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No. 5 (Spring 1953)
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REV. MOHI TUREI
A BIOGRAPHY

Mohi Turei was a prominent member of the Ngati-Hokopu subtribe or Whanau a Rarewa, as it was called in early times—a section of the Ngati-Porou Tribe. The subtribe was always prominent in tribal affairs, and it produced some notable men, like Kakatarau, who led the expedition against Tokaakuku in 1836 and his brother, Mokena Kohere, who led the loyal Maoris against the Hauhaus and defeated them in 1865. The former signed the Treaty of Waitangi, and the latter was called to the Legislative Council in 1872. He was also presented with a sword by Queen Victoria.

Mohi Turei's father was Omanga of the Ngati-Hokopu subtribe, and his mother was Makere Tangikuku, of the Aitanga a Mate subtribe, Whareponga. He was probably born on Kautuku, the ancestral home of the Ngati-Hokopu. Mohi's first wife was Meri Te Rore, who bore him two daughters and two sons. It may be mentioned here that Rina, Mohi's elder daughter, for falling in love with the chief Paora Haenga, was banished to Te Arai, Poverty Bay, where she died, presumably of a broken heart. Strangely enough, Waiaka, Rina's younger sister, later married Paora Haenga. Mohi Turei was educated at Bishop William Williams' school at Waerenga-a-Hika, Poverty Bay. All the teaching was imparted in Maori; consequently Mohi knew no English, although with his intellectual ability he would have been a great scholar if he had known English. Even so, he was highly cultured in a Maori way.

Mohi Turei was ordained deacon in 1864, the year before Hauhau troubles broke out in the Waiapu Valley. After the brutal murder of the Rev. Carl Volkner at Opotiki, the rebels decided to march to the East Cape district to enlist the co-operation of the Ngati-Porou Tribe. There was some reason for this, for the kingite movement had already been established at Wai-o-matatini, a tribal centre. The first step to meet the Hauhau menace was taken by Mohi Turei. Dressed in some military outfit, he hurried to Popoti, where his people, Aowera, had gathered for some subtribal purpose. When Mohi appeared on the scene his peculiar outfit attracted notice, and he was asked why he wore such strange paraphernalia. He told the warlike Aowera that the murderous Hauhaus had entered the Ngati-Porou territory, and they must be resisted at all costs and driven back. The Aowera at once prepared to meet the intruder. Although ill-armed, the Aowera engaged the Hauhaus at Mangaone in the Tikitiki Valley, and suffered at the hands of the rebels, leaving behind them, amongst others, two of their chiefs—Henare Nihoniho, father of the well-known Ngati-Porou chief, Tuta Nihoniho, and also Mokoare.

Encouraged by their initial success, the rebels occupied Pukemaire, the flat hill above Tikitiki. Mokena Kohere was obliged to retreat to Hatepe. His relative, Hunia Huaki, was caught by the rebels and was killed after being mutilated. Mokena Kohere, with other loyal chiefs, was penned up in Hatepe for several months. Meanwhile, some of the Ngati-Porou subtribes went over to the rebels. Mokena Kohere, with a small garrison, would have been crushed but for the timely arrival of British troops from Napier. The Hauhaus were finally driven out of the Waiapu Valley, and, at Hungahungatoroa in the Karaka-tuwhero Valley, they were routed, about 500 of the Ngati-Porou surrendering while their instigators to rebellion escaped.

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MOHI TUREI PERSECUTED

The disloyal subtribes of the Ngati-Porou were not punished but were freely pardoned by Mokena Kohere. In spite of their good fortune, the Ngaitane subtribe, in 1872, while Mokena Kohere was at Wellington, attending to his Parliamentary duties, burnt down Mohi Turei's house at Te Rapa on Hahau block. Fortunately Mohi and his family suffered no harm.

A Maori committee inquired into the trouble, and found that the incendiaries had no excuse whatever for their malicious deed.

After being molested in Hahau, Mohi Turei shifted his family to the old home at Waikoriri, on Kautaku block, where he put up a comfortable home. After the death of his first wife, Mohi married Kararaina Morimete, who bore him one daughter, Ngarangi (Mrs H. M. Kohere), and four sons, Paraone, Paaka, Teki and Peta. Of the five only one, Teki, survives. For many years Mohi Turei lived happily at Waikoriri until one day, without warning, Wi Tupaea and some women—practically the same people who burnt down his house at Hahau—attacked Mohi Turei. They cut down his fences and generally behaved in a troublesome manner. To their old, fanatic Hauhauism was added religious fervour, for at the time Mormornism had split the Anglican community. The Ngati-Hokopu were ready to fight, but Mohi, true to his profession, intervened by deciding to shift his family to Hatepe, Mokena Kohere's old strong-hold.

A Maori committee under the chairmanship of the Wairoa chief, Raniera Turoa, inquired into the trouble in 1889. Mohi Turei and the Ngati-Hokopu claimed Waikoriri as part of the land of Mataura. The chief Anaru Kohaki, a staunch Mormon, led the opposition. He claimed the land as belonging to Hiihi although he (Kahaki) was not a descendant of Hiihi's. His services were purely gratuitous. He fully admitted Mohi Turei's long occupation of the land, and also that of the forbears of Ngati-Hokopu. He contended, however, that the occupation was without right. The committee accepted Anaru Kahaki's word, so Mohi lost his home. Those who cut down Mohi's fences did not put up a case. Their services were also gratuitous.

In 1913, the Kautuku case came before Judge R. N. Jones and the same thing happened, and Mohi Turei failed to recover his home and cemetery. Last year Parliament was petitioned to have the case re-opened.

A GIFTED MAORI

Mohi Turei was noted for his eloquence. He became a great preacher and often visited other tribes. He was a master of the Maori language, which he used to the best advantage. He was a disciple of the expert Pita Kopiti, of the Tapere-nui-a-Whatonga school. He composed hakas, of which one or two have become classics.

During the fifteen years he was confined to his bed he contributed largely to the Maori journal, Te Pipiwharauroa. His masterpiece is undoubtedly his article on the great Ngati-Porou chief, Tuwhakairiora. He wrote also an excellent account of the Tokaakuku campaign in the Bay of Plenty. I have never forgotten his recital of the tau manu. He led a party, carrying a number of calabashes, full of preserved pigeons while he recited the tau manu. I have never heard the like of it since.

Mohi Turei was also a carver. He helped to carve the two whares, Hinewaiapu and Tuwhakairiora.

Mohi Turei had five children by his second wife, Kararaina, of whom only Teki, a dairy farmer at Cape Runaway, survives. Ngarangi died some years ago. For many years, before her marriage to Lieut. Henare Kohere, she was a schoolteacher. Paaka died recently. He worked most of his life in the Maori Land Court. Paraone, a clergyman, died not long after his ordination. Peta, who took part in the First World War, died some years ago. Ngarangi had three children. Huinga (Mrs George Nepia) followed in her mother's footsteps by becoming a teacher. Her husband looks after her dairy farm at Rangituka. Rina (Mrs Hawea Swan) lives in Gisborne. Hiki, who won his commission in the last war, is a carpenter at Gisborne. Mrs Swan has a large family. Mrs J. Parata, Te Kaha, Bay of Plenty, is a dental nurse, and her brother, Henare, is a teacher at Tokomaru Bay.

It is reckoned Mohi Turei died at the age of 81. He was buried in the Okaroro cemetery, Hahau. His daughter, Waioka, at her last wish, was buried at the tribal cemetery, Taumata Pakihore, on the Kautuku block in 1930, despite the fact that her father failed to recover the cemetery. She wished to be buried alongside her forbears.