Modern artwork of Hinematioro.
Image Credit: https://www.ourwahine.nz/?fbclid=IwAR0ig0MILKpVYy6dbftEscU4bcV6YDiFo6

By Johanna Strong

Hinematioro was born around 1750 to her father Tānetokorangi and her mother Ngunguru-te rangi. Aristocratic descent combined in her, making her a rangatira (chief) of the highest standing among the East Coast people from Whāngārā to Ūawa, found on the east coast of Aotearoa (Māori) New Zealand’s North Island. To contemporary missionaries, she was known as the Great Queen of the East Coast and it was during her lifetime that James Cook first arrived in 1769.

Map of the Aotearoa’s east coast. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

She married Te Hoatiki, likely her own choice, and together they had 4 daughters, two of whom died in childhood. Her surviving daughters were Ngārangikahiwa and Te Kakari. After her marriage, she lived at Ūawa and continued in her role as leader of Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti iwi in Te Pourewa pa (off modern-day Tolaga Bay). Iwi are the largest social units of the Māori and a pa is defensive settlement similar to a hillfort. Her sphere of influence was even larger, reaching from the European-named Poverty Bay to Hicks Bay to the Bay of Plenty. Hinematioro was known for her kindness, hospitality, and good management.

In 1823, the Te Wera Naurake of Ngāpuhi attacked and Hinematioro escaped for safety using a waka (a type of canoe). She and the other passengers in her waka drowned in this attempt. Whāngārā elders claimed they had found her body and buried her at Te Ana-a-Paikea (modern-day Whāngārā Island).

Many items of Māori physical cultural heritage were removed by European colonisers, with a poupou associated with Hinematioro ultimately ending up in Germany. A poupou is a wall panel located under the meeting house which depicts the spiritual connection to ancestors. As a result, the Māori have worked to repatriate their heritage digitally, particularly since many European museums are unlikely to return these items in the near future.

Map depicting Aotearoa’s east coast and Hinematioro’s residence in later life. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Recommended Reading

Aidan Norrie, “Female Rangatira in Aotearoa New Zealand,” in A Companion to Global Queenship, ed. Elena Woodacre, 109-121 (Leeds: ARC Humanities Press, 2018)

Angela Ballara, “Hinematioro,” Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1990. https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1h23/hinematioro

“Hinematioro: Great Ngāti Porou Chieftainess”, Our Wahine (2018), https://www.ourwahine.nz/?fbclid=IwAR2hEFDxSShzHcGaL1vIyF3SZHFsCI9hRGnBiwUb2mdcFXhhwrQzzNh_JBs#/hinematioro/.

Tiaki Hikawera Mitira, “Takitimu: Hine-Matioro,” New Zealand Electronic Text Collection (Wellington, New Zealand: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 1972)

Wayne Ngata, Billie Lythberg, and Amiria Salmond, “To Hauiti and Hinematioro: A Māori Ancestor in a German Castle,” in Pacific Presences, Volume 2: Oceanic Art and European Museums, eds. L Carreau, A. Clark, A. Jelinek, E. Lilje, and N. Thomas, 329-341 (Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2018).

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