Māori King movement - 1860-94

Page 4 – Raupatu

Land confiscation

The government decided to pay for the war by confiscating land, including the vast area it had occupied in Waikato. Confiscation of the land of Māori ‘engaged in rebellion’ was given a cloak of legitimacy by the New Zealand Settlements Act 1863. Grey had signalled the likelihood of such consequences in the ultimatum he issued as his troops invaded Waikato in July 1863: if they took up arms against the Crown, Māori would forfeit the ‘right to the possession of their lands guaranteed to them by the Treaty of Waitangi’.

The land confiscated included most of the lower Waikato district, including some areas occupied by neutral tribes and a third of the land of Ngāti Hauā. Māori called this confiscation the Raupatu. Ngāti Maniapoto largely avoided confiscation. Their land was difficult to access and not considered valuable. This seemed to confirm suspicions that the real purpose of the war had been to acquire fertile land nearer Auckland for settlement.

Tāwhiao declared that the fighting should end. Those calling for a resumption of war in response to the Raupatu became increasingly isolated within the movement. Tāwhiao banned a number of activities within his territory, including the surveying or selling of land, the operations of the Native Land Court and Māori assessors, the levying of rates, the building of roads and telegraph lines, and prospecting for gold.

Although he had rejected war, Tāwhiao refused to make peace with the government until all the confiscated land was returned.

A spiritual response – Pai Mārire and Tariao

In 1862 the Taranaki leader Te Ua Haumēne developed a new religion based on the principle of pai mārire (goodness and peace). Te Ua called his church Hauhau after Te Hau (the breath of God), which carried the news of deliverance to the faithful.

This faith grew out of the conflict over land in Taranaki. It was the first organised expression of an independent Māori Christianity. The terms Pai Mārire and Hauhau became interchangeable as labels for its followers.

In 1862 Te Ua had a vision of the archangel Gabriel, who instructed him to lead his people in 'casting off the yoke of the Pākehā'. The birthright of the Israelites (the Māori people) would be restored in the land of Canaan (New Zealand), and following a day of deliverance the unrighteous would perish.

The Pai Mārire disciples who travelled around the North Island between 1864 and 1867 attracted many converts, especially as confiscated land was occupied by military settlers. Against this backdrop, the founding principle of Pai Mārire was often subverted by violent elements. While some adherents stressed the need for peace, other Pai Mārire followers became drawn into armed conflicts. Civil wars broke out as iwi divided over the new religion.

Some Pai Mārire converts aimed to drive Pākehā from Māori land and believed a Māori nation could be created under Tāwhiao's leadership. Settlers feared a general uprising, but Tāwhiao, a convert to Pai Mārire in 1864, continued to reject violence, declaring In 1867 that 'the sword was sheathed'. In 1868, when the campaigns of Tītokowaru and Te Kooti erupted, Tāwhiao supported neither. He refused to grant Te Kooti sanctuary in the King Country until he too 'sheathed his sword'.

In the mid-1870s the Kīngitanga adopted the Tariao (Morning Star) faith. This combined Pai Mārire prayers with new forms of ritual. The Tariao were ministers of the new faith; Tāwhiao, as the head Tariao, communicated with them by issuing pānuitanga (announcements) which called on them to obey a list of rules. Roads, the telegraph, surveys and landselling were once again banned, while older Māori customs such as taua muru (punishing raids), the use of tohunga (priests) to curse enemies and the imposition of tapu (forbidden actions) were revived.

How to cite this page

'Raupatu', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/the-maori-king-movement-1860-94/raupatu-confiscations, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 25-Feb-2020