The Man

Wi Pere
Born in Turanga-nui-a-Kiwa ("The place where 'Kiwa' the Captain of the Takitimu canoe stood.') now called Gisborne on March 7th, 1837. Wiremu (Wi) Pere was one of Poverty Bay's illustrious sons.

Wi Pere himself, became an outstanding figure amongst the Poverty Bay and East Cape Maoris. He gained a wide knowledge of Maori traditions and customs, and proved an able spokesman in proceedings before the Native Land Court, was an outstanding orator in the use of the Maori language within the House of Representatives.

Wi Pere served for some years in both branches of the Legislature, fighting for the rights of his Maori people, particulary in Land legislation.
Even in boyhood, he was noted for his shrewdness. As a youth Wi Pere was selected by the elders as a young man of special intelligence and was carefully taught and trained in Maori history and genealogy, which information was handed down through the generations by word of mouth.

Wi Pere described the influence of his mother as follows: "My mother was a woman of great mana over the whole of the district; her name was Riria Mauaranui, a chieftainess of great influence of Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki and Rongowhakaata tribe.

Upon his election to Parliament in 1884 as the representative for the Eastern Maori district, he attracted considerable attention.

Both in 1887 and in 1890 Wi Pere was again defeated by James Carroll at the Polls. However, in 1895 Carroll stood down in order to contest the Waipu (A European Seat) and Wi Pere regained his former place in the House of Representatives, which he retained until 1905, when he was displaced by Apirana Ngata.

In 1907 Wi Pere was invited to sit on the Legislative Council until he lost it in 1912, on a technicality beyond his control.
Te Ihi,
Te Mana,
Te Wehi,
O Turanga-nui-a-Kiwa 

The Hon.Wi Pere (1837-1915) (Eastern Maori)
M.H.R. 1664-1687  1894-1905
M.L.C. 1907-1912
• Rangatira
• Soldier
• Politician
• Land Court Conductor
• Legislator and Historian
Tribal Kinship
Rongowhakaata-Te Aitanga a Mahaki
Sub-tribe — Whanau-a-Kai
Tukai = Kawewai
Kapiere = Parakau
Riria = Halbert
WI Pere 

Wi Pere lived during the 'transition period of the Maori'. He was an eye witness to the most turbulent incidents of Maori-Pakeha relationships. He had witnessed some of the worst land legislation affecting the Maoris which included the land wars, the confiscation of Maori land by successive Governments, the rise of Maori Nationalism, Te Kooti conflicts, the 1867 Maori Representation Act, also the breakdown of traditional Maori insitutions and customs by the Pakeha in their efforts to assimilate the Maori into the wider context of British type Society.

On the death of Wi Pere, December 9th, 1915, Judge Jones of the Gisborne Native Land Court, made reference as follows; "A great Chief and one whose name was a household word among the Maoris. No one loved the Maori people more than he did.

The local newspaper highlighted Wi's death with such headings as "Champion of the Maori Race", "A Link with the Past"., "The Last of the Great Chiefs". Apirana Ngata stated: "Wi Pere was one of the great chiefs of the East-Coast. No man ever did more for his people".

The Native people and Government of New Zealand, as a final tribute to Wi Pere erected a fine monument along Reads Quay in Gisborne in 1919.

  • 1837. Wiremu Pere is born.
  • 1884. Wi Pere is elected to parliament as the representative for the Eastern Maori district.
  • 1887. James Carroll defeats Wi Pere at the polls.
  • 1890. Carroll again defeats Wi Pere at the polls.
  • 1895. Carroll stands down and Wi Pere regains his seat in the House of Representatives.
  • 1899. Wi Pere establishes the Wi Pere Trust.
  • 1905. Apirana Ngata defeats Wi Pere at the polls.
  • 1907. Wi Pere is invited to sit on the legislative council.
  • 1912. Wi Pere is forced off the legislative council on a technicality.
  • 1915. Wi Pere dies.
  • 1919. The Wi Pere monument is erected on Reads Quay.
  • 1999. The Wi Pere Trust celebrates 100 years.