Story: Flags

Te Kooti's flag

Ringatū leader and prophet Te Kooti used a number of flags of his own design. The icons on this flag, of both Christian and traditional Māori significance, had special meanings. Historian Judith Binney argued that 'WI' marked the holy day (every 10th day in the Pai Mārire calendar) and that the letters also stood for the holy spirit, Wairua Tapu. In her opinion the crescent moon was a tohu (portent) of a new world, while the cross stood for the fighting Archangel Michael.

The flag in this picture (to the right of the cabbage tree at the top) was captured by government and kūpapa (Māori who supported the Crown) forces during the battle of Te Pōrere, near Tūrangi, in October 1869. Lieutenant Wirihana Puna of Whanganui was the man who actually captured the flag. Here, it is shown in February 1870 with Captain Gilbert Mair (standing next to the shovels at left) and a group of Te Arawa fighters known as the Arawa Flying Column. It was given to the colonial museum (the predecessor of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) in 1870 and remains at Te Papa.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: 1/2-020327-F

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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Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Kerryn Pollock, 'Flags - Māori flags', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/zoomify/33977/te-kootis-flag (accessed 12 December 2018)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 20 Jun 2012, reviewed & revised 20 Apr 2016