Story: Māori prophetic movements – ngā poropiti

Page 2. Te Ua Haumēne – Pai Mārire and Hauhau

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Te Ua Haumēne

Te Ua Haumēne had been baptised into the Wesleyan faith with the name of the scriptural prophet Horopapera (Zerubbabel). In 1864 he changed his name to Haumēne (wind man), indicating that he communicated with God on the breath of the wind (hau). The rituals of the new faith, Pai Mārire (good and peaceful), which Te Ua developed from 1862, focused on niu (news) poles, constructed from ships’ masts. The cracking of the ropes, along with the flags, were believed to convey messages on the wind from God.

Te Ua’s vision

Te Ua’s visions commenced after the dramatic wreck of a mail steamer, Lord Worsley, in 1862, near his home in south-west Taranaki. As a tribal leader who had joined with the Kīngitanga there, he upheld the aukati (defensive boundary) law which the ship had breached. The experience of the wreck lay behind his pronouncement on 5 September 1862 that the Archangel Gabriel had spoken to him, announcing the last days as foretold in the Book of Revelation. Te Ua’s teachings focused on Rura (ruler), who was Gabriel, and alternatively Tama-Rura (son-ruler), who was Christ and the archangel joined as one. His angel guardian for the times of war was, however, Riki, a shortened form of Te Ariki Mikaera (Archangel Michael).

Ua Rongopai – the gospel of Ua

Te Ua had composed Ua Rongopai (the gospel of Ua), a book of ceremonies and prayers, by 1863. A copy of Ua Rongopai made by Karaitiana Te Korou of Ngāti Kahungunu survives. It includes the order of service, reports of meetings of the leaders of Pai Mārire in Taranaki during 1864–65, and drawings of named, flag-hung niu poles. The religion became known both as ‘Pai Mārire’ and ‘Hauhau’, the two common refrains adopted at the end of prayers to refer to the breath of life, bestowed by God.


Because the religion was born in war-torn Taranaki and its chants included ritualised military phrases (‘Tahi, rua, toru, whā. Taihana!’ – One, two, three, four. Attention!), and its followers were involved in the renewed fighting from 1863, ‘Hauhau’ was interpreted as an aggressive statement: to strike (hauhau has various meanings). Hauhau became the name used by Europeans for all Māori opposition forces from the mid-1860s.

Emissaries of Pai Mārire

Te Ua sent out emissaries across the land in 1865. They carried the dried heads of European soldiers killed in ambush in Taranaki on 6 April 1864. One party also brought a live soldier. Te Ua’s instructions to these messengers have survived: Pākehā were not to be harmed. His message for Māori was the triumph of righteousness over the military; public rituals included ‘biting’ the heads, to destroy (devour) the soldiers’ power. But the circulation of the heads was mostly seen by Pākehā as a revival of ‘barbarism’. The execution of the missionary Carl Völkner in Ōpōtiki in March 1865, incited by an emissary, Kereopa Te Rau, increased the hostility. Pai Mārire was a religion constructed for both peace and war. It preached only that the people would survive in their ‘half-submerged’ land; it did not plan war.

Pai Mārire and Tāwhiao

After the death of Te Ua in 1866, Pai Mārire continued as the faith of the Kīngitanga. Matutaera, the second Māori king, had been rebaptised by Te Ua in August 1864 as Tāwhiao (bind the world). Tāwhiao took these teachings back to the King Country. In 1875 he named his religion Tariao (the morning star), and from March 1885 he initiated the poukai, a three-yearly circuit of royal tours of the Kīngitanga derived from Deuteronomy 14: 28–29. Just before his deathin 1894, an insignia was created for Tāwhiao. It is held at Te Hopuhopu, where the king’s parliament meets; it carries a carved image of Tāwhiao, with a large cross placed on his head, while the seven stars of Matariki (the rising Pleiades) are set in pāua shell on his forehead. The names and emblems look to a new dawn, while the inscribed message reads ‘Ko te mana motuhake’ (the separate authority of Māori).


Riwha Tītokowaru was a war leader and prophet influenced by Te Ua Haumēne. Te Ua’s death saw Tītokowaru rise to greater prominence in Taranaki. His religion included elements of Pai Mārire, Christianity and traditional religion. He rebuilt a at Te Ngutu-o-te-manu with nearly 60 houses. After war erupted with the government in 1868, he oversaw the reactivation of cannibalism and whāngai hau (offering the heart of an enemy to the war god Tūmatauenga). After the war, Tītokowaru espoused peace. He became involved in the passive resistance of the prophets Te Whiti and Tohu, spending time in prison for it.

How to cite this page:

Judith Binney, 'Māori prophetic movements – ngā poropiti - Te Ua Haumēne – Pai Mārire and Hauhau', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 June 2024)

Story by Judith Binney, published 5 May 2011