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King Pōtatau: An Account of the Life of Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, The first Māori King – Pei Te Hurinui Jones (1959)

Written by a prolific scholar, Pei Te Hurinui Jones, this book details the background to the Kingitanga and also tells the story of the first king, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero.

Publication details

Jones, P. Te H. King Pōtatau: An Account of the Life of Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, the First Māori King. Wellington: Polynesian Society, 1959.

About the book

Pei Te Hurinui Jones (Ngāti Maniapoto) details all the momentous events of the first Māori King, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero’s life from around 1775 to his death in 1860. Te Wherowhero’s early adult life was dominated by war. His Waikato tribe drove Te Rauparaha’s Ngāti Toa from its Kāwhia homeland and in turn had to defend its own territory against Northland’s Ngāpuhi. Waikato also made repeated attacks on the Taranaki tribes. Te Wherowhero refused to sign the Treaty of Waitangi but did deal with the colonial government. He sold land to the Crown and, in 1849, signed an agreement to provide military protection for Auckland. He advised Governors George Grey and Thomas Gore Browne but protested strongly against a British Colonial Office plan to put all uncultivated land into Crown ownership. The Māori King movement came into existence in the late 1850s as an attempt to unite the tribes, prevent land sales and make laws for Māori. The elderly Pōtatau Te Wherowhero of Waikato was one of a number of chiefs who possessed the mana necessary for this role. Appointed as the first Māori King in 1858, he died two years later and was succeeded by his son, who became known as Tāwhiao.

Further information 


This publication is part of the series Te Takarangi: Celebrating Māori publications - a sample list of 150 non-fiction books produced by a partnership between Royal Society Te Apārangi and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.