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Mere Kapa Ngamai I

d. 1852

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Mere, or Mereana Ngamai, or Mere Kapa Ngamai I, was the daughter of Rawiri Kowheta, who was also known as Rawiri Motutere and Maweuweu. Rawiri lived mainly at Koangaumu at Titahi Bay but visited Ngauranga regularly and stayed in a house built by his son in law Enoka Mangu. Arnold Park in Titahi is named after one of Rawiri's descendants. Mere belonged to the Ngati Te Whiti and Ngati Tawhirikura hapu of Te Ati Awa. She was one of four children, the others being Rawinia, Te Ngira, and Mere Tako (Mere Te Hamene). The mother of Te Wharepouri and Mere's mother were closely related.

Presumably she travelled with her family to Waikanae in 1832 in the Te Heke Tama-te-uaua. According to the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, she married James Harrison an American whaler (from Massachusetts) who lived on Kapiti Island. They had a son called James Te Tana o Te Taha, or, James Te Taha o Te Tana Harrison and a daughter called Mere Kapa Ngamai II or Mere Harrison. Mere Kapa I had another son called John who died at a young age. James (Jnr) married Julia Wallace at Opunake, and they lived at Patea. Julia died 11 September 1910, and was buried at Orimupiko Urupa, Opunake. James moved north to Tauranga where he died. Mere Kapa II (daughter) married James Robson in 1863 at St Peter's church Wellington and lived first at Carterton and then Stratford in Taranaki. In 1891 their daughter Mary Rachel Robson (d. 1939) married Henry Matthew Stowell (1859-1944). Mere and James Robson had a number of other children.

Mere Kapa Ngamai I lived at Kapiti Island until the death of her husband James Harrison about 1845. She then went to live with her father Rawiri Kowheta or Rawiri Motutere at Ngauranga. By 1847 she had married Wi Tako and went to live briefly at Kumutoto. After the earthquake in March 1848, Wi Tako and Mere Ngamai shifted to Ngauranga and then to the Hutt Valley where Mere Ngamai died in 1852. Two of her three children survived her. The next year in 1853 Wi Tako married her sister Mere Te Hamene.

References:
Wellington MB no. 1C p.36, 44, 80, 84, 102, 117; no. 2 p. 157 ; no. 12 p. 90.
Evening Post, 18th November 1939
Gibbons, P.J. "Stowell, Henry Matthew." Dictionary of New Zealand Biography..

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