Last modified: 2002-10-26 by sam lockton
Keywords: tino rangatiratanga | kotahitanga | waitangi | red ensign | te mana motuhake o tuhoe | maori | star: 5 points (red) | marsden (hiraina) | smith (jan) | munn (linda) |
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The Tino Rangitiratanga flag is the one well
recognised Maori flag in New Zealand.
John Harrison, 11 September 1998
The Tino Rangatiratanga flag is increasingly
becoming well recognised as a symbol of Maoridom.
John Harrison, 15 September 1998
I recently read some details of the Maori Independence (Tino Rangatiratanga) movement’s flag. The flag is black over white over red, with the thin white stripe being broken by a circular — almost spiral — pattern towards the hoist. It was designed in 1990 by Hiraina Marsden, Jan Smith and Linda Munn, and was the winning design in a national contest to find a “Maori Flag”. The symbology of the flag is as follows:
BLACK represents Te Korekore (the realm of potential being). It thus symbolises the long darkness from which the earth emerged, as well as signifying Rangi - the heavens, a male, formless, floating, passive force.As a whole, the design represents the balance of the forces of nature, masculine and feminine, active and passive, potential and physical, air and earth. It can also be interpreted as symbolising the white cloud rolling across the face of the land, as in the Maori name for New Zealand, Aotearoa ("Land of the long white cloud"). Source: Otago University Student Newspaper The Critic, Issue 10, April 1996.
RED represents Te Whei Ao (coming into being). It symbolises Papatuanuku, the earth-mother, the sustainer of all living things, and thus both the land and active forces.
WHITE represents Te Ao Marama (the realm of being and light). It symbolises the physical world, purity, harmony, enlightenment and balance.
The spiral-like KORU, symbolic of a curling fern frond, represents the unfolding of new life, hope for the future and the process of renewal.
In the newspaper Dominion of 4 February 1998 there was a news
report about a Maori-sovereignty flag of red, black and white which was
flown above the national flag of New Zealand at a publicly-funded
primary school of one hundred students, seventy of whom are Maori, in
the Northland community of Helena Bay, 40 km northeast of Whangarei.
This decision to fly the flag was reported to have angered several
politicians and local residents who claimed the flag is offensive and
inappropriate. Labour Maori-affairs spokesman Dover Samuels said that the
red, black and white flag was not the Maori flag but rather a symbol for
Maoris who believed New Zealand was a sovereign Maori state.
Michael Wang, 4 February 1998
The national holiday in New Zealand, Waitangi day, commemorates the signing of a treaty in 1840 between the British colonists and the Maori tribes of Aotearoa (New Zealand). Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint) the commemorations were disrupted by Maori rights activists unhappy about parts of the treaty which have been poorly honoured over the 155 years since it was signed.
Protests at the Waitangi commemoration site prominently featured several flags representing Maori unity /independence / freedom etc., including the Tino Rangatiratanga flag described above. Another flag prominently displayed was the Kotahitanga, or flag of Maori Unity, which is described as follows:
A horizontal tricolour, red over white over black, featuring a circular emblem on the central stripe (and extending slightly onto the other two), nearer the mast than the fly. The emblem contains the word Kotahitanga ("Unity" - literally something like "of one people", but I’m no expert on the Maori language) curved around a central red circle containing two crossed white mere (clubs) over what looks like a vertical spear or staff.
To further explain the Kotahitanga movement, the word literally means "oneness",
or sometimes "integration". "Kotahi" means either something
which is unified or "same" (Tahi is the Maori word for the numeral
"one"), and "Tanga" is the Maori equivalent of "ness",
as in "oneness", or "ship", as in "chieftainship"
("ranatiratanga", with "rangatira" meaning "chief").
The Kotahitanga movement itself is based on the philosophy that in order to
achieve anything, the Maori people must be united. At present, each individual
Maori iwi (tribe) functions as its own individual entity, and there is no single
organization or institution that can claim to represent all Maori (although
several attempts have been made). The Kotahitanga movement seeks to create such
an organization, believing that such is the best way to promote the interests
of Maori. There is some quite deep debate over the merits of such a movement,
with some Maori being strongly opposed to the idea, claiming that it will eventually
destroy the iwi, severing ties with tradition and history. It does not help
matters that different members of the Kotahitanga movement have different views
about how far it should be taken.
Thomas Robinson, 3 January 2001
[Spotted at event reported bellow.]
A very impressive flag in black, reddish-brown, green and white,
featuring a star on an arch over a central green area, all surrounded by
black. Vaguely reminiscent of the Kenyan flag.
James Dignan, 7 February 1997
This one is the flag of the self-sovereignty
movement of the Tuhoe iwi (iwi =
tribe, Tuhoe is pronounced TOO-hoy). The Tuhoe
people have traditionally been the most vocal in
their calls for Maori independence, and are based
in the Central Eastern North Island in an area roughly
bounded by the cities of Gisborne, Napier and Taupo.
James Dignan, 9 March 1999
The Tuhoe have always been one of the strongest and
most vociferous North Island tribes, and have very strong
tribal claims. The exact meaning of Mana Motuhake
I do not know — although there is a Maori-based political
party with the same name. Mana tends to mean power,
strength, pride, status, or social/political prestige,
so I would guess that Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe is
some form of movement promoting the Tuhoe’s political or
James Dignan, 12 May 1997
I have occasionally seen it with the words
"Te mana motuhake o Tuhoe" written in white capital
letters on the black stripe at the bottom of the flag.
James Dignan, 15 March 1999
by James Dignan, 26 April 2000
The Red Ensign was (and is) widely used by Maori on land. The specific provision
in New Zealand’s current flag legislation permits its use on land and the defacing
of the flag, in a Maori context only. This sanctions the long-standing custom
of applying white capital letters identifying the particular family or tribal
group whose flag it is. There are many examples, old and current — one example
in a photo to hand reads «TAKITIMU» — which is the name of one of the ancestral
canoes, and thus of a grouping of tribes who are descended from its crew.
Stuart Park, 9 November 1996
According to traditional legends, the Maori arrived in New Zealand in twelve
large canoes or waka, and some older, more tradition-minded Maori claim to be
able to recite their whakapapa (lineage/ancestry) back to one of the twelve
waka, much like the tradion in Israel of the twelve original tribes. In some
cases, I think the iwi and waka names are the same, but in most cases this is
not the case. For instance here, in the southern South Island, the main iwi
is Kai Tahu (also known as Ngai Tahu), whereas the local waka was Takitimu.
James Dignan, 26 April 2000
There have been and still are many other flags used by
Maori including the 1834 flag which is
still flown as a sign of independence, alongside other more recent flags
of Maori identity.
Stuart Park, 9 November 1996
February 6th in New Zealand is Waitangi Day, a day to commemmorate the signing
of the treaty in 1840 between the colonial settlers and Maori natives. As always,
Waitangi Day this year was the subject of Maori protests, mostly at the town
of Waitangi itself. As always too, there were various Maori flags shown on the
news - though sadly, as always, no explanation of them and no clear look at
them! Because of this, these descriptions are extremely vague: A square flag
with a large circle in the centre, such that it appeared to be a circle with
four “corners”. The circle was bright yellow, the corners were a duller, orange-ish
yellow. There appeared to be lettering on the circle, but I could not tell what
James Dignan, 7 February1997
[Spotted at the same event as previous.]
A dull red flag with a large black design in the
centre, which appeared to be either abstract or a traditional Maori design.
It looked vaguely like the Albanian flag.
James Dignan, 7 February 1997
[Spotted at the same event as previous.] A horizontally
striped flag with three wavy stripes, black, deep red, white. The red might
deep, possibly as deep as on the Georgian or even the
James Dignan, 7 February 1997 and 15 March 1999