Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 2 (Spring 1952)
– 58 –



Tiaki Hikawera Mitira did not long survive the publication of Takitimu, which preserves the story of the migration of the Ngati-Kahungunu people from Hawaiki to Aotearoa. Takitimu was published in 1944, and the author died within the year, at the age of 74. Mitira was born at Wairoa, was adopted and taken to Thames. He stayed there for 15 years before returning to his birth-place, where he remained for the rest of his life. He was a dairy farmer and Maori interpreter, and in his later years he devoted all his energy and influence to the erection of the Takitimu Carroll meeting-house and the writing of Takitimu. An unusual feature of this history of Ngati Kahungunu is that the book was not published for monetary reward, but was distributed gratis to libraries, Maori colleges and museums. The balance of the edition was sold under the proviso that the proceeds should go to augment the J. H. Mitchell Scholarship Fund for the study of the Maori language in the schools of the Wairoa district. Mitira himself was self-educated, and realised the handicap imposed by lack of early schooling.

Takitimu is of interest to the historian and to the general reader. It is divided into four main sections: Part One sketches the history of the Maori up to the departure of Takitimu and the other canoes of the Great Migration; Part Two is the history of the Ngati-Kahungunu tribe; Part Three contains useful short biographies of Sir James Carroll, Sir Maui Pomare and the Rev. Tamihana Huata; while Part Four is made up of appendices describing important charms, proverbial sayings, the interpretation of dreams and signs, and the Maori almanac. Finally, there are some genealogical tables—a valuable book.


L. G. Kelly (Te Putu) is one of the younger practising Maori writers with more than a dozen learned articles in the Polynesian Society Journal, and two volumes, Tainui and Marion Dufresne at the Bay of Islands, to his credit. Te Putu's mixed ancestry is probably the reason for his choice of subjects, for he was brought to the study of Dufresne through the realisation that he numbers a Frenchman among his forebears. Edward Meurant was an early trader's agent at Kawhia, and later an employee of the Wesleyan Mission. He married Kenehuru, daughter of Te Tuhi—one of the Waikato leaders of the day. Te Putu derives his Maori ancestry through his father, whose mother was a daughter of Edward Meurant and Kenehuru. He is, therefore, of the Ngati-Mahuta tribe of Waikato, and a Ngati-Maniapoto of the northern King County—part French and part Maori, and also, through his father, part Irish.

Picture icon

L. G. Kelly.

Te Putu was born in 1906, educated in Auckland and, when not investigating ancient Maori Pas, or early Maori history, drives a locomotive between Frankton and Auckland. In Tainui; the story of Hoturoa and his Descendants, he traces the history of the Tainui Canoe and its people down to the selection of the first Maori King. The history of the Tainui peoples, their successes and failures, their victories and defeats, their customs and traditions are for the first time securely fixed in permanent form. There is also a foreword by Te Puea, some good maps and interesting genealogies, for Marion Dufresne at the Bay of Islands is an elaboration of an earlier work, In the Path of Marion Dufresne.