Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki

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Te Kooti was named Akirangi in a prophecy by Te Toiroa foretelling his birth. According to the prophecy if Te Turuki had a child who died, followed by Te Rangipatahi having a child who lived, evil would come to the land. Te Turuki's child did die, and to escape the curse Te Rangipatahi buried his own son alive. But Arikirangi escaped and was adopted as a tamaiti whangai by Te Turuki.

In his naming ceremony he was dedicated to the war god Tu. He attended mission school, was baptized (when he took the name Te Kooti) and at one time had ambitions to become a lay preacher, but his wild nature, philandering with women and attacking European settlements with a gang of other young men, gave him a very bad reputation in the area. Finally the chief Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki led a punitive raid against his village.

In the 1850s he had a vision of the Archangel Michael who warned him that his behavior would bring great distress to his people. He fought with government forces against the Hauhau rebellion, but his brother was a Hauhau supporter, and Te Kooti was exiled without trial to the Chatham Islands with Hauhau prisoners in 1866. During his exile he received a number of revelations which led to him founding the Ringatu church, a syncretic Maori church.

On 4 July 1867 he and other prisoners hijacked a ship and escaped back to the New Zealand South Island. There followed a bloody war between his forces and those of the government. For two years Te Kooti and his allies had the upper hand, but the government forces eventually defeated him and he retreated to Te Kuiti, outside government control. For 11 years he lived there, establishing the Ringatu religion, until he was pardoned by the government in 1883. He was imprisoned for two days on trumped-up charges of unlawful assembly in 1889.

His church was a law-abiding and peaceable institution, after a beginning in violent bloodshed, and in 1891 he was granted land at Wainui. Traveling to the land in 1893 he had an accident and died of complications, just as he had prophesied in 1869.

He had at least 10 wives.


Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Also available at: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/
Binney, Judith. Redemption Songs: A Life of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki. (Auckland: Auckland University Press with Bridget Williams Books, 1997)


Criminal Convictions, Imprisonment
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