The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Keepa, Major
Keepa, Major, N.Z.C., a Maori chief (more generally known as Major Kemp), is the son of Tanguru and Rereomaki, and possesses paramount influence in the Wanganui district of New Zealand. He figured prominently during the Maori war, always fighting on the side of the colonists, was often mentioned in despatches, received a sword of honour from her Majesty, and was decorated with the New Zealand Cross for personal valour in the field. The character of the man may be gathered from the following remarks of Dr. (now Sir Walter) Buller, who presented to him at Wanganui, on behalf of the Government, the New Zealand war medal:—"I think I may venture to say that, among all who have received this honourable badge, there has been no more worthy recipient than our staunch friend and ally Major Kemp, the son of Tanguru, and therefore a high-born chief of the Wanganui River related on his mother's side to the Ngatiapa Rangitane and Ngarauru tribes, own nephew to the late Hori Kingi, that good old chief who was the consistent friend of the pakeha and the guardian of peace in this district. I well remember that when I first came to the district, in 1804, Kemp had just received a commission as an ensign or lieutenant in the native contingent under Captain (now Colonel) McDonnell. After performing good service at Pipiriki, Kemp was ordered, with the rest of the contingent, to Opotiki, for the purpose of breaking up a Hauhau combination there and avenging the murder of the Rev. Mr. Volkner. On his return from that expedition, he served with McDonnell under General Cameron, and subsequently under Major-General Chute, throughout the campaign on the West Coast He assisted Sir George Grey at the taking of the Wereroa pa; and he afterwards fought under Colonels McDonnell and Whitmore, distinguishing himself on all occasions by his daring courage. … In recognition of his services, he was first promoted to the rank of captain, and afterwards to that of major; and Colonel McDonnell has on frequent public occasions borne testimony to his intrepidity and valour. When the rebellion had been crushed on the West Coast, Kemp was instructed by the Government to organise an expedition into the interior for the pursuit of Te Kooti and his band of murderous fanatics. Of this force he took the chief command himself, and became known among the natives as 'General Kemp.' Starting from the head waters of the Wanganui, he pursued the enemy across the Murimotu plains to the East Coast, and thence back into the Ohiwa mountains, where, after much hard fighting, he succeeded in breaking up and dispersing Te Kooti's band." General Whitmore stated in the Legislative Council that he was personally worth any two hundred ordinary men in the field. Major Kemp still lives at Wanganui, where he devotes himself principally to the elucidation of the tribal titles in the Native Land Court.