Maharaia Winiata

Ngāti Ranginui

1912 - 1960

Maharaia Winiata was born at Ngahine Pa, Ruatoki, the son of Winiata Piahana of Ngāti Ranginui, and was educated at Otumoetae and Maungatapu Primary Schools, Tauranga Public School and Tauranga District High School. He was head prefect and senior atheletic champion at Tauranga DHS. He was awarded a university scholarship but worked in farming for four years during the Depression. He also worked for the Methodist Māori Mission. In 1935 he became a student at Auckland University and in 1937 studied concurrently at the Trinity Methodist Theological College. He graduated with a B.A. in 1943 and an M.A. in Education in 1945. He was ordained as a Methodist minister and served for two years at the Kawhia Methodist Church. In 1939 he attended the first Young Māori Conference in Auckland. In 1940 he married Frances Clegg. From 1942 to 1943 he attended Auckland Teachers’ Training College where he became President of the Students’ Association in his last year and graduated with a Diploma in Education in 1946. He taught in three Māori schools from 1944 to 1950 and became a Senior Assistant at Wesley College at Paerata. In 1949 he was appointed the first Māori Education Officer in Auckland, a position he retained till his death. In 1952 he was awarded a Nuffield Foundation scholarship to pursue post-graduate studies in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. He gained a Doctorate of Philosophy from Edinburgh University, becoming the first Māori to gain a PhD. His PhD thesis was entitled "The Changing Role of the Leader in Māori Society." During his two years in Britain, he was a technical adviser for the film The Seekers, and he gave lectures and was broadcast on radio and television. On his return to New Zealand, he was appointed secretary to the Runanganui (King’s Council) of the Māori. He became Māori Adult Education Officer in Auckland. He was a member of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, the Māori Section of the National Council of Churches and of its Commission on International Affairs, the Committee on Māori Education, and the Board of Methodist Home Missions. He wrote articles for Te Ao Hou, Journal of the Polynesian Society , and overseas journals. His paper "The Role of Leadership in the Māori Community" was discussed at the Young Māori Leaders’ Conference in 1959; aspects of the discussion from Round Table A and B are published in Report of Young Māori Leaders’ Conference 1959. Auckland, N.Z.: Department of University Extension, 1959. 10-11, 30-34.

Biographical sources

  • "Foreword". The Changing Role of the Leader in Māori Society. Ed. Merran Fraenkel. Auckland, N.Z.: Blackwood and Janet Paul, 1967. 5.
  • Craig, Elsdon. “Dr. Winiata Interviewed.” Te Ao Hou 10 (1955): 61.
  • Te Hau, Matiu. “Maharaia Winiata.” Journal of the Polynesian Society 69 (1960): 73-75.
  • “A Leader Passes.” Te Ao Hou 31 (1960): 6-8.


  • "Statement By Auckland Group Of Younger Māoris (Presented By Mr M Winiata.)" Report of Young Māori Conference Held at Auckland University College, May 22-26 1939. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University College, 1939. 44-45.
  • Winiata writes that one of the results of the conference was a new awareness by the younger delegates of the ‘magnitude of the problems’ facing contemporary Māori, particularly in the areas of the economic, educational and health status of Māori. He notes that many of these problems emerge from ‘the process of transition’ which can take generations to work out. Winiata concludes that the conference challenged the young delegates on their responsibility to Māoridom, brought about a new level of unity beyond tribal boundaries, and affirmed the uniqueness of Māoridom.
  • "The Coming of the Canoes." Tainui Sexcentennial Canoe Celebrations. Ed. M. Winiata. [Ngaruawahia], N.Z.: Turangawaewae Māori Adult Education Committee and the Tainui Sexcentennial Canoe Celebrations Committee, [1950]. n. pag.
  • Winiata gives a short account of the migration of the canoes to Aotearoa and writes of the landfall of the Te Arawa, Tainui, Takitimu, Mataatua, Tokomaru, Aotea, Kurahaupo, Horouta and Ngatokimatawhaorua canoes.
  • "Two People: One Nation." New Zealand Listener: Incorporating N.Z. Radio Record 25 Mar. 1955: 24-25.
  • This is the concluding part of a talk broadcast by Winiata on March 6, 1955 in which Winiata examines the changing nature of the Māori-Pakeha relationship since 1851.
  • "Some Notes On The Tamateapokaiwhenua Carved Meeting House And The Iwipupu Dining Rooms." Tauranga Historical Society Journal 6 (June 1956): 10-16.
  • Winiata provides a description of the construction of Tamateapokaiwhenua Meeting House and Iwipupu and Ihuparapara Dining Rooms at Judea which were opened in a ceremony attended by the Māori King on May 5, 1956. Winiata gives a background to Ngāti Ranginui and their occupation of Tauranga and discusses in detail the carved work, tukutuku and kowhaiwhai of the meeting house and dining rooms. Winiata notes the collaborative nature of the project which saw many members of the Judea community participating in the meeting house construction and the involvement of the Pakeha community.
  • "Leadership in Pre-European Māori Society." Journal of the Polynesian Society 65.3 (Sept. 1956): 212-231.
  • The first part of this paper entitled ‘The Social Context’ deals with the various kinship links in Māoridom beginning with the loose affiliation of descendants from the same waka (canoe) to the closer relationships of those in the same iwi (tribe), hapu (subtribe), and whanau (extended family). The second part, ‘The Traditional Leaders’, focusses on three classes of leaders: chiefs, ariki and rangātira; the elder or kaumatua; and the ritual leader or tohunga. Winiata discusses their bases of authority and the different ways leadership was passed down through the generations. Te aho ariki was lineage derived by primogeniture and Winiata writes that primogeniture through a line of first born males in succession was considered the highest form of Māori chieftainship and was called ure tu. Winiata also writes of female leadership and first born females who were called ariki tapairu, kahurangi and tuhi mareikura. Winiata writes that when there was a first born female she ‘retained the social status due to her birth, but active political leadership passed over to the next oldest male’ and he cites as an example the geneaology of the Māori Kings. Winiata describes the bases of leadership for kaumatua and tohunga and concludes with a discussion on the social classes in Māoridom demarcated by proximity to the senior line of descent and separating the rangātira class from the tutua or ware class of lower rank people. The lowest rank in Māori Society was that of slaves.
  • "The Future of Māori Arts and Crafts." Te Ao Hou 19 (1957): 29-35.
  • This essay comprehensively examines the history of teaching Māori Arts and Crafts since 1926 when an act of parliament was passed promoting ‘the dissemination of the knowledge of Māori Arts and Crafts’. Winiata describes the various schools of Māori art that have been established since 1927 and records the variety of teaching methods employed. Some schools sent their students to study carving styles at meeting houses and museums all over the country. Other students learnt by becoming apprentices to leading Māori artists such as Hone and Pine Taiapa. Sir Apirana Ngata recommended that Māori Adult Education classes be taught ‘within the framework of the meetinghouse project in maraes.’ Winiata writes of an innovative project pioneered by the Ngāti Ranginui people of Judea, Tauranga, who in their desire for a carved meeting house, established an academy which taught carving, tukutuku, kowhaiwhai, whakapapa and tribal history while the students built the meeting house. In 1956 the carved meeting house was completed. The Auckland Academy of Māori Arts and Crafts was founded in 1956 with the purpose of building a marae and carved meeting house for Auckland City. Winiata concludes by suggesting that Māori arts be taught in schools, he commends the proposed course in Māori studies at Auckland Teachers’ College and challenges Elam School of Art and other art schools to ‘consider a place of Māori Arts and Crafts.’
  • "Racial and Cultural Relations in New Zealand." The Phylon Quarterly: A Review Of Race And Culture (Atlanta) 19.3 (Third Quarter (Fall) 1958): 286-296.
  • In this essay Winiata writes of the adaptation of the early Māori settlers arriving in Aotearoa from Hawaiki to different climatic and vegetation conditions and the confluence between Māori culture and that of the early European whalers, traders, missionaries and settlers. Winiata writes of the Treaty of Waitangi, the increase in the Pakeha population and desire for land, the land wars, and the decrease of the Māori population in the latter decades of the nineteenth century. From this low point Winiata writes of a renaissance in Māori identity. He writes of the the early Pakeha settlers’ systems of assimilation, which denied the role of Māori culture and language leaving Māori in a position of ‘social and psychological disintegration’. Winiata states that in New Zealand ‘[a]ll sections of the community consciously look to the day when through race amalgamation now developing apace, and through a sharing of history, tradition, literature and even languages there will evolve in the country a biological and cultural synthesis neither native nor alien but truly New Zealand.’ And he concludes ‘while the overall and ultimate aim of New Zealand is the mergence of the two peoples, it is to be an assimilation from strength, not from weakness. By this is meant that the Māori will make his own contribution to the general culture, and to this end the interim tendency is for him to maitain a "diversity in unity," a cultural enclave not in segregation but in real community.’
  • "Leadership in the Auckland Māori community." Te Ao Hou 27 (1959): 20-27.
  • In this extensive essay on Māori leadership based on research from his doctoral thesis, Winiata systematically works through the different Māori groups in Auckland and examines the leadership structures. He begins with the kinship groups and discusses the various ways kaumatua and kuia assume leadership, which can range from competence in certain skills to position in the tribe, occupation, and knowledge of Māori traditions and whakapapa. In the religious denominations, religious leaders also secure positions of leadership in tribal committees. The central Māori administration in Auckland has been devised by dividing the city into geographical regions in which tribal committees have been established and delegates are selected to be part of the Waitemata Tribal Executive, which covers all of Auckland. Winiata also looks at leadership in sporting and recreational groups, women’s organisations and party politics. In conclusion he notes that while the pattern of leadership in rural and urban areas is virtually the same, there is greater emphasis on the formally-educated person in the urban community. Education, the possession of European skills and affiliations with European institutions such as churches, universities or Government Departments all give prestige.
  • Tainui Sexcentennial Canoe Celebrations. Ed. M. Winiata. [Ngaruawahia], N.Z.: Turangawaewae Māori Adult Education Committee and the Tainui Sexcentennial Canoe Celebrations Committee, [1950].
  • A pamphlet sent out in conjunction with the celebrations of the 600th anniversary of the landing of the canoes, which were held at Te Kaha, Gisborne, Otaki, Hastings, Whakatane and Ngaruawahia from 21 January - 10 October, 1950. The pamphlet contains a Foreword providing a background to the celebrations and "Nga Kōrero", a programme of the speakers and their topics. The pamphlet reproduces the Māori text of E. C. Reweti’s talk, "Te Whakamaharatanga Mo Nga Waka", M. Winiata’s "Hekenga Nui Mai O Nga Waka/The Coming of the Māori" (in Māori and English), and Pei Te Hurinui’s ‘Te Kōrero O Tainui" (in Māori).
  • The Changing Role of the Leader in Māori Society: A Study In Social Change And Race Relations. Ed. Merran Fraenkel. Auckland, N.Z.: Blackwood and Janet Paul, 1967.
  • This publication is a shortened version of Winiata’s Doctoral thesis which has been edited by Merran Fraenkel. It is composed of ten chapters with the first four chapters providing a chronological study of Māori leadership in pre-European Māori society, the transition period between 1800-1840, the protest leadership of 1840-1870 including the Runanga movement, the Māori King movement, Hauhauism and Ringatuism, and at that time present-day leaders in traditionalist society. In the concluding six chapters Winiata discusses in detail the leadership and social structure of the Bay of Plenty village Huria, examines leadership in race relations in New Zealand, and comments on the national leaders of the late nineteenth and twentieth century such as James Carroll, Maui Pomare, Peter Buck, Apirana Ngata, Bishop F. Bennett, and the Māori Members of Parliament in the post-1930s era. Separate chapters are devoted to women leaders, bureaucratic leaders and the changing role of the leader. The book concludes with an extensive bibliography of texts from general and New Zealand literature, Parliamentary Papers, Government Reports, and Acts of Parliament. Winiata also provides ‘Notes on the Use of the Māori Language.’ A fuller version of the first half of the first chapter can be found in the Journal of the Polynesian Society (53 (1956): 212-231).
  • "Hekenga Nui Mai O Nga Waka." Tainui Sexcentennial Canoe Celebrations. Ed. M. Winiata. [Ngaruawahia], N.Z.: Turangawaewae Māori Adult Education Committee and the Tainui Sexcentennial Canoe Celebrations Committee, [1950]. n. pag.
  • "Ripoata o te Hui i Ngaruawahia." Te Ao Hou 18 (1957): 56.
  • "Te Haerenga Mai o Te Māori." Te Ao Hou 37 (1961): 45-49.
  • This is the Māori text which Winiata wrote and used in his lecture series on the coming of the Māori.
  • "Te Haerenga Mai o Te Māori." Te Ao Hou 38 (1962): 47-51.
  • The Changing Face Of Māori Leadership.
  • Three radio talks. Photoprinted 1960. No further details.
  • "Māoris After the War." New Zealand Listener 28 Jan. 1944: 5.
  • Winiata takes issue with a suggestion by Hugh Patterson in the New Zealand Listener that Māori Battalion soldiers should be rehabilitated by becoming a permanent force for the Imperial authorities.
  • "The Changing Role of the Leader in Māori Society." PhD thesis. Edinburgh U. No further details.
  • A shortened version of this thesis was published in 1967. See annotation above for The Changing Role of the Leader in Māori Society: A Study in Social Change and Race Relations.
  • Craig, Elsdon. "Dr. Winiata Interviewed." Te Ao Hou 10 (1955): 61.
  • "He Whakamaharatanga ki a Maharaia Winiata." Te Ao Hou 47 (1964): 30-31.
  • "A Leader Passes." Te Ao Hou 31 (1960): 6-8.
  • This obituary contains a biography of Winiata’s life and tributes to him from Dr Kenneth Little, G. Blake-Palmer, Professor Abbie and Professor Firth. Fred Pinfold gives an account of Winiata’s funeral at Judea Pa.
  • Ashton-Warner, S. "Resurrection To All Those Who Mourn Maha." Te Ao Hou 33 (1960): 37-39.
  • Ashton-Warner writes an obituary from the perspective of a resurrected Winiata watching those at his own tangi and imbuing strength into those who are to carry on his work.
  • Dewes, K. Te Ao Hou 60 (1967): 57-58.
  • Kernot, Bernard. "E Hare I Te Wawahi Taha Tenei." Te Kaunihera Māori: New Zealand Māori Council Journal 1.6 (1967): 23-25.
  • Bush, Ernest K. Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society 30 (1967):42-45
  • Taylor, C.R.H. A Bibliography of Publications on the New Zealand Māori and the Moriori of the Chatham Islands. Oxford: Clarendon; Oxford UP, 1972. 30, 50, 81, 113, 124.