Te Kooti's war

Page 7 – Te Kooti goes to Te Kūiti

In early June 1869, Te Kooti and about 200 of his followers left Tūhoe territory and crossed the Kaingaroa plains. On 7 June at Ōpepe, near Taupō, their advance guard ambushed a small party of Bay of Plenty Cavalry. Nine men were killed and much-needed arms and horses were seized. The group moved on to the southern end of Lake Taupō, where a number of skirmishes occurred. Te Kooti sent messages ‘into the Māori world that the land is his’.

Around 100 Tūhoe who were travelling with Te Kooti returned home upon hearing that hostile forces had arrived at Waikaremoana. Te Kooti proceeded to Waihī pā on the south-west shore of Lake Taupō, the home of Ngāti Tūwharetoa leader Horonuku Te Heuheu Tūkino IV, who along with a group of his people was effectively taken prisoner. Te Kooti declared that Ngāti Tūwharetoa had agreed to ‘adopt his religion’.

Te Kooti was invited to Te Kūiti, the residence of the Māori King – but only if he came in peace. He responded defiantly that he was coming to ‘assume himself the supreme authority which he coming direct from God was entitled to’. Accompanied by Horonuku and Ngāti Tūwharetoa, and his core group of around 60 whakarau, Te Kooti arrived at Te Kūiti on 10 July 1869. Rewi Maniapoto greeted Te Kooti as a kinsman (they were related through Te Kooti’s father) and Te Kooti, for his part, appeared more conciliatory. He had come not to depose Tāwhiao but ‘to rouse up the Waikato to take up arms’. A feast had been prepared, but at this point Te Kooti declared that ‘he should consider himself the host (tangata whenua) and that the Waikato were his visitors’. His men loaded their weapons and fired over the heads of the bewildered Ngāti Maniapoto. Te Kooti demanded recognition as the prophet for Waikato and asked Rewi to give Ōrākau to Tūhoe as payment for those who had died there in 1864.

With Tāwhiao refusing to see Te Kooti, there was a stand-off. When after 10 days Te Kooti prepared to leave, he was offered sanctuary: he could live on the Mōkau River under the protection of Ngāti Maniapoto. Following several days of discussions, Te Kooti and his party left Te Kūiti. Rewi Maniapoto rode with them, perhaps as a sign of support but more likely as a formal escort to ensure they left Ngāti Maniapoto territory.

How to cite this page

'Te Kooti goes to Te Kūiti', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/te-kootis-war/to-te-kuiti, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 26-Oct-2021