Alternative NameThomas WalkerTāmati WākaDescription
From: 'Tāmati Wāka Nene', URL: 'Tāmati Wāka Nene', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/people/tamati-waka-nene, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Nov-2017
A leading Ngāpuhi chief, Tāmati Wāka Nene was an early friend of Pākehā and one of the Wesleyan missionaries' first converts, taking the baptismal name of Thomas Walker (Tāmati Wāka). He protected the Anglican and Wesleyan missionaries and also greatly assisted the British Resident, James Busby.
Nene was one of its most influential supporters in the debate at Waitangi over the Treaty and he was among the first to sign. He arrived at the gathering when agreement was very uncertain and spoke to argue that British intervention was necessary for peace and stability, given the lawless Pākehā who were already there. The situation had already passed out of the control of the Māori chiefs, he thought.
However, although he agreed that the Governor should be as a father, judge and peacemaker, he declared that Māori customs should also be preserved and their lands should never be wrested from them. His speech was the turning point of the debate, leading to the general agreement.
During the 1845 conflict with Hōne Heke and Te Ruki Kawiti, Nene again allied himself with the British, providing support and advice to the imperial forces. He was later a friend of Governor Grey. His epitaph read: 'tē hoa o te Kāwanatanga me te matua o te Pākehā' ('friend of the Government and parent of the Europeans').