The story of Te Kooti 1868-73

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Te Kooti was a Māori leader and founder of the Ringatū religious movement. He was exiled to the Chatham Islands in 1866, but escaped two years later and successfully evaded government authorities in the central North Island and East Coast regions. SCIS no. 1966150 

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Banner possibly used by Te Kooti

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

Prisoners exiled to the Chatham Islands

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Waitangi, Chatham Islands

This photo taken by Alfred Martin of the Chatham Islands shows Te Kooti’s jail behind the courthouse with a flag in front of it. Te Kooti was arrested in 1866 for warning local Pai Mārire of action to be taken against them. He, along with a boatload of Pai Mārire followers, were exiled to Chatham Island (Wharekauri). Te Kooti spent 2 years on the islands. It was here when he lay ill with a fever that he described being spoken to by God to teach and lead his people. On 4 July 1868, Te Kooti and around 300 prisoners overpowered a visiting ship (the Rifleman) and forced the crew to sail them back to the East Coast of New Zealand.

Martin, Alfred, fl 1866-1899 :Waitangi, Chatham Islands

Alexander Turnbull Library

The Te Kooti trail, 1927

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Te Kooti Chair, Urewera

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Story: Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki -

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Ruakituri NZ Wars memorial

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Grants of land to Rewi and Te Kooti

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Te Kooti’s whip

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Ringatū

DigitalNZ

Sketch of Te Kooti made at Te Teko

Alexander Turnbull Library

Te Kooti

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

The meeting of Josiah Firth with Te Kooti

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Te Pōrere redoubt

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Redoubt at Onepoto

Alexander Turnbull Library

This bone club (kotiate) was carried by Te Kooti and the tomahawk (pātītī) was carried by Peka Makarini – one of Te Kooti’s trusted lieutenants. These weapons were designed for close combat. European trade had a significant impact on Māori weapon technology. Many warriors carried an adapted pātītī in their belts as a back-up weapon to firearms. Te Kooti was known to have carried his whalebone kotiate with him throughout his campaigns.

Weapons carried by Te Kooti and Peka Makarini

Alexander Turnbull Library

The arrest and last days of Te Kooti

In this article Colonel Porter writes about his pursuit of Te Kooti in Opotiki, then his face-to-face meeting with him to persuade him to give himself up peacefully and to give up his plans to travel to the Waikato. When the request was denied Porter was forced to arrest Te Kooti. After his trial in Auckland, Te Kooti was then confined to a plot of land given by the Government. It was here that Te Kooti spent the rest of his life till his death in 1893.

TE KOOTI RIKIRANGI. (Otago Daily Times 20-6-1914)

National Library of New Zealand

Te Kooti’s body

Te Kooti died on 17 April 1893 at Te Karaka. He was first buried in Maromahue in Waiotake. Later on, his grave was opened and his coffin taken away. Māori at that time believed that he had risen from the dead like Jesus Christ. One story is that his body was spirited away to Gisborne in the dead of night, but the final destination remains undisclosed. This was done in keeping with custom, for fear that relatives of Te Kooti’s enemies may desecrate his grave.

TE KOOTI'S BODY. (Clutha Leader 15-2-1910)

National Library of New Zealand

Ko Whakaari Eripi

Ko Whakaari Eripi at Te Whaiti was opened by Te Kooti in 1884. It was supposed to be Te Kooti’s most sacred whare in Te Urewera country. Matches, pipes and tobacco were prohibited inside this house. This watercolour by Thomas Ryan in 1891 shows an elaborately carved whare with Te Kooti’s predictive words for the house ‘Ko Whakaari Eripi on the sloping maihi (barge board). Unfortunately, the whare was abandoned because of an ill omen in the carving on the central pole (poumua) - a lizard (ngarara) was depicted upside down.

[Ryan, Thomas], 1864-1927 :Te Kooti's sacred house at Te Whaiti called Ko Whakaari Eripi which is one of the most sacred worshipping whares in the ...

Alexander Turnbull Library

Te Kooti's flag, Te Wepu

According to Judith Binney’s book “Redemption Songs,” this flag came into Te Kooti’s possession when he captured it in 1868. Te Kooti called it Te Wepu (the whip) because of the crackling noise it made when it flew. The flag measured around 16 meters in length and was made by nuns in Napier. It was decorated with a crescent moon, a cross, a six-pointed star and a bleeding heart. This was Te Kooti’s war flag. It was lucky that Gilbert Mair from the Waikato Militia made an ink drawing of the flag when he captured it in 1870 – because its current status is a mystery. Was the flag cut up by a museum and used as dusters, was it shortened, was it stolen, or is in the possession of the Ringatū chu

[Mair, Gilbert] 1843-1923 :Te Kooti's flag, Te Wepu [1921?]

Alexander Turnbull Library

Mohaka April 1869

On 10 April, on his way to Te Huki pā in Mohaka, Te Kooti attacked settlements in the surrounding area. He did this to stock up on food supplies and ammunition, and for revenge against tribes that opposed him. He left many Māori dead – men, women and children. Also killed were the Lavin family and an elderly farmhand (seven people in all). This was done because John Lavin had been part of the militia during the war in the upper Wairoa.

Cooper, Alfred John 1831-1869 :Waiparu-paru. Mohaka 1860 Mouth of Mohaka. Sims' Public House in foreground. Riddle's woolshed and craft in the dist...

Alexander Turnbull Library

Te Kooti in 1887

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Weapons carried by Te Kooti and Peka Makarini

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Te Kooti defeats Captain Wistrup's Force, 1868

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

The pursuit of Te Kooti

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Te Whai-a-te-Motu meeting house

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Armed Constabulary posts: Ōpepe, 1870s

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