The Danish pou features the first white man to settle in this area in 1830, the Dane, Phillip Hans Tapsell and his Maori wife Hineturama, a chieftainess of the Te Arawa tribe. At the top of the panel can be seen the sun rising by Maketu Point, “Te ihu a te waka”, and one of Tapsell’s sailing ships. Tapsell, an adaptation of the word topsail, was a name he adopted so he could serve on a British ship as Eng-land was at war with Denmark. His Danish name was Hans Felk given when he was born at Copenhagen, circa 1777. Tapsell was a tall striking figure reflecting his Viking origin, with fair hair, a long golden beard and a commanding voice. He arrived at Maketu in his fiftieth year.
His first marriage to Maria Ringa, a Ngapuhi mission girl in 1823 lasted only a few hours as she deserted him soon after the service. In 1830 Reverend Marsden married him to Karuhi the sister of Nga Puhi chief Wharepoaka. Some years after her death Tapsell’s third marriage in 1845, was solemnised by Bishop Pompallier to Hineturama, Rangatira of Ngati Whakaue, by whom he had six children.
In 1830 he opened a trading post at Maketu on behalf of a Sydney firm to buy flax fibre. Many Maori tribes were keen to sell him flax in return for muskets and am-munition. Tapsell was noted for his courage and firmness of character and his wis-dom in protecting his establishment with a cannon. During his long sojourn among the Maoris he acquired a remarkable knowledge of their traditions and cul-ture. He was highly regarded among the Arawa tribe and it was his influence that did much to establish friendly contacts with the Europeans.
Harakeke, the flax, which was such an important part of life, is incorporated into the design of this panel. The long flowing korus making Hineturama’s cloak also represent the Kaituna River.
Today there are many hundreds of Tapsells in all walks of life proud to bear the name of this brave and intelligent man who died at the age of ninety-four.
Designed and created by: Winiata Tapsell
Contributed by: Audrey Baldwin