TAMAIRA, Te Hehe or Heke also recorded as Hocki
Born c1886; died 27 November 1918; buried 28 November 1918; age 32
Te Hehe TAMAIRA was a farmer, married into the aristocratic (Tuwharetoa) Te Heuheu family and likely staying in Lyall Bay, Wellington at their city base when he died in 1918. He had been nursed at home with pneumonia for 9 days before his death from what the certifying physician, called the ‘influenza plague’. This must have cast a pall over the whole household and heavily overlaid the Christmas celebrations a month later of his four young children, two daughters aged 7 and 1, and two sons aged 5 and 4.
Te Hehe (called Heke on his death record) was born about 1886 at Lake Taupo to Waaka (or Matotoru) Tamaira, a farmer, and Ngaumu Tamaira (née RUNUKU). A Roman Catholic by faith, he had married Te Rihi Te HEUHEU in Tokaanu, the youngest child of ariki Tureiti Te Heuheu and his wife Te Rerehau Kahotea (also known as Mere Te Iwa Te Rerehau) some years earlier.
The Tamaira family were not newcomers to the Taupo area. Records show a Hehe Tamaira (a previous generation) attended the Pukawa Native School (near Taupo) in 1879 as do the records of Tokaanu Native School for the same year (i). However, the subject of this account would not have attended school until the 1890s.
A Hehe Tamaira with an address of ‘Wellington’ appears on the 1919 Western Maori Electoral Roll, of the Ngati Tuwharetoa iwi and the Ngati Pou hapu. There are no further listings for this person; perhaps the roll carried information submitted before Te Hehe died. Neither are there street directory listings which may be connected with his family sharing accommodation with wider whanau members in Wellington.
Whether Te Hehe was living semi-permanently in Wellington or visiting for the holidays, he was away from his Tokaanu home and farm when he got sick with influenza. His death was recorded by the Wilson funeral home as occurring at ‘Maori House, Queens Drive, Lyall Bay’ on 27 November 1918. He was buried the next day in Karori Cemetery in the Roman Catholic section, plot 106P (ii).
Constraints of the time limited public gatherings in a bid to limit the spread of influenza, so it would not have been possible to farewell him in the usual way with a tāngihāngā spread over several days.
‘Maori House, Lyall Bay’ was probably the large Maranui homestead, an establishment built in Queen’s Drive, Lyall Bay in 1905 by wealthy merchant James Nash. It later became Tongariro House, the Wellington base for the Hon Te Heuheu Tukino of Ngati Tuwharetoa, a Member of the Legislative Council, while he was in Wellington leading a committee of chiefs who supported Maori members of Parliament and seeing through petitions and other business before the Native Affairs committee of the House of Representatives. Tongariro House became an important centre for Maori leaders visiting Wellington on political business and was also home to the Te Heuheu family. Its many illustrious visitors included King Mahuta, Sir James Carroll, and Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward. In the late 1920s it became home to Wiremu Ratana, the founder of a Maori religious movement that also became a major political movement (iii).
Te Paea TAITE was also living at Tongariro House in November 1918. She too died of influenza during the epidemic and was buried in Karori Cemetery. Her story is told here.
Te Hehe’s burial plot at Karori Cemetery was never purchased, however, and was subsequently sold for another occupant. Today a handsome headstone at Waihi Village (south end of Lake Taupo) records his death in 1918. Possibly his remains were disinterred from Karori Cemetery for reburial there.
A photo of Te Hehe Tamaira appears in Figure 30 in the publication ‘Hirangi Pa The Legacy, Tuwharetoa te Aupouri 1917-2017’ @ https://issuu.com/tataikorero/docs/centernary_book_a4
Nothing else is now known from public records about Te Hehe or whether his widow remarried after his death.
If any reader has further information, it would be good to strengthen this account.
Researched and written by Jenny Robertson
(i) Huruao, Manawa, Wiremu, and Piu Tamaira also attended this latter school according to its records on NZSG’s KiwiDisk v 2, 2015.
(ii) Wilson funeral home records.
(iii) By the 1950s the house served as a boarding house and was empty for some years before being taken in pieces to the Vynfields Martinborough Winery run by Kaye McAuley and John Bell. See https://www.nzherald.co.nz/wairarapa-times-age/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503414&objectid=11101385 accessed on 10 August 2018.