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The Maori guide "worth his weight in tobacco!"


A painting of Fox, Heaphy, Brunner and Kehu (smoking) with their packs and kit by a camp-fire.

Kehu was the Māori guide that showed Heaphy and his party the route down the West Coast that became known as the Heaphy Track. The track had been used by Maori for centuries.

Heaphy wrote of Kehu: ‘A good shot, one who takes care never to miss his bird, a capital manager of a canoe, a superb snarer of wildfowl and a superb fellow at a ford, is that same E Kehu; and he is worth his weight in tobacco!’

Kehu had an interesting history. He was originally from the West Coast but had been captured in inter-tribal warfare at age 12 and taken north as a slave. However, his captors recognised his talents and hired him out to The New Zealand Company as a guide. He led Charles Heaphy and Brunner on a very successful trip down the shoreline of the West Coast a year before the Kawatiri expedition.


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