The signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Ngāti Toa involvement 

Saturday 6 February 2021

Williams and Bunbury Sheets

Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed in Waitangi on 6 February 1840. After this, eight further copies of Te Tiriti were sent out around the motu to be signed by other iwi. Two of these copies came to Ngāti Toa. They are called the Cook Strait (Henry Williams) Sheet and the Herald (Bunbury) Sheet.

The Williams Sheet was brought from the Bay of Islands by the Anglican Church Missionary Society missionary Henry Williams on the schooner Ariel. This vessel was owned by Captain George Clayton who also witnessed the signatures. The Williams Sheet was taken to Port Nicholson (Wellington), Queen Charlotte Sound, Kapiti and Motungārara where Ngāti Toa chiefs signed it.

The Bunbury Sheet was brought from the Bay of Islands by Major Thomas Bunbury aboard the HMS Herald. It was taken to Port Underwood and Mana Island where Ngāti Toa chiefs signed it.

A total of 20 Ngāti Toa chiefs signed Te Tiriti on these two sheets on six separate occasions. Therefore, Ngāti Toa have six Tiriti signing dates.

The first signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - Port Nicholson, 29 April 1840

In late April the Williams Sheet was brought to Port Nicholson (Wellington). The signing took place aboard the Ariel where 32 Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Toa chiefs signed.

The Ngāti Toa chiefs who signed were Te Hiko, Tūngia, and Kahe.


Te Hiko, son of Te Pēhi Kupe, was a respected leader among his Taranaki relations as well as Ngāti Toa. He spent much time with them in Wellington, although he lived on Mana Island at the time of the signing.


Kahe, of Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Mutunga, was the daughter of Te Matoha and Hautonga. She is famous for having swam from Kapiti Island to Te Uruhi near Waikanae to warn of an attack.


Tūngia, son of Pīkauterangi, lived at Pukerua among his Ngāti Te Māunu whānau.

The second signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - Tōtaranui (Queen Charlotte Sound), 4-5 May 1840

While sailing through Tōtaranui on 3-4 May, Williams gathered 27 signatures from Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama, and Ngāti Toa chiefs.

The Ngāti Toa chiefs who signed here were Ngāoranga and Tāmati Pīkauterangi.


Ngāoranga is mentioned in the 1839 Port Nicholson Deed. Te Rauparaha signed this deed on behalf of himself, Nohorua and Ngāoranga.


Tāmati Pīkauterangi gave evidence in the 1890 Native Land Court hearings in Ōtaki.

The third signing of Te Tiriti o Waitanig - Kapiti, 14 May 1840

After the signings in Port Nicholson and Tōtaranui, Williams crossed the strait again to Kapiti where he gained another four signatures: Te Rauparaha, Tāmihana Te Rauparaha, Te Rangitopeora, and Mātene Te Whiwhi.

The Anglican missionary Octavius Hadfield was there to witness the signing.


Tamihana, son of Te Rauparaha, also signed Te Tiriti at Kapiti along with his father. He signed it as Katu, his name before converting to Christianity and changing his name to Tamihana (Thompson). He, along with Mātene, were already literate and were able to write their own names on Te Tiriti.


Mātene, son of Topeora, was an Anglican missionary, and along with Tamihana, were instrumental in the establishment of the Kīngitanga.


Topeora, daughter of Te Rākaherea and Waitohi, was a woman of great mana in her own right. She had four husbands, held much property, spoke on the marae, composed numerous mōteatea, and had a reputation for ruthlessness.


Te Rauparaha is said to have signed in the belief that it would ‘guarantee him and his allies the possession of territories gained by conquest over the previous 18 years’. Williams had been told by Lieutenant-Governor Hobson that Te Rauparaha’s agreement to Te Tiriti was his ‘principal object’ because it would give the Crown ‘undisputed right of sovereignty over all the southern districts’. Te Rauparaha signed with a mark from his moko.

The fourth signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - Motungārara, 4 June 1840

After travelling to Ōtaki, Waikanae, Tāwhirihoe, and Whanganui the Ariel headed back south to Motungārara, just off Kapiti Island. There Williams obtained two more signatures: Te Rangihīroa and Te Ohu. These were the last two people to sign his Tiriti sheet before he took it back up north to the Governor’s residence in Waitangi.


The Te Ohu that signed Te Tiriti on Motungārara may be the same Te Ohu that is the father of Koroiri and Te Wainokenoke (wife of Nohorua). He is known for saving Te Rauparaha’s life after Tāpui, a chief from Te Āti Awa, attempted to throw Te Rauparaha out of their waka while they were being pursued. Te Ohu also signed the Deed of Sale for Mana Island in 1865 and was named as the principle owner of the Maraetakaroro block on Kapiti Island.


Te Rangihīroa, son of Pītoitoi and Waipunahau, was present at the Umupakaroa battle at Waiorua, and died there in 1842.

The fifth signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - Horahora Kākahu, 17 June 1840

Thomas Bunbury, William Stewart, and Edward Williams arrived at Horahora Kākahu in Port Underwood aboard the HMS Herald on 16 June 1840. The next day nine rangatira signed Te Tiriti. They were Māui Pū, Eka Hare, Puke, Nohorua, Te Whāiti, Te Wī, Te Kanae, Pūkeko, and Kaikōura.

During this signing Joseph Thoms signed Te Tiriti as a witness. Thoms was married to Nohorua’s daughter Te Uatōrikiriki. Nohorua wanted him to sign so that if his grandchildren ever lost their land, their father would share the blame.

Bunbury would not allow Ria Waitohi to sign Te Tiriti because she was a woman. Ria was the daughter of Te Pēhi Kupe, and wife of Rāwiri Puaha. Rāwiri was so insulted at the affront to the mana of his wife that he refused to sign. Rāwiri is the brother of Te Kanae, who did sign.

After this signing Bunbury declared British sovereignty over the entire Waipounamu. Before coming to Horahora Kākahu he had been to Akaroa, Ruapuke, and Ōtakou.




Te Kanae is the son of Te Matoe and Hinekoto. Te Kanae’s second wife, Mere Te Rapu, was the daughter of Rangitāne chief Ihaia Kaikōura, who also the signed Te Tiriti.


Māui Pū had visited Tasmania on one occasion and could speak some English. He was supportive of Te Tiriti and was instrumental in persuading Nohorua to sign.


Nohorua, son of Werawera and Waitāoro, is an elder brother of Te Rauparaha. Upon arrival to Port Underwood, Bunbury had asked Nohorua to sign Te Tiriti but Nohorua had initially refused. The following day Bunbury returned with Māui Pū and others who explained it to him. Nohorua’s daughter, Te Uatōrikiriki, was married to a whaler named Joseph Thoms. Nohorua insisted that Thoms also sign Te Tiriti so that he would share the blame if his grandchildren lost their land.




Horopāpera Pūkeko, son of Karewa and Wairuaki, was very active in Ngāti Toa affairs, particularly in land dealings involving the Wairau. He had homes at Waikutakuta in Port Underwood and in Porirua.


Te Whāiti, son of Mahurenga, was employed by the NZ Company as a guide and translator. His wife, Te Rongopāmamao, became the wife of Te Rangihaeata after his death. She was killed at the Wairau Incident three years later sparking the events of 1843.




Ihaia Kaikōura was a Rangitāne chief. His daughter, Mere Te Rapu, married Te Kanae in a peace marriage with Ngāti Toa. Ihaia Kaikōura was the only Kurahaupō person to sign Te Tiriti in the Waipounamu.

The sixth signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - Te Mana o Kupe, 19 June 1840

After the signing at Horahora Kākahu, Bunbury sailed to Kapiti Island where he met up with Te Rauparaha. He wanted Te Rauparaha to sign, but Te Rauparaha told him he had already signed Williams’ copy. Te Rauparaha accompanied Bunbury to Te Mana o Kupe to obtain the signature of Te Rangihaeata.


Te Rangihaeata was the son of Te Rākaherea and Waitohi, older sister to Te Rauparaha. He signed Te Tiriti aboard the HMS Herald on 19 June 1840, anchored off Mana Island.


Once they arrived at Mana, Bunbury again insisted Te Rauparaha also sign his copy as well. This shows the importance that was placed on obtaining Te Rauparaha’s signature. Te Rauparaha eventually agreed and signed again.

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