In 1877 a facsimile copy was made of each sheet, before the Waitangi and Herald-Bunbury sheets were damaged. This means that although segments of parchment are missing we still have a record of each signatory. That said, even though the names and tohu are there, reading 19th century handwriting and then matching these with the correct people can be difficult. Identifying people with Māori names can require extra effort as many ingoa Māori are gender-neutral.

So far up to 18 possible wāhine signatories have been identified, ten of which are certain, six likely, and another two where there is very little or conflicting information available. Their tohu appear on three of the nine sheets; Waitangi, Raukawa-Moana Cook Strait and Waikato-Manukau.

In this short article I highlight the tohu of all 18, feature at least one from each sheet, and where possible give some context as to why uncertainty remains. A snapshot of their stories can be also found online at NZ History by clicking on each signatory’s name, or within the publication Te Tiriti o Waitangi, The Treaty of Waitangi, 1840.

Some information between sources does vary, so if you have any other knowledge to share let us know.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi – Waitangi sheet

Ana Hamu | Full name Ana Hamu | Iwi Ngāpuhi | Hapū Te Uri-o-Ngongō

Signed at Waitangi, 6 February 1840

Ana Hamu was the first woman to sign Te Tiriti. A rangatira in her own right, she was a widow of Te Koki, a high-ranking Ngāpuhi chief. She gifted the land for the Paihia Church Missionary Society mission station. When Te Koki had been alive, the two had supported the mission at Paihia and lived there for several years. Ana Hamu continued to live there after Te Koki died, wielding great influence in the community. Ana Hamu had at least two sons. One, Te Ahara, died while studying at Samuel Marsden’s Māori school at Parramatta, New South Wales. Another son, Rangituke, was killed at Tāmaki in 1828.

Takurua | Iwi Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi | Hapū Ngāti Korokoro, Ngāti Rangi

Signed probably at the Bay of Islands, unknown date

Ereonora | Te Rarawa | Iwi Te Rarawa

Signed at Kaitaia, 28 April 1840

Identities likely or possible:

Te Marama | Iwi Ngāpuhi | Hapū Ngāti Tautahi Te Marama

Probably signed at the Bay of Islands, date unknown.

Te Mārama may have been a woman, as this is commonly a woman’s name.

Moe Ngaherehere | Full name Moengaherehere | Iwi Te Rarawa

Probably signed at the Bay of Islands, date unknown.

This signatory could be Arihia Moengaherehere, a wahine rangatira of Te Rarawa, or possibly her father, also called Moengaherehere.

Marama | Iwi Te Rarawa | Hapū Ngāi Takoto

Signed at Kaitāia, 28 April 1840

Mārama is usually a woman's name.

Koroniria Nuau | Full name Koronīria Nuau | Iwi Te Rarawa

Signed at Kaitāia, 28 April 1840

This signatory may have been a woman, identified by Tā Āpirana Ngata as Koronīria Haunui.

Te Tiriti ki Raukawa Moana – The Cook Strait (Henry Williams) Sheet

Kahe | Full name Kahe Te Rau-o-te-rangi | Iwi Ngāti Toa, Te Āti Awa

Signed at Port Nicholson, 29 April 1840

She was the daughter of Ngāti Toa rangatira Te Matoha, who died before the signing of Te Tiriti. Kahe probably signed on behalf of her family and father. She is famous for her epic 1824 swim from Kapiti Island to the mainland, with her daughter, Rīpeka, strapped on her back, to warn Ngāti Toa of an impending invasion. That stretch of sea is now called Rauoterangi Channel.

Pakewa | Full name Pākewa | Iwi Te Āti Awa | Hapū Puketapu?

Signed at Port Nicholson, 29 April 1840

Her parents may have been Ngākoro and Te Hurupoki (of Ngāti Ruanui). She married Rāwiri Nukaiahu and they migrated from Taranaki to Waikanae around the 1830s. Descendants say that Pākewa and Rāwiri had eight children, including two daughters named Mere and Pairoke.

Pari | Iwi Ngāti Koata

Signed on 11 May 1840, Rangitoto - D’Urville Island

Topeora | Full name Te Rangitopeora | Iwi Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa | Hapū Ngāti Kimihia, Ngāti Te Maunu

Signed on 14 May 1840, possibly at Kapiti

Te Kehu | Full name Te Whetū-o-te-ao| Iwi Te Āti Awa

Signed on 19 May 1840, possibly at Ōtaki

Rere | Full name Rāwinia Rere-o-maki | Iwi Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi | Hapū Ngāti Ruakā, Ngāti Tūpoho, Te Arawa

Signed at Whanganui on 23 May 1840.

Identities likely or possible:

Ngakirikiri | Full name Ngākirikiri

Signed at Queen Charlotte Sound on 5 May 1840

It has been suggested that this signatory is a woman, as this could be a woman’s name. However, one source notes that a male rangatira with this name returned to Taranaki in 1842 to protect his land rights.

Ngāraurekau | Full name Ngāraurēkau | Iwi Te Āti Awa

Signed at Waikanae, 16 May 1840

Possibly Ngā-raurēkau of Te Āti Awa who moved from Waikanae to Waitara.

Te Tiriti ki Waikato-Manukau

Hoana Riutoto | Iwi Waikato | Hapū Ngāti Mahuta

Signed at Waikato Heads, late March or early April 1840

Hoana Riutoto signed Te Tiriti at the Waikato Heads mission station in late March or early April 1840. She was one of the few women who signed the Treaty. She was an ancestor of Te Puea Hērangi. Te Puea was a formidable leader of the Kīngitanga, focusing on social welfare and land policy. She led the Waikato opposition to conscription, and established Tūrangawaewae, the seat of the Kīngitanga.

Identities likely or possible:

Ko te ta Wha | Full name Te Tawhā | Iwi Waikato | Hapū Ngāti Te Ata

Signed at Manukau Harbour, 26 April 1840

Descendants say that this signatory was a wahine rangatira, an aristocratic woman, of the Waikato hapū Ngāti Te Ata, with land at Waiuku.

Te Wairakau | Full name Te Wairākau | Iwi Waikato | Hapū Ngāti Te Ata

Signed at Waikato Heads, late March or early April 1840

Possibly an ancestor of Te Puea Hērangi, who led the Waikato opposition to conscription, and established Tūrangawaewae, the seat of the Kīngitanga