Pai Mārire supporters

This watercolour by Lieutenant Herbert Meade (1842-1868) depicts a Pai Mārire ceremony at Tataroa on 27 January 1865. Meade and his guide Hemipo (shown standing aside from the proceedings) were taken prisoner by Pai Mārire supporters, but released after their fate had been determined at the ceremony.

Pai Mārire (Hauhau) supporters believed that rituals would protect them against bullets. A 'Niu pole' with three flags was a feature of Hauhau ceremonies. The 'Riki' flag or pennant was a war flag, while the 'Ruru' flag represented peace. The relative positions of these flags on the Niu pole indicated whether the spirit behind the gathering was peaceful or hostile. A third flag representing the tohunga conducting the ceremony was also flown. 

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