Te Hapuku Ika-nui-o-te-moana was born in the early 19th century to Tātari of Ngāi Tapuhara and Ngāti Hinepare (his mother) and to Te Rangikoianake II (his father) of Ngāti Manawakawa, Ngāi Te Rangikoianake and Ngāi Te Whatuiāpiti. His lineage gave him great status and rank as was that of his first wife Te Heipora who bore three children – Karanema, Whakatomo and Nēpia. Te Hapuku also had other wives.
He was a young man at the time of the iwi invasions of Tamatea, Heretaunga and Ahuriri that took place up to the mid-1820s, and ultimately joined the Ngāti Kahungunu exodus to Nukutaurua. Prior to this he was captured as a prisoner in the Te Pakake battle in Ahuriri with many other chiefs who had stayed 'behind', but he managed to escape his captors when they were journeying back north.
In the mid-1840s Te Hapuku became one of the leading chiefs of the district. He signed the Declaration of Independence in 1838 whilst in the Bay of Islands, an international declaration that had been earlier established in 1835, whereby Great Britain recognised the sovereignty of the independent tribes of Aotearoa New Zealand. Te Hapuku was also a signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi, and as paramount chief was present at the signing over of land in 1853 for the eventual establishment of Te Aute College a year later in 1854.
In his later years Te Hapuku farmed at Poukawa and was one of many local Ngāi Te Whatuiāpiti people who called for an improved standard of and access to education, especially at Te Aute College.
He died on May 23 1878 having earlier been visited by the Premier Sir George Grey and a full military funeral was held in his honour on May 31, the eighth day of his tangihanga. A public holiday was also observed on this day.
The name Hapuku is carried by many of his descendants today and is also recognised by Hapuku Street that runs parallel with Karaitiana Street between Ōmahu and Frimley Roads, as well as Ikanui Road that is adjacent to Hapuku Street.
16 September 2020
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