The Kapiti Historical Society’s October talk looks at one of Northland’s prominent Maori characters in the early 19th century. The session will take place on Tuesday 26 October at the Kapiti Uniting Church in Weka Road, Raumati Beach, starting at 7.30pm. Everyone is welcome with a gold coin koha.

The popular image of Hone Heke is of a romantic figure who cut down a flagpole in a non-violent protest.  The reality is of a violent rebellion which resulted in far more than 200 deaths before it was defeated by a combined force of warriors from Heke’s iwi, Ngapuhi, and British soldiers and seamen, with the widely expressed support of Maori chiefs across the country.  This early test of the new colony removed any doubt concerning the loyalty of the majority Maori to the new nation.

These first New Zealanders were real people, with individual personalities.  What was Heke, the real person, like?  His ideas and actions were certainly very different from those of more senior Ngapuhi chiefs, like Tamati Waka Nene.  

John Robinson has written a series of books on early New Zealand, including “Hone Heke’s War”, published last year. (The book will be available for sale on the night.)  The story of what really happened during these early colonial days provides a useful correction to the current simplistic picture of the supposed wrongs of colonisation — a picture which ignores the challenges, difficulties and successes of those first years of colonial New Zealand.

John will tell of Heke’s upbringing and his behaviour during this time of change, showing what sort of a person he really was. He will also cover the reasons for dissatisfaction in the north following the signing of the Treaty in 1840, and the events of the northern war and how Heke reacted to defeat.

The original Kapiti Historical Society schedule for the last few months of 2021 has been disrupted because of government covid restrictions, however, two speakers who were originally on the programme: Professor Mark Dickson speaking on the history of the Kapiti coastline, and former prime minister Jim Bolger on how history repeats itself, will now feature in 2022.

For more information on the Kapiti Historical Society, contact Roger Childs at or John Robinson at