Horonuku Te Heuheu Tūkino IV, of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, was born in the 1820s on the shores of Lake Taupō. He became a supporter of the King Movement in the 1850s.
In 1862 he succeeded his uncle, Iwikau, as paramount chief of Ngati Tūwharetoa. In 1863 Grey ordered the invasion of the Waikato. Te Heuheu honoured a promise his uncle had made to the Māori King, and led a war party to assist the Waikato tribes. After the Waikato defeat he returned to Taupō. He was later suspected of supporting Te Kooti, but claimed that he had been taken prisoner. Because of Te Heuheu’s political influence the government did not investigate this matter too closely, or confiscate any Ngāti Tūwharetoa land.
In 1882 Ngāti Tūwharetoa placed much of their land within the Rohe Pōtae (King Country). They hoped to prevent European settlers advancing, and to support the King movement. But in 1885 Te Heuheu broke ranks with the Kīngitanga and invited the Native Land Court into the district. At one Land Court hearing, Te Keepa Te Rangihiwinui, the Muaūpoko/Ngāti Apa/Wanganui chief who had fought against Te Kooti, claimed rights to southern Taupō through conquest. When he claimed that his fires of occupation had burned on the land, Te Heuheu famously pointed to the smoking peak of Mount Tongariro (the iconic maunga, or mountain of Ngāti Tūwharetoa), saying "There is my fire". The land was awarded to Ngāti Tūwharetoa.
During these hearings Te Heuheu, encouraged by Native Minister John Ballance, decided that the best way to preserve his sacred mountains - Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu - was to transfer them to the Crown. They would become the nation’s first national park. This was duly done, although some of his fellow chiefs opposed it. Te Heuheu died in 1888.
First NameHoronukuLast NameTe HeuheuDate of Birth1821Date of Death1888