Robert Marunui Iki Pouwhare

Ngāi Tūhoe

1951 -

Robert Pouwhare was born in Waiohau and was educated at Waiohau Primary School and Northland College. He continued his studies at Victoria University, Wellington Teachers’ College, and Auckland University. He graduated with a Dip. Teaching, B.A. in Māori and Media Studies, Dip. Business, and is currently finishing a Masters in Education at Auckland University. Pouwhare is involved in Māori education and Māori television and was instrumental in establishing the first Māori programmes in television. He was part of a group that set up the first Māori television channel. Pouwhare is deeply committed to the economic development of the Māori people and has several companies and television production houses. Pouwhare is involved in advancing Ngāti Haka’s Land claims before the Waitangi Tribunal. Pouwhare is currently lecturing in Media Studies for the Department of Māori Studies, Auckland University, as well as working in television production. He writes a combination of fiction and non-fiction. He is currently working on a 35mm feature film script as well as other documentaries which include analysis of the Treaty of Waitangi, Māori medicine, the availability of five traditional Māori foods in the contemporary context, and a health-oriented programme for young Māori adolescents. He runs Waiora Productions and Tangata Whenua television companies. He has written non-written articles. He has written a six-part series of Māori drama for television which begins in the 1760s and ends in 2060. He sometimes writes under the name Ropata Pouwhare.

Biographical sources

  • Phone conversation with Robert Pouwhare, 16 August 1998.


  • "Te Rangatahi." Te Ao Hou 60 (1967): 49-50.
  • A report of a conference Pouwhare attended at Northland College, Kaikohe in July [1967] for Māori post-primary students with guest speakers including Turoa Royal, Polly Hopa, Rev. Marsden, Matiu Rata and Dr M. N. Paewai.
  • Awhina Mai Ahau Ki Te Whakakaha I Ahau/Help Me To Strengthen Myself. Illustrated by Leanne Mataa. [Paraparaumu], N.Z.: Wene Macleod and Judith Lyon of the Kapiti and Hongoeka branches of the Māori Women’s Welfare League, 1990.
  • Co-authored and translated with Tawini Rangihau and Dr Paparangi Reid. This bilingual publication in Māori and English opens with a prayer by June Mariu and Pae Ruha, and a Foreword by Georgina Kamira Kirby. The authors state that ‘[t]he aim of this book is to look at those strengths of Tane that apply to us today. Things that will sharpen our minds, strengthen our bodies and help us to stand tall and proud.’ The book outlines for children and teenagers issues of self esteem, secure foundations, sex education and contraception, and sexually-transmitted diseases.
  • "Te Kaea, Raupatu, The Waiohau Fraud." Mana Tiriti: The Art of Protest and Partnership. Wellington, N.Z.: Haeata Māori Women’s Art Collective; Project Waitangi; Wellington City Art Gallery; Daphne Brasell, 1991. 22-23.
  • In this introduction to his two paintings and one sculptural piece in the Mana Tiriti exhibition, Pouwhare writes about the different styles of kite made by the Māori and their respective uses. His sculptural installation entitled ‘Te Kaea’ is a manu whara, a kite used by priests for divination. Pouwhare explains that his manu whara has been sent out ‘to divine what has happened to Māori land since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840’ and the messages he received from ‘Te Kaea’ are depicted in the two paintings which portray land confiscated by the Government in the Urewera during the period from 1865-72 and the land ‘fraudulently acquired by two Europeans in the late 1880s, which resulted in the eviction of the Patuheuheu hapu from their papakainga at Te Houhi in 1905.’
  • Te Taonga Mai Tawhiti: The Gifts From A Distant Place. Auckland, N.Z.: Niho Taniwhat, 1991.
  • Co-authored with Paparangi Reid.
  • "Te Iki Pouwhare, Paramount Chief Of Tuhoe." The Dictionary of the New Zealand Biography. Vol. 4. 1921-1940. Auckland; Wellington, N.Z.: Auckland UP; Dept. of Internal Affairs, 1998.
  • Biographical essay of Te Iki Pouwhare - paramount chief of Tuhoe.