Above is a portrait attributed to William Beetham, circa 1860, now in Te Papa.
Text originally created for Tūrangawaewae: Art and New Zealand exhibition at Te Papa, March 2018:
A dapper Ngāti Toa man, styled as a country gentleman.
Tāmihana Te Rauparaha was the only surviving son of the great rangatira [chief] Te Rauparaha. Raised in tikanga Māori [customs], he became a wealthy Ōtaki sheep farmer, and adopted the lifestyle of an English gentleman.
Tāmihana became a key figure in founding the Māori King movement, inspired by his meeting with Queen Victoria in England in 1852. In the 1860s, however, he withdrew his support. But he remained influential enough to later prevent the Taranaki conflicts of the New Zealand Wars from reaching Wellington.
He tāne taiea nō Ngāti Toa he rite ōna kākau ki ērā o te tāne whairawa o Ingarangi.
Ko Tāmihana Te Rauparaha anake te tama mōrehu a te rangatira, a Te Rauparaha. I whakatipuria ia ki ngā tikanga Māori, ā i whai rawa ia i āna mahi ahuwhenua ki Ōtaki. He rite tōna noho ki tērā o te tāne whairawa o Ingarangi.
Ko Tāmihana tētahi pou whakaara o te Kingitanga. I whakaawetia ia e tana hui tahi me Kuīni Wikitōria ki Ingarangi i te tau 1852. Ka huri tuarā ia i te kaupapa i te tau 1860 kia kore ai te riri whenua o Taranaki e tae atu ki Pōneke.
Tamihana Te Rauparaha, son of the celebrated Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha (d.1849), was born about the year 1821 at the Ngati Tama stronghold, Turangarua pa, in northern Taranaki, during the turbulent period following the Ngati Toa tribe forced migration from its ancestral home land of Kawhia harbour to the Kapiti district near present day Wellington. His mother Te Akau was a woman of high rank from the Tuhourangi tribe (Rotorua).
At the time of his birth he was named Ka-tu-te-rangi-ka-tukua (Katu) during the naming ceremony. Tamihana’s formative years were spent growing up with his father among the Ngati Toa where he witnessed first hand the realities of tribal relocation and large scale inter-tribal warfare. He was present during Ngati Toa’s devastating campaigns against Ngai Tahu in the South Land.
When Christianity arrived in the greater Wellington region in the late-1830’s Tamihana was eager to receive its message with its promise of ‘Peace on Earth and goodwill to all men’. On the 21 March 1841 Tamihana was christened at Waikanae by the Reverend Octavius Hadfield of Church Missionary Society, taking the baptismal name Tamihana, or Thompson.
In 1843 Tamihana, together with his near relative Matene Te Whiwhi, embarked on a mission to the South Island to preach the ‘Rongo-pai’, the ‘Good Word’ of the Christian doctrine, and introducing Christianity among their former enemies the Ngai Tahu. That same year Tamihana also married Ruta Te Kapu, daughter of the Ngati Raukawa chief Tawhiri.
Tamihana was mission educated at Waikanae and Otaki from 1839 following the reverend Octavius Hadfields’ arrival. In 1845 Tamihana wrote a 120 page biographic manuscript detailing the life and exploits of his father, Te Rauparaha. He later attended St. Johns College in Auckland.
Tamihana aspired to fully emulate his English peers and assimilate into European society. He dressed in the attire of an English gentleman, built a European house, and even employed non-Maori housekeepers to maintain it. He lived the life of a country squire, becoming a successful sheep farmer with a flock of more than 700 sheep.
In 1851 Tamihana visited England where he was presented to Queen Victoria. On his return to New Zealand he advocated for the establishment of a parallel Maori monarchy, the Kingitanga movement, to represent the independent and autonomous rights of all Maori. The first Maori King, Potatau Te Wherowhero, was appointed in 1858. Tamihana died at Otaki on 22 October 1876.