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Hauhauism: An Episode in the Maori Wars 1863-1866


page 75

The Niu.

By 1865 a niu stood in nearly every large village from Taranaki to the Bay of Plenty (except the Arawa country), and from the North of Wellington to the Waikato frontier. A remarkably lofty niu stood at Whakamero in the Ngati-Ruanui and Pakakohie country, inland from Patea; it was 70 or 80 feet high and was crossed with three arms. It was destroyed by Colonel Whitmore in 1869.1

Cowan states that the last remaining relic of the Pai Marire is at Riri-Kore.2 This, like some other of Mr. Cowan's statements, is not quite correct. There are, in fact, at least four well authenticated nius still existing.


The niu at Riri-Kore, which Cowan mentions, which was erected at the close of the '60-'70 war as a sign of peace.

The niu at Rongo-niu, named after the man who erected it, and put up at the beginning of the war. This niu is still in good order, probably owing to its being painted with Kokowai (red ochre). It has four extended arms, terminating with open hands, indicat-

1 Whitmore, Major-General Sir G. S.: The Last Maori War in New Zealand under the Self-Reliant Policy. London: Samson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington. 1902.

2 Cowan, J.: op. cit., Vol. II, p. 43.

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a welcome for all who would help to drive out the Pakeha. The hands point, roughly, north, south, east and west.

Another niu was cut, but never erected, and still lies at Ranana. This was intended to commemorate Moutoa. It is known as Pakira, so named after Hori Kingi to Anaua, who was pakira (bald). This niu is fast going to decay.


The niu at Arimata is in fine order, although it has never been painted with Kokowai. The top mast is missing, but the cross is still in good order, lying on the ground. The pole is an estimated height of 40 feet, and has been adzed with 15 equal sides (quin-decagon) the whole length.1

1 I am indebted to Mr. T. W. Downes, a pakeha-Maori and a member of the Polynesian Society, who has given me help on this point. His own researches into the nius at present in existence are described in Vol. 37 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, containing the Transactions and Proceedings of the Society.

New Plymouth, N.Z.: T. Avery & Sons Ltd. 1928. The article is headed, “A Tuahu on the Whanganui River.” p. 165, Vol. 37.