I have been totally caught up and swept away by researching my son Jed's whakapapa (genealogy) this weekend. I mean, wake up in the middle of the night swept away by it.
You see, a few years ago a very very old marriage certificate emerged, with Te Rangihiwinui TaitokoTe Kepa's name on it. And rangatira in brackets. (Rangatira means hereditary leaders of hapu or iwi. Europeans
translated it as chief). He lived from 1823-1898 in the Wanganui area. This man was an incredible and visionary leader of his people and he also fought on the side of the crown and won the respect of the Europeans. His european name was Major Kemp. His portrait is the first thing I saw when I walked into the Wanganui museum. While there is a bit written about him, I find myself fascinated by the powerful women in his life. His mother, Rere-o-Maki, who was of noble birth from the Horowhenua, was one of five women (out of the hundreds of men) that signed the treaty of Waitangi in 1840. I have often wondered about her. And she is my son's ancestor. Well, apparently, there are a few holes to fill and a few kuia to talk to before I would say for sure.
And, this strong woman up top there? Wikitoria Taitoko Kepa, his only child, and the receivor of his leadership role. It seems they were very close. She was a powerful person politically and socially herself.
I have been poring over countless copies of old newspapers from the early 1900's online mentioning her.
This is Te Rangihiwiniui Te Kepa
And, him in his later years, with all his military decorations.
After all his work to win peace in the area, it seems he died disillusioned with the European settlers government and did much to try and stop the selling of more Maori land. He set up the first ever Maori Land trust.
His last words were, ' Sell no more land, keep the remainder you have as sustenance for the Maori people'.This is a picture of some unknown children at Putiki Pa (where Te Kepa died in 1898) in Whanganui. 1900
Looking back through old family photographs it seems strange that this heritage didn't come out sooner...there's clearly some brown skin and handsome Maori features happening through the years there. Anyway, I have come as far as I can online. Next up: talk to someone at Wanganui Museum and try and locate a kuia descendant of theirs who is willing to talk whakapapa with me. Such a journey.