Whitiora Te Kumete


Ngāti Mahuta (? - 1897)

Iwi map - Whitiora Te KumeteIWI / HAPU AFFILIATIONS

Whitiora Te Kumete was also known as Wi Kumete and Wiremu Kumete Te Whitiora whose main kāinga was at Pirongia. He was taken prisoner after the 1863 battle at Rangiriri along with Takerei Te Angaanga, also of Ngāti Mahuta, and sent to Kawau Island.1 When he and his cohorts escaped the island to the mainland near Mahurangi in 1864, they were visited by a Government agent and urged to return to captivity.2 This proverb was his response:

He manu ka motu i te mahanga e kore e taea te whai.

A bird which has once escaped from the snare will not be caught again.


Very few accounts exist of how the personal appearance of rangatira Māori and the effect they had on the public. This sketch provides some insight into the personal attributes of Whitiora Te Kumete, considered to be very influential in his time.


While we were eating, Whitiora, or Wiremu te Kumete, walked, out into the space between the two lines and prepared to address us. He was dressed in a native mat made with sleeves like a coat, and called a kouru, moleskin trousers, and knee boots; and while he spoke he held his cap in his hand. His commanding figure and manly intelligent features, no less than the deep, energetic tones in which he spoke, were sufficient to strike the observer with admiration.3

Whitiora Te Kumete died in September 1897.4



  1. ‘Wiremu Kumete Te Whitiora (Person) ’, New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, accessed 2 March 2010.
  2. James Cowan, The Maori: Yesterday and To-day, (Christchurch, Whitcombe and Tombs<, 1930), p 110, New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, accessed 2 March 2010.
  3. ‘The Waikato Chiefs’, Timaru Herald, vol XIV, issue 614, 15 April 1871, p 3, Papers Past, accessed 2 March 2010.
  4. ‘Death of a Native Chief’, Colonist, vol XL, issue 8961, 6 September 1897, p 3, Papers Past, accessed 2 March 2010.
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  • Grace Martin - Ngati Tahinga/Ngati Toa

    At 9am on 7 August 2015

    Toihau Whitiora Kumete was my grandmother;s(Whakaotirangi) father. I was so touched emotionally when I saw his portrait by Lindauer. I knew that I would never see him ever, and when I saw his portrait he looked so real. It has been an honour and privilege to see him. I am so grateful to the artist for preserving his image for us to view. Thank You

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