Opposition to land sales
Following the arrival of European missionaries and settlers to the Taranaki region, Ngā Rauru embraced Christianity and built up extensive trade networks, becoming prosperous. In 1848 the government had purchased land in south Taranaki. Some Ngā Rauru entered into a pact with other Taranaki tribes in the 1850s to oppose further land sales. Māori resistance to the sale of land at Waitara in 1860 was seen as rebellion against the government, leading to the outbreak of war in north Taranaki. In this conflict, some Ngā Rauru supported those who opposed the land sale.
War in south Taranaki
In 1859 a section of Ngā Rauru agreed to sell the Waitōtara block to the government. Although there was considerable opposition from other members of the tribe, the sale was pushed through in 1863. That year, war broke out again in Taranaki and continued until 1867. Government troops fought a ‘scorched earth’ campaign, destroying villages and cultivations. Ngā Rauru suffered the loss of many lives and a great deal of property. In 1865, over 150,000 acres (60,700 hectares) of their territory was confiscated.
Fighting resumed in south Taranaki in 1868, and many Ngā Rauru supported the Ngāti Ruanui resistance leader Tītokowaru. This time, government troops pushed Ngā Rauru back into the interior, destroying crops, livestock and dwellings. Before 1873, most were forbidden to return to their lands. In the early 1870s the Crown also acquired Ngā Rauru land outside the confiscation zone, without proper investigation of title. With their land holdings severely reduced, the tribe had virtually no economic power.
Ngā Rauru participated in the passive resistance movement of the spiritual and political leaders Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi, centred at Parihaka in central Taranaki. This movement protested against settlement of confiscated land by peaceful methods. Ngā Rauru people were among those expelled from Parihaka by government troops in 1881, and some were taken prisoner and sent to the South Island.
During the 1880s there were attempts to compensate Taranaki tribes, including Ngā Rauru, for their losses, and some land was returned. However, such land was under the control of the Public Trustee. Collective title customary to Māori was ignored, and returned land was sold or farmed by settlers under perpetually renewable leases. The Sim Commission of 1926–27 provided some compensation, but this was not seen by the tribe as adequate.
Political and religious movements: Rātana and Te Māramatanga
The fighting of the 1860s gave rise to new political and religious movements, and some Ngā Rauru became adherents of the Pai Mārire (Hauhau) faith, which originated in Taranaki. The search for a creed relevant to Māori aspirations continued. From the 1920s, many Ngā Rauru became followers of Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana, founder of a religious movement which later became a major political movement. However, some became disturbed by what they saw as a departure from Christian belief in the Rātana Church. Led by Ngāpiki Hākaraia and her husband Hoani, they became followers of a new religion called Te Māramatanga (enlightenment). From the 1940s, Te Māramatanga had its headquarters at Kai Iwi, but it declined from the 1950s. Some followers believe that another leader will emerge and revitalise the movement.