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 
Takou  (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 , 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 , the manuscripts that hold the knowledge of the old wananga. During the dream, Takou recites a karakia that invokes the arrival of a whale .
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 .
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 . 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’” . His lifetime’s work is testimony to his commitment to preserve the knowledge of his people in perpetuity.
 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
 Family and close relatives know him as ‘Takou’. He uses this name often within his manuscripts.
 In Takou’s manuscripts he is named as Ngakuru Pene. He is also known as Ngakuru Pene Haare elsewhere
 Haami (2004) translates Putea Whakairo as the “writings of the wananga” – the manuscripts that hold old knowledge
 Book 9, p 143-147, “He Moemoea”, Ngakuru Pene, Hurae 1916
 Interpretation conversations with assistance from Charles Te Ahukaramu Royal and Brad Haami
 Haami 2004, p23
 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