Te Whāwhārua was called a myriad of names by the early European settlers in the early 1840’s. They were in awe of his size and stature so called him ‘Big Fellow’ – hence *Pikiwhara. He travelled from Kāwhia in the heke (migration) to settle here in Te Tauihu. He was adept at using traditional weapons, such as taiaha, mere pounamu, tewhatewha, pouwhenua as well as the introduced musket.
Te Whāwhārua made Motueka his home. He is recorded as a staunch supporter of the leaders Te Rangihaeata and Te Rauparaha and he travelled to Wairau to support his Ngāti Rārua whānau and their claim on the whenua there when the New Zealand Company was trying to take the lands to sell to new settlers.
Disagreements over this whenua resulted in the Wairau affray which ended with the deaths of 4 tūpuna and 22 Pākehā. Ahuta, the wife of Te Whāwhārua was killed at the affray, and their son Wirihana Te Whāwhārua was wounded. Wirihana stayed with Te Rangihaeata and the Ngāti Toa whānau who took him back to the North Island where he was restored to wellness.
Te Whāwhārua returned to his home in Motueka, after considering the outfall following the Wairau affray, he decided to leave the Motueka area to avoid any retaliation against his whānau for his actions, ensuring the safety of his whānau and their status as mana whenua in this rohe.
Uri (descendants) of Te Whāwhārua were able to attend the dawn unveiling of the carved pou that depicts him and cements his whakapapa to Mārahau and Motueka and recognises his connections to Wairau. Te Whāwhārua stands here as one of the tūpuna of the whenua in Mārahau for the whānau of Wakatū Incorporation.