as a public reserve, the Crown would pay £3,000 annually to a Ngāti Tūwharetoa Trust Board. This would be used for the benefit of the tribe. A number of fishing licences would also be issued to the tribe each year. This did not appeal to those hapu who had done well through lands that were near the rivers and lakes. Now they could expect no more than a share of a general tribal fund. Nevertheless Te Heuheu signed the agreement in July 1926. He was criticised by many of his own people, some of whom continued to call for more compensation. However, he became chairman of the Ngati Tuwharetoa Trust Board, a position he held for the remainder of his life.
The annual payment became more important as Ngāti Tūwharetoa began to run up serious debts. Large areas of land leased to timber companies did not produce the expected income. Also, the tribe was unable to achieve the return of their leased lands.
Things came to a head in 1937. The timber company took a case against the Aotea District Maori Land Board, which was the agent for the Māori owners. The company won £23,500 in damages. This was a vast sum at the time, and had to be paid by the landowners. Te Heuheu then sued the Land Board for negligence, but his case failed in the Supreme Court.
He then focussed on the Treaty of Waitangi as the tribe's last defence. He claimed that the legislation under which the Land Board operated went against the Treaty and was therefore invalid. In 1941 the Privy Council heard his case - Te Heuheu Tūkino v Aotea District Maori Land Board. The Law Lords ruled that unless it was incorporated into New Zealand statutes the Treaty was not legally binding. This remains the current position in New Zealand law. Hoani Te Heuheu died of tuberculosis in 1944.
I whānau mai a Hoani Te Heuheu Tūkino i te tau 1897 ki Waihī i ngā tahatika o te moana o Taupō. Ko Tūreiti Te Heuheu Tūkino V tōna matua, ko ia te ariki o Ngāti Tūwharetoa, ka hau te rongo mō tōna arikitanga ki te motu. I te matenga o Tūreiti i te tau 1921 ka matika a Hoani ki te whakakapi i tōna tūranga.
Ka taka mai ki runga i a ia ētahi raruraru kua roa e huri haere ana. Kei te whiwhi ētahi hapū o Ngāti Tūwharetoa i ētahi moni mā te hoko āheinga ki te hī ika me te nama i ngā Pākehā ka hiahia haere mā ō rātou whenua. Ka amuamu ngā kaihī Pākehā, ko te kuhunga atu tērā o te kāwanatanga. Ko tā te kāwanatanga i tāpae ki mua i a Ngāti Tūwharetoa, ki te tukua e te iwi ngā tika mō te moana me ōna tahatika hei whenua tūmatanui i raro i te Karauna, ka utua te iwi ki te toru mano pāuna ia tau. Ka haere tēnei moni ki tētahi Poari Kaitiaki o Ngāti Tūwharetoa, ā, māna e whakangao te moni hei painga mō te iwi. I tua atu, ka whakawhiwhia te iwi ki ētahi raihana hī ika kore utu ia tau. Kāore ngā hapū i te mahi moni i ngā whakaritenga o mua atu i rata ki tēnei ritenga. Ka heke ā rātou moni whiwhi, i te mea he wāhanga noa o te pūtea mā te katoa ka hoki mai ki a rātou. Ahakoa tērā, ka hainatia te whakaaetanga e Hoani i te Hūrae o te tau 1926. Ka tātāhia ia e ētahi o āna ake, ko ētahi ka tono tonu i tētahi paremata. Heoi, ka eke a ia hei heamana o te Poari Kaitiaki o Tūwharetoa, mate rawa.
Ka piki haere ngā nama a Ngāti Tūwharetoa, ka nui atu te arotahi ki te moni ka whiwhi te iwi ia tau. Kāore i eke ngā hua ka puta ki te iwi i te rīhi o ngā whenua ki ngā kamupene tope rākau ki tērā i manakotia. I tua atu, kua herea ngā whenua kei raro i ngā rīhi, kāore e tareka e te iwi aua rīhi te unu.
I te tau 1937 ka heria e tētahi kamupene tope rākau te Poari Takiwā Whenua Māori o Aotea ki te kōti. Ko te Poari nei te māngai mō te hunga whai pānga. Ka whakawhiwhia te kamupene ki te 23,000 pauna. He moni nui whakaharahara tēnei i taua wā. Ka mate te hunga whai pānga ki te utu i tēnei. Kātahi ka heria e Te Heuheu te take nei ki te Kōti Matua mō te hakurara o te Poari; ka hinga anō ia.
Kātahi ka aro ia ki te Tiriti o Waitangi hei waka kawe i ngā kaupapa mō te iwi. Ko tana whakapae, kāore i te hāngai ngā ritenga o te ture whakamana i te Poari Takiwā ki te Tiriti o Waitangi, nā reira kāore ōna kiko. I te tau 1941 ka whakarongo te Kaunihera Motuhake a te Kīngi ki te take nei arā, Te Heuheu v Poari Takiwā Whenua Māori o Aotea. E ai ki ngā Rōra Ture, mēnā kāore te Tiriti i roto i ngā hanganga ture o Aotearoa, kāti, kāore ōna mana ā-ture. Kei te pēnei tonu te āhua i tēnei rā. Ka mate a Hoani Te Heuheu i te kohi i te tau 1944.