Te Kirihaehae Te Puea Herangi (1883–1952, Waikato) wears her Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) badge, New Zealand 1938, Photographer unknown, courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand (PAColl-5584-58)
Te Kirihaehae Te Puea Herangi (1883–1952, Waikato) was a leading figure in the Kingitanga (Maori King movement) in Aotearoa New Zealand. This movement was established by a group of tribes in the 1850s.
As the granddaughter of the second Maori King, Tawhiao Te Wherowhero, Te Puea was raised to lead her people, the Tainui iwi (tribe) of the Waikato. She led Tainui's opposition to conscription in World War I and gave refuge to men who refused to fight. After the 1918 influenza epidemic, she took around 100 orphans into her care.
Turangawaewae Marae (communal meeting place)
In the 1920s, Te Puea led the formation of a community at Turangawaewae, Ngaruawahia, and the building of its wharenui (meeting house), Mahinarangi – a mammoth task. She had tremendous organisational skills, mana (prestige), will, and warmth, and she inspired great loyalty in others.
In the 1930s, Te Puea's priority turned to building an economic base for her people. She took on and supervised the land development schemes of Member of Parliament Sir Apirana Ngata, her close ally.
Te Puea's contributions attracted increasing official recognition, and she was honoured with a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) award in 1937.
Read biography of Te Kirihaehae Te Puea Herangi