Maori Flags and Banners
though long strings of feathers floated from the tall stern-pieces of their war canoes, the Maori people in former times did not possess flags similar to those of the Pakeha.
However they were at once attracted to them, for they had a keen interest in signs and symbols, and quickly learnt how much importance their Pakeha visitors attached to these bright cloths.
When James Busby, British Resident at the Bay of Islands, suggested in 1834 that the Maori people adopt a flag of their own, the northern chiefs readily agreed to this. After some discussion they voted in favour of a large flag having a red St George's Cross on a white ground, and in the top left-hand quarter a second St George's Cross on a blue ground. Within the quarters of this upper area were four white stars representing the Southern Cross.
New Zealand's ‘First National Flag’
The flag was hoisted amid much ceremony, and was declared to be the national flag of New Zealand. But apart from the fact that ships bearing it had the protection of the British navy, the flag meant little to the Maoris in the north, and nothing at all to the people in other parts of the country.
Ten years later, resentment against the growing strength of the newcomers found expression in the famous incident in which Hone Heke four times cut down the Pakeha flagstaff at Kororareka, regarding it as a ‘rahui’, a post erected to claim possession of the land.
When war broke out in the 1860s, many sections of the Maori people sought new symbols to serve as a source of strength and a rallying-point in their struggle. Under their
This drawing of the flag of the Maori King was made in 1863 at Ngaruawahia. Many of the Maori King Movement flags had three symbols similar to these ones. According to several writers, they represent the three islands of New Zealand.
This figure is on a Hauhan pennant, one of several flags in the Dominion Museum. The cross and the border of the flag are red, on a white ground; the figure is red and black, with a blue strip at the neck.
The huge pennant at the top of this page is Te Wepu (The Whip), one of the war standards of Te Kooti. Fifty-two feet in length (representing, it is said, the weeks of the year) and four feet deep, it was of bright red silk with white embroidery. Te Wepu was made by Catholic nuns in Hawkes Bay for chiefs of the Ngati Kahungunu tribe, but was captured in battle by Te Kooti, who reinterpreted its imagery: the bleeding heart symbolised the sufferings of the Maori people and their determination to fight for their land, and the mountain symbolised Aotearoa. According to some accounts the crescent moon represented the Old Testament, and the cross the New Testament.
Another well known flag belonging to Te Kooti is illustrated in an earlier issue of Te Ao Hou (No. 45, page 11).
The Hauhau flag illustrated on page 32 is one of several that are now in the Auckland Museum. The figure is five feet high, and is
This red and white flag flew at Gate Pa, near Tauranga, during the heroic battle of 1864. The star is said to represent the Star of Bethlehem.
The flag of Titokowaru, the famous Taranaki warrior who fought against the Pakeha in the 1860s. It is red and white, and seven feet six inches in length.
The flag of Te Ua, prophet of the Hauhau faith. ‘Kenana’ is the Maori form of Canaan in the Bible. The outer area of the flag is red, and so is the lowest of the three symbols. The lettering and the other two symbols are black.
This handsome flag, captured in the Hunua ranges in 1863, hangs in the entrance to the Auckland Public Library. It is red, white and black (in the drawing the black area is represented by stripes).
The tall flagpoles or ‘niu’ which were the centres of worship of the Hauhau cult were hung with many different flags. One kind, of which several have survived, was known as a ‘Riki’, and represented the Angel Gabriel; it was usually a pennant with a cross at the wider end. Gabriel was regarded as an avenging angel, and was believed to have inspired, the prophet Te Ua. In Te Ua's flag ‘Kenana’ the trefoil device, which may have been copied from a playing card, is said to represent the Trinity.
King Movement Flags
The Maori King movement also had many flags, one of which is illustrated on page 33. Other flags bear the words ‘Kingi’ or ‘Niu Tireni’ (New Zealand). James Cowan in his book ‘The Maori Yesterday and Today’, page 85, illustrates a later and most complicated one which features the Tainui canoe, the rainbow god Uenuku and the Pleiades (Matariki), together with a cross, a crescent moon and the sun. Another similar flag flown at Ngaruawahia today appears on page 30 of Te Ao Hou No. 41.
Many of the old flags are very well sewn, for often their makers were girls who had learnt needlework at the mission schools. The beautifully made flag ‘Aotearoa’ was sewn by a young half-caste woman named Heni Pore who had been to school in Auckland in the 1850s. Many years later she met the writer James Cowan and told him the history of the flag.
‘I made that flag in our camps as we travelled about in the Hunua bush in the latter part of 1863. It took me about three weeks to complete the work, doing it as opportunity offered.’
Cowan adds that at that time Heni was about 23, ‘with two or three children which she and her mother and sister carried on their warlike wanderings. She carried a gun, too, and was able to use it.’
Many Have Not Survived
Altogether there are approximately 20 Maori war flags still in existence, as well as some drawings in the Dominion Museum and elsewhere. However in many cases nothing is known of their history and symbolism. Other flags were captured but have not survived; Captain Gilbert Mair in 1870 presented Te
Kooti's Te Wepu to a museum, but later was furious to find that it had been cut to pieces and used for dusters.
Here is a contemporary description of another flag which is apparently no longer in existence. It was captured in 1860 at the Battle of Waireka, in the Taranaki War.
‘The devices on the flag were Mt Egmont, or Taranaki, and the Sugar-loaf Rock at New Plymouth, with the letters M.N. (Maori Nation), the figure of a heart and star, or the sun, on a red ground. The natives explained these symbols as meaning that the land from Egmont to the sea was the land of their forefathers: that the heart of the Maori was set upon having this land; and that the sun or star was the eye of the Deity.’
Two Maori Women
Honoured by Queen
two maori women with most notable records of service to the Maori people were made Members of the British Empire in this year's New Year Honours.
Miss M. M. Kewene
Miss Mabel Mahinarangi Kewene, M.B.E., was born at Mangere, Auckland. Her family comes originally from the Waikato, and she is a great grand-daughter of Kewene Te Haho of Kawhia.
Miss Kewene trained at Green Lane Hospital in Auckland for her nursing certificate, and later at Gisborne and Invercargill for her maternity and midwifery certificates.
In 1949 she was appointed to the Te Puia Hospital, north of Gisborne, and since 1959 has been matron there; the East Coast, she says, ‘is almost a second home to me now.’
Miss Te K. Riwai
Miss Te Kiato Riwai, M.B.E., who is a Chatham Islander by birth, was educated at Te Wai Pounamu College in Christchurch. After completing her nursing training she spent the last two years of World War II nursing in Italy and England, and was awarded the British Empire Medal for her military nursing services during this period.
Always interested in Maori welfare work, she 12 years ago joined the Maori Affairs Department, and is a senior welfare officer working in a huge area that extends from Motueka in the north to Southland and the Chathams in the south.
New Maori Studies Course
At Victoria College
the victoria university council has appointed Dr Joan Metge, of Auckland, as senior lecturer in the newly established Maori studies section of the department of anthropology.
Dr Metge took an M.A. degree at the University of Auckland in 1952, and subsequently spent three and a half years engaged in fieldwork research among Maoris living in Auckland and in ‘Kotare’, a rural community in Northland. After studying at the London School of Economics for two years, she was awarded a doctorate of philosophy degree by the University of London. She returned to New Zealand for further research on Maori community life, and in 1961 she joined the lecturing staff of the Department of University Extension, University of Auckland.
Dr Metge's recently published book, ‘A New Maori Migration: Rural and Urban Relations in Northern New Zealand’, is based on her field research in Auckland and at ‘Kotare’ in the North.
The Maori language and culture section of the Maori I course at Victoria University is being taken by Mr Bill Parker, of Ruatoria, a member of the Ngati Porou tribe. Mr Parker, a senior lecturer with the Wellington Regional Council of Adult Education, is well known for his wide knowledge of Maori language and culture. For some years he has read the Sunday evening Maori News.
The preliminary course in Maori language, designed for beginners who wish to take Maori I in the following year, is being taken by Mrs E. B. Ranapia, who is senior Maori teacher at the Correspondence School in Wellington, and a member of the Maori Language Advisory Committee.
It has been decided that the ‘double vowel’ system of spelling the Maori language will not be employed in this new Victoria University Maori studies course.