Ngāti Kahungunu tipuna speaks through digital archives

By Talisa Kupenga

The descendant of a Ngāti Kahungunu chief is gaining historical insight to his ancestor's vision for Napier's future thanks to the online Niupepa Māori Project. Six generations later researcher Matt Mullany has discovered information about Tareha Te Moananui, his role in the Battle of Ōmarunui and its part in Napier's history.

This Ngāti Kahungunu man has gained insight into his ancestors' decisions surrounding the battle with the Hauhau at Ōmarunui 150 years ago.

Researcher Matthew Mullany said, “I found a newspaper piece written by Tareha that talked about the Hauhau coming to Napier.”

Mullany says Tareha and some other coastal chiefs were taking steps alongside the government to counter Pai Mārire travelling from Te Haroto.

“He led the Māori native contingent at the Battle of Ōmarunui. He wanted peace for the region.”

The Niupepa Māori Project has been running online for nearly a year through a partnership between Alexander Turnbull Library and Waikato University.

Māori Curator Paul Diamond said, “In the past, researching these papers was no easy task. You would have to come to the library to do so. Now thanks to the online search option, everyone can see and read the writings, the history and the wishes of the ancestors back then.”

The 150-year commemorations for the Battle of Ōmarunui will be held in October. Mullany says it's an opportunity to respectfully remember ancestors from both parties as a part of New Zealand's history.