Porikapa Rd is at Warea, a few kilometres south of the coastal town of Ōkato. It is named after Porikapa, a chief of the Ngā Māhanga a Tāiri hapū in Taranaki, who was born about 1798 and named Te Wareware.
Te Wareware became a deacon of the Anglican Church and took the name of an early Christian martyr, Polycarp, so became known as Porikapa. His conversion to Christianity was precipitated when he was taken into slavery after an attack on the Tātaraimaka pā around 1818.
He wore a full facial moko and lived at Parawaha pā on a sea cliff near Ōkato. All that remains of Parawaha pā today is a substantial and very significant archaeological site on the Mangakino Stream and an urupā.
Porikapa saw himself as a peacemaker between Māori and Pākehā. At the beginning of the Taranaki Wars he wrote a proclamation signed by him and three other chiefs. They placed it on the gate of the Rev Henry Handley Brown's house making it tapu (sacred), so Māori wouldn't come on the property. This ensured the safety of Brown, his family and 35 others who were sheltering there during the Battle of Waireka.
On 21 October 1876, Porikapa Te Wareware married his second wife Ruhira Takutae of Kaihihi. They were married by Archdeacon Henry Govett in St Mary's Church.
Porikapa died at his home on 4 December 1888, aged about 90. Rev H.H ("Parson") Brown officiated at his tangi, which was attended by more than 500 people. He was buried in the urupā at Parawaha. The urupā was fenced off until about 1928, when stock were allowed in to graze by the lessee. By 1960, the headstone had been broken and the iron surrounds ruined.
After a visit to the gravesite in February 1965 by Taranaki Museum director Rigby Allan and Ōkato Anglican minister Rev Paul Reeves, a new headstone was erected, using the original inscription. It ended with the words "Blessed be the peacemakers".
This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.