Tawai Walter Brown Kawiti

Ngā Puhi

1899 - 1981

Tawai Kawiti, the son of Te Riri and Marara Kawiti, was born at Waiomio and educated at Waiomio Native School, Kawakawa Primary School, and the old St Stephen’s School. Kawiti went on to become a dairy farmer and was also custodian of Waiomio Limestone Cave. He married Maata Wynyard and had sixteen children. He built Tawai, Te Riri, Maihi, Kawiti Marae, which was officially opened two years after his death. He was a member of Mana Motuhake and wrote non-fiction articles for The Herald and Te Ao Hou. He also completed a book. Kawiti’s daughter, Kene Martin, writes that her father’s gravestone "is inscribed with the words ‘He Kaitukau o te Maara o Hineamaru’ which translates to mean ‘He was a particular variety of kumara, which grew from his ancestress Hineamaru’s garden’". Martin adds "he was a typical warrior of the Ngāti Hine (Ngāti Hineamaru)."

Biographical sources

  • Phone conversation and correspondence with Kene Martin and Reg Kawiti on 3 and 17 June 2004, 31 March and 28 April 2005.


  • Spokesman’s Rights Affirmed.
  • Publication details unknown; original article in possession of Kene Martin.
  • "The Otiria Meeting Houses." Te Ao Hou 3 (1952/3): 10-11.
  • Kawiti writes of the construction of Ngāti Hine meeting houses at Otiria Marae. Contributions included Pita K˚ngi gifting land for the marae, volunteers felling and sawing logs, Whare Hauraki designing and constructing the carved meeting house, and Bay of Plenty carver Miha, a pupil of the old Māori school of carving, leading the carving.
  • "Heke’s Wars in the North." Te Ao Hou 16 (1956): 38-46.
  • This account of Hone Heke, Kawiti and the wars of 1845-46 was told to Tawai Kawiti by his father, Ngāti Hine Chief Riri Maihi Kawiti.
  • "Land Protests Could Spread North." Northern News, Kaikohe 15 June 1978. No further details.
  • "Petition Seeks Ratification of Waitangi Treaty." Whangarei, 30 March, 1981.
  • Newspaper name unknown; original article in possession of Kene Martin.


  • 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. 96.