Te Ruki Kawiti was the son of Huna and Te Tawai and a descendant of Nukutawhiti, captain of the Nga-toki-mata-whao-rua canoe. Kawiti attended the Te Whare Wananga mo nga Tohunga at Taumarere, an ancestral village of Ngāti Hine. His fighting reputation earned him the nickname "The Duke" which became "Te Ruki" in Māori. Kawiti became a legendary warrior leader; he was involved at the battle of Te Ika-a-ranga-nui in 1825 on the Kaiwaka River, and in the Girls’ War at Kororareka in 1830. He strategically outmanoeuvred the British troops in various battles before ultimately making peace in January 1846. Kawiti opposed the introduction of British rule and actively sought to retain Ngāti Hine lands. He reluctantly signed the Treaty of Waitangi in May 1840.
- Martin, Kene Hine Te Uira. "Kawiti, Te Ruki? -1854." The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Vol. 1. 1769-1869. Wellington, N.Z.: Allen & Unwin
- Dept. of Internal Affairs, 1990. 219-221.
- Correspondence from Reg Kawiti and Kene Martin, 17 June and 1 July 2004.
- "Letters from Kawiti to the Governor written in 1845." New Zealand’s First War, or The Rebellion of Hone Heke. T. Lindsay Buick. Wellington, N.Z.: Published under the auspices of the Board of Māori Ethnological Research, 1926. 210, 211, 224. Rpt. in Māori Is My Name: Historical Māori Writing in Translation. Ed. John Caselberg. Dunedin, N.Z.: John McIndoe, 1975. 64-65.
- English translation of a letter by Kawiti dated 24 September 1845 addressed to Henry Williams and Governor Fitzroy, in which Kawiti agrees to make peace. A second letter was written to Henry Williams after Kawiti received a written response from Fitzroy. Kawiti states that the Governor has written ‘hard words, for they speak of taking the land.’ He asserts that Williams and the Governor ‘press [the Māori] to fight, and [they] will fight.’ Kawiti writes another letter to the Governor on the same day and states that peace should be made but that his land must not be taken otherwise he would be compelled to fight to retain it. When George Grey became Governor, he wrote to Heke and Kawiti concerning peace terms; the two chiefs wrote separate responses. Kawiti wrote to the Governor on 29 November 1845 from Ruapekapeka and another on the 2 December.
- "Letter to the Governor." New Zealand’s First War, or The Rebellion of Hone Heke. T. Lindsay Buick. Wellington, N.Z.: Published under the auspices of the Board of Māori Ethnological Research, 1926. 272.
- In this English translation of Kawiti’s letter dated 29 January 1846, Kawiti strongly asserts his desire to make peace on this day and hopes that this peace with the Europeans will be long lasting.
- Martin, Kene Hine Te Uira. "Kawiti, Te Ruki? -1854." The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ed. W. H. Oliver. Vol. 1. 1769-1869. Wellington, N.Z.: Allen & Unwin; Dept. of Internal Affairs, 1990. & Unwin/Department of Internal Affairs, 1990. 219-221.
- "Te Takuate a Kawiti/ Kawiti’s Sigh." In "Heke’s Wars in the North." Te Ao Hou 16 (1956): 38-46.
- Told to Tawai Kawiti by his father Te Riri Maihi Kawiti. Tawai Kawiti writes that Kawiti (the great chief fighting with Hone Heke) composed this chant to express his disappointment at those among Māoridom who aligned themselves with the Crown troops fighting Māori. He had thought this was a war where Māori fought together. He also expresses his disappointment at the descendants of Kaharua, (Hokianga) who refused to fight side-by-side with Kaharau’s brother Uenuku’s descendants, (Taumarere). Kawiti vows never to stop fighting for his people until death eventually takes him. The chant in Māori is followed by an English translation.