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Wiremu Pere, of mixed Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki/Te Whanau a Kai/Rongowhakaata and European descent, was born in 1837 at Turanga (Gisborne). When war came to the East Coast in 1865 Wī Pere remained a government supporter. At the same time, he protested against the exile to the Chatham Islands without trial of Poverty Bay Māori, and the government's moves to confiscate their land. When the rebel leader Te Kooti escaped from the Chathams in July 1868, Wi Pere helped government forces pursue him, although he had some sympathy for Te Kooti. He opposed the land confiscation which followed this conflict. In the 1870s he supported the Repudiation movement, which aimed to reverse alleged fraudulent land purchases. He also opposed the Native Land Court giving land title to individuals, believing land should be owned by hapū (sub-tribes) or whanau (family). Through these activities he became an important Māori leader in the region. Wī Pere later tried to help Māori cut through the complex land laws and difficulties associated with multiple ownership of land. He also worked to ensure that they could finance land development. From 1880 he and W.L. Rees, a lawyer for the Repudiation movement, persuaded many East Coast Māori to hand over some of their lands to a trust. The land would then be sold or leased, and the money used for Māori land development. But the scheme failed, partly because of economic depression, and hostility from politicians. However, Wī Pere remained concerned that Māori keep their lands and farm it themselves. He gained wide support, and was elected to Parliament representing Eastern Māori in 1884. He spoke strongly against the Native Land Court and dealing with individuals rather than tribal groups. He was also in favour of giving Māori communities control over their lands through elected "block committees". In 1887 he was defeated by James Carroll. Pere was re-elected in 1894. Once again he strongly criticised the government's Māori land policies. He called for a boycott of the Native Land Court and an end to land sales and leasing. He continued to press for greater Māori control over land. He also joined the Kotahitanga movement and supported its demand for a separate Māori Parliament, abolition of the Māori land laws and implementation of the Treaty of Waitangi. Pere lost his seat to the young Apirana Ngata in 1905. In 1907 he was appointed to the Legislative Council, where he remained until 1912. He died in 1915. 'Wiremu Pere', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/people/wiremu-pere, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 1-May-2020
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