Tairongo Te Wiremu Amoamo


1933 -

Tairongo Amoamo was born in Ōpōtiki and was educated at the Ōmarumutu Native Primary School, St Stephen’s College and Ōpōtiki College. From 1954-1958 he worked on his parents, Ngāwai and Mihikore Amoamo’s leasehold dairy farm at Ōmarumutu and subsequently for the Toll and Telecommunication Training Divisions of the New Zealand Post Office from In 1977 he returned to conclude his parents’ forty-year compensation lease of their farm. In 1978 he became the founder chairman of two Whakatōhea Land Trusts, Nukutere and Ōtānemutu. In 1984 he established in Wellington Te Māhoe Business Services which provided woodturning craft training for a thousand students and a translation service, English to Māori, and Māori to English. In 1985 he translated the Preface of the New Zealand Oxford Dictionary into Māori. From 1986-1989 he was the Secretary/Treasurer of the National Association of Woodturners. From 1988-1989 he was the Senior Translator Māori for the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and from 1989-2000 he was the Dictionary’s Assistant-Editor Māori. Tairongo has translated specialised texts from Māori into English in two books by Murdoch Riley, Māori Healing and Herbal: a New Zealand ethnobotanical source book and Māori Bird Lore. In 1996 Tairongo was elected to the Whakatōhea Trust Board and has led workshops and seminars on Whakatōhea history. He has also lectured on Māori uses of New Zealand plants and trees - native and introduced. Currently, Tairongo is editing the Māori text of organisations’ newsletters and, out of concern for the Māori language, has been teaching Māori language and culture for beginners in the Hutt Valley for a number of years. Tairongo identifies himself primarily as an oral historian.

Biographical sources

  • Phone conversation and correspondence from Amoamo: 6 May and 15 June 1998, and 18 Mar. 2004.
  • Interview with Tairongo Amoamo: August 1992.


  • “Mokomoko.” The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ed. W. H. Oliver. Vol. 1. 1769-1869. Wellington, N.Z.: Allen & Unwin/Department of Internal Affairs, 1990. 291-292. Rpt. in A People’s History: Illustrated Biographies from The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Selected by W. H. Oliver. Vol. 1. 1769-1869. Wellington, N.Z.: Bridget Williams, Department of Internal Affairs, 1992. 151-153.
  • A biography of Te Whakatōhea chief Mokomoko and a discussion of the circumstances surrounding his hanging at Mount Eden prison on 17 May 1866.
  • The Story of Boulcott’s Farm. Prepared by Robert D. Hopkirk. Illus. Shane Coombes, prepared for Lower Hutt City Council Schools 1991 Local History Project with the help of the Hutt Valley Energy Board. [Lower Hutt], N.Z.: The Council, [1991].
  • This teaching resource aimed at the Standard Four to Form Three age group, comprises eight booklets dealing with the history of Boulcott’s Farm, and Resource Guides and Teaching Notes, prepared by Robert D Hopkirk. One of the booklets written in Māori and English is entitled E Maumahara Ana a Heremaia i Te Tahutanga o Te Pa o Maraenuka/Heremaia Remembers The Burning of Maraenuka Pa. The story by Robert D Hopkirk and Māori text by Tairongo Amoamo recounts the response of Maraenuka Pa Māori to Governor George Grey’s order for the land to be cleared for settlement by the European settlers. The titles of the other booklets are: The Battle at Boulcott’s Farm - from James Cowan The New Zealand Wars (1922); Te Mamaku’s War Party Visits the Hutt; Te Puni - Chief of Whanganui-A-Tara; Ellie McLeod Writes Home; John Cudby Delivers the Stores; Redcoats at the Hutt, Fort Richmond and the 58th Regiment; and 1846 in 1991 - Exploring Early Hutt.
  • “Tuakana Aporotanga ?-1937.” The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Vol. Two. 1870-1900. Wellington, N.Z.: Bridget Williams Books and the Department of Internal Affairs, 1993. 9-11.
  • Amoamo provides whakapapa and tribal origins of Te Whakatōhea leader Tuakana Aporotanga who was principally related to the Ngāti Rua people at Ømarumutu. Amoamo writes of Tuakana’s involvement with Te Kooti and his work in the Ringatu church as a tohunga.
  • Other

  • The New Zealand Pocket Oxford Dictionary. Ed. Robert Burchfield. Based on The Pocket Oxford Dictionary of Current English. Seventh Edition,1984. Edited by R. E. Allen. Auckland, N.Z.: Oxford UP, 1986.
  • Tairongo Amoamo translated sections of this dictionary into Māori.
  • Māori Bird Lore. Paraparaumu, N.Z.: Viking Seven Seas, 2001.