Nga Tohu

In 1840 more than 500 chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document. Ngā Tohu, when complete, will contain a biographical sketch of each signatory.


SignatureSheetSigned asProbable nameTribeHapūSigning Occasion
13Sheet 7 — The Herald (Bunbury) SheetKorakoKōrakoNgāi TahuNgāi Tūāhuriri, Ngāti HuirapaOtago Heads 13 June 1840

Kōrako signed the Herald (Bunbury) sheet of the Treaty of Waitangi on 13 June 1840 at Ōtakou, or Otago Heads. He was a rangatira (chief) from the Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ngāti Huirapa hapū (subtribes) of the Ngāi Tahu iwi (tribe). He claimed to remember seeing Captain Cook in the 1770s. His mother was Mohi Tawhiriruru and father was Kohana. [1] He was married to both Wharerauruhe (the daughter of Te Ihupupu and Raumotamota) and Kupukupu. [2] Kōrako put aside Kupukupu after he came under the  influence of the Wesleyan missionary James Watkin. His children were Taiaroa, Mahaka, Te Parure, Kuru, Wikitoria and Riria. [3] Many of his family died in 1841 when a waka was swamped.

In 1817 Kōrako was almost captured and killed by European traders at Whareakeake (Murdering) beach. When the ship Sophia anchored on 24 December, one of the traders, Tucker, was recognised as a trader in dried Māori heads. Te Matahaere killed him and several others with his mere (club). Reinforcements from the ship defeated the Māori on the beach and took prisoners on board the Sophia. Tukarekare then gathered a group to attack the ship. Kōrako jumped overboard to join them, but the raid failed. The rest of the prisoners were killed and the traders destroyed the village at Otago Heads. [4]

Kōrako signed for the sale of the Ōtakou Block in 1844 to the New Zealand Company for £2,400. A tenth of the land was to be held by the company for the future welfare of Ngāi Tahu. [5]

[1] P. D. Garven, The Geneology of the Ngai Tahu, Vol. 3, 1977, p. 48

[2] Ngai Tahu Trust Board Files/Terry Ryan

[3] Claudia Orange, file card headed ‘Kaikoura’ verso n.d. 1986; Shortland Southern Districts Table F; Ngai Tahu Trust Board Files/Terry Ryan

[4] ‘Resorts North of Dunedin’, Lore and history of the South Island Maori, W. A. Taylor, Bascands Ltd, Christchurch, p. 121

[5] ‘Otakou’Lore and history of the South Island Maori, W. A. Taylor, Bascands Ltd, Christchurch, p. 130

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'Kōrako', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 24-Jun-2016

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Irian Scott

Posted: 27 Mar 2016

Unfortunately who ever compiled this research has conflated Korako (alias Korakonui), the son of Te Rakipataua with that of Korako, the son of Moki (Moki-kuao) and father of Matenga Taiaroa.