9 Acknowledgements of the Crown relating to Ngā Uri o Te Kooti Rikirangi
  • (1) The Crown acknowledges that several Crown actions provoked Te Kooti Rikirangi into taking up arms against the Crown. In October 1865, a Crown officer was responsible for the summary execution of the Tūranga Rangatira Pita Tamaturi during fighting on the East Coast.

    (2) In November 1865, Crown military forces launched an unjustified attack on Waerenga a Hika. Te Kooti was part of the Crown forces at Waerenga a Hika, but was afterwards arrested on suspicion of being a spy. Ngā Uri o Te Kooti Rikirangi consider that, to remove one of his economic rivals from Tūranga, an influential Pākehā trader persuaded the Crown to arrest Te Kooti. The Crown initially released Te Kooti for lack of evidence, but rearrested him in March 1866 without charging him.

    (3) Te Kooti persistently requested to be put on trial but the Crown did not put him on trial. The Crown exiled Te Kooti to the Chatham Islands where he was detained without trial in harsh conditions for more than 2 years along with other prisoners. Crown officials told Te Kooti and the other prisoners sent to the Chatham Islands they would not be released until the Crown had settled how much land it would confiscate in Tūranga as a consequence of Waerenga a Hika. The Crown acknowledges that it was reasonable in these circumstances for Te Kooti to lead the escape of prisoners from the Chatham Islands in July 1868.

    (4) Te Kooti intended to travel peacefully to Taupo when he led the prisoners back to the mainland. The Crown acknowledges that its unjust treatment of Te Kooti gave him reason to distrust the Crown when he was offered the chance to peacefully return to Tūranga after his arrival back on the mainland.

    (5) Te Kooti rejected a Crown requirement for his followers to lay down their arms, but only started to fight after being attacked by Crown forces when he began heading towards Taupo. He then accepted a take that originated with Raharuhi Rukupo to exact utu on the Crown officer responsible for the death of Pita Tamaturi before raiding Tūranga in November 1868.

    (6) The most important event in the stigmatisation of Te Kooti is the November 1868 raid on Matawhero during which more than 50 people were summarily executed. Colonel Whitmore, who was in command at Ngatapa in January 1869 when many Tūranga Māori were summarily executed by Crown forces, later said that all Te Kooti’s acts were committed in fair war and did not contravene Māori custom in war. The Crown acknowledges that this attack took place in a time of war, and, as is sometimes the case in war, both sides were guilty of such actions. However, nothing can justify the summary executions that took place at Matawhero, Ngatapa, and other places.

    (7) In 1869 and 1870, the Crown effectively confiscated Te Kooti’s land interests in the Tūranga flats. The Crown also offered a bounty of £1,000 for the capture of Te Kooti, dead or alive. In 1870 this bounty was increased to £5,000. Crown forces pursued Te Kooti across the North Island, and many members of different iwi were killed during this pursuit. It was marked by the use of scorched earth tactics, which caused enormous suffering for many of those who were associated with Te Kooti during the Crown’s pursuit. The Crown only ceased the pursuit in 1872 after Te Kooti was given refuge in Kingitanga territory.

    (8) In 1883, the Crown included Te Kooti in a general amnesty for Māori who had fought against it during the New Zealand Wars. However, Te Kooti was never able to return to Tūranga. In 1889, the Crown arrested Te Kooti when he tried to return to Tūranga, and a large armed party from Tūranga and the East Coast region assembled to block his progress. Te Kooti was denied legal representation, and a Resident Magistrate convicted him of disturbing the peace. Te Kooti was briefly imprisoned when he could not pay the excessive surety required for his bail. Te Kooti successfully appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court. However, his conviction was reinstated by the Court of Appeal where one of the Judges made racist remarks about Te Kooti.

    (9) Te Kooti’s inability to return to Tūranga prevented him from participating in Native Land Court hearings in Tūranga, and he was not included in any of the legal titles for lands which were awarded by the Court sitting in Tūranga. His descendants were deprived of much of their ancestral lands.

    (10) Te Kooti died in 1893, and his whānau record that his descendants have been physically attacked, spat at on the street, and ridiculed in public. This has also occurred in schools where Te Kooti’s descendants have commonly felt alienated in history lessons which have not addressed the motivations of Te Kooti in a fair and balanced manner. Some of his whānau have had to move districts for their safety.