Ihaka Whanga


Ngāti Rakai Paaka, Ngāti Kahungunu (? – 1875)

Iwi map - Ihaka WhaangaIWI / HAPU AFFILIATIONS

It is not known when Ihaka Whaanga was born, but he died on December 14 at Mahia in 1875 and is buried at the southern tip of the Mahia Peninsula, marked by a memorial stone.

Whaanga was the youngest child of Te Ratau and Kainga and the only survivor of a raid that claimed the lives of his parents and five brothers. Married three times to Kahungunu women from influential families, he lived the origins of his ancestor Te Huki's saying Te Kupenga a Te Huki (the net of Te Huki) which means to maintain unity and peace by marrying within the tribe.

In the 1820s, Whaanga had met his first Pākehā trader touting muskets and powder for dressed flax. They arrived at Mahia in the vessel Fanny and were regular visitors during the 1820s. Ihaka is the Māorified name for Issac, a name presumably taken after converting to Christianity. It is not known when he converted to the Mormon faith, but his son Hirini did take a sea-voyage to Utah in 1894 travelling aboard the San Francisco steamer.1 Since, the Whaanga name is synonymous with rise of Mormonism in Hawkes Bay. By 1898, the church claimed they have 4,000 members, most of whom were Māori.2

Whaanga had an open attitude to trading and the settlement of Pākehā in Kahungunu and often lent his mana to the Crown.  He took an appointment as an assessor under the Native Circuit Courts Act 1858 for the princely salary of £30 per annum and was expected to enforce the law and carry out the duties of a local magistrate. Whaanga agreed to large land purchases by the Government, perhaps to demonstrate support for the Crown, but not without protest from East Coast Māori leaders such as Wi Pere and others of Rongowhakaata who challenged Whaanga's right to sell.3

Three years before he died, Whaanga was presented with a sword of honour by the Crown as a reward for Ngāti Kahungunu campaigns against the Hauhau forces and Te Kooti Arikirangi. In 1874, he was decorated with the New Zealand War medal for service to the Crown.4




  1. ‘News items’, Colonist, vol XXXVII, issue 7942, 18 May 1894, p 4, Papers Past, accessed 28 February 2010.
  2. ‘The spread of Mormonism in New Zealand’, Bay Of Plenty Times, vol XXIV, issue 3680, 1 April 1898, p 2, Papers Past, accessed 28 February 2010.
  3. Angela Ballara, 'Whaanga, Ihaka ? - 1875', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007, accessed 28 February 2010.
  4. ‘Local and General’, Star, issue 2047, 29 September 1874, Papers Past, accessed 28 February 2010.
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Pito korero about Latest comments about Ihaka Whanga

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  • Maurice Heke - ngapuhi

    At 12pm on 28 October 2013


  • Ngahiraka

    At 4pm on 25 February 2013

    Arohamai and thank you for the comments and I will ammend the korero to say that the person who travelled to Utah was indeed Hirini Whaanga, Ihaka's eldest son. Ka nui tenei, The spread of Mormonism in New Zealand’, Bay Of Plenty Times, vol XXIV, issue 3680, 1 April 1898, p 2, Papers Past, accessed 28 February 2010

  • Lynn Christy

    At 3pm on 1 February 2013

    It was Ihaka Whaanga's eldest son, Hirini Whaanga, who travelled to Utahin 1894.

  • Anonymous

    At 12pm on 12 September 2012

    Ho could he take a sea voyage in 1894 when he died in 1875 ??? the 1894 date must be incorrect ?

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