chatham islands

Events In History


Te Kooti fought on the government side in the New Zealand Wars before being exiled to the Chatham Islands on charges of espionage. He later escaped back to the mainland and fought a long guerilla war against government forces.

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Te Kooti's war

  • Te Kooti's war

    Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Tūrukiwas one of the most significant Māori leaders of the 19th century. For nearly four years he waged a guerrilla war unlike any previous conflict in the New Zealand Wars. His influence continues to be felt in eastern Bay of Plenty and East Coast, where his Ringatū faith remains strong.

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  • Page 3 - Exile and deliveranceChatham Island was home for Te Kooti and his fellow prisoners for two

The people who became the Moriori arrived on the islands from Eastern Polynesia and New Zealand around 1400 AD. They had no contact with other people for about 400 years, and developed their own distinct culture. They were hunter-gatherers with strong religious beliefs, and outlawed war and killing. In 1791 an English ship, the Chatham, was blown off course and landed on the main island. Later European sealers, settlers and whalers arrived. In 1835 two Māori groups, Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Mutunga, invaded the Chatham Islands. They had left northern Taranaki due to warfare, and were seeking somewhere else to live. Moriori decided to greet them peacefully, but the Māori killed more than 200 Moriori and enslaved the rest. Māori grew vegetables and traded with the Europeans. By 1870 most of the Māori had returned to Taranaki. Some of the whalers stayed on the islands and there was intermarriage between the different ethnic groups.

Meaning of place name
The first European to discover Chatham Island was Lieutenant William Broughton, commander of the armed tender Chatham, on 29 November 1791. There is doubt whether Broughton named the islands after his vessel or after William Pitt, the earl of Chatham. Both may be true, but the fact that the smaller of the islands was named Pitt supports the latter supposition.