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Region National
Available online 1863-1884
Alternative title(s) Te Waka Maori o Ahuriri; Te Waka Maori o Niu Tirani; Te Waka Maori o Aotearoa

There were four iterations of this publication, with varying titles.

Although the editor is not named, it seems likely that Sir Donald McLean was involved in Te Waka Maori o Ahuriri (1863–1871). The newspaper was published in Napier, where he was the Provincial Superintendent, and issues were delayed in being published due to the editor's absence in connection with Maori land purchases (McLean was also the Chief Land Purchase Commissioner for the Crown).

The newspaper's name encapsulates the intention of the publication: ‘Me Hoturoa o mua i to i tona waka, a Tainui, ki te wai i Hawaiki kia rere noa i te moana tauhou ki te rapu kainga mona i nga whenua ngaro, koia hoki matou ka kokiri i ta matou waka tiwai, Te WAKA MAORI O AHURIRI nei, ki runga ki te moana ngarungaru, i te moana tarewarewa noa, o te Whakaaro tangata - mana e rewa, mana e totohu (13 June 1863: 1) (Just as Hoturoa of former times, who dragged his canoe Tainui to the water in Hawaiki and set sail over unchartered oceans in search of a home in unknown lands, so we too, launch our canoe, Te WAKA MAORI O AHURIRI, onto the choppy seas, the turbulent sea, of people's thoughts - for it to float or sink).

The following statement further elaborates that aim: ‘Tetahi painga o te Nupepa penei, hei hono mo te Pakeha raua ko te Maori. He whakaputanga whakaaro ma tatou, tetahi ki tetahi....Inaianei e noho kuare noa ana te nuinga o te Pakeha ki nga whakaaro Maori, me te Maori hoki e noho kuare noa ana ki nga whakaaro o te Pakeha. Ka whai huarahi hei whakapuakanga i o tatou whakaaro, tetahi ki te reo o tetahi, katahi ia ka tupu he rongo pai kia tatou’ (ibid.) (One of the benefits of a newspaper like this will be to repair the rift between Pakeha and Maori. It will express our thoughts to each other....Nowadays the majority of Pakeha are quite ignorant of Maori views, and the Maori too are quite ignorant of Pakeha views. It will be the means by which our views are aired, one to the other, then goodwill will grow between us).

The last issue was published under the title Te Waka Maori o Ahuriri on 27 July 1871. In October 1871 control of the newspaper passed entirely into the hands of government, and it became Te Waka o Niu Tirani (1871–1877).

This paper was edited in Wellington by James Grindell. It was written solely in Maori until 15 October, 1873, at which time an English translation was added, column for column. Like its predecessor, this Te Waka Maori presents the government's view. Much of the material published is from ‘kupapa’ (Queen's or neutral) tribes such as Ngati Porou.

In 1877 there was a change of government. Sir Donald McLean's policy for Maori people and their land, as presented in the pages of Te Waka Maori o Ahuriri and Te Waka Maori o Niu Tirani, had been roundly criticised by the Hawke's Bay Repudiation (of land sales) Movement. Several leaders of this movement were prominent in the new Liberal Government. Much of the attack on policy had been waged through the pages of the then opposition paper, Te Wananga.

The war of words between Te Wananga and Te Waka Maori continued until a group of Hawke's Bay people associated with Te Wananga took Te Waka Maori to court:

    ‘Na Henare Rata raua ko Te Hiana me Karaitiana Takamoana ratou ko Te Hapuku, Tareha te Moananui, Renata Kawepo, me etahi atu rangatira Maori i whakawa Te Waka Maori i roto i te Kooti Hupirimi,a i mate taua nupepa ki reira. Nui atu to ratou hari me te koa i te hinganga o to ratou hoa riri’ (Aotearoa, 4 June 1892: 1)

    ‘Henry Rata and Sheehan together with Karaitiana Takamoana, Te Hapuku, Tareha Te Moananui, Renata Kawepo, and other Maori chiefs took Te Waka Maori to the Supreme Court, from which time it ceased publication. They were greatly pleased at the downfall of their enemy.’

Supporters of McLean's party and his policy resurrected Te Waka Maori in Gisborne.  This Te Waka Maori (1878–1879) was also edited by James Grindell.

The opening editorial demonstrates the link with the former Waka:

    ‘He kupu ako pono aku tika tonu nga kupu i kitea e nga Maori i roto i nga wharangi o te Waka tawhito, a kei te Waka hou nei ka kitea ano te pono me te tika i roto i nga takiwa katoa e takoto ake nei. Ka ako pono rawa matou i nga Maori, ki ta te ngakau e kite ana, ahakoa he ako ki te tangata kotahi, ki te iwi nui tonu ranei - engari, tera pea e kawa ki etahi o ratou a matou mea e tohutohu ai ki a ratou.’

    ‘In the pages of the old Waka the Maories [sic] ever found truthful and honest advice, and we trust that in the new Waka the same regard to truth and honesty will always be apparent. We shall counsel them honestly and conscientiously for their good, individually and collectively, although our advice may not always be palatable to some of them (21 August 1878: 3)

Te Waka Maori o Aotearoa (The Maori Canoe of Aotearoa, 1884) is a revival of Te Waka Maori o Niu Tireni. The editor states:

‘Kua kite na koutou i te putanga tuatahi o tenei Nupepa i te Waka Maori, te mea ra i kokiritia kautia atu i te 31 o nga ra o Hanuere hei tirohanga ma koutou, kia mohiotia ai e koutou te maanutanga o tenei waka hanga hou hei utauta i nga tini korero, i nga tini whakaaro o nga iwi, hei whakaatu ano hoki i nga korero i nga mahi nui o te ao, kei noho pohehe noiho nga tangata o ia wahi, o to tatou nei whenua tipu ki nga mahi o etahi atu takiwa’ (29 February 1884: 2)

(You have seen the first issue of this newspaper, Te Waka Maori which was sent out on the 31st of January for you to look at, and for you to know that this newly built vessel was afloat on which to load the many words and thoughts of the people, and to report the news of the world so that the people throughout our young land do not remain ignorant of events in other places)

The father of Sir Apirana Ngata, Paratene Ngata, started the newspaper in January 1884. When he contracted typhoid fever, the first numbered issue, which was the second published, was delayed in being printed as it was difficult to find another editor. The new editor was G H Wilson.

The last issue appeared in November 1884.

For further information about the four different iterations of the newspaper see P Parkinson and P Griffith, Books in Maori (Auckland: Reed, 2004), S16, S18, S21 and S27,  pp. 764–766, 769–771, 775–777 and 790–791. For a discussion of waiata in Te Waka Maori o Ahuriri and its successor, see C Tremewan, ‘Poetry in Te Waka Maori’, in Rere atu, Taku Manu! edited by J Curnow, N Hopa and J McRae (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2002), pp. 115–133.  For discussions on the ideology of Te Waka Maori o Niu Tirani on political representation, see L Waymouth ‘Parliamentary Representation for Maori’, in Rere Atu, Taku Manu! edited by J Curnow, N Hopa and J McRae (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2002), pp. 153–173.

The National Library would like to thank Gail Dallimore for providing information used in essays about Maori newspapers.