Hoani Te Whatahoro

Ngāti Kahungunu

1841 - 1923

Whatahoro was born at Rakaukaka, Poverty Bay, and was educated by his father, tutored by a Mr Crawford in Wellington, and later attended mission schools. M. J. Parsons writes in his biographical notes that Whatahoro "became a prolific writer on Māori traditions and customs. He usually acted as a scribe or recorder... At Papawai, near Greytown, in 1865, Hoani recorded traditions given by Te Matorohanga, with Paratene Te Okawhare and Nepia Pohuhu assisting. He continued to make a record of information from the teachings of Nepia Pohuhu and Te Matorohanga until their deaths in the 1880s.... About 1902 he moved to Wanganui and continued his interest in tribal traditions and copied Ngāti Tuwharetoa manuscripts and information from Te Umukura and Whaiti-nga-rere-Waka... In February 1907 he was elected a corresponding member of the Polynesian Society and maintained his membership until his death" [Reference: The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography vol.1 M.J. Parsons: 214-215].

“In his introductory remarks to “The Lore of the Whare-Wananga” (Vol.III of Memoirs), the late Mr Percy Smith dwells on the obligation students of Māori lore owe to H.T. Whatahoro in his having recorded, in the late fifties of the last century, with the help of Aporo Te Kumeroa, the ancient record, as recited by the two learned priests Te Matorohanga and Nepia Pohutu, and in part now chronicled in the Journal and Memoirs of the Polynesian Society. Te Whatahoro was engaged, off and on, for some years in recording to the dictation of these two learned men the ancient beliefs, history, etc. of the Māori people. This information had up to within comparatively recently been considered by the tribe to be of too sacred a nature to be disclosed to Europeans, and for over fifty years these records were carefully preserved by Te Whatahoro, but copies were later deposited in the Dominion Museum, Wellington. It is now the intention of the Board of Ethnological Research to have these printed in the full Māori text to place them beyond the risk of loss by fire or other accident. H.T.Whatahoro was for some years a Corresponding Member of the Society. For fuller details as to our late Member’s work, and a striking likeness of ‘The Scribe’, we refer our readers to Vol. III of the Memoirs.” “The matter written down by H. T. Whatahoro during those years has remained in his possession for over fifty years; it is contained in several volumes of folio size, much of which has recently been copied under the auspices of the tribal Committee known as ‘Tane-nui-a-rangi,’ and the copies deposited in the Dominion Museum, Wellington”. Known as Hoani Te Whatahoro Jury, John Alfred Jury, John Alfred Te Whatahoro Jury, Te Whatahoro Jury, and Hoani Turi Te Whatahoro.

Biographical sources

  • Parsons, M. J. "Jury, Hoani Te Whatahoro." The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Vol.1 1769-1869. Wellington, N.Z.: Allen & Unwin
  • Dept. of Internal Affairs, 1990. 214-215.
  • Te Matorohanga and Nepia Pohutu. The Lore of the Whare-Wananga. Written down by H. T. Whatahoro. Trans. Percy Smith. Vol.1. New Plymouth, N.Z.: Polynesian Soc., 1913- 1915. Ii. Rpt. New York: AMS, 1978.
  • "Obituary." Journal of the Polynesian Society 32 (1923): 243.


  • "Notes." In "An Ancient Māori Poem." Tuhoto-Ariki. English trans. and paraphrased by G. H. Davies and J. H. Pope. Notes by H. T. Whatahoro. Journal of the Polynesian Society 16.61 (Mar. 1907): 43-60.
  • This karakia of eight parts was composed on the occasion of the birth of Tuhoto-Ariki’s great-nephew Tuteremoana. Davies and Pope provide an introduction in verse form to the English paraphrase and H. T. Whatahoro writes explanatory notes for the poem. The poem describes the growth of the child in its mother’s womb, its birth and education.
  • "Ko Te Tikanga O Tenei Kupu, O Ariki/The Meaning Of The Word ‘Ariki’." Journal of the Polynesian Society 18 (June 1909): 90-93.
  • Whatahoro writes in response to an editorial request for further comment on the term ‘ariki’ arising out of Rev T. G. Hammond’s article "The Tohunga Māori" in Journal of the Polynesian Society 17 (Sept. 1908: 162-165). Whatahoro, acknowledging the teaching of Mohi Torohanga and Mohi Ruatapu, writes an account of rank in Māori society which the JPS editors assert is an ‘east coast understanding of the term ariki’.
  • "A Wonderful Feat Of Swimming." In ‘Notes and Queries.’ T.W.Downes. Journal of the Polynesian Society 21 (June 1912): 79.
  • A short account of Whakarua-tapu’s swim across Raukawa, Cook Strait, after being captured by Te Rauparaha following his attack on Wairau. Downes states that this great performance was ‘related to [him] by H. T. Whatahoro some two or three years ago.’
  • The Lore of the Whare-wānanga: or, Teachings of the Māori College on Religion, Cosmogony, and History. Written down by H. T. Whatahoro from the teachings of Te Matorohanga and Nepia Pohutu, priests of the Whare-wānanga of the East Coast, N. Z. English trans. S.Percy Smith. Part 1. - Te Kauwae-runga, or ‘Things Celestial.’ New Plymouth, N.Z.: Printed for the [Polynesian] Soc. by Thomas Avery, 1913. Rpt. New York: AMS Press, 1978.
  • S. Percy Smith writes that these two volumes emerged from a hui held in the Wairarapa District in the late 1850s when it was resolved that the Māori tohunga Te Matorohanga, Nepia Pohuhu and Paratene Te Okawhare should teach the early history of the Māori in New Zealand and that this information should be recorded by H. T. Whatahoro and Aporo Te Kumeroa. Whatahoro kept his notes for fifty years before S. Percy Smith made a copy of the original documents as did the Tribal Committee ‘Tāne-nui-a-rangi’. The volumes, written in the original Māori text by Whatahoro with transcription and English translation by S. Percy Smith, contain two bodies of information: Volume One deals with Te Kauwae-runga - ‘Things Celestial’ and Volume Two discusses Te Kauwae-raro - ‘Things Terrestrial’. The six chapters in Volume One comprise a detailed account of the construction of a Whare-wānanga and its ritual and teaching, and descriptions of Te Po, [or ages of darkness], the Whare-Maire and the Whare-Porukuruku, the Pou-Tiri-Ao [or guardian angels or spirits], and Io-Matua, the supreme god. The following chapters describe the twelve heavens, the marriage of Ranginui and Papatuanuku, the creation of their seventy offspring, the ages of Nga Po [darkness or chaos], the separation of Rangi and Papa, a list of the apas [or messengers of the gods] and the separation of the dwellings of the gods. Other areas discussed are the sanctification of Tane and Tupai and other activities of Tane, the three baskets [or kete of knowledge] and two stones, the wars of the gods, and the creation of the world and humankind with a whakapapa from Tane-matua though to Ngatoroirangi. Further stories of the gods follow plus astronomical notes and accounts of Māui and Mataoro.
  • The Lore of the Whare-wānanga; or Teachings of the Māori College on their History and Migrations, etc. Written down by H. T. Whatahoro from the teachings of Te Matorohanga and Nepia Pohutu and other priests of the Whare-wānanga of the East Coast, N.Z. English trans. and annotated by S. Percy Smith. New Plymouth, N.Z.: Printed for the [Polynesian] Soc. by Thomas Avery, 1915.
  • This second volume is composed of eleven chapters with the original Māori text followed by S. Percy Smith’s English translation and notes. Whereas the first volume was devoted to Te Kauwae-runga or ‘Things Celestial’, this volume focuses on Te Kauwae-raro or ‘Things Terrestrial’. The book opens with a history of early Māori migrations including the discovery of Aotearoa by Kupe and his return to Rarotonga and Hawaiki, the migrations of Toi-te-Huatahi, Turi and Manaia to Aotearoa, and the migrations to the Chatham Islands by Kāhu and his subsequent return to Hawaiki. The tohunga describe the situation in Hawaiki prior to the sailing of the canoes to Aotearoa and recount the stories of Iwipupu and her relationship with the god Uenuku-rangi and their child Uenuku-titi, Te Whiti-a-Poutama. The book concludes with descriptions of the sailing of the Takitimu, Tainui and Te Arawa canoes, the migration of Tara-Pounamu, the NgātiAwa tribe and their migration to the West Coast, and the expeditions of Ngāti-Mamoe to the South Island and of Turanga-i-mua to the North.
  • "Obituary." Journal of the Polynesian Society 32.128 (1923): 243.
  • "He Oriori Mo Tu-Tere-Moana/A Lullaby For Tu-Tere-Moana." Nga Moteatea: He Maramara Rere No Nga Waka Maha. The Songs: Scattered Pieces from Many Canoe Areas. Comp. A. T. Ngata. Trans. Pei Te Hurinui. Pt. 3. Wellington, N.Z.: Polynesian Soc., 1970.2-17


  • Parsons, M. J. "Jury, Hoani Te Whatahoro." The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Vol. 1. 1769-1869. Wellington, N.Z.: Allen & Unwin/Dept. of Internal Affairs, 1990. 214-215.