Hemi Parai or Parae belonged to the Ngati Haumia o Taranaki iwi which came to Port Nicholson area in the 1830s. His parents were Whanga te Ataura and Tapui a Tini. Hemi's first wife was Tawhirikura Karopihia and they had 2 children Tahana Niwa and Arapera Rongouaroa or Ranauaroa. Hori Kerei Pakuahi was Hemi’s mother's brother. Later Hemi married the widow of Wi Kingi te Awhitu called Pirihira Matangi and had two sons Te Awhi Parai and Mohi Parai born about 1859. They were half brothers to Hana te Wera (1833-1925).
As a young man Hemi Parai joined with Mohi Ngaponga in leading a group of their people to settle in the area first at Ngaraunga and then at Te Aro. Patukawenga awarded specific areas to iwi at the gathering on Matiu/Somes Island in 1835 before the departure of the Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama for the Chatham Islands. Mohi Ngaponga was awarded the area of Te Aro between Kumutoto and Waitangi streams, and Paekawakawa.
Hemi Parae signed the Deeds of Release at Te Aro in 1844 and in September 1847 he was appointed a native land assessor just before the first of the McLeverty awards were signed. His signature appears on a number of leases relating to Tenths land on behalf of others but on occasions he appeared to have unique rights. Sections no. 5 and no. 9 in the Te Aro Pa were Crown granted to him in the 1860s. In 1863 he was one of only 3 signatories to land granted to the Te Aro Natives (Ngati Ruanui and Taranaki) at Porirua, who were still living in Wellington. Some who had signed had died and of the 11 still living 8 now lived in Taranaki. Hemi Parai was very active in writing to either Governor Grey or his officials concerning matters relating to Maori land.
Ward A. Port Nicholson … 1820-1840. 1998.
Maori Land Court. Wellington MB No. 1, p.16, 87.
Alexander Turnbull Library. Manuscripts MS: Papers – 0032 – 0695B.