Today in history: the arrest of Rua Kēnana

updated By Regan Paranihi
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty
Photo/Video credits - Ngā Taonga Sound & Film Archives / Alexander Turnbull / 100th Anniversary, April 2016

Today marks the 103rd year since the unlawful arrest of Tūhoe prophet, Rua Kēnana.

The police commissioner at the time, John Cullen, instigated a raid on Maungapōhatu which saw 57 police officers invade the small Tūhoe settlement in an attempt to arrest Kēnana for failing to appear before a judge when he was summoned in January 1916.

Kēnana was charged with illegally selling alcohol in 1915, it is alleged the government saw the charges as an opportunity to punish him for opposing the recruitment of Tūhoe men into the military.

As a result of the raids two lives were lost, Te Maipi Te Whiu and Toko Rua, who was Kēnana’s son.

Kēnana was arrested alongside seven others from the village on a range of charges from resisting arrest to treason.  He was sentenced in Auckland to 12 months’ hard labour and 18 months’ imprisonment.

Following the unlawful arrest, Ngāi Tūhoe constantly fought to get justice for Kēnana and in 2014 the Crown acknowledged their part in what happened at Maungpōhatu during the Tūhoe Treaty claims. 

By September 2017 the Crown signed an agreement to grant Kēnana a statutory pardon.

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