Huria Matenga Ngarongoa


Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Tama, Te Ati Awa (184? - 1909)

Iwi map - Huria MatengaIWI / HAPU AFFILIATIONS

Watch an interview with descendant Maunu Stephens.

Huria Matenga (née Katene) was born at Whakapuaka on the Nelson coast of the upper South Island.  She was a woman of great mana in her community, who became well known throughout New Zealand for an act of bravery conducted in her 20s.

Matenga was from the Northern Taranaki iwi of Ngāti Tama, and Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Te Ati Awa.

Tracing her whakapapa back to the Tokomaru waka, she was the daughter of the Ngāti Toa chief, Wiremu Katene Te Manu and Wikitoria Te Kehe of Te Ati Awa.  Her paternal grandfather was the Ngāti Tama leader, Te Puoho-o-te-rangi.  She married Hemi Matenga (Ngāti Toa) and the couple had an adopted daughter, Mamae Matenga.

Matenga gained national attention in 1863 when she and her husband were part of a small group who were instrumental in the safe return to land of the crew of the foundering sailing ship Delaware. For her acts of bravery, she received a gold watch and money from the local council and became known as 'New Zealand's Grace Darling'.1

A 'notable woman in her own community … by virtue of her rank and character', Matenga held land in Taranaki and the Cook Strait area and was an important decision maker for the tribes she represented.2

Lindauer painted three portraits of Matenga.  He inscribed the reverse of the Partridge Collection work, '1874 Julia Martin in Whakapueka [Whakapuaka] Pa near Nelson', and signed it in black, rather than the red he more commonly used.  This painting was one of ten sent to the St Louis Exposition (World Fair) in 1904, for which Partridge received commendation.3


  1. James Cowan, ‘ Maori Heroines’, Star , issue 7580, 12 December 1902, p 1, Papers Past, accessed 24 February 2010
  2. Mary Louise Ormsby, ‘Matenga, Huria 1840-1842? – 1909’, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 7 July 2005, accessed 24 February 2010.
  3. ‘Louisiana Purchase Exposition’, Wikipedia – the Free Encyclopedia, accessed 28 January 2010.
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  • huia kaahu - ngai tahu/ ngati porou

    At 2pm on 16 September 2014

    this wonderful and brave woman is my great,great,great,great,great grandmother

  • j

    At 2am on 14 July 2014

    I have twice emailed you with regards to a wooden carving i have of huria matenga asking for any information. Twice my mail has been ignored. I would have donated to your gallery had you have had the common decency to reply to me. I shall no longer be donating

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