As mentioned on the homepage, Moriori are the indigenous people of Rēkohu and Rangihaute. The ancestors of Moriori arrived on the islands around 1000 years ago.
Tribal traditions tell us that the founding ancestor of Moriori, Rongomaiwhenua, came from eastern Polynesia and his younger brother Rongomaitere sailed on to Aotea (thought to be Aotearoa).
It appears that there was a period of voyaging between Aotearoa and Rēkohu. This explains the similarities and shared ancestry of some mainland Māori tribes with Moriori. The tuakana, or elder line, stems directly from Rongomaiwhenua.
All Moriori today trace their ancestry back to Rongomaiwhenua.
What distinguishes Moriori from Maori, is their adherence to a covenant of peace which they have observed for over 500 years and which remains a beacon of hope for Moriori today. This covenant, known as Nunuku’s Law, has enabled Moriori to survive for centuries on these far flung islands.
The Moriori of today are well established in all levels of society, business and commerce, politics, sports and the arts, across Rekohu, New Zealand and around the globe. Individuals have excelled in various fields through the past 170+ years as individuals, rather than as Moriori, because for many many years being Moriori was something to be ashamed of. Government publications, such as the School Journal in 1916 stated that these people were “lazy, stupid people with flat noses and very dark skins.” Other publications called them sub-human, the lowest of the low and not worthy of concern for.
By adhering to their covenant of peace, and through the determination that enabled them to exist on these amazing, but sometimes bleak islands for centuries of mist, rain and wind, Moriori have emerged into the sunlight of the 21st century with purpose and dignity. Armed with education, experience and justification, Moriori are re-asserting their rightful status as a people of New Zealand, and contesting the injustices that have been dealt them since 1835. Where successive governments have been complicit in these injustices, even if only by ignoring them, the mere fact that Moriori even exist is a constant reminder of the strength of these people as a people and the power of peaceful resistance.
In 2005 Moriori celebrated the opening of a marae on Rekohu.
Kopinga marae is the base for Hokotehi Moriori Trust, which is the mandated organisation that represents the nearly 1000 people identified as Moriori – the descendants of Rongomaiwhenua and Rongomaitere on the islands of Rēkohu and Rangihaute (Chatham and Pitt Island), in New Zealand and elsewhere.
The Trust has operational support based on mainland NZ. There are 8 trustees, 3 from Rēkohu and 5 from New Zealand (South & North Islands).
Hokotehi is involved in several sectors of the island’s economy including fishing, farming and tourism. The trust also provides cultural, social and educational services for members.
Hokotehi Moriori Trust is the mandated Imi body authority for Moriori people and is involved in negotiations on behalf of Moriori with the Crown and other government and non-government agencies. The Trust is tasked with developing a commercial, cultural, language and resource base for Moriori. The Trust also offers a peace scholarship: The Hirawanu Tapu Peace Scholarship.
The Moriori philosophy of peace and harmony has sustained Moriori through the darkness and despair of the recent past. It is a beacon of hope and inspiration for Moriori and a gift for humanity.
Moriori entered into negotiations for settlement of grievances under the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi and in August 2019 signed an agreement with the Crown.
Do you want to know more about Moriori and the settlement of Rekohu? Have a look at this unit plan from Education Resources. It contains lots of interesting FACTS about these magical and mysterious islands on the edge of the world. Just click on the picture to the right.