Story: Kotahitanga – unity movements

Page 3. Parliamentary unity movements, 1870 to 1900

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Repudiation movement

The repudiation movement was led from Hawke’s Bay and rejected land sales it considered unjust. It met from 1871 and developed within Ngāti Kahungunu in Hawke’s Bay. Hēnare Matua of Ngāti Kahungunu was a leader of the movement and he was supported by two politicians: Henry Robert Russell and John Sheehan. Karaitiana Takamoana was another leader. The Māori language newspaper Te Wananga was an organ of the movement.

Northern kotahitanga movements (Waitangi and Kohimarama)

During the 1870s and 1880s there were two different Kotahitanga parliamentary movements. In 1879 the first Māori parliament was held at Ōrākei in Auckland, in the house called Kohimarama after the 1860 Kohimarama meeting of chiefs. It was organised by Paora Tūhaere, who called it to talk about the Covenant of Kohimarama as well as the Treaty of Waitangi. The final Kohimarama parliament was in 1889.

Another parliament was held at Waitangi between 1881 and 1890. In 1881 a large meeting house, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, was opened at Waitangi to host the parliaments.

The Kotahitanga Parliament

In 1892 the various movements came together at Waitangi as the Paremata Māori, or Māori Parliament. A structure was agreed to, including national elections. The parliament was to have a lower house (Whare o Raro) and upper house (Whare Ariki). The first premier (pirimia) was Hāmiora Mangakāhia, while the first speaker (pīka) was Hēnare Tomoana. The focus of the parliament was legal validation from the New Zealand Parliament and retention of Māori land. It had its final meeting in 1902 at Waiōmatatini on the East Coast.

Minister of Pākehā affairs

The Kauhanganui, or parliament of the King movement, had a lower house, like the New Zealand Parliament, while its upper house (like the Kotahitanga Parliament) probably took its name ‘Whare Ariki’ (house of nobles) from the British House of Lords. While the New Zealand government had a minister of native affairs, the Kauhanganui had a minister of Pākehā affairs.


The Kīngitanga, or King movement, also had its own parliament. The Kauhanganui was established at Maungakawa around 1890. It had a council of ministers and 12 tribal representatives (the tekau-mā-rua). There was a lower house (Whare o Raro) and an upper house (Whare Ariki), and ministers. The head of the Kauhanganui was ultimately the Māori king. News of its activities were reported in the Kīngitanga newspaper, Te Paki o Matariki. A constitution was written in 1894 and the Kauhanganui met until the 1920s.

Māori councils

By the end of the 19th century a new, state-sponsored form of kotahitanga was emerging through the Māori councils and Māori land councils. These initiatives, known in Māori as Te Kotahitanga Hou, were led by Apirana Ngata (who also helped form the Te Aute College Students’ Association). Māori councils were elected by tribal members, but were overseen by the government. An annual meeting of the councils, much in the mould of the previous Kotahitanga meetings, was held from 1903.

How to cite this page:

Basil Keane, 'Kotahitanga – unity movements - Parliamentary unity movements, 1870 to 1900', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 June 2024)

Story by Basil Keane, published 20 Jun 2012