Rewi Maniapoto Memorial and Reserve

53 Lyon Street And Whitmore Street, Kihikihi

  • Rewi Maniapoto Memorial and Reserve, Kihikihi.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 16/12/2014.
  • Rewi Maniapoto Memorial and Reserve, Kihikihi. Gateway at the corner of Lyon and Whitmore Streets, with memorial behind.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: N Jackson. Date: 23/12/2014.
  • Rewi Maniapoto Memorial and Reserve, Kihikihi. The monument, with Rewi Maniapoto’s grave and tombstone in the foreground. .
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 16/12/2014.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 748 Date Entered 23rd June 2016


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 112 Town of Kihikihi (CT 475112), South Auckland Land District, and the structures known as the Rewi Maniapoto Memorial and Reserve thereon. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Waipa District


Waikato Region

Legal description

Lot 112 Town of Kihikihi (CT 475112), South Auckland Land District

Location description

NZTM Easting: 1805826.2 E

NZTM Northing: 5787268.8 N

Taken on western part of memorial enclosure


The 1894 Rewi Maniapoto Memorial and Reserve is located in the town of Kihikihi within the Waipa district of the Waikato. The place is significant because Rewi Maniapoto is a nationally important figure in nineteenth-century New Zealand history who had an important role in the development of the Kingitanga (Maori King) movement; in the subsequent Waikato War (1863-4); and in creating reconciliation at the end of the conflict. It is of special significance as the burial place of an important rangatira of huge importance to the Ngati Maniapoto and wider Waikato communities; and as the only land returned to Ngati Maniapoto within the area confiscated by the government after the New Zealand Wars.

The reserve once contained the house of rangatira Rewi Manga Maniapoto (?-1894, Ngati Maniapoto); the house and the allotment of land it occupied were given to him by the government in 1881, as a marker of the respect in which he was held as a result of his role as a peacemaker after the Waikato Wars of the 1860s. Thirteen years after the house and land were given, a memorial to Maniapoto was built for him as a personal tribute from Governor George Grey (1812-1898), within metres of the house. It was erected while Maniapoto was still alive, and he watched it being built. He was present for its unveiling on 23 April 1894, and died two months later.

The memorial was built by the Auckland-based monumental masons, Tait Brothers, from marble and southern bluestone. Te Reo text is inscribed on one side and small portraits of Grey and Maniapoto occupy a recess on another side. The whole of the structure is topped with an urn draped in a cloth. After his death, Maniapoto was buried at the eastern foot of the memorial, marked with a small gravestone.

The memorial, tomb and gravestone, surrounded by iron railings, now sit within the Rewi Maniapoto Reserve, which also contains a carved entryway and a public garden. The ownership of the allotment on which the reserve now stands was much disputed for many years. The house was removed in about 1923, after having fallen into disrepair; it likely that buried remains of the house still exist.

A great leader of the Ngati Maniapoto people, and very skilful military strategist, Rewi Maniapoto’s life is strongly associated with the Waipa district, and with events and people of national significance throughout the nineteenth century. The reserve stands on land connected to both Raukawa and Ngati Maniapoto. As a Ngati Maniapoto kainga, Kihikihi was Rewi’s home up until 1864, when the township was burned and looted by British soldiers at the start of the Waikato War. Rewi Maniapoto fought in all of the major battles of the war and was respected for his leadership, most notably in the battle of Orakau. He later took on a more peaceful political role, making friends within the government. He did not return to Kihikihi until 1881, when he moved into the house gifted to him by the government.

The memorial and tomb have been cared for by members of Ngati Maniapoto and others; including for many years by the Rewi Maniapoto Memorial Committee. In 1990, a major renovation project was completed which included the beautification of the grounds, and the addition of a carved entranceway. The reserve now also contains a children’s playground, planters, historical information panels and seating areas, and provides a valuable green space for the town. The Rewi Maniapoto Memorial and Reserve represents a very significant part of Kihikihi’s history and it remains important to the community and local iwi.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Rewi Maniapoto Reserve and Memorial has considerable historical significance in that it represents the life of the important rangatira Rewi Manga Maniapoto, and is therefore linked to some of the most influential characters in New Zealand’s colonial-era history. As well as Governor George Grey, this includes people such as the first two leaders of the Kingitanga movement, Kings Potatau te Wherowhero and Tawhiao; Wiremu Kingi te Rangitake, Gustavus von Tempsky, William Jackson, and James Cowan.

The memorial ties into the history of the New Zealand Wars and their aftermath, and the ways in which Maori and Pakeha viewed themselves and each other in the nineteenth century. It is located relatively close to the battleground of Orakau in which Rewi Maniapoto was a notable participant. While the house and land were a gift from the Government, the memorial itself is unusual in that its construction is solely attributed to Grey and that it was built while Rewi was still alive, after which it was inspected and approved by him. The reserve area is important for its ancestral connections to Ngati Maniapoto and Raukawa, and as the site of Rewi Maniapoto’s house and his tomb.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

The memorial has aesthetic appeal within the wider context of the reserve area, which is also an attractive green space within central Kihikihi. The open surroundings and carved gateway give the memorial added presence and gravitas, and it is particularly visually appealing for visitors driving into Kihikihi from the south along State Highway 3. The pedestal topped with an urn is a common monumental motif in cemeteries, but in this case the memorial’s isolation helps it to stand out in its own right and act as a landmark.

Cultural Significance or Value

The reserve and memorial is not only representative of the relationship between Rewi Maniapoto and the colonial governor Sir George Grey, but also of early bicultural relationships on a wider scale, such as the association with early missionaries to the area. This link is reinforced by the proximity of the nearby Presbyterian Church, built close to the site of Hui Te Rangiora, and the Anglican Church. That the memorial was a personal tribute from Grey also adds to its significance, and that Rewi Maniapoto requested to be buried there. Ngati Maniapoto continue to use the memorial as a meeting point, and it serves as an important symbol of the history of Kihikihi.

Social Significance or Value

Rewi Maniapoto’s former house and his memorial have served as meeting places throughout their history. At his house, Maniapoto met and entertained guests such Tawhiao, Grey, Mair, and Sheehan. The house and memorial are strongly associated with his tangi, and they have been looked after in various ways by iwi and members of the community throughout their history. The large conservation project in 1990 and the further work undertaken in 2012 are evidence that the memorial is held in high regard by the community, and of its use as a focal point for meetings and commemorations.

Spiritual Significance or Value

As the burial site of Rewi Maniapoto, the memorial and reserve is a sacred place.

Traditional Significance or Value

The place has very strong traditional significance to local iwi as a place that is closely linked with an important ancestor.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

This place reflects important aspects of New Zealand through its representation of the history of the Waikato Wars, and in particular the peace that followed, and the critical role that Rewi Maniapoto had in engineering that peace. The house, now removed, which was once on the site of the reserve, was a place where many peace negotiations took place.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

The Rewi Maniapoto Memorial and Reserve is connected to the important rangatira Rewi Maniapoto, and to some of the most influential other characters in New Zealand’s colonial-era history. Rewi Maniapoto was one of the most important people of nineteenth century New Zealand, and shaped the history of the country for many decades, particularly through his role in the Waikato Wars, and in helping to bring them to an end. It was built while he was still alive, after which it was inspected and approved by him. Governor George Grey, who oversaw the invasion of the Waikato in the 1860s, paid for the construction of the memorial, and organised for the government to donate the house. Many others of importance, including King Tawhaio, visited the house and monument before and after Maniapoto’s death.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history

The site is likely to contain substantial subsurface material, particularly related to Rewi Maniapoto’s house, that has potential to provide knowledge through archaeological enquiry.

(d) The importance of the place to tangata whenua

The place has special value to tangata whenua for containing the remains of an important ancestor, Rewi Maniapoto, who held a leadership role during the fight to retain traditional lands after invasion by colonial government forces; and who was also heavily involved in post-war negotiations. The place additionally includes the site of Rewi Maniapoto’s house, where many post-war discussions occurred. The place also has special importance to tangata whenua as the only land that was returned to Ngati Maniapoto within the area confiscated by the government after the Waikato War. The memorial and reserve are cared for by a committee made up of Ngati Maniapoto people.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

The place is of great importance to the Ngati Maniapoto people in the surrounding areas, and the reserve and memorial are considered an important part of Kihikihi, and the local council regard them as an important part of the town’s heritage precinct. It is well cared for, and in 2012 the reserve was renovated, in recognition of the part it would pay in the upcoming Orakau celebrations in 2014.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

The site has prominence on a corner section on the State Highway 3 as it runs through Kihikihi, and has the potential to educate many people about the significance of Rewi Maniapoto and the New Zealand Wars to New Zealand history, and the history of relations between Maori and Pakeha in nineteenth-century New Zealand. It is often visited by school groups who are touring New Zealand Wars sites in the Waikato.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

The site is a high profile one in the centre of Kihikihi, and is a place which is a symbol of the peace between Maori and Pakeha at the end of the New Zealand Wars, as was intended by both Rewi Maniapoto and Governor Grey. As the burial place of a significant ancestor, the reserve continues to be used for significant events, particularly by Ngati Maniapoto. The place retains special symbolic value to tangata whenua as the only land returned to Ngati Maniapoto within the area confiscated by the government after the New Zealand Wars.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

The place forms part of a complex of sites in Kihikihi - including the site of the whare runanga, Hui Te Rangiora - which are connected to the New Zealand Wars and the impact that the latter had on the development of the settlement. It sits across the road from the historic Star Tavern; the town also contains archaeological sites such as the stockade. Through their close links with Rewi Maniapoto, the memorial and reserve are also connected with the Orakau battle site, which lies four kilometres from Kihikihi.

Summary of Significance or Values

The Rewi Manaiapoto Memorial and Reserve is assessed as a Category 1 historic place due to its special importance to tangata whenua, in particular for containing the remains of an important ancestor, Rewi Maniapoto, who held a leadership role during the fight to retain traditional lands after invasion by colonial government forces; and who was also heavily involved in post-war negotiations. The place also has special symbolic importance to tangata whenua as the only land returned to Ngati Maniapoto within the area confiscated by the government after the Waikato War. The memorial itself is significant as a marker of the great respect in which Rewi Maniapoto was held by Pakeha after the war, in particular by the former Colonial Governor, Sir George Grey. The place additionally includes the site of Rewi Maniapoto’s house, where many post-war discussions occurred, including those involving Rewi Maniapoto and King Tawhiao, Sir George Grey and Native Minister John Sheehan.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Tait Brothers (Monumental Masons)

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The wider Kihikihi district is associated with Raukawa and Ngati Maniapoto. The presence of both of these iwi in the Waipa and Waikato river region dates back to the arrival of the Tainui waka at Kawhia. The important rangatira Rewi Manga Maniapoto (?-1894), a direct descendent of the ancestor Maniapoto, had whakapapa links to Ngati Paretekawa, a hapu of Ngati Maniapoto. Between 1819 and 1820, Ngati Maniapoto and Waikato forces fought and defeated Ngati Toa, who were led by Te Rauparaha, and their Raukawa allies. Raukawa eventually followed Te Rauparaha south. In the mid-1800s, Kihikihi was the home of Ngati Paretekawa and another Ngati Maniapoto hapu, Ngati Ngutu, and was regarded by Rewi Maniapoto as his kainga. By the beginning of the Waikato War in 1863, Kihikihi was a large settlement well known for its beautiful groves of peach trees and fertile soil.

Little is known of Rewi Maniapoto’s early years except that he would have been educated and brought up as a chief, and it is unclear exactly when he was born. His memorial gives his date of birth as 1807 but this would have made him 87 when he died, rather than in his seventies as most contemporary sources describe him. His mother, Te Kore, was killed by Waikato at Paterangi, close to Kihikihi. His father Te Ngohi, also known as Kawhia, would later be a signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. In the 1830s, the first Church Missionary Society missionaries arrived in the Otawhao (Te Awamutu) district and Rewi subsequently received a Wesleyan education at Te Kopua mission station, studying scripture and gaining literacy. He was particularly interested in their lessons on European agricultural techniques – the kainga at Kihikihi contained peach and apple orchards, wheat and maize fields, and water-powered flourmills, creating produce for the European market. The missionary John Morgan (1806/1807?–1865) was another formative influence and after their meeting in 1841 Rewi Maniapoto extended his protection to Morgan for 20 years. Although his name is the Catholic Maori version of Levi, there is no record of Rewi being baptised, and he was described as Anglican when he died in 1894.

In the 1850s, Rewi Maniapoto was involved with the beginnings of the Kingitanga (Maori King) movement, which was founded in in 1858 with the aim of uniting Māori under a single sovereign, and developed into one of New Zealand’s most enduring political movements. Waikato is the seat of the Kingitanga. In 1858, Rewi Maniapoto raised the flag of the first Maori King, Potatau Te Wherowhero (?–1860), at Ngaruawahia. Two years later, Rewi Maniapoto and other leaders such as Te Winitana Tupotahi and Raureti Paiaka constructed a whare runanga (meeting house) called Hui Te Rangiora at Kihikihi, which housed a runanga or council created under Kingitanga auspices.

With Rewi Maniapoto as tumuaki (head of the Council), the runanga made laws for the local area and also formulated strategies for protecting Maori land. The latter included discussing a course of action after the Government attacked Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitake (circa 1795-1882) at Waitara, Taranaki. Rewi secured the approval of the ailing Te Wherowhero to assist Kingi in his resistance to land sales in Taranaki, and he and his Ngati Maniapoto forces arrived in time to ensure the defeat of Crown troops at Puke-Ta-Kauere, on 27 June 1860. Te Wherowhero’s death two days earlier meant that his son Matutaera, later known as Kingi Tawhiao (?-1894), took on the mantle of Kingship.

In the early 1860s, Governor George Grey (1812–1898) authorised the construction of several roads leading directly into the Waikato, and also planned Pokeno township and established a police station at Te Kohekohe. In response to these and other aggressive actions against the King’s authority, Rewi Maniapoto took the initiative and instigated the expulsion of the government magistrate, John Gorst, from the region. Grey ordered Lieutenant General Duncan Cameron (1808-1888) to begin the invasion of the Waikato. The Waikato campaign was the largest of the New Zealand Wars and involved the deployment of some 12,000 Crown troops against 5,000 Maori combatants. During the course of the war, Rewi Maniapoto participated in many battles and was renowned for his leadership and great skills in military strategy.

Maori inhabitants had been withdrawn from Kihikihi by the time that Crown troops arrived there on 23 February 1864. Rewi Maniapoto did not attempt to defend the village as it had no entrenchments or natural defences. The troops burned and looted the village, and destroyed Hui Te Rangiora. Just eight days after occupation, military surveyors started drawing up 400 one-acre lots and Kihikihi soon became the most southerly settlement of the Auckland Province. After the war many of the allotments were given to members of the disbanded Forest Rangers.

Two of the most tragic battles of the New Zealand Wars took place at nearby Rangiaowhia on 20 February 1864, and at Orakau, four kilometres southeast of Kihikihi, between 31 March and 2 April 1864. The siege of Orakau later became mythologised in popular culture, as in the 1925 film Rewi’s Last Stand. Rewi was opposed to building a pa at the site because it was too exposed and had no water source, but he agreed to the wish of the majority. In late March, the 300-strong force, including many women and children, was surrounded and besieged before being able to complete its fortifications. By 2 April, the defenders were facing 1,400 troops, had run out of food and water, and were nearly out of ammunition. Major Gilbert Mair (1843-1923), on behalf of General Cameron, offered the defenders the chance to surrender. The famous reply of ‘Ka whawhai tonu matou, Ake! Ake! Ake!’ (We will fight on for ever and ever!) has often been attributed to Rewi Maniapoto although the truth of what was spoken, and by whom, is debated. Around mid-afternoon that same day the men, women and children broke through enemy lines and headed for the Puniu River, pursued by von Tempsky’s and William Jackson’s Forest Rangers. Under Rewi Maniapoto’s expert military command the incomplete pa had resisted five attacks, but just over half of the defenders were killed, most of them during their retreat. The battle of Orakau proved to be the last major engagement of the Waikato War.

In the following years Rewi Maniapoto transitioned from military leader to political negotiator, carefully wielding his influence with both Maori and Pakeha to affect change. On 29 June 1878, Rewi met with Grey at Waitara. A ‘negotiated peace settlement was concluded…whereby Rewi accepted the new order of things’. Rewi Maniapoto was aware that he had placed himself in a delicate position between King Tawhiao and the Government, and stated that he wished ‘to have things so arranged that both races can go together without one crushing the other.’ But his plan to create a self-governing Maori district, broadly identical with the limits of the King Country, where these lands and a proposed main trunk railway through the territory would be used to advantage Ngati Maniapoto and Waikato was rejected by both of these iwi, possibly because it was perceived as accepting, and even encouraging, European intrusion.

In 1879, the government gifted Rewi Maniapoto an acre of land close to the site of the destroyed Hui Te Rangiora in Kihikihi, and promised him a house and pension. The house was intended as a place in which the new peace could be cemented. The Waikato Times reported that ‘the allotment occupies one of the finest sites in the township, and, it being a corner one, is very valuable’. The house was constructed by J.H. Mandeno and the government covered the building cost of £677. It was just over 17 metres long and nearly 13 metres wide, and inside was a drawing room, dining room, kitchen, laundry, and eight bedrooms. The materials used were kauri and rimu for the frame, kahikatea for the external cladding, kauri shingles for the main roof and corrugated iron for the curved roof of the verandah. The foundation stone was laid by Maniapoto’s daughter Nia Te Kore. The house was handed over to Rewi Maniapoto in early February 1881, in a ceremony attended by his former adversary William Jackson, amongst others. A number of conversations were held between Rewi Maniapoto and the government about the promised Crown Grant, which was to allocate the land to him, and then pass the land to his daughter, at that time around eight years old, on his death, and which was to also have three chiefs as trustees for the land if she died without issue.

Like the earlier whare runanga, the new house was named Hui Te Rangiora and was similarly an important place of gathering and discussion. In subsequent years, it was the site of many notable meetings between Rewi and people such as Grey, Tawhiao, Native Minister John Sheehan (1844-1885), and Mair. Historian James Cowan (1870-1943), who knew the house well from childhood, later recorded ‘seeing King Tawhiao, with six hundred armed Kingites, march in from the Maori country and take up his quarters in the house.’ This was shortly after Tawhiao’s formal surrender to the Government in 1881. Rewi Maniapoto lived at the house for a time with his wife Te Rohu and their daughter, although he preferred to live in a house on the other side of the Puniu River. He also later set up a general store on a corner of the site with a business partner, which for a time became a successful business. Maniapoto’s only daughter, Nia Te Kore, died in 1890 before her father while still a young woman, although his wife also had a son from a previous marriage.

In 1891, by now very frail, Maniapoto attempted to have the Crown Grant altered, as his daughter had died before him. He said at the time that he was concerned that the ownership of the land would cause problems amongst his people after his death. At first he asked that the grant be cancelled, and the land returned to the government, and then that the grant could be altered so that could go to his wife, and then to her son. No resolution to his requests were forthcoming before his death.

By late February 1894, Maniapoto was very ill and staying at his home on the Puniu River. He sent a letter to George Grey and expressed his desire that they should be buried in the same grave. Grey travelled to see him, and around this time made plans for a memorial to be erected in Maniapoto’s name. The public was invited to contribute to the cost of the memorial, although the expense was mainly borne by Grey. Soon after Grey’s visit, Premier Richard Seddon also visited the ailing chief.

In early April, the Auckland Star reported that ‘a handsome monument is now being made for Rewi to the order of Sir George Grey, at the works of Mr Tait, monumental mason, Rutland street’. It also recorded that while Grey had paid for the monument, the government had paid for the costs of the Te Reo translation of the inscription. The monument was brought as far as Te Awamutu by train. Rewi Maniapoto returned to the house in Kihikihi especially for the erection of the memorial, and he was able to inspect it before its installation a few metres away from his house. The memorial was unveiled on 23 April 1894 by Seymour George on behalf of George Grey, who had by now left for England. It was ‘a gala day’ in Kihikihi and ‘the town was literally filled with visitors – nearly 1000 people of whom 200 were Europeans.’ Rewi watched the proceedings from his verandah.

On 21 June 1894, Rewi Maniapoto died at his house in Kihikihi. The tangi lasted over a week and drew a very large crowd of mourners, including King Tawhiao who arrived with 200 Waikato, and 12 wagons of food for the feast to follow the tangi. The body was placed under an awning next to the memorial, but for some time there was a dispute between iwi over where the body should be buried. This was resolved when all parties agreed to bury the body at the foot of the memorial, as Rewi had wished. Special dispensation to bury the body on private land was granted by Premier Richard Seddon. The local Anglican minister was absent at the time, so the Maori Wesleyan Minister Reverend Hauraki Paul conducted the service to lay the coffin to rest in both Te Reo and English, at nightfall on 4 July. The coffin was then buried on the southeast side of the memorial at a depth of eight feet: ‘it seemed to most Europeans present a peculiarly strange proceeding, for everything belonging to the deceased in the shape of clothing, mats, rugs, shawls, carpets, rolls of linoleum, even to his hat and umbrella were all thrown into the grave, some pitched under the coffin and some over it’.

The tenor of the newspaper reports of his death reflect the changing sentiments of the time – by the time of his death in 1894 journalists were able to reflect that his actions in the war and afterwards had made him ‘a true patriot, and a chief of whom the Maori race has reason to be proud … Brave, eloquent, unselfish, magnanimous, honest and truthful, he was a foe to fear, a friend to cherish. May he rest peacefully beneath the soil he loved so well’.

After Rewi Maniapoto’s death, a number of petitions from Ngati Maniapoto people to the government strongly disputed the idea that the land would pass to his widow and thence to her son, particularly as now he was buried on the site – they pointed out that his widow’s son (Ngamotu) was not of Ngati Maniapoto descent, and that they could not find it acceptable for someone other than Ngati Maniapoto to care for the land on which their kaumatua was buried. After Rewi Maniapoto’s death, Te Rohu continued to live in the house, but also in the other property on the Puniu River. From around 1897, concern was mounting in Kihikihi about the behaviour of people who used the house while visiting the town. The Town Board reported there was a great deal of drunkenness there, and the house was falling down.

In 1901, the government ‘repossessed’ the land, and Te Rohu was provided with a small pension to move out of the house. For a number of years the house was leased by the chief Te Heuheu Tukino (chief of Tuwharetoa) to allow him to stay there while visiting the area, and he paid for repairs to the building and ensured the grave and monument were cared for. After Te Heuheu’s occupation ended, the police again became concerned about those using the house. A photograph taken in around 1910 shows the memorial inside an iron railing fence, with two carved figures in front of the memorial. It is unclear when these were added. One was of Ahumai - sister of the Raukawa leader, Hitiri Te Paerata - who is credited with saying during the battle of Orakau in 1864, ‘Ki te mate nga tane, me mate ano nga wāhine me nga tamariki’ – ‘If the men die, the women and children must die also.’ The other is labeled Tamatea.

The legal status of the property remained unclear. In 1911, legislation was passed to cancel the original Crown Grant for the land and vest it in the Maniapoto-Tuwharetoa Maori Land Board ‘for such purposes as the Governor may from time to time decide, the interest of the Ngati Maniapoto Tribe and the Native Race generally being paramount’.

Ngati Maniapoto continued to be concerned about the ownership of the land and house, regularly petitioning the government to vest the land in the hands of those more closely related to Rewi Maniapoto, and wanting the house to be returned to its former state so that it could continue to be a meeting house. At times, the iwi stated that Rewi Manaiapoto’s remains may have to be removed if this didn’t occur. In 1919, the Rewi Maniapoto Memorial Committee was established under the authority of the Waikato Maniapoto Land Board ‘for the purposes of managing and effecting improvements to the House, stone fences and the land.’ The following year James Cowan wrote to the Department of Internal Affairs about the state of the house. He said that while the tomb was being looked after by relatives, the house itself was ‘very neglected’, and noted the continued concern of Ngati Maniapoto about the ownership of the land. Despite interventions from Judge MacCormick of the Native Land Court, nothing was done to improve the condition of the house and in 1923, the house was taken down, and the timber reused elsewhere in Kihikihi: ‘by the removal of the house another link with the past is broken.’

The Maori Purposes Act 1931 vested Lot 112 in a Rewi Maniapoto Memorial Committee, whose purpose was to protect and maintain the memorial, and other purposes to the benefit of Ngati Maniapoto. The members of the committee were to be all Ngati Maniapoto, and appointed by the Maori Land Court. In the years that followed, some queried the inaction of the committee in looking after the memorial, and in 1936, the iron fence around the memorial was taken down and replaced with a ponga fence, disturbing the area around the grave and causing further upset; this was quickly replaced again with an iron fence. In the 1940s and 1950s, Rehe Te Amohanga and others attempted to care for the site. In 1964, a wall was constructed around the memorial. At various times the local town council advocated that something be done with the reserve, being an acre in size on the main street in the town, and in 1968 was still an open paddock. It was suggested that it be made into a ‘Memorial Park’, but at the same time the memorial committee asked the Maori Land Court for permission to lease some of the site for shops. Others in Ngati Maniapoto, supported by Heritage New Zealand (then known as the New Zealand Historic Places Trust), opposed the suggestion, and the application was declined by the Court.

In January 1990, the Maori Land Court issued an order declaring the status of the land to be Maori freehold land. In 1990, a large-scale renovation of the area was organised as a community project. This involved the installation of benches, planter boxes and carvings. In 1991, an impressive carved gateway was erected. Further work was completed in 2012 in preparation for the 150-year anniversary of the battle of Orakau in 2014. The reserve is currently (2016) maintained by the Waipa District Council, in conjunction with the memorial committee.

Holding especial importance as the only land returned to Ngati Maniapoto within the area confiscated by the government after the Waikato War, the place continues to be a focal point for important events and celebrations within the community, particularly for tangata whenua.

Physical Description

Current Description

The Rewi Maniapoto Memorial and Reserve is located in the southwest of Kihikihi on the corner of Lyon Street (State Highway 3) and Whitmore Street; the memorial gates face out diagonally towards the corner of Lyon and Whitmore Streets. The memorial can be considered part of a wider heritage landscape in Kihikihi that includes a number of significant nearby buildings and areas which are its contemporaries, such as the Star Tavern (c.1883), Major Jackson’s house and Christ Church (1881).

The total area of Lot 112, also known as the Rewi Maniapoto Reserve, is 4755 square metres and the memorial occupies part of the southwest corner. The site is relatively level and is a grassed civic park containing benches on either side of the memorial, planter boxes and a variety of trees, and a children’s playground.

The memorial and gravesite lie within an iron railing. The base of the memorial is made of southern bluestone, and on top of this sits a marble column topped with an urn. The shaft of the column facing west towards Lyon Street contains an inscription in Te Reo Maori, and the square block below this has the date ‘Apereira 1, 1894’ inscribed on it. At the time of its unveiling there was no English translation, but one has since been added in the form of a wooden plaque attached to the front fencing.

The Te Reo inscription on the monument reads:

He Whakamaharatanga ki a Rewi Maniapoto. Ko te Rangitira Kaumatua Whakamutunga Tenei O Ngatimaniapoto, O Ngatiraukawa [O?] Waikato me te motu katoa, ko Rewi Maniapoto. I enei wa he kai-pururu ia no te pai i waenganui os te Paekha raua ko nga iwi Maori, a me te mau ano o tana pupuru i te hiiri o te Tiriti o Waitangi a tae mai ana ki tenei ra e ora tonu nei ia. Rewi Maniapoto Aperira 1, 1894.

A translation reads:

In memory of Rewi Maniapoto, the last great chief of the Ngatimaniapoto, of Ngatiraukawa, Waikato, in these parts an upholder of good between the European and Maori nations, and a constant supporter of the Treaty of Waitangi. Rewi Maniapoto is still living, 1st April, 1894; born in 1807.

On the eastern side of the monument are two recesses containing portraits of Maniapoto and Grey. A newspaper report written about the monument just before it was moved from Auckland said that the portraits were still to be added. It is not clear when this was done. The portrait of Maniapoto used is a copy of the well-known Gottfried Lindauer painting made in 1882 and held by the Auckland Museum since 1915. The photograph of Grey is of him as an older man, and appears to be one taken by John Russell & Sons, Baker Street, London. These portraits were replaced with exact copies in 1990. A small inscription ‘Tait Bros. Auckland’ on the plinth of the marble column, records the makers of the memorial.

At the base of the monument, on the side facing away from the State Highway is Maniapoto’s tomb, which is topped in concrete and marked with a small white marble headstone which reads ‘Rewi Maniapoto Born in the year 1807, died June 21st 1894’.

A wooden plaque (date unknown) placed at the base of the monument on its opposite - or west - side reads:

It was recorded Governor Grey’s proposal to warrior chief Rewi Maniapoto that he live at Kihikihi as a gesture of Maori and Pakeha unity. Sir George Grey said to him at Waitara on June 28 1878, Rewi let us plant our tree here at Kihikihi on a place in the midst of our children and when this tree bears fruit, our children, both Maori and Pakeha, can help themselves. This monument was erected to the memory of Rewi Maniapoto 1807, 21st June 1894. The last remaining elder chief of the Ngati Maniapoto of Ngati Raukawa and a great leader of the Maori people. During his lifetime he was a custodian of harmony between European and Maori and held steadfast to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Also within the iron railing are five carved figures. These include Te Huia Raureti (NE corner of grave enclosure); Pou Patate (SE corner); Ahumai (SW corner); and Tupotahi (NW corner). The fifth carving symbolises ‘Te Whenuanui – Tuhoe’, erected between Te Huia Raureti and Pou Patate (centre of E side). Each of those represented formed an important contributor to the Maori effort at the battle of Orakau. The carvings were undertaken by several individuals and restored in 2012-14.

The carved wooden gateway at the entrance to the reserve, facing the corner of Lyon and Whitmore Streets, was added in 1991. It is topped with a tekoteko, and has carved and painted maihi (barge boards). The amo (vertical support boards) contain two carved figures holding taiaha. It also contains the words ‘Rewi Maniapoto Reserve’. One of the trees (to the north east of the grave) was planted in 1990 by the Maori Queen, Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu (1931-2006). A plaque on one of the nearby planters marks the renovations to the memorial and reserve in the same year.

Underneath one of the trees in the reserve is a plaque on a stone inscribed ‘In Memory of Cecil and Jack Emmett Lost Mt. Erebus 1979 Presented by Kihikihi W.D.F.F. The memorial is dedicated to Cecil (Cecillia) and Jack (John) Emmett who were killed in the Erebus disaster on 28 November 1979. It was presented by the Women's Division of Federated Farmers. The couple had farmed at Orakau.

In anticipation of the 150-year anniversary of the battle of Orakau in 2014, some surrounding planters were cleared and new plantings and seating added to the reserve. The carved figures inside the railings around the gravesite were restored at around this time.

Construction Dates

- 1881
Land granted by Crown Grant to Rewi Maniapoto, and house erected for him by the government.

Original Construction
- 1894
Monument constructed.

- 1894
Rewi Maniapoto buried on site, and tombstone added at base of memorial.

- 1923
Rewi Maniapoto’s house removed.

- 1936
Iron fence around memorial taken down and replaced with ponga fence, concrete around base dug up; later repaired and iron fence replaced.

- 1964
Construction of wall around memorial.

- 1990
Conservation work, carvings replaced and carved figures added to interior of fenced area.

- 1991
Gateway erected.

- 2012
Surrounding planters cleared and new plantings added in anticipation of the 150 year anniversary of the battle of Orakau in 2014. The carved figures inside railing were also removed for restoration, and reinstated in 2014.

Construction Details

Southern bluestone, marble, concrete, timber.

Public NZAA Number


Completion Date

8th June 2016

Report Written By

Elizabeth Cox and Martha van Drunen

Information Sources

Archives New Zealand (Wgtn)

Archives New Zealand (Wellington)

'Meeting Houses and Memorials - Memorials - Rewi Maniapoto Memorial Reserve’, ABJZ 869 W4644/90 34/4/14 [ARCH R22157708], Archives New Zealand, Wellington.

Archives New Zealand (Wgtn)

Archives New Zealand (Wellington)

‘Order - House of Representatives - That Petitions No. 314/29 of Te Whakataute Raureti and others regarding Lot 112, Town of Kihikihi (Rewi Maniapoto Reserve) be referred to the government for favourable consideration’, ACIH 16036 MAW2490/55 34/4/14 [ARCH R18798136], Archives New Zealand, Wellington.

Archives New Zealand (Wgtn)

Archives New Zealand (Wellington)

‘Historic & Scenic Reserves - Rewi Maniapoto Memorial at Kihikihi - South Auckland Land District’, AANS 6095 W5491/281 4/290 [ARCH R16129704], Archives New Zealand, Wellington.

Archives New Zealand (Wgtn)

Archives New Zealand (Wellington)

‘War Graves - Kihikihi (Rewi Maniapoto)’, ACGO 8333 IA1/1295 7/4/116 [ARCH R12329025], Archives New Zealand, Wellington.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Henare, Manuka, 'Maniapoto, Rewi Manga', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand (updated 30 Oct 2012)


Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Howe, K. R., 'Morgan, John', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, URL: (updated 30 October 2012).

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Mahuta, R. T., 'Tawhiao, Tukaroto Matutaera Potatau Te Wherowhero', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

URL: (updated 22 Aug 2013).

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Belich, James, 'Cameron, Duncan Alexander', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, URL: (updated 30 Oct 2012).

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Oliver, Steven, 'Te Wherowhero, Potatau', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, URL: (updated 21-Aug-2013).

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Parsonson, Ann, 'Te Rangitake, Wiremu Kingi', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, URL: (updated 21 Jan 2014).

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Sinclair, Keith, 'Grey, George', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, URL: (updated 2 Oct 2013).

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Sorrenson, M. P. K., 'Gorst, John Eldon', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, URL: (updated 1 Oct 2013).

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Waterson, D. B., 'Sheehan, John', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, URL: (updated 12 Feb 2014).

Simmons, 1982

E.R. Simmons, In Cruce Salus: A History of the Diocese of Auckland 1844-1980, Auckland, 1982

Journal of the Polynesian Society

Journal of the Polynesian Society

Cowan, James, ‘The Patu-paiarehe: notes on Maori folk-tales of the fairy people’, Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol.30, no.118, 1921, pp.101-2.Cowan, James, ‘Famous New Zealanders: No. 5: Rewi Maniapoto: The Story of Orakau’, The New Zealand Railways Magazine, vol .8, no.4, 1933, pp.25-9.

Best, n.d.

Best, Elsdon, ‘Last Days of Rewi Manga Maniapoto’, MS Papers 7888-083, 1917-80, Alexander Turnbull Library.

Anon, 1945

Anon, Presbyterian Church, Kihikihi: Diamond Jubilee, 1885-1945: Souvenir, Kihikihi, 1945.

Belgrave et al, 2011

Belgrave, Michael, et al, ‘Te Rohe Potae Environmental and Wahi Tapu Report’, Report for the Waitangi Tribunal’s Te Rohe Potae District Inquiry, Wai 898 #A76, 2011.

Cowan, 1935

Cowan, James, Hero Stories of New Zealand, Wellington, 1935.

Cowan, 1983

Cowan, James, The New Zealand Wars and the Pioneering Period, vol.1: 1845-64, Wellington, 1983, pp.365-406.

Druskovich, 2007

Druskovich, Brent, ‘Archaeological Monitoring Results from the Kihikihi Wastewater Project: Kihikihiki Township’, Sep 2007.

McDonald, 1977

McDonald, Brian Morehu, ‘Rewi Manga Maniapoto: A study in the changing strategies of nineteenth century Maori political leadership’, MA research essay, University of Auckland, 1977.

Ritchie, 2007

Ritchie, Neville, The Waikato War of 1863-64: A guide to the main events and sites, [Te Awamutu], 2007.

Waitangi Tribunal, 2012

Tauariki, Miria, Te Ingo Ngaia, Tom Roa, Rovina Maniapoto-Anderson, Anthony Barrett, Tutahanga Douglas, Robert HJoseph, Paul Meredith and HeniMatua Wessels, ‘Ngati Maniapoto Mana Motuhake: Report for Ngati Maniapoto Claimants and the Waitangi Tribunal’, Wai 898 #A110, 2012.

Waipa District Council, 2013

Waipa District Council, Rata-tu Management Plan (Kihikihi Heritage Precinct), 2013.

Other Information

A fully referenced New Zealand Heritage List report is available on request from the Lower Northern Area Office of Heritage New Zealand.

This place has been identified in other heritage listings. The reference is: Waipa District Plan, Operative 30 November 2004. Ref #62 in Appendix 10: Buildings, Civic Structures and Items of Cultural Heritage Value. It is also included in the Proposed Waipa District Plan Appeals Version 14 July 2014. Ref #62 in Appendix N1, as Category B+.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.