Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 26 (March 1959)
– 22 –


This famous haka has been edited for us by Rev. Tipi Kaa, of Te Kaha who used a translation and brief commentary given to him by the late Sir Apirana Ngata.

Te Kiri Ngutu is still frequently performed by East Coast groups on important occasions. Although the text, taken strictly, would suggest that the performers are hostile to the European, the Maori does not really feel the haka in that way. For instance, it was performed before Lord Bledisloe when the Waitangi Treaty House was opened in 1934; then, it undoubtedly symbolized deep gratitude. When performed before Prime Ministers on East Coast maraes, Te Kiri Ngutu is felt as a respectful greeting. It expresses the proud and defiant spirit of Ngati Porou.



Kaea: Ponga ra! Ponga ra!
Katoa: Ka tataki mai Te Whare o nga Ture!
Ka whiria te Maori! Ka whiria!
(E) Ngau nei ona reiti (E) ngau nei ona taake!
A ha ha! Te taea te ueue! I aue! Hei!
Kaea: Patua i te whenua!
Katoa: Hei!
Kaea: Whakataua i nga ture!
Katoa: Hei!
Kaea: A ha ha!
Katoa: Na nga mema ra te kohuru
Na te Kawana te koheriheri!
Ka raruraru nga ture!
Ka raparapa ki te pua torori! I aue!

Te Tinana

Kaea: Kaore hoki te mate o te whenua e
Te makere atu ki raro ra!
Katoa: A ha ha! Iri tonu mai runga
O te kiringutu mau mai ai,
Hei tipare tana mo te hoariri!
A ha ha! I tahuna mai au
Ki te whakahere toto koa,
A ki te ngakau o te whenua nei,
Ki te koura! I aue, taukuri e!
Kaea: A ha ha!
Katoa: Ko tuhikitia. ko tuhapainga
I raro i te whero o te Maori! Hukiti!


Translation by Sir Apirana
(The Rising)

S: The shadows fall! The shadows fall!
Ch: The House which makes the laws is chattering
And the Maori will be plaited as a rope
It's rates and it's taxes are biting!
A ha ha! its teeth cannot be withdrawn! Alas!
S: The land will be destroyed!
Ch: Hei!
S: The laws are spread-eagled over it!
Ch: Hei!
S: A ha ha!
Ch: The members have done this black deed,
And the rulers have conspired in the evil;
The laws of the land are confused,
For even the tobacco leaf is singled out! Alas!

The body of the haka

S: Never does the loss of our landed heritage
Cease to burden our minds! A ha ha!
Ever it is upon our lips, clinging
As did the headbands of the warriors
Arranged to parry the enemy's blow!
A ha ha! I was scorched in the fire
Of the sacrifice of blood, and stripped
To the vital heart of the land,
Bribed with the Pakeha gold! Alas! Ah me!
S: A ha ha!
Ch: Was it not your declared mission
To remove the tattoo from Maori lips

– 23 –

A ha ha! Na te ngutu o te Maori, pohara,
Kai kutu, na te weriweri koe i homai ki konei
E kaore iara, i haramai tonu koe
Ki te kai whenua!
Pokokohua! Kauramokai! Hei!
Kaea: A ha ha!
Katoa: Kei puta atu hoki te ihu o te waka
I nga torouka o Niu Tireni,
Ka paia pukutia mai e nga uaua
O te ture a te Kawana!
Te taea te ueue! Au! Au! Aue!


Relieve his distress, stop him eating lice
And cleanse him of dirt and disgust?
Yea! But all that was a deep-lined design
‘Neath which to devour our lands!
Ha! May your heads be boiled!
Displayed on the toasting sticks!
S. A ha ha!
Ch: How can the nose of the bark (canoe) you give us
Pass by the rugged headlands of New Zealand,
When confronted with the restrictive perplexing laws
Obstacles that cannot be removed! Alas! Ah me!

Commentary by Sir Apirana

This Composition has come down the generations and had its greatest revival with topical adaptations in 1888, when the Porourangi meeting house was formally opened. Led by the late Tuta Nihoniho, a noted chief of the Hikurangi sub-tribes, a section of Ngati Porou registered their protest against the rating of their lands and the taxation of articles of every day consumption, specifying the “pua torori” or the tobacco plant. It was revived again at the Waitangi celebrations in 1934 and was adopted by the men of the 9th and 10th Maori Reinforcements as the “piece de resistance” of the recent celebration of the opening of Tamatekapua at Rotorua. Its main theme is not outdated, the complementary, yet seemingly, contradictory features of civilisation with the still novel but bitter pill of taxation. In the circumstances the vigour of the recitative and concomitant actions may be appreciated.

Commentary by Tipi Kaa (Te Kaha)

In Tuta Nihoniho's original composition the word “Kamupene” was used instead of “Hoariri”. Tuta was referring to the British Land Company which came out to New Zealand for the purpose of buying whatever land was available. It was eventually brought to Turanga, now known as Gisborne, by the late Mr Wi Pere who later became M.P. for the Eastern Maori Electorate. They bought quite a lot of land and Tuta viewed their activities with some apprehension. This actuated him to compose this haka we now call “Te Kiri Ngutu”. All the words which follow give vent to his feelings towards that company or towards the pakeha for that matter.

The haka was and still is used by the Maori as a means of expressing his approval or disapproval. Even among the tribes or sub-tribes this was and still is done and they enjoy doing it.