The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Kawepo, Renata
Kawepo, Renata, a well-known Maori chief, of Hawke's Bay, N.Z., took a prominent part on the side of the English during the disturbances on the East Coast, and distinguished himself on several occasions by his personal prowess. In the same spirit in which he afterwards refused to stand for the House of Representatives, and declined a seat in the Legislative Council when it was offered to him by Sir Donald McLean, this chief took the field as a volunteer with his people. The proffered rank of major in the colonial forces had no charms for him, as he was conscious that no mere creation of the kind could add to his influence or dignity as one of the beads of his tribe. He was a chief of the old school, proud and domineering, given to hospitality on a lavish scale, and jealous of his people's rights. He was a large landed proprietor, receiving a considerable share of the rents in the Hawke's Bay district, and enjoying at the time of his death, in 1888, an income of about £3,000 a year. He lived in a good European house at Omahu, about twelve miles from Napier; but he never altogether lost his relish for the Maori communal mode of life. During the sittings of the Land Court, when large numbers of natives were accustomed to assemble at his house, he divided his hospitalities between champagne dinners to English visitors at the best hotels and open-air feasts to his own countrymen. He was famed all over the country for his lavish presents to neighbouring chiefs. For his services at the attack upon Omarunui (Hawke's Bay), where, under command of Colonel Whitmore, he led the Ngatiteupokoiri into the thick of the fight, he received from the Government a presentation sword. At the Porere fight, under Colonel McDonnell, he lost his left eye, in consideration of which the colony gave him a life pension of £100 a year. At his death he left behind a property estimated as being worth a quarter of a million sterling, and there was much litigation over his will, the matter being finally settled by Her Majesty's Privy Council in favour of William Broughton, his adopted half-caste son. Renata, like many of the old chiefs, was an accomplished speaker and a keen debater. He took an active interest in the religious instruction of his people, and insisted on defraying himself the entire cost of the small church at Omahu. His remains are interred at Omahu, and on the anniversary of his death his people are accustomed to assemble from various parts of the district to discuss his good qualities and to mourn his loss. A graceful tribute to the high character of this chief was placed on record by Judge Kenton in his famous judgment in the Pukehamoamoa case.