Story: Kāwanatanga – Māori engagement with the state

Customary muru, late 19th century

This series of drawings by an unknown Māori artist shows an act of muru, or compensation for wrongdoing, in the Waikato. The first drawing shows members of a visiting tribe, Ngāti Koraki, being greeted by the host tribe, Pārāwera. After eating and discussing in front of the meeting house, the visitors produce horses as payment for the misdeed committed by one of their members. The custom of muru was recognised by the 1844 Native Exemption Ordinance. This was an example of colonial government taking account of the much greater economic and political strength of Māori at that time.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: A-081-001; A-081-002; A-081-003; A-081-004; A-081-005; A-081-006

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.

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How to cite this page:

Paul Meredith and Rawinia Higgins, 'Kāwanatanga – Māori engagement with the state - Implementing kāwanatanga', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 8 June 2023)

Story by Paul Meredith and Rawinia Higgins, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 1 Aug 2016