Te Waharoa was the son of Tangimoana and Te Kahurangi. While he was still a young boy, the fortified village near Matamata, where he lived with his mother, was attacked by a party from the Te Arawa tribe, led by Pango. Pango kidnapped Te Waharoa and took him back to the Rorotua area where he was raised.
As a young man he returned to his people and became a major chief and warlord of the Ngati Haua. He helped Christian missionaries gain a foothold in his tribal territories, and sent his son Tarapipipi to be educated at their school, recognizing the usefulness of European learning. And although the mission at Te Koutu was destroyed in collateral action during a war with the Te Arawa alliance in 1836, and the Matamata mission station was abandoned for safety reasons, Te Waharoa took responsibility for the physical safety of the missionaries, and saw that the stations were restored.
He lived to see the old ways of his people give way to the new: his own sons were greatly influenced by mission teachings and campaigned for an end to the frequent inter-tribal hostilities. He died in 1838, a few weeks after the death of his principal wife, Rangi Te Wiwini, and was succeeded by his son, Te Arahi.
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