Māori King movement - 1860-94

Page 5 – Maintaining Te Kīngitanga

Struggling to survive

By the early 1870s, the Kīngitanga was struggling. Living conditions within the Rohe Pōtae (the Māori King's territory) were poor. Allies such as Ngāti Hauā had resumed selling land even before Wiremu Tamihana’s death in 1866, and other tribes outside the Rohe Pōtae allowed the Native Land Court to issue titles to their land, despite having placed it under the Māori King's mana.

In the 1880s, partly to relieve supply problems and partly to increase support for the movement, Tāwhiao visited Kīngitanga marae around the North Island. He was always accompanied by hundreds of supporters, and these visits were later institutionalised as Poukai: annual ceremonial visits to enable the king to meet the people and gather revenue.

By 1886 the Land Court was at work within the Rohe Pōtae. The Kīngitanga could have moved its base to Kāwhia or Aotea, but this would have isolated Tāwhiao's followers from the Waikato tribes. Any move north was blocked by the confiscation line. In 1888 Tāwhiao was forced to choose between accepting land awarded to his followers in the Compensation Court and the dispersal of his people. He accepted the land. A new settlement was developed at Pukekawa, near Mercer. In 1893 Tāwhiao moved to Pārāwera, south-west of Maungatautari.

Living in Ngāti Maniapoto country had been difficult from the start. Ngāti Maniapoto feared that Waikato actions might lead to the confiscation of their lands. The fact that Ngāti Maniapoto had escaped confiscation upset many Waikato. Some Ngāti Maniapoto feared that Waikato would claim the land on which they were now living. In the end Ngāti Maniapoto decided to test their title in the Land Court, thereby ignoring one of Tāwhiao's key edicts.

In 1879 Rewi Maniapoto was 'received like royalty' in Auckland and provided by the government with a house in Kihikihi, on its side of the aukati (the boundary between Crown and Māori territory). This cleared the way for a deal with Ngāti Maniapoto that allowed the government to begin building the main trunk railway across their territory in 1885, ensuring European access to the Rohe Pōtae.

When Rewi Maniapoto returned to the Kīngitanga fold, any hope of a Māori 'state-within-a state' in the central North Island was effectively dead.

How to cite this page

'Maintaining Te Kīngitanga', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/maori-king-movement-1860-94/maintaining-te-kingitanga, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 25-Feb-2020