Tāmati Pirimona Marino


Through his parents, Ringahuri of Ngāti Tama/Te Ātiawa and Roka of Ngāti Rarua, Marino (also known as Te Pua Ringahuri) was related to all three mana whenua  iwi of Mohua (Golden Bay) after the Tainui Taranaki conquest (1828-1830).  His pā was at Aorere, where he had considerable land interests.  He was baptised Tāmati Pirimona (Thomas Freeman, after a Nelson boatbuilder) and married the same day (14 May 1843) to Erena Te Kehu by Samuel Ironside, a Wesleyan missionary based at Port Underwood.1

Gottfired Lindauer: Tamati Pirimona Marino [oil on canvas] Gottfired Lindauer: Tamati Pirimona Marino [oil on canvas] Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. gift of Mr H E Partridge, 1915 (1915/2/37) http://www.lindaueronline.co.nz/maori-portraits/-tamati-pirimona-marino.
Click image to enlarge

Marino's generosity and hospitality to surveyors and officials were frequently remarked on, and when Brunner and Heaphy returned from their 1846 West Coast expedition they found Marino and Hemi Kuku (of Te Rae - between Pūponga and Pakawau) "... as assiduous in affording them provisions, even to tea and sugar, as Europeans ... could have been, and finally brought them to Nelson in a canoe as soon as the weather would permit".2

Tuckett, who thought very highly of him - "... in integrity of character Ireno is really singular and conspicuous"3 - was impressed by Marino's insistence that flour and sugar, intended as gifts for him, should be shared with Europeans at Motupipi who had only Māori food.

Marino's 34-foot schooner, the Erena, named for his wife, was registered at Nelson in December 1845 under T. Freeman and S. Strong;  Strong, Nelson merchant, was listed as security for money and goods he advanced Marino to complete the vessel.  In 1847, dissatisfied with the arrangement, Marino sued Strong in "the first case of a civil nature between an European and a native";  the Court found for Marino, awarding him £27.  Marino often captained the vessel himself, shipping coal from Massacre Bay, pigs and potatoes from Queen Charlotte Sound, and passengers to the North Island.  The Erena was wrecked in 1850 on its way to Kawhia "... owing to a singular mistake of her mate",4 a drunken Pakeha.

[Coates, Isaac], 1808-1878 :Erino, Massacre Bay. [1843?][Coates, Isaac], 1808-1878 :Erino, Massacre Bay. [1843?]  Alexander Turnbull Library A-114-052. Permission must be obtained from ATL for further use of this image.
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The 1857 Collingwood goldrush severely challenged Marino. As chief of the district he welcomed and fed hundreds of Māori miners, but his people eventually found that "feastings and koreroing with every fresh arrival was not a paying occupation".5

Grave of Tamati Pirimona Marino at Collingwood.  Mitchell Vol II p209
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In May 1860 Marino accompanied James Mackay Jr to the West Coast to extinguish Poutini Ngāi Tahu's interests there.  Marino witnessed the Arahura Purchase Deed  as a rangatira  who had already sold his interests in the lands, and to ensure Reserves were allocated for his whanaunga (kin).11  

When the gold focus shifted to Buller in 1861-62, Marino's status was extremely valuable.  He dissuaded Waikato Māori from exacting utu after a female relative was murdered, adjusted disputes, and was acknowledged by both races as chief.  He and fellow chiefs hosted an excellent dinner of "sucking pig, fowl, beef, plum pudding, fruit pies etc." for all diggers to celebrate Christmas 1862;  Marino proposed a toast to the Queen.7

Marino and Erena lost at least one child.8 Erena's fate is unknown, but in the 1860's Marino's wife was Riria Wikiato, a relative.  He died in 1877 without issue, and relatives from all three of his iwi inherited his interests at Aorere and Westport;  he is buried in the old cemetery (Excellent Street) at Collingwood.

Tāmati Pirimona Marino successfully combined his responsibilities as rangatira with the qualities necessary to succeed in the new society formed by colonisation.  He was widely admired by Māori and European alike.


Updated April 2020

Sources used in this story

  1. Mitchell, H.A. & M.J. (2009)  Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka, volume 3 pp. 41, 69.
  2. Return of Messrs Brunner and Heaphy from exploring the West Coast (1846, 22 August) Nelson Examiner 
  3. Tuckett, F. (1843)  Letter 13 January.  Doc. No. MS 156++, Hocken Library, Dunedin.
  4. Taranaki (1850, August 10) Nelson Examiner, p.95
  5. Mackay, J. Jr (1861)  Outwards Letterbook 22 March.  Doc. No. MA Collingwood 2/1.  Wellington, N.Z : Archives New Zealand
  6. Mitchell, H.A. & M.J. (2004)  Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka, vol. 1 pp384-388.  
  7. Mitchell, H. A. & M. J (2007)  Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka, vol. 2 pp309-318
  8. Mitchell, H. A. & M. J (2009)  Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka, vol 3 p145.

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Further sources - Tāmati Pirimona Marino


  • Day, K. (2010) Contested ground. Wellington, N.Z. : Huia
  • Mitchell, H.A. & M.J. (2004-) Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka:  A History of Maori of Nelson and Marlborough. Huia Publishers, in association with Whakatu Inc.Volume I: pp.131, 307, 388, 433.
  • Mitchell, H. A  & M. J. (2007) Te Tau Ihu o te Waka: A history of Māori of Nelson and Marlborough Volume 2, Te Ara Hou : The New Society. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia Publishers in association with the Wakatū Incorporation pp. 63-65, 94, 117, 127, 145, 151, 154, 162, 209, 215-216, 239, 269, 271, 273, 296, 298, 303, 308, 310-312, 318, 319, 353-354, 396, 421-422, 433-434, 445-446.
  • Mitchell, H. A  & M. J. (2009) Te Tau Ihu o te Waka: A history of Māori of Nelson and Marlborough .Volume 3. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia Publishers in association with the Wakatū Incorporation Volume III:   pp. 41, 69, 77, 182, 183, 184, 186, 190, 191, 192, 197, 211, 212, 229, 233, 234, 235, 238, 239, 243.



  • Mackay, J Jr (1861)  Outwards Letterbook 22 March .  Doc. No. MA Collingwood 2/1.  Archives New Zealand, Wellington
  • Tuckett, F. (1843)  Letter 13 January  Doc. No. MS 156++, Hocken Library, Dunedin

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