Topic: Heni Te Kiri Karamu (1840-1933)

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Heni Te Kiri Karamu (1840-1933) (also known as Heni Pore, Jane Russell and Jane Foley) claimed to be at the Battle of Gate Pā (Pukehinahina) which took place on 29 April 1864.

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Heni Te Kiri Karamu is also known as Heni Pore, Jane Russell and Jane Foley. She was likely born on 14 November 1840 at Kaitaia and was of Ngāti Uenuku-Kopako and Ngāti Hinepare (Te Arawa) ancestry.

It is said that Heni was educated at Thomas and Anne Maria Chapman's school of Te Ngae, Rotorua, as well as other mission schools. She became an assistant teacher and governess.

In approximately 1855, at around age fifteen, she married Te Kiri Karamu who worked as a gum-digger in North Auckland. They are said to have had five children together, separating in 1861:

  1. Sophia Te Kiri Karamu.
  2. Rangitauninihi Te Kiri Karamu.
  3. Rangiteaorere Te Kiri Karamu.
  4. Te Ngahoa Te Kiri Karamu.
  5. Atutahi Te Kiri Karamu.

In 1865 Heni was staying with relatives near Otaramarae, on Lake Rotoiti, when she was part of a group of Te Arawa who captured Tauranga chief Hori Tupaea. Tupaea was part of a group of Pai Marire travelling through the area:

We followed them up rapidly into the bush south of Ruato, and we soon came upon a number of Maoris with Hori Tupaea among them... Our chief Matenga called on the party to stop, threatening to fire on them unless they stood fast (Cown, as cited in Stokes, p. 84).

Thirty-four years after the Battle of Gate Pā (Pukehinahina) (29 April 1864), Heni claimed that it was she who gave Booth water. She declared that, being part-European, she was not under the tapu that forbade Māori women to fight in battle and therefore was allowed to stay and fight beside her foster brother Neri during the Battle of Gate Pā .

There is a brass plaque and stained glass window to her at the Memorial Church of St George in Gate Pā, Tauranga.

Skepticism and controversy surround her story however. For more information see The Foley Family. Tauranga tribe Ngaiterangi also expressed doubt over Heni's story (Bay of Plenty Times, 22 April 1898) and 'emphatically denied that even one woman was present at the Battle of Gate Pā'.

At Maketu, on 28 December 1869, Heni married Denis Stephen Foley. They had six children together:

  1. James Dennis Foley (1868-1936).
  2. John William Foley (1869-1913).
  3. Sophie Bertha Foley (1871-1944).
  4. Robert Henry Foley (1873-1934).
  5. Isabella Foley (1875-1876).
  6. Margaretta May Foley (1879-1903).

Heni died at King George V Hospital in Rotorua on 24 June 1933. She was buried in Rotorua Cemetery.



Bay of Plenty Times.

Clement, Christine. The Pioneers, Settlers and Families of Te Puke and District.

Clement, Christine & McCormack, Ellen (2012). The Pioneers, Settlers and Families of Katikati and District. 

Matheson, Alister  (Tauranga).

McCauley, Debbie (5 August 2011). Identity and the Battle of Gate Pa (Pukehinahina), 29 April 1864 (Tauranga Memories: Battle of Gate Pa, 1864 kete).

McCormack, Ellen (Tauranga).

Oliver, Steven. Te Kiri Karamu, Heni 1840-1933 (Dictionary of New Zealand).

Stokes, Evelyn (1990). Te Raupatu o Tauranga Moana: The confiscation of Tauranga Lands.

Who gave water to the wounded? (Tauranga Memories: Battle of Gate Pa, 1864 kete).


This page archived at Perma CC in March of 2017: 

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Heni Te Kiri Karamu (1840-1933)

First Names:Heni
Last Name:Te Kiri Karamu
Date of Birth:14 November 1840
Place of Birth:Kaitaia
Date of death:24 June 1933
Place of death:King George V Hospital, Rotorua
Place of burial:Rotorua Cemetery
Spouses name:Denis Stephen Foley and Te Kiri Karamu
Spouses date of birth:1840
Spouses date of death:29 May 1900
Spouses place of death:Katikati
Spouses place of burial:Symonds Street Cemetery, Auckland
Date of marriage:28 December 1869
Place of marriage:Maketu
Fathers name:Thomas William Kelly (Irish whaling ship captain) and Richard Russell (foster father)
Mothers name:Maraea (Pihohau/Pikokau)
Name of sibilings:Neri (foster brother)
Name of the children:James Dennis Foley , Margaretta May Foley , John William Foley , Sophie Bertha Foley , Robert Henry Foley , Sophia Te Kiri Karamu, Rangitauninihi Te Kiri Karamu, Rangiteaorere Te Kiri Karamu, Te Ngahoa Te Kiri Karamu, Isabella Foley , and Atutahi Te Kiri Karamu