‘Takou’ Himiona Tupakihi Kamira

'Takou' Himiona Tupakihi Kamira

'Takou' Himiona Tupakihi Kamira

UPDATED: 5 August 2010
Written by Robyn Kamira

‘Takou’ Himiona Tupakihi KAMIRA
Born: 1880 – 28 August 1953 (73 yrs)
Note: Although Takou’s headstone indicates he may have been born in 1877, he has written his year of birth in Book 1, Page 76 of his manuscripts as the year 1880.
Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri and more
Rangatira, writer, orator, historian and genealogist
Married to Mereana “Te Ruru” Kuku

“Takou was a tall, striking and noble Rangatira, an Ariki in his own right. He was a Seer, a Matakite with Ancestral Historical Foresight and Eloquence. He articulated te reo with finesse, gesturing his tokotoko up high when ritualising karakia celestial and ethereal. He was leader of Rangatira Elders known in Hokianga as the ‘Wananga’. One cannot miss the swinging gold chain of his pocket watch within the long overcoat.”

~  Joe Cooper [1]

Takou [2] (Himiona Tupakihi Kamira) was a man of influence born in 1880 and affiliated to the tribes of Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngati Kahu, Ngapuhi and Ngati Whatua. His marae was Matihetihe in Mitimiti, north Hokianga and he lived in a nearby valley called Reena. He was a leader of his community attending to numerous community events. He also led a group of elders known simply as the “wananga” – a traditional school of esoteric and higher learning’. He was considered to be a tohunga although he never described himself as such.

In 1916, mentor and contemporary, Ngakuru Pene [3], a tohunga in his own right, had a dream. In it, he reveals both their destinies as instructed by a group of elders who had already died at the time of the dream. Takou (age 36) and Ngakuru (age 58) are taken through a series of initiations and are directed by their elders towards the Putea Whakairo [4], the manuscripts that hold the knowledge of the old wananga. During the dream, Takou recites a karakia that invokes the arrival of a whale [5].

An interpretation of the dream points to their roles as seekers and keepers of traditional knowledge. It also alludes to the status of Takou as tohunga, with the ability to use old karakia, in this case, to invoke the whale that represents the “awesome power and mana” of the old wananga [6].

The role of Takou in tapu matters, his later eccentricity, and even his tall stature, have led to a range of folkloric stories. Some of them relate to his curious behaviour as an old man, or unexplainable events that occurred around him and his possessions, or the power of his tapu. Others are mythological and with little semblance of truth. However, the older people say that he was a matakite – a seer – and his knowledge of ancient karakia and writing of tapu knowledge created awe and fear among some people – fear that continued to burden subsequent generations and prevented his kinsfolk from opening his books for almost 60 years after his death.

Yet, Takou was a man with a passionate and dutiful purpose and a dignified demeanour. He worked tirelessly for his hapu and surrounding communities. He also set about a lifelong task to preserve knowledge. This solitary and onerous task was imbued in “tapu”, one that many of his descendants feared and struggled to accept and, until recently, turned away from. Perhaps he did not consider that the responsibility that he took upon himself would be too much for his descendants to carry.

Takou was born into a generation of literate and fervent writers. The effectiveness of writing to preserve oral traditions had already become well recognised by the time Takou was born, and Maori were encouraging other Maori to write their own material [7]. Takou became a keen participant and wrote for two main reasons. The first was to satisfy his passion – the beauty of the script, the power of the written word that was enabled when pen met paper. His second purpose was to accurately record the knowledge of the wananga whose purpose was to ensure that knowledge was recorded and held in safekeeping for future generations.

Takou began writing in earnest at the age of 22 and continued to sustain his enthusiasm until he was in his 70s. He kept thorough and meticulous records until his last entries as an old man in the early 1950s. His very early writings reveal him as a young man, still grappling with his identity, and experimenting with subject matter. The writing soon found its rhythm and the subjects began to form into a series of significant traditional and historical accounts.

Takou began with the wananga as a young scribe but due to his earlier traditional learnings he soon become a key contributor to the wananga in the roles of Kaikorero (expert speaker and informant) and Kapene (leader of the wananga). Despite these later responsibilities he continued to record knowledge from both the wananga process and his private learnings, as the preservation of knowledge had become his lifelong personal mission.

On his death in 1953, the Northland Times described Takou as a “Rangatira”, saying this was “the passing of one of the ‘living storehouses of ancient lore’” [8]. His lifetime’s work is testimony to his commitment to preserve the knowledge of his people in perpetuity.

[1] Notes given to author 27 March 2010 by Joe Cooper (Panguru, Hokianga) previous Chair of Te Runanga o Te Rarawa Kahui Kaumatua and Te Runanga o Te Rarawa Historical Treaty Claims Settlement Negotiator

[2] Family and close relatives know him as ‘Takou’. He uses this name often within his manuscripts.

[3] In Takou’s manuscripts he is named as Ngakuru Pene. He is also known as Ngakuru Pene Haare elsewhere

[4] Haami (2004) translates Putea Whakairo as the “writings of the wananga” – the manuscripts that hold old knowledge

[5] Book 9, p 143-147, “He Moemoea”, Ngakuru Pene, Hurae 1916

[6] Interpretation conversations with assistance from Charles Te Ahukaramu Royal and Brad Haami

[7] Haami 2004, p23

[8] Northland Times 1953 (date if possible)


Haami, B. (2004). Putea whakairo: Maori and the written word. Huia Publishers in association with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Wellington, N.Z.

Kamira, Takou., (circa 1902-1951), Kamira Manuscripts, not published, Reena, Hokianga, Aotearoa

Kamira, H (1957). Kupe, by Himiona Kaamira. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, Volume 66, No. 3, Pp. 216-231. Retrieved 14 July 2009 from http://www.jps.auckland.ac.nz/document/Volume_66_1957/Volume_66,_No._3

Obit. Northland Times. 3 Sept. 1953: 5

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15 Responses to ‘Takou’ Himiona Tupakihi Kamira

  1. Ip Absolum says:

    Kia ora, I read with great interest your article about a Himiona Kamira who I only know of through the Waananga in Hokianga which began with Papahurihia and continued up to around 1953. My father and many uncles and aunts of Waima, Taheke, Tangiteroria, were attendees under the tutelage of Huru Titore and Mohi Waitai in Omanaia. The Pao, Uia Te Patai was written by Takou Himiona Kamira as we were told. My aunt and uncle, Paerau and Wahangu Hohepa were the first to sing it outside of the waananga. From what I know, he wrote it in the Waananga and taught it to everyone there. Are there any notes about the pao or will you know more about it or will he have written others? Nga mihi

  2. Joanell Poutai says:

    Kia ora Whanau

    I’m a young girl who lost her mother. When I was young I decided to research about my mothers part of the family. My mother name was Rita Himiona. When she passed away thats when I started to ask my family what was my mother was like when she was alive but really I didn’t get a lot of information from my mum side of the family. So I started to look for my own information about my mum.

  3. Trish Smith says:

    Kia ora. My great grandmothers name was Hara Kamira, married to William Smith. They lie in Rahiri urupa. How is she related to Takou Kamira? I know she had a brother called Himiona. Thank you.

    • John Wikitera says:

      Tena koe Trish,

      Te Haara is also my great great grandmother. I am off her eldest daughter Maraea ( Wairere ) Hapakuku ( nee Smith ) who married Wikitera Hapakuku from Herekino. Our tupuna Te Haara had 10 children and Takou or Himiona is her younger brother if I’m reading it right in the whakapapa on this site.

  4. Michael Campbell says:

    Just in response to John Wikitera. My great grandmothers name was Maraea .. my sister is named after her. Wife of Ngawati Kamira. She rests above Waipuna Marea in Panguru. It may be the same person?? This journey I am only starting myself so I could be wrong and would love to be corrected if so .. thank you

    • Michael Campbell says:

      Sorry Her name was Maria Keni Kamira of Rarawa. She was also known as Maraea

    • John Wikitera says:

      Tena koe Micheal,

      Mauri ora whanaunga mo to awhi moku ahakoa he roaroa te wa ka whakahoki karere ki a koe he taonga tonu o korero takoha ki ahau e te tuakana. I think Ngawati was Te Haara’s only full blooded brother born to Tupakihi and Ngahuia Haimona. My great grandmother is Maraea but was also known as Wairere and her koiwi are in Papaka, Herekino.

  5. john wikitera says:

    Kia Ora whanau,

    My name is John Wikitera i am on a journey, i have been on this hikoi for a while before i realised where i really needed to start it from, from that hindsight i concluded that i needed to return to my roots. Been home to Herekino and Manukau last year i did a bit of researching however a lot of what i read and listened did not get me to the higher level of whakapapa. I do respect all i have been told but need to expand on it further. My mother is Helen Wikitera, her father was Wiripo Barney Wikitera and my nan is Riperata Te Whiu mai Waihou. Mum always says Tupakihi Kamira was her Grandmothers (Maraea Kamira) father and thats about where it stops for my karanis whakapapa……just wondering if you could help,assist or confirm i am on the right track or if mum has given me some koretake info hahaha chur!

    Ma nga atua hei tiaki i a tatou e manaaki i a koutou
    Hei kona.

    • Robyn Kamira says:

      Tena koe John,

      If you click the Whakapapa Tree menu item on this website you will see the part of the whakapapa as recorded by Takou Kamira that relates to Tupakihi and his three wahine and their children. That part of the whakapapa is complete – that is, those two levels. Is it possible Maraea was known by another name, or is it possible Tupakihi was a grandfather rather than a father?

      Naku na, Robyn

  6. Kyla Campbell-Kamariera (Kamira) says:

    Kia Ora Robyn,

    If you like, once I finish this kaupapa I could send you a copy to look at. I really enjoy doing this and taking more interest in our whakapapa.

    Kia Ora,

    • Kaiwhakahaere | Administrator says:

      Kia ora ano Kyla, That sounds awesome and also if there is anything you’d like to share on the website please feel free to send it through too. Robyn

  7. Kyla Campbell-Kamariera (Kamira says:

    Kia Ora Koutou,
    My name is Kyla Campbell-Kamariera and I am 13 years old. I live in Mitimiti with my great-grandmother Mary Campbell, who married Steve ( Te Wano ) Campbell. I found this website while researching Takou Kamira for an ancestor assighnment for an English class. I was wandering if anyone could give me any stories about our Matua Takou, that would be great. This assighnment is for Matariki and my class will be putting together a book of biographies with their own tupuna.

    Kia Ora.

    • Kaiwhakahaere | Administrator says:

      Kia ora Kyla,

      There is quite a lot of info about Takou and you could start by looking the webpage on the KamiraWhanau website here:


      If you want more though feel free to contact me again. I’m writing a book about him and have lots that can be shared including some information that came from some of the old people who I’ve interviewed and who remember him.

      Naku na to whanaunga,
      Robyn Kamira

      • Kyla Campbell-Kamariera (Kamira) says:

        Tena Koe Robyn,
        My Great-Nanny is Mere Campbell who married Steve Te Wano Campbell. By the way we actually live in Reena. Unfortunately Papa is now passed on, but my nanny has told me a little bit about Matua Takou. Not much though. I cant tell my exact relation to Matua Takou, but that when I was talking to my nanny she called him Uncle. I just want to find my connection to him.

        Ma te wa,

      • janie smith says:

        Hi robyn
        my great great great grandfather is takou kamira
        we would be interested in some more information
        or stories
        we love the whakaapa
        we are coming back to nz from perth on 20 th january 2015
        and would love to meet you if possible
        our great grandmother is hara kamira who married william smith.

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