The Book

The book on our tipuna, Wiremu Pere was launched at Rongopai Marae on Friday 19 November, 2010.
WIREMU PERE lived from 1837 to 1915, through some of the most turbulent chapters in New Zealand history. As a chief of the East Coast iwi Rongowhakaata and Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Wi Pere stood resolute against the tidal wave of change that threatened the Maori way of life. He resented the march of colonialism, and entered Parliament in 1884 seeking to protect his Eastern Maori constituents against Pakeha encroachments, land seizures and dishonouring of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

At the same time, Wi Pere was proactive in seizing on the potential business opportunities afforded through the coming of Pakeha settlers. This position could not but leave him compromised. In his life he was loved and hated by both Maori and Pakeha, regarded as a hero or a villain depending on whether or not one benefited from his work. His historical legacy has been ambivalent, and many of the details of his personal circumstances have been unclear. 

This book sets out to clarify Wi Pere’s life and contribution to the Maori people. Not a simple, linear biography, it approaches Wi the man and leader from a number of angles and in various contexts. Part 1 considers Wi’s eventful life and those who had an influence on him, while describing the environment that faced Maori in his lifetime. Part 2 lays out his whakapapa, which can be traced back to ancient rangatira lines in the migration of the Horouta and Takitimu canoes from Hawaiki. Part 3 is an appendix covering The Wi Pere Trust, one of Wi’s legacies that prospers and grows today.

Compiled over many years by a dedicated group of his descendants, Wiremu Pere: The Life and Times of a Maori Leader, 183 –1915 is a fascinating study of this colourful rangatira. It will appeal particularly to students of Maori and political history, the people of the East Coast, and those who seek to understand the conflicting forces that shaped New Zealand’s post-colonial identity. 

The book is published by Libro International, ISBM number 978-1-877514-09-8.

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Maori Business Unit, P O Box 169, Gisborne. Ph: 06 869 1400. 
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