Hoani Nahe

Ngāti Maru


Hoani Nahe "was a well known chief of the Ngāti-maru tribe residing in the Thames Valley. He was a very learned man, well up in the Native history, manners and customs of his race, and has written several articles on those subjects, amongst others the History of the Tainui Canoe, the Migration of Maru-tuahu and History of Paoa, published in Mr John White’s ‘Ancient History of the Māori’. He also contributed to this Journal the article on ‘Māori, Tangata Māori,’ showing the true origin of the word ‘Māori.’ His style of composition was excellent, and easily rendered into English. Hoani Nahe was educated at St. John’s College, Auckland, and was at one time a Member of the House of Representatives and Native Adviser to the Cabinet, in which capacity he rendered good service to the State. This Society loses in Hoani Nahe a very valuable member, who has shown his sympathy and appreciation of its objects on several occasions, and has contributed a large amount of valuable information, as yet unpublished. He was much respected both by Europeans and Māoris, and leaves many friends to regret his loss. - Editors." Nahe was a Corresponding Member of the Polynesian Society and lived in Thames. He is named amongst ten priests who gave histories of the Tainui in John White’s The Ancient History of the Māori, His Mythology and Traditions. Vol. 1. Wellington, N.Z.: Government Print, 1887-1891. vii

Biographical sources

  • Journal of the Polynesian Society 3 (1894): 111.


  • "Māori, Tangata Māori/Māori, and Tangata Māori." Journal of the Polynesian Society 3 (1894): 27-35.
  • Nahe challenges Tuta Tamati’s hypothesis, articulated in "Māori and Tangata Māori" (Journal of the Polynesian Society 2 (1893): 60-63), that the word "Māori" dates only from the time of Pakeha settlement and the establishing of the orthography of the Māori language, and that the word ‘Māori’ possibly emerged as Pakeha misheard ‘Mamore, Mori, Morimori or Momori’. Nahe points to a more ancient use of the word ‘Māori’ drawing from the legends surrounding the patupaiarehe [fairy folk]. He states that ‘tangata Māori’ was used in earlier times as a distinction between the patupaiarehe, or spirit people, and humans and cites various expressions demonstrating this distinction: ‘Iwi atua, iwi tangata Māori ano hoki’, ‘Ehara i te tangata Māori, he atua’, ‘Ehara hoki i te atua, he tangata Māori nei ano.’ – [‘They are not Spirits but ordinary Tangata Māori’, ‘Spirit-people or Fairies, and Tangata Māori or native people.’] To reinforce his argument further Nahe includes in the Māori text of this article two ancient waiata in which the word "Māori" is used. The Journal of the Polynesian Society editors add a few other examples from Nga Moteatea and a quotation from Myths and Songs of the Pacific to support Nahe’s viewpoint. Written in Māori with English translation.
  • "Te Takenga Mai o Enei Kupu a Pakeha, a Kaipuke/The Origin of the Words ‘Pakeha’ and ‘Kaipuke’." Journal of the Polynesian Society 3 (1894): 233-236.
  • Written in Māori by Hoani Nahe. Trans. and notes S. Percy Smith.
  • Other

  • "Ki a te Etita o te Waka Māori/To the Editor of the Waka Māori." Te Waka Māori O Niu Tirani 11.17 (Akuhata [August] 31, 1875): 202-203.
  • Nahe refutes assertions made by Paratene te Wheoro in Te Waka Māori O Niu Tirani (20 July, 1875) that Te Kaponga ‘devoured men of all the tribes in the island.’
  • "Hongi’s Attack of 1821 Upon Te Hinaki." Māori Wars of the Nineteenth Century: The Struggle of the Northern against the Southern Māori Tribes Prior to the Colonisation of New Zealand in 1840. S. Percy Smith. Christchurch, N.Z.: Whitcombe & Tombs. Second and enlarged ed., 1910. 182-184. Rpt. in The Letters and Journals of Samuel Marsden. 1765-1838. Ed. John Rawson Elder. Dunedin, N.Z.: Coulls Somerville Wilkie, and A. H. Reed for the Otago U Council, 1932. 359.
  • Nahe provides a background to the circumstances of Hongi’s attack on Te Hinaki in 1821. Nahe states that ‘[i]t was on account of Nga-Puhi’s losses at the battle called the "Wai-whariki," fought at Puketona (near Mr. Ed. Williams’ residence, on the road from Waitangi to Ohaeawae, Bay of Islands, about 1795) in the days of Māori weapons, that Hongi determined to attack the Ngāti-Maru at the Thames, now that he had procured arms.’ Nahe relates the special test Hongi inflicted on Te Horeta and Hinaki that confirmed his intention to attack them.


  • Editors. Journal of the Polynesian Society 3 (1894): 111.
  • Taylor, C. R. H. A Bibliography of Publications on the New Zealand Māori and the Moriori of the Chatham Islands. Oxford: Clarendon Press, Oxford UP, 1972. 13, 67.