Wi Pere

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The Honourable
Wi Pere
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Eastern Maori
In office
1884 – 1887
Preceded by Henare Tomoana
Succeeded by James Carroll
In office
1893 – 1905
Preceded by James Carroll
Succeeded by Sir Apirana Ngata
Personal details
Born (1837-03-07)7 March 1837
Poverty Bay, Gisborne, New Zealand
Died 9 December 1915(1915-12-09) (aged 78)
Gisborne, New Zealand
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Arapera Matenga Toti (married 1856)

Wi Pere (7 March 1837 – 9 December 1915), born Wiremu Pere, was a Māori Member of Parliament in New Zealand. Pere himself was an outstanding figure amongst the Poverty Bay and East Cape Māori, and one of Poverty Bay's most illustrious sons.


Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1884–1887 9th Eastern Maori Independent
1893–1896 12th Eastern Maori Liberal
1896–1899 13th Eastern Maori Liberal
1899–1902 14th Eastern Maori Liberal
1902–1905 15th Eastern Maori Liberal

Wi Pere was born in Turanga-nui-a-Kiwa ("The place where 'Kiwa' - of the Tākitimu waka - stood"), now called Gisborne. He gained a wide knowledge of Māori traditions and customs, and proved an able spokesman in proceedings before the Native Land Court, was an outstanding orator in the use of the Māori language within the House of Representatives. Pere served for some years in both branches of the Legislature, fighting for the rights of his Maori people, particularly 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 Māori 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".

He won the Eastern Maori seat in parliament in the 1884 election, as the fourth representative for the electorate, and attracted much attention. But he lost the seat to James Carroll in 1887 and in 1890. However in 1893 Carroll stood down in order to contest the Gisborne (European) seat. Pere won Eastern Maori back, and from 1893 supported the Liberal Party. In 1905 though Pere lost the Eastern Maori seat to Apirana Ngata.[1][2]

He was appointed to the Legislative Council on 22 January 1907, but lost it because of absence on 27 June 1912, a technicality beyond his control.

Wi Pere lived during the transition period of the Māori. He witnessed the most turbulent incidents of Māori-Pakeha relationships, including some of the worst land legislation affecting the Māori, the land wars, the confiscation of Māori land by successive Governments, the rise of Māori Nationalism, the Te Kooti conflicts, and the 1867 Maori Representation Act. Many traditional Māori institutions and customs were broken down by the Pakeha in their efforts to assimilate the Māori into a European (British) type of society.

On the death of Wi Pere, 9 December 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 Māori. No one loved the Māori people more than he did".

The local newspaper highlighted Wi's death with such headings as "Champion of the Māori Race", "A Link with the Past", "The Last of the Great Chiefs". Apiraana 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.

Rongowhakaata Pere Halbert was a grandson of Wi Pere.


  1. ^ Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 
  2. ^ Ward, Alan. "Wiremu Pere". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved December 2011. 

External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Henare Tomoana
Member of Parliament for Eastern Maori
Succeeded by
James Carroll
Preceded by
James Carroll
Succeeded by
Apirana Ngata