New faith, new law

I was in Ōtaki recently. One of the aims of my thesis is to explore the origins of the Kīngitanga on the Kāpiti coast. At Ōtaki is one of New Zealand’s oldest churches, Rangiātea. In wandering around the urupā there, I came upon the memorial to Matene Te Whiwhi-o-te-Rangi who, with Te Rauparaha’s son, Tamihana, went to the Bay of Islands in 1839 and brought back Octavius Hadfield (‘Harawira’) as a missionary. Te Whiwhi and Tamihana took the Christian message of peace and forgiveness (the new ‘law’) to the South Island, to Ngāti Toa’s enemies, and made peace. They acted as peacemakers in other contexts.

Te Whiwhi’s memorial stone tells this story and ends with an injunction to his people: ‘Kia mau ki te whakapono me te aroha’ – Hold fast to faith and love.