Horatio Gordon Robley
HORATIO GORDON ROBLEY :
Our English tipuna HORATIO GORDAN ROBLEY arrived in Auckland N.Z. 8th January 1864. He was part of the British defence which refused to allow Bay of Plenty Maori to retain control of their land. ROBLEY was involved in the battle at Pukehinahina, the so called Gate Pa war (29th April) and at Te Rangaranga (21st June). The Maori surrendered to the Imperial troops at Te Papa on the 21st & 25th July. In 1865 ROBLEY sought and was granted leave to join the Imperial and Te Arawa troops formed to pursue the dreaded Head Hunting Hau Hau who had killed the Rev C.S. VOLKNER at Opotiki on the 2nd March. He travelled as far South as Matata. The remainder of the year was spent around the Tauranga area.
He spent much of his spare time at Otumoetai, Matapihi, Maungatapu, and Maketu. During this time he became intimate with HARETE MAUAO of Matapihi. A child was born to HARETE during 1865 or 1866 and was named HAMIORA TU ROPERE. ROBLEY was the father. During his spare time he sketched the lifestyles of the maori of the area and became an authoritarian on Maori art and in particular Maori Tattooing.
He was an artist in his own right, and became possessed by the art of Maori tattoo. He wrote a book about the art form painting and sketching early Maori Moko, the actual MOKOMOKAI themselves and scenarios of the preservation of the dead. Much debate exists among ethnologists and historians on Robleys knowledge and credibility. Robley was exposed to Maori Culture via his association with the Maori of Ngaiterangi. Through his frequent forays into Maori villages and moving among Maori, Robley was exposed to and able to cull knowledge reserved for the select few. Robleys experiences were personal on hands. He lived and ate with the Maori of Ngaiterangi and with the knowledge imparted to him from Kaumatua and tribesman alike, he was taken into confidence.
The birth of his son HAMIORA TU consolidated his acceptance from the Maori populace. Hamiora Tu had 2 children a son HEPETA HAMIORA TU and a daughter TE HEPIWHARA HAMIORA TU . After living in Ngaiterangi as a child she came to Taranaki (Ngati Ruanui) and married Te Hauparoa Whareaitu. The union resulted in 13 siblings in all, with my three Aunties the only surviving. These Aunty are GOOGS TAPSELL, HUNA BROUGHTON, & HARETE TEKI. Horatio had on many occassions asked his mokopuna (grand daughter ) to travel to England to be with him. Her brother HEPETA never had any children and his grandfather wanted to enrol his sister TE HEPIWHARA in a refined English school. This never happened, correspondence to his son confirms this.
Robleys art works soon became much sought after pieces. He was an astute bussinessman and sold many of his sketches and paintings, to finance his purchases and excursions and lecture tours. Many of his art works are scattered through museums internationally. His private collection of artefacts has given anthropologists and ethnologists an insight into the art of Moko, the unique art of Maori Tattooing. Robleys tour of duty as a Major in the army domiciled here in New Zetland was for 2 years only. He returned to London, and on his return to Great Britain he visited curio and antique shops acquiring the first of what was to become an exquisite collection of MOKOMOKAI.
Many former whalers and seafaring sailors heard of his return and offered their collection of heads to him at a price. Impassioned by the memories of his sojourns in Aotearoa his search for MOKOMOKAI and other Maori curios gained momentum and he soon amassed a huge collection.
It is rumoured he did return to England with one MOKOMOKAI from Ngaiterangi, but this has never been substantiated. Research has supported his collecting the heads, however over a period of years on his return to Great Britain. He toured medical schools with his collection and had an exhibition at the famed Guild Hall in London for a year. My Aunties have a trunk full of letters and correspondence to their Grandfather Hamiora Tu, and this has been the source of much revelation. Robley at every opportunity drew and sketched individual postcards, posting these to his grandaughter, grandson, and many friends all over the world and now many of these have become collectors' items. I have seen personal letters & some of these postcards addressed to his Grandaughter, and these are held by Aunty Googs and also by Aunty Huna.
Horatio Gordon Robley's son
HAMIORA TU ROPERE
HARETE MAUAO - MAJOR ROBLEY
HORATIO GORDAN ROBLEY (ROPERE) met HARETE MAUAO during the NZ Wars 1866 - 67 when he resided in Tauranga. They had a son whom they named Hamiora Tu Ropere (Robley).
The English Regiment were ordered back to England by Queen Victoria so Robley Returned back to England. Major Robley never returned back to New Zealand. He kept in touch with his family and friends particularly his son Hamiora Tu Ropere. Hamiora soon met and married Te Pohokino (Ngati Awa Whakatane) and lived in Matapihi. They had a daughter whom they named Te Heipiwhara (My mother).
He always wanted to take his Grand daughter back to London but she refused to make the journey. Major Robley would have been proud of his son. He was a very learned person and was well known around the district for his oratory skills. Unfortunately a lot of our Great Grandfathers letters, coins, medals, photos, and curio’s etc sent to our Grandfather have gone missing.But we do have some post cards and letters Horatio sent to our mother.
Our Mother met our father Te Hauparoa Whareaitu from Hawera Taranaki and they married. The Whareaitu family are from Ngati Ruanui (Dalvanius) ancestors.
There was another Hamiora Tu from Te Puna. Many people were confused thinking they were the same man when spoken about. Their backgrounds were very different and were not of the same lineage.
To date, Major Horatio Gordan Robley has been blessed with;
3 Great Grandchildren
27 Great x 2
108 Great x 3
4 Great x 4
Te Heipiwhara Tu
My parents Te Hauparoa Whareaitu & Te Heipiwhara Tu
Whakapapa and Photographs Released and Authorised by Googs Weurangi Tapsell