When fighting broke out in March 1860, Te Rei Hanataua led 130 Tangahoe and Nga Ruahine warriors to join Taranaki forces at Kaipopo pa, Waireka. The combined force of 400 men, including elderly warriors and boys, fired on Omata stockade and then engaged colonial troops at John Jury's farm. Caught in the cross-fire from men of the Niger , their losses included 17 chiefs, among them Te Rei Hanataua.
Te Hanataua, principal chief of Ngatiruanui, on information received from Mr Brown, is recorded as killed by the ‘Journal of Events’ dated 29 March 1860 and published in The Taranaki Herald 31 March 1860. Tamati Wiremu, a chief at Poutoko, near the road taken by the retreating taua and just outside the Omata Block confirmed information.
Hanataua (head chief), Ngatiruanui tribe is listed as killed in The Taranaki Herald 7 April 1860. The same list, with some spelling differences, is given in an open letter written Donald McLean.
Te Rei Hanataua of Ngati Ruanui is named in the letter in Maori by Native Secretary Donald McLean, dated ‘Taranaki’, 4 April 1860. Prickett, writing of the spelling differences, notes that McLean is likely to be correct because of his knowledge of Maori and he will have known some of the men.
Wellington Carrington in an account of the various contingents on their way north, published by The Taranaki Herald of 7 April 1860, wrote that Te Hanataua headed the Ngatiruanuis who fought the battle on Jury’s farm. Carrington wrote that he was killed and he is described as the head chief of the whole of the Ngatiruanui Tribe.
Grayling (1862:93; Fig. 3) names Te Rei Hanataua as a ‘leading chiefs’ killed. His sources are described as ‘…derived from native sources’ by G.W. Woon, publisher of The Taranaki Herald from 1852 to 1865.
Hanataua was said to have been buried at Poutoko by The Taranaki Herald of 7 April in the ‘Journal of Events’ dated 31 March.
There appears to be some diferrence of opinion [The Waikato missionary quoted by Belich is the Rev. Robert Maunsell of Te Kohanga. Maunsell wrote to C.W. Richmond on 16 April 1860, among other matters giving examples of ‘rumours & opinions’ circulating in the Waikato, one of them concerning Waireka:
‘…that that victory was all fudge; only nine natives having been killed; while 43 wounded soldiers were counted on carts at Onehunga, & nine dead & Hanataua, who the Gazette killed, was at the time of the battle at Ngaruawahia.’ (Scholefield 1960 I:564)]
The Taranaki Herald 31 March 1860, 7 April 1860. Gilbert, T. 1861. New Zealand Settlers and Soldiers, or the War in Taranaki, Being Incidents in the Life of a Settler. London. Grayling, W.I. 1862. The War in Taranaki, During the Years 1860-61. New Plymouth, G.W. Woon. Belich, J. 1986. The New Zealand Wars: and the Victorian interpretation of racial conflict. Auckland, Auckland University Press AWMM