Hone Heke (1807 - c.1850) MP

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Nicknames: "Hone Wiremu", "Hone Pokai"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Pakaraka, Northland, New Zealand
Death: Died in Kaikohe, Northland, New Zealand
Occupation: Kohutaha
Managed by: Chris
Last Updated:
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About Hone Heke

Hone Heke

Hone Wiremu Heke Pokai (1807? - August 6, 1850) was a Māori rangatira (chief) and war leader in Northern New Zealand. He is considered the principal instigator of the Flagstaff War.

Born at Pakaraka south of Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands, Heke was a highly influential chief of the Ngā Puhi tribe. He grew up in the Kaikohe area, scarcely surviving the vicissitudes of tribal warfare during the late musket war period. As a youth, he attended the mission school at Kerikeri and came under the influence of the missionary, Henry Williams. Subsequently he, his wife and children were converted to Christianity and Hone became a lay preacher.

However, it was as a warrior that Hone Heke established his reputation. He took part in the first battle of Kororareka in 1830, in Titore's expedition to Tauranga, and fought with Titore against Pomare II in 1837.

There are conflicting reports of when Heke signed the Treaty of Waitangi. It may have been with the other chiefs on February 6, 1840.

Some Māori became discontent after the signing of the treaty. Both before and after the signing of the Treaty American traders and the American consul poisoned the relationship between the unstable Heke and the British. The British representative became concerned at the flying of the American Ensign on land.[1] Letters from William Williams, son of Henry Williams who recorded talks he had with Heke show that the Americans were attempting to undermine the British both before and especially after the signing of the treaty. The first American Consul William Mayhew, was probably pressurised into leaving NZ but was replaced by two unofficial Consuls, Green-Smith and Waetford who continued the anti British tradition and extended it by selling muskets and powder to disaffected Maori. Waetford was convicted and imprisoned for gunrunning but Green Smith escaped NZ before he could be arrested.[2] The capital of the new colony was shifted from Okiato to Auckland with the corresponding loss of revenue for the Bay of Islands. The imposition of customs duties, the banning of the felling of kauri trees and government control of the sale of land all contributed to an economic depression for Māori. Furthermore it became clear that the British considered the authority of the chiefs to be subservient to that of the The Crown although the treaty promised a partnership under British rule.

As a signal of his unhappiness with the British, and encouraged by the American and French interests, Hone Heke chopped down the flagpole carrying the British flag that flew over Kororareka. The French Roman Catholic bishop, Pompallier, sponsored clandestine anti crown feeling amongst the Maori.[3] Also Heke had been strongly influenced by stories of the American War of Independence.[4] The British interpreted this as an act of rebellion and soon the Heke's rebel forces were at war with the British. In the time space of 6 months Hone Heke actually chopped the flagpole down three times. Despite this many Maori under the mana of the leading northern rangitira, Waka Nene, stayed loyal to the government and took both an active part in the fight against Heke and tried to maintain a dialogue with the rebels in an effort to bring peace. To prevent the flagpole from being chopped down yet again, the Crown ordered in a battalion of British soldiers to defend it. Heke created a diversion with the help of Kawiti and, whilst the soldiers were fighting on the beach, Heke and a few others crept towards the flagpole and cut it down for the fourth time. This was the beginning of the Flagstaff War.

Heke took an active part in the early phases of the conflict, but he was severely wounded during the Battle of Te Ahu Ahu and did not rejoin the fighting until the closing phase of the Battle of Ruapekapeka some months later. Heke left the pa before the notorious Battle of Ohaeawai, when poor British tactics resulted in the capture of soldiers and their torture by scalping and burning the wounded to death. One soldier had been killed by having a red hot iron thrust into him. This enraged the British.[5] The siege of Ruapekapeka began 27 Dec and continued to 11 January. In this uneven battle, 1500 British soldiers plus hundreds of loyal Maori under Waka Nene began a furious and continuous artillery bombardment against Heke and Kawhiti's men, which flattened most of the Pa's extensive woodwork, deafened the defenders and forced many of the survivors to flee into the surrounding bush. Shortly afterwards, Heke and his ally, Kawiti met their principal Māori opponent, Tāmati Wāka Nene and agreed to seek peace. Nene went to Auckland to tell the governor that they had made peace. This did not prevent the governor, George Grey from presenting it as a British victory. Despite this, Heke and George Grey were reconciled at a meeting in 1848, though Grey had no respect for the political stance that Heke assumed"I cannot discover that the rebels have a single grievance to complain of which would in any degree extenuate their present conduct and. . . I believe that it arises from an irrational contempt of the powers of Great Britain. . "[6] Grey was not the only prominent figure to query Heke's state of mind. Both Henry, his son William Williams and Fitzroy commented on how Heke would change from being calm and thoughtful to having bouts of extreme anger and activity coupled with tremendous bursts of enthusiasm and over confidence. Today these would be recognized as someone with Manic Depression or Bipolar Disorder.

Hone Heke retired to Kaikohe where he died of tuberculosis two years later. He is still regarded as a great leader by the Ngā Puhi and many of the Māori people. Heke died on 7 August 1850. The Rev R Davis performed a Christian ceremony and then one of his wives, Rongo and other followers who had been his body guard for many years, took his body to a cave near Pakaraka, called Umakitera. However there is no direct evidence to support this.[7]

Pākehā Māori Frederick Edward Maning wrote a near contemporaneous account of Hone Heke in A history of the war in the north of New Zealand against the chief Heke, although it was written primarily with an aim to entertain rather than with an eye to historical accuracy. -------------------- Hone Wiremu Heke Pokai (1807? - August 6, 1850) was a Māori rangatira (chief) and war leader in New Zealand. He is considered the principal instigator of the Flagstaff War.

Biography

Born at Pakaraka south of Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands, Heke was a highly influential chief of the Ngā Puhi tribe. He grew up in the Kaikohe area, scarcely surviving the vicissitudes of tribal warfare. As a youth, he attended the mission school at Kerikeri and came under the influence of the missionary, Henry Williams. Subsequently he, his wife and children were converted to Christianity and Hone became a lay preacher.

However, it was as a warrior that Hone Heke established his reputation. He took part in the first battle of Kororareka in 1830, in Titore's expedition to Tauranga, and fought with Titore against Pomare II in 1837.

There are conflicting reports of when Heke signed the Treaty of Waitangi. It may have been with the other chiefs on February 6, 1840.

Māori discontent grew after the signing of the treaty. The capital of the new colony was shifted from Okiato to Auckland with the corresponding loss of revenue for the Bay of Islands. The imposition of customs duties, the banning of the felling of kauri trees and government control of the sale of land all contributed to an economic depression for Māori. Furthermore it became clear that the British considered the authority of the chiefs to be subservient to that of the The Crown although the treaty promised equal partnership.

As a signal of his unhappiness with the plight of Māori, Hone Heke chopped down the flagpole carrying the British flag that flew over Kororareka. The British interpreted this as an act of rebellion and soon the two cultures were at war. In the time space of 6 months Hone Heke actually chopped the flagpole down three times. To prevent this from happening yet again, the Crown ordered in a battalion of British soldiers to defend it. Heke created a diversion with the help of Kawiti and, whilst the soldiers were fighting on the beach, Heke and a few others crept towards the flagpole and cut it down for the fourth time. This was the beginning of the Flagstaff War.

Heke took an active part in the early phases of the conflict, but he was severely wounded during the Battle of Te Ahu Ahu and did not rejoin the fighting until the closing phase of the Siege of Ruapekapeka some months later. Shortly afterwards, Heke and his ally, Kawiti met their principal Māori opponent, Tāmati Wāka Nene and agreed to seek peace. Nene went to Auckland to tell the governor that they had made peace. This did not prevent the governor, George Grey from presenting it as a British victory. Despite this, Heke and George Grey were reconciled at a meeting in 1848.

Hone Heke retired to Kaikohe where he died of tuberculosis two years later. He is still regarded as a great leader by the Ngā Puhi and many of the Māori people. To this day, his burial place remains a secret known only to a few people although this is subject to considerable speculation.

Pākehā Māori Frederick Edward Maning wrote a near contemporaneous account of Hone Heke in A history of the war in the north of New Zealand against the chief Heke, although it was written primarily with an aim to entertain rather than with an eye to historical accuracy.

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Hone Heke's Timeline

1807
1807
Pakaraka, Northland, New Zealand
1835
August 27, 1835
Age 28
Henry Williams, Paihia, Northland, New Zealand
1837
March 30, 1837
Age 30
Kerikeri, Northland, New Zealand
1850
August 7, 1850
Age 43
Kaikohe, Northland, New Zealand
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