This is a drawing of the battle flag of prophet and military leader Te Kooti. It is known as Te Wepu (the whip) and was 15.8 metres wide and 1.2 metres high. It was made by nuns from Greenmeadows, Napier, for Ngāti Kahungunu. Te Kooti captured it from the tribe in 1868. It was subsequently captured from Te Kooti by Captain Gilbert Mair in 1870. Mair gifted it to a museum, which cut it up for use as dusters.
There are various interpretations of the symbols. One interpretation is that the crescent moon is a portent of a new world, while the red cross is the fighting cross of the Archangel Michael. Another interpretation is that the crescent moon represented the Old Testament and the cross the New Testament. The mountain has been interpreted as representing New Zealand, while the bleeding heart represents the suffering of the Māori people.
Using this item
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.