Meiha/Major Ropata Wahawaha

Ngāti Porou

Ropata Wahawaha was a warrior chief of Ngāti Porou. "In his boyhood he was taken prisoner in a raid by the Rongo Whakaata tribe of Poverty Bay. Later he took a grim revenge on his enemies. From 1864 until 1871 he pursued Te Kooti.... Innumerable stories were told of his fierceness and bravery in battle, his cleverness as a strategist and his great powers of leadership. Yet despite his single-mindedness as a fighter, throughout the Urewera campaign he bombarded the Government with letters imploring, and indeed demanding, generous treatment for his enemies, the defeated Tuhoe. After the war Major Ropata Wahawaha became a member of the Legislative Council, highly respected by the Pakeha and venerated by his own people." Lindauer painted his portrait. He was a Corresponding Member of the Polynesian Society and lived at Waiomatatine, Waiapu.

Biographical sources

  • Journal of the Polynesian Society 2 (1893)
  • "A Portrait Gallery of Famous Men and Women." Te Ao Hou 52 (1965): 36.


  • "He Kōrero mo te Mata me te Paura/Experiments with Lead and Powder: From a Story by Major Ropata." Te Ao Hou 1 (1952): 20-21.
  • An account in Māori and English of Captain Cook’s visit to Turanganui-o-Kiwa where he was repelled by the local Māori. Cook travelled on to Uawa where in return for provisions he gave Chief Whakatatareoterangi ‘a bright red scarf, a musket, a keg of powder and a flat lump of lead’ - the latter three items were useless without instruction and the powder was perceived to be turnip seed and the lead was formed into an adze.
  • "A Trip to Australia: 1874." Te Ao Hou 54 (1966): 41-45. In Māori and English.
  • Te Ao Hou notes that Wahawaha, aged 67, visited Australia in 1874 with Sir Donald McLean, Minister of Native Affairs, and described his experiences in Australia in a series of articles in Te Waka Māori. Excerpts of these articles are printed in Te Ao Hou and begin with an account written from Sydney on April 14, 1874 in which Wahawaha describes his trip to Australia on the steamer Rangātira, recounts various expeditions, gives his impressions of Australian geography and vegetation and bewails his lack of fluency in the English language.


  • "A Portrait Gallery of Famous Men And Women." Te Ao Hou 52 (1965): 34-37.
  • Fowler, Leo. "Te Rakau I Mataahu." Te Ao Hou 37 (1961): 9-12.
  • Fowler writes of the flag given to Major Wahawaha in 1871 by the British Government and gives a biography of Wahawaha.