Major Waata Kukutai


Ngāti Tipa (? - 1867)

Iwi map - Waata Pihikete KukutaiIWI / HAPU AFFILIATIONS

Waata Pihikete Kukutai's father was also named Kukutai. His mother was Oeroa, and he was married twice, to Rangi-Herarunga and to Rangihaia.

Kukutai converted to Christianity in 1839 and took the name Waata (Walter). Later he also used the name Pihikete which is a transliteration of 'biscuit'. In December 1866 he wrote to Bishop Selwyn stating that in depression after the death of his wife he had taken poison and would shortly die. He was removed to Waiuku, where he died on 8 January 1867, at the estimated age of 45.1 A Waiuku correspondent gives this tragic but poignant account of his death:

Doubtless ere this the melancholy intelligence of the death of Waata Kukutai chief and native assessor of the Ngati Tipa has reached you. He has for some considerable time been in failing health, induced: partly by the loss of his wife and some other near relatives of his tribe; during the past fortnight Dr Gray of Waiuku, has been in frequent attendance upon him. Dr Hovell, of Howick, has also seen him, and advised his removal to a more healthy locality as the place he was lying, an island in the Waikato opposite Purapura, being low and swampy was not by any means calculated to improve the health of any person suffering as he was, under tubercular and ulcerous affections. On Sunday last, the 6th it was determined to remove him and bring him to Waiuku. According on the 7th, he was met, after crossing the river, by both the medical officers mentioned above, who were provided with stimulants and cordials of every description, to revive and assist him during the journey. After leaving the Awaroa, he was conveyed to a cottage belonging to Mr Wilson Smyth, which had been obtained for him, and it was hoped by his friends that this removal to a position of high and healthy would tend, at any rate to prolong his days. But all these precautions came too late. On Tuesday morning the medical gentleman pronounced him sinking, and although during the whole day they paid him the most assiduous attention and nursed him with the utmost care he gradually became weaker and weaker and expired.2



  1. Gary Scott, 'Kukutai, Waata Pihikete ? - 1867', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007, accessed 3 March 2010.
  2. 'Death of Waata Kukutai', Wellington Independent, vol XXI, issue 2469, 19 January 1867, p 5, Papers Past, accessed 3 March 2010.
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  • Graeme Kenyon

    At 10pm on 9 May 2014

    Waata Kukutai was a loyal friend of Arch Deacon Maunsell and was believed to have given him the land at Kohanga where is mission was established. During the Waikato war Kukutai was in support of the British, & guarded the commissariat supply depot at Camerontown. He was unable to prevent the killing of Strange, Armitage & others which took place there, which led to the Mauku event. On his death he was sent from Waiuku, via Purapura and the Awaroa Creek, to his final resting place. Here is an account:“Arriving at the Purapura landing place, we found three large canoes filled with natives……In a short time all got under weigh, the canoes taking the lead down the Awaroa, a narrow but beautiful creek, until at a distance of about eight or ten miles we emerged from the dense forest on to the placid waters of the broad Waikato….”(From govt. publication "Native Intelligence" 1867)

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