Today in History 25 June 1860, Death of the first Maori King

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Death of the First Maori King
Death of the First Maori King
Death of the First Maori King

The Maori King movement came into existence in the late 1850s as an attempt to unite the tribes, prevent land sales and make laws for Maori. Potatau Te Wherowhero of Waikato was one of a number of chiefs who possessed the mana necessary for this role. He was appointed as the first M?ori King in 1858, but died two years later.

Te Wherowheros early adult life was dominated by war. His Waikato tribe drove Te Rauparahas Ngati Toa from its Kawhia homeland and in turn had to defend its own land against Northlands Ng?puhi. Waikato also made repeated attacks on the Taranaki tribes. Te Wherowhero refused to sign the Treaty of Waitangi but did deal with the colonial government. He sold land to the Crown and, in 1849, signed an agreement to provide military protection for Auckland. He advised Governors George Grey and Thomas Gore Browne, but protested strongly against a British Colonial Office plan to put all uncultivated land into Crown ownership.

Te Wherowhero did not see his appointment as King as a direct challenge to the authority of Queen Victoria. But it was seen that way both by the colonial authorities and by some of his supporters. He died after only two years as King and was succeeded by his son, Tawhiao.

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