Te Atua, Henare

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Te Atua was the son of Maori aristocrats. As a young child he was given to his relatives Miriama Hineinukua and Hoani Waikata as a tamaiti whangai.

He was educated by students of two of the last pre-Christian masters of traditional knowledge. He lived at Porangahau, where he was the local Ringatu church leader, which put him in conflict with the Anglican majority. During a fraught visit to the area by the Ringatu founder, Te Kooti, there were accusations of witchcraft against Te Kooti, which Te Atua neutralized by having his own daughter convert to the Anglican church, in which she was followed by most of the rest of the local Ringatu flock.

This act by Te Atua greatly increased his standing in the community (his mana), and when Henare Matua died in 1894 Te Atua succeeded him as community leader, rather than his natural heir, Tipene Matua. He was active in local land claims causes, tribal administration, and regional meetings.

He married twice and had six children.

References

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Also available at: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/

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