Wiremu Kīngi Te Rangitāke, of Te Atiawa, was born at Waitara, Taranaki, near the end of the eighteenth century. His early life was affected by the great tribal migrations south (from Taranaki and Kāwhia) to Manawatu, Kapiti, Te Whanganui-a-Tara (the great harbour of Tara, or Wellington) and the northern South Island. These took place in the 1820s and 1830s.
In 1839 Te Rangitāke put his mark on one of the New Zealand Company deeds, but it is unlikely that he understood what it represented. In 1840 he drew his moko (tattoo) on the Treaty of Waitangi, brought south by Henry Williams.
In response to New Zealand Company claims that it had purchased his Taranaki lands, Te Rangitāke uttered the words that would recur in his later life: 'Waitara shall not be given up.' After later demands from Governor George Grey to give up their ancestral lands, 600 Te Āti Awa moved from Waikanae back to Taranaki.
For the next 11 years government land purchase agents worked with the chiefs they thought most likely to sell the land. This created constant unrest among the iwi (tribes), and fighting broke out among a number of hapu (sub-tribes) in 1854.
Te Rangitāke agreed with those who were against the sales. This caused hostility with the local settlers. He often spoke of his desire to live peacefully with Europeans, but he did not accept that the price of harmony should be the land of his iwi.
Things came to a head in 1859 when the chief Te Teira Mānuka offered the government some land near Waitara. Te Rangitake was determined that the land should not be sold. He told Governor Gore Browne, 'I will not permit the sale of Waitara ... Waitara is in my hands, I will not give it up; I will not, I will not, I will not'. The government’s view was that Te Rangitāke had no 'personal' rights in the land. The 'genuine' owners who chose to sell would be supported, by force if necessary. In fact Te Rangitāke was upholding his right as a senior rangatira (chief) to veto a sale of tribal lands.
In early 1860 the government sent in surveyors, and events soon spiralled into war. After a period of savage fighting, Kīngitanga chiefs negotiated an uneasy truce. Governor Grey decided to cancel the Waitara purchase on learning some 'new facts'. However, fighting broke out again in 1863 when government troops occupied the Tātaraimaka land block on the other side of New Plymouth. Defeat and land confiscation followed. Te Āti Awa saw this as a bitter injustice.
Te Rangitāke withdrew inland until 1872. Then he emerged to join the pacifist community at Parihaka, led by the prophets Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi. He died in 1882.
I whānau a Wiremu Kīngi Te Rangitāke ki Waitara i Taranaki i te paunga o ngā 1700. Ko Te Āti Awa tōna iwi. I pakeke ia i te wā o ngā heke nui o ngā iwi (mai i Taranaki me Kāwhia) ki te tonga - ki Manawatū, Kapiti, Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara me te Tauihu o te Waka a Māui. Nō ngā tekau tau o 1820 me 1830 ēnei heke.
I te tau 1839 ka tāia e Te Rangitāke tana moko ki tētahi tīra a te Kamupene o Niu Tīreni, heoi, ko te whakapae, kāore ia i tino mārama ki te tikanga o tēnei tuhinga. I te tau 1840, ka tuhia e ia tana moko ki te Tiriti o Waitangi, he mea hari whakatetonga e Te Karuwhā (Henry Williams).
Ko te urupare a Te Rangitāke ki te kī a te Kamupene o Niu Tīreni e mea ana kua hokona e te Kamupene ōna whenua ki Taranaki inā, “Kore rawa a Waitara e hokona”. Kātahi ka putaputa ngā whakahau a Kāwana Kerei ki a Te Āti Awa kia tukua ō rātou whenua i Waitara; ko te whakautu ki tērā, ko te hoki a te iwi atu i Waikanae ki Taranaki.
Mō ngā tau 11 ka whai, ka whakahoahoa ngā āpiha hoko whenua ki ērā o ngā rangatira ki tā rātou titiro tērā ka whakaaro mō te hoko. Nā tēnei, kāore i tau te noho a ngā hapū; waihoki, i te tau 1854 ka pakaru mai ngā riri ki waenganui i ētahi hapū, tētahi ki tētahi.
Kāore a Te Rangitāke mō te hoko i ngā whenua. Ka tipu te riri me ngā tāngata whai. He rite tana whakaputa i tōna hiahia kia noho pai me te Pākehā; heoti, kāore ia i whakaae ko te whenua hei utu mō taua noho pai.
I te tau 1859 ka tāpaea e Te Teira Mānuka tētahi pito whenua tata ki Waitara ki te kāwanatanga hei hoko. Ko te kōrero a Te Rangitāke, kaua taua whenua e hokona. Ka kī a ia ki te Kāwana, “E kore au e whakaae kia hokona a Waitara... kei roto a Waitara i te kapu o tōku ringa, kore mō te tuku. Kore, kore, kore rawa mō te tuku”. Hei tā te kāwanatanga, kāore he pānga ake o Te Rangitāke ki taua whenua. I tua atu, kei te hiahia te hunga nō rātou ake aua whenua ki te hoko, ā, ka tautokona rātou e te kāwanatanga me ana hōia. Heoti, i te whakaputa kē a Te Rangitāke i te mana o te rangatira nui, e tareka ai te whakakāhore i ngā ritenga hoko i ngā whenua o te iwi.
I te tōmuatanga o te tekau tau atu i 1860 ka tukua e te kāwanatanga ana kairūri, ā, kāore i roa ka mura ngā ahi o te riri. Hinga atu, hinga mai; kāore tētahi taha i eke ki runga i tētahi taha. Nā ngā rangatira o te Kingitanga i ārahi ngā whakawhitiwhiti kōrero mō te whakamutu i ngā riri. I te rongotanga o Kāwana Kerei i ētahi “kōrero kātahi anō ka puta”, ka whakakāhoreta e ia te hokonga whenua i Waitara. I te tomokanga o ngā hōia a te kāwanatanga ki te poraka whenua o Tātaramaika i te tau 1863, ka mura anō ngā ahi o te riri. Ka hinga a Te Āti Awa. Ka raupatutia ōna whenua. Ki tā rātou, kātahi tētahi āhuatanga hē, kino nui rawa atu ko tēnei.
Ka kuhu a Te Rangitāke ki te whakaruru o Te Rohe Pōtae mō tētahi tekau tau neke atu. Nō muri ka tautoko ia i te kāinga mautohe kua tū ki Parihaka, i raro i ngā matakite a Te Whiti rāua ko Tohu Kākahi. Ka mate a Te Rangitāke i te tau 1882.