Topic: Īhāia Street (TDN 08/06/2019)

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Īhāia Street 

Īhāia Street, near Clifton Park in Waitara, was named after a high ranking chief of the Otarāua hapū of Te Ātiawa. Īhāia Te Kirikumara was born in Taranaki and during his youth took part in many intertribal wars. In 1833 he was taken to Waikato as a captive where he was baptised and adopted the name Īhāia (Isaiah). Allowed to return home in 1840, Īhāia settled in Waitara and became one of the chiefs cultivated by the British in the hope that they would part with their land.

Īhāia did indeed offer to sell several tracts of land to government purchase agents and was therefore referred to as kūpapa, meaning ‘friendly’. Such Māori, seen as loyal to the Crown, were cited as evidence that Māori resisters were rebels and did not reflect mainstream indigenous opinion. However, kūpapa were just as often exploiting the British to help settle old scores against traditional rivals.

Politically astute, with a network of followers and allies stretching as far as Waikato and Whanganui, Īhāia established pa sites at Ikamoana and near both the Waitara and Mimi Rivers. When the Taranaki Wars began in March 1860 he sided with the settlers and on 27 June 1860 he guided British troops into position before the attack on Puketakauere pā.

Although the British were defeated, Īhāia was widely praised for his assistance. In 1869 he helped raise Māori troops to fight Tītokowaru and went on to advise the colonisers on native affairs, being described as a “quiet, unobtrusive friend and counsellor of the Government” in his obituary.

Īhāia Te Kirikumara died of tuberculosis on 9 July 1873, at Wakatere pā on the Waitara River. He was interred at the burial ground of his people at Te Karaka.

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Īhāia Street (TDN 08/06/2019)