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The Hauhau Movement


After the Waikato war, the New Zealand government wanted to get more control over their affairs so the British regiments began to leave. Fighting flared up all over the central North Island. Settlers and Maori allies took on more of the combat role and the fighting looked increasingly like a civil war.

As the tide of war turned against Maori, many tribes looked for hope in the direction of spiritual leaders. Many tried to stop the spiralling violence. One of them was Te Ua Haumene, a Christian prophet from Taranaki. Te Ua founded a new religion called Hauhau, after Te Hau (spirit of God), that was guided by principles of Pai Marire - goodness and peace.

Te Ua's followers believed that they were communicating with God through the winds and they erected huge poles, called nui poles, with flags that they could dance around. Te Ua declared a Pai Marire zone as a new aukati, a zone of peace.

Hauhau members began travelling around the North Island where they converted many to the new faith. But if Te Ua preached peace, his followers used the beliefs to justify war and soon began to clash with government forces. In 1864 Te Ua's followers launched attacks in Taranaki and Whanganui.

In June 1866 the Hauhau were attacked in Gisborne by the combined forces of European soldiers and their Ngati Porou allies. After the battle a large number of Hauhau supporters were taken prisoner and exiled to the Chatham Islands (among them was Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki, the future military leader and prophet.)

Te Ua was one of several prophets to emerge in New Zealand during this tremulous period. The Hauhau movement was a reflection of the experience of colonised indigenous people all over the world.

The combination of traditional Maori beliefs and Christianity was a way of coping in a changing world. The people turned to the spiritual or supernatural for salvation and this is what Pai Marire offered.


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