Te Keepa Te Rangihiwinui

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The Major Kemp monument at Whanganui's Moutoa Gardens erected by the people of New Zealand to honour the "high-born Maori chief, brave soldier and staunch ally of the New Zealand Government". Major Kemp Moutoa Gardens.jpg
The Major Kemp monument at Whanganui's Moutoa Gardens erected by the people of New Zealand to honour the "high-born Maori chief, brave soldier and staunch ally of the New Zealand Government".

Te Keepa Te Rangihiwinui NZC (died 15 April 1898) was a Māori military commander and noted ally of the government forces during the New Zealand Wars. First known as Te Rangihiwinui, he was later known as Te Keepa, Meiha Keepa, Major Keepa or Major Kemp.

New Zealand Cross (1869)

The New Zealand Cross was introduced in 1869 during the Land Wars in New Zealand. The wars were fought between natives of New Zealand, the Māori, and forces raised by European settlers known as Pākehā assisted by British troops.

Māori people Indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand

The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of canoe voyages some time between 1250 and 1300. Over several centuries in isolation, the Polynesian settlers developed a unique culture, with their own language, a rich mythology, and distinctive crafts and performing arts. Early Māori formed tribal groups based on eastern Polynesian social customs and organisation. Horticulture flourished using plants they introduced; later, a prominent warrior culture emerged.

New Zealand Wars 1845–1872 armed conflicts in New Zealand

The New Zealand Wars were a series of armed conflicts that took place in New Zealand from 1845 to 1872 between the New Zealand government and the Māori. Until at least the 1980s, European New Zealanders referred to them as the Māori wars; the historian James Belich was one of the first to refer to them as the "New Zealand wars", in his 1987 book The New Zealand wars and the Victorian interpretation of racial conflict.

Te Rangihiwinui's father was Mahuera Paki Tanguru-o-te-rangi, a leader of the Muaūpoko iwi (tribe). His mother was Rere-ō-maki, sister of Te Anaua, a leader of Ngāti Ruaka, a subtribe of Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi. Te Rangihiwinui was probably born in the early 1820s near Opiki in the Horowhenua. His early years were spent under the threat of tribal warfare resulting from the invasion of their tribal land by the Ngati Toa led by Te Rauparaha. [1] Keepa's father was an early supporter of New Zealand Company settlement established at Whanganui and served as a constable in the Armed Police Force.


Muaūpoko is a Māori iwi on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand.

Iwi are the largest social units in Aotearoa Māori society. The Māori-language word iwi means "people" or "nation", and is often translated as "tribe", or "a confederation of tribes". The word is both singular and plural in Māori.

Rere-ō-maki was a New Zealand tribal leader. Of Māori descent, she identified with the Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi iwi. She was born along the Whanganui River in New Zealand. She was the sister of Te Anaua, a leader of Ngāti Ruaka, a subtribe of Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi. She was the mother of military leader Te Keepa Te Rangihiwinui, also known as Major Kemp.

During the First Taranaki War, Te Keepa made clear his continuing loyalty to the government. In 1864, the Māori tribes on the Upper Whanganui River converted to the Pai Mārire religion and threatened to invade Whanganui town. Te Keepa led the tribes of the lower river to defend the town. The result was the Battle of Moutoa Island and a substantial defeat for the Pai Mārire force on 14 May 1864. [1]

The First Taranaki War was an armed conflict over land ownership and sovereignty that took place between Māori and the New Zealand Government in the Taranaki district of New Zealand's North Island from March 1860 to March 1861.

Whanganui River major river in the North Island of New Zealand

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The Pai Mārire movement was a syncretic Māori religion or cult founded in Taranaki by the prophet Te Ua Haumēne. It flourished in the North Island from about 1863 to 1874.

This was the start of six years of warfare for Te Keepa, always fighting on the side of the Pākehā government, usually working closely with Captain Thomas McDonnell. In February 1865, Te Keepa and his force of Whanganui Māori warriors took part in the attack on Ohoutahi Pa, a major Pai Mārire stronghold. Following the murder of the missionary Volkner, they were shipped to the other side of the country, to Opotiki. However they soon returned to Taranaki and were involved in the capture of Wereroa Pa and then the relief of Pipiriki.

Pākehā is a Māori-language term for New Zealanders of European descent. The term has also recently come to refer inclusively either to fair-skinned persons, or to any non-Māori New Zealander. Papa'a has a similar meaning in Cook Islands Māori.

Thomas McDonnell New Zealand public servant

Thomas McDonnell was a 19th-century New Zealand public servant, military leader and writer.

Opotiki Minor urban area in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

Opotiki is a small town in the eastern Bay of Plenty in the North Island of New Zealand. It houses the headquarters of the Opotiki District Council and comes under the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Te Keepa gradually built up a personal contingent of between one and two hundred warriors, men who were paid by the government but whose loyalty was to him and his mana as a fighting chieftain. In 1868, he and his men were involved with the insurgency of Titokowaru. Te Keepa commanded the rearguard during the retreat from Te Ngutu o Te Manu after the government forces had been defeated and again in similar circumstances after the Battle of Moturoa. Te Keepa commanded the force pursuing Titokowaru after he abandoned his pa at Tauranga Ika. It was the first time that British soldiers, officers and men, had served under a Māori commander. By this time Te Keepa had been promoted to the rank of major. [1]


Mana, in Austronesian languages, means "power", "effectiveness", and "prestige". In most cases, this power and its source are understood to be supernatural and inexplicable. Its semantics are language-dependent. The concept is significant in Polynesian culture and is part of contemporary Pacific Islander culture; it came to the attention of Western anthropologists through reports from island missionaries. Its study was included in cultural anthropology—specifically, the anthropology of religion. Links were seen between mana and earlier phases of Western religion: animism at first, followed by pre-animism.

Major is a military rank of commissioned officer status, with corresponding ranks existing in many military forces throughout the world.

As soon as Titokowaru ceased to be a threat, Te Keepa and his men were transported to the East Coast to join in the pursuit of Te Kooti. Such was his reputation that the attack on Te Porere near Tongariro was delayed until Te Keepa and his men arrived; they were marching up the Whanganui River in the face of snowstorms and volcanic eruptions.

Te Kooti's War was among the last of the New Zealand wars, the series of 19th century conflicts between the Māori and the colonising European settlers. It was fought in the East Coast region and across the heavily forested central North Island and Bay of Plenty between New Zealand government military forces and followers of spiritual leader Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki.

The final pursuit of Te Kooti through the Ureweras was largely handed over to Te Keepa and another Māori war leader, Ropata Wahawaha. He and his men returned to Whanganui in 1871. Over the following years he was honoured with the Queen's Sword of Honour in 1870, the New Zealand Cross in 1874 and the New Zealand Medal in 1876. [1]

In 1871 Te Keepa was appointed as a land purchase officer in Whanganui. He saw this as an opportunity to correct some of the wrongs done to his people during his childhood, a chance to regain some of the land they had lost to the Ngati Raukawa by conquest. This almost brought the tribes to war, Te Keepa threatened to call upon his personal following of warriors if the government did not back up his decisions. There were some violent clashes before the issue went in his favour.

In 1880, Te Keepa set up a Māori trust to protect Māori land from European buyers. A large area of inland Wanganui was declared off limits to all Europeans. This provoked the government, but Te Keepa's large personal following of warriors meant they were very cautious in dealing with him. In addition, he had the support of some members of the government, including the Native Minister, John Ballance. [1]

During his remaining years Te Keepa sought to unify the two races as one people based on equality and respect.

He first contested the Western Maori electorate in the 1871 election, the second time that elections in Māori electorates were held. Of three candidates, he came second, with Wiremu Parata winning the election and the incumbent, Mete Paetahi, coming last. [2] He was one of three candidates in the Western Maori electorate in the 1876 election, when he came second. He was beaten by Hoani Nahi and was ahead of the incumbent, Wiremu Parata. [3] [4] [5] He unsuccessfully contested the Western Maori electorate in the 1884 election. Of eight candidates, he came second with 20.1% of the vote. [6]

Te Keepa Te Rangihiwinui died at Putiki, near Whanganui, on 15 April 1898. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Dreaver, Anthony. "Te Rangihiwinui, Te Keepa". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  2. "Result of the Maori Election". Wanganui Herald . IV (1100). 23 February 1871. p. 2. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  3. Wilson 1985, pp. 222, 225.
  4. "Wanganui". Auckland Star . VII (1850). 21 January 1876. p. 2. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  5. "Maori Election: Western District". Bay Of Plenty Times . IV (351). 19 January 1876. p. 3. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  6. "The Western Maori Election". Waikato Times . XXIII (1885). 5 August 1884. p. 3. Retrieved 15 March 2014.