Story: Marriage and partnering

Eruera and Amiria Stirling

Photograph of elderly couple

One of the last taumau (arranged) marriages took place in 1918 between Eruera and Amiria Stirling. Agreed to by elders of the two iwi involved – Ngāti Porou and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui – the marriage took place in two stages. The first, in December 1917, saw the two teenagers introduced and sent to bed together. The second, in May 1918, was a huge church ceremony attended by Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Whakatōhea and Ngāi Te Rangi, with Archdeacon Williams officiating. The ceremony was followed by a tour of the East Coast, during which the young couple were given gifts, some of them substantial.

Remembering the wedding decades later, Eruera recalled ‘That was the trouble with our wedding, the two sides were fighting each other all the time, and there was no unity in the people.’ (Eruera Stirling, Eruera: the teachings of a Maori elder. Auckland: Penguin, 1985, p. 123.) He had resisted the marriage, wanting desperately to stay at Te Aute. Amiria had tried to run away, and her mother had not agreed to the marriage, publicly cursing the wedding. There was inter-iwi scrapping over the bridal dress. However, the marriage was a successful one. The couple are shown here in 1975.

Using this item

Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tāmaki
Reference: 2000/28/63
Photograph by Marti Friedlander

Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Megan Cook, 'Marriage and partnering - Marriage in traditional Māori society', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 April 2024)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 May 2011, updated 1 May 2017