Topic: Rereātea - Midday News

Challenging myths about Māori prophet Te Kooti

By Jessica Tyson
  • Wellington

Next weekend a symposium will take place at Te Papa in Wellington to start a discussion around the legacy of the 19th-century Māori prophet and leader Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki.

Te Kooti has long been portrayed in history as a rebel who was pursued relentlessly by colonial forces for nearly four years.     

During the one-day symposium, speakers from a number of iwi will challenge the myths and share kōrero about his positive influence in their lives over generations. Some of these stories have not been shared publicly before. 

A descendent of Te Kooti and project manager for Te Tira Whakaari Trust Rikirangi Moeau says the symposium portrays the perspective of iwi who maintained a close and intimate relationship with Te Kooti and his faith Te Haahi Ringatū, despite his vilification and pursuit by colonial forces.  

"As a result of their allegiance to Te Kooti many iwi suffered greatly. However, relationships have endured over time and this symposium provides space for the voices of the iwi to be heard after generations of silence. These are their stories, as told by them." 

Head of Mātauranga Māori at Te Papa and an MC of the symposium Puawai Cairns is pleased that these vital stories will be shared in a public forum at the national museum. 

"It's important that cultural archives like Te Papa provide platforms for the multiple perspectives of our history, and where necessary help communities to tell their stories to set records straight." 

The event will begin with a powhiri Saturday September 8 in front of Te Hau ki Tūranga whare, the central taonga of the Ko Rongowhakaata exhibition at Te Papa.