Story: Ngā haki – Māori and flags

Ringatū flags: Te Wepu (1st of 2)

Ringatū flags: Te Wepu

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

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: A-173-031
Ink drawing by Gilbert Mair

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.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Malcolm Mullholland, 'Ngā haki – Māori and flags - Māori religious movements and flags', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 31 March 2023)

Story by Malcolm Mullholland, published 20 Jun 2012