Mormon Maori Prophecies and Apostasy

I must admit, before my trip to New Zealand over the holidays I had never heard of the Mormon Maori prophecies.  I knew that there are many Polynesian church members.  I was aware that the most popular religion in the island of Molokai (the spiritual center of Hawaii) is Mormonism, and that there are many Samoan and Tongan church members.  As for the Maori, I knew that they were Pacific Islanders.  I knew the men danced the haka and the women danced with poi balls.  I knew that they once practiced cannibalism (practice makes perfect!) and were considered fierce by early European seafarers who visited the islands.  I knew that one of their greetings (touching foreheads and sharing a breath) is similar to the Eskimos (rubbing noses).

So I was not a complete noob.  And yet, I had no idea that many Maori converted to Mormonism in the 1880s.  In the early days, 90% of the membership in New Zealand were Maori.  Even as recently as the mid-90s, 60% of church members in New Zealand were Maori.  We attended church twice when we were there; in Hamilton I would estimate 60-70% of the ward were Maori.  The Queenstown Branch had only six local members in attendance, two of whom were Maori.

What are the Maori Mormon prophecies?

Maoris Greeting Performed by Maori and a Visitor, at the Mormon-Sponsored Polynesian Culture Center Premium Photographic PrintHere’s a quick primer on the Maori prophecies for my fellow novices.  Maori families are patriarchal and elder members of the extended families are often considered to be prophets.  While many Maori had converted to Christian sects as a result of European missionary efforts, some were unsatisfied with their standing in these new religious communities.

  • Potangaroa was a Maori prophet.  In March 1881, he spoke in a gathering of several thousand Maori family members.  When he was asked what the right church was for the Maori, he fasted and prayed for three days.  Then he returned and said:  “You will recognize it when it comes. Its missionaries will travel in pairs. They will come from the rising sun. They will visit with us in our homes. They will learn our language and teach us the gospel in our own tongue. When they pray they will raise their right hands.”
  • Tawhiao was a Maori king, leader of the Waikato tribes who died in 1894.  In the 1880s, a newspaper quoted Tāwhiao as claiming a belief in Mormonism: “I was some time ago converted to a belief in the Mormon faith, and I now altogether hold to it. My people in the North are believers also in Mormonism, and it is my wish that all the Maori should be of that faith.”  While it’s recorded that he met with LDS missionaries along with other Maori leaders, the church has no record of Tāwhiao being baptized.  Other Māori joined the Church based on a prophecy they claimed Tāwhiao made in the 1860s—that messengers of God would come from over the Sea of Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean), traveling in pairs and teaching the Māori people in their own language. When some who heard Tāwhiao’s prophecy observed pairs of Mormon missionaries from the US teaching in the Maori language, they immediately accepted Mormonism.  It was also claimed by some Māori converts that Tāwhiao accurately predicted the site of the Church’s Hamilton New Zealand temple, built in 1958.
  • In 1830, a patriarch named Arama Toiroa told his extended family: “‘There will come to you a true form of worship; it will be brought from the east, even from beyond the heavens. It will be brought across the great ocean and you will hear of it coming to Poneke (Wellington) and afterwards its representatives will come to Te Mahia. They will then go northward to Waiapu but will return to Te Mahia.  When this Karakia (religion), is introduced amongst you, you will know it, for one shall stand and raise both hands to heaven.  When you see this sign, enter into that church. Many of you will join the church and afterwards one will go from amongst you the same way that the ministers came even unto the land from afar off.”  In 1884, two missionaries followed the path that Arama Toiroa had described.  According to Brother Whaanga: “In journeying northward they reached … Korongata, where many of us were assembled on the Sabbath day. Amongst the people who were there was a grandson of Arama Toiroa whose name was Te Teira Marutu. The meeting was conducted by Elder Stewart and his friends. The services were opened with singing and prayer, and a Gospel address was delivered, after which they sang again, and Brother Stewart arose to dismiss with prayer. In doing so he raised both hands and invoked God’s blessing upon the people.  As soon as the grandson of Arama Toiroa saw this he arose and declared that this was the church of which his forefather prophesied which would surely be firmly established amongst the Maori people.”

Before we get too excited about the uniqueness of these prophecies, Wikipedia also notes that Maori converts to other faiths also joined due to familial prophecies.  These faiths include the Ratana church, founded by Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana; the Ringatu church, founded by Te Kooti; and the Church of the Seven Rules of Jehovah, founded by Simon Patete.

Where Have All the Maori Gone?

Ex-Mormon discussion boards point out that many Maori have fallen away from the LDS church, although based on my own experience, there are still more Maori overall than Pakeha (white) members in New Zealand.  Apparently, many Maori converts came to believe they were descendents of Hagoth’s people in the Book of Mormon.  Is there any reason to believe the Polynesians or Maori are descendents from Hagoth or from Israel?  Gina Colvin of Patheos discusses the origin of this idea in her post “What Ever Happened to Hagoth?”:

The Mormon’s [sic] weren’t the first people to  come up with this idea of a semitic origin for Māori.  Samuel Marsden, the first CMS missionary to New Zealand was touting it back in 1814.  This idea of being ancestrally related to an oppressed class of Israelites roaming landless in the wilderness was a compelling one,  particularly when settlers began appropriating Māori land through legislative violation in the 19th century.  Māori adaptations of the Christian/biblical tradition were extraordinary and are worth studying in their own right.  But the Mormons bought their own brand of relevance to their 19th century Christian preachings.  Not to be outdone by the Anglicans, Methodists,  Ratana  and Ringatu,  the missionaries adapted the story of the Book of Mormon to give  it some compelling local relevance.  In doing so they hit on the story of Hagoth.  A 55BC ship builder who sailed off the coast of America never to be heard of again.

She concludes that the DNA, culture, and linguistics don’t point to Israel:

So I grew up feeling somewhat proud of Native American connections and studied Thor Heyerdahl  and those of his ilk religiously in my 20’s.  Yet this active pursuit of an understanding as to the ancestral origins of Māori has not over the intervening years lead me to Israel or South America at all, rather it has lead me to the Lapita culture of the Bismark Archipelago, to Melanesia, a West- East migration from Asia (including Taiwan) to  Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. And an eventual migration from Eastern Polynesia where the roots of the typically Māori material and linguistic culture began to take hold.

See full size imageLikewise, the migratory timelines are an obvious mismatch for New Zealand specifically as the Maori only populated the islands 800 years ago, about 1250 years too late for Hagoth, but just in time to conquer the people who were there before them, of whom we know little (well, our taxi driver in Rotorua claimed to know a little).  There are many Polynesian members who see themselves as descendents of the Book of Mormon people, and there are statements from prominent church leaders promoting the same claim.  These statements are taken very seriously by converts who see themselves in the stories of the church.  When science doesn’t support the claim, some leave.  On the other hand, apologists claim the science is complex.  And we also have the Malay theory of the Book of Mormon that has been discussed herehere and here.  If the Book of Mormon took place in an Asian setting, the Polynesian connection is restored (as well as resolving issues of geography, steel, horses, and elephants).

Ironically, facial tattoos indicate spiritual achievement in Maori culture, but were considered against the Word of Wisdom.

Marjorie Newton provides an in-depth look at the history of the LDS church in New Zealand in her book “Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealand, 1854–1958.”  Her book points out that these prophecies were not universally accepted as referring to the Mormon faith.  She also notes that many Maori converts were unwilling to forsake their own healing traditions for the laying on of hands done by the Pakeha elders.  She also reveals that much success was owing to Hirini Whaanga, a Maori convert and immigrant to Utah in the 1890s who returned to New Zealand to preach to his native people.  Other Maori cultural practices caused new members to feel conflicted between loyalty to their heritage and their new faith, including the practice of facial tatoos:

These tattoos had hereditary meaning for the Maori and signaled their rank and status within the community. Mormon missionaries, however, believed that they violated the Word of Wisdom and sought to discipline any member who received the tattoos after baptism or augmented already existing ones. The frequency with which such transgressions occurred, however, forced missionaries to treat the tattoos cautiously. One woman whom a local Maori branch leader had excommunicated had her sentence remitted to a simple act of public confession.

Louis Midgley describes his experiences teaching Maori during his New Zealand mission in the 1950s, and in specific how they responded to the Book of Mormon:

The Maori read the Book of Mormon differently than I did. I was anxious to find proof texts and was busy harmonizing its teachings with what I understood to be correct doctrinal teaching back in Utah. The Maori, in contrast, saw it as a tragic story of families in conflict and subtribes and tribes quarreling with each other and bent on revenge for personal insults and factional quarrels. They looked more at the larger patterns of events and less at what might be construed from particular verses. They saw stories of ambitious rivals to traditional authority trying to carve out positions of power and territory for themselves. They perceived how ambition led to quarrels within families and between extended families and tribes. They understood the atonement as an exchange of gifts between our Heavenly Father and his children, somewhat in the way their own relationships were marked by reciprocal acts of hospitality as manifestations of love.

Jemaine Clements is not a Mormon; his mother is Maori, though.*

He elaborates that in teaching Maori families, many of whom did not convert (although nearly all were welcoming and inviting), they gave their reasons for not committing to the new faith:

They explained that their problems were not with our message but with sin. I was stunned by their candor. They explained in painful detail that they were too weak, too addicted to beer or other vices, to join the church. They pointed out that they were very much like the people described in the Book of Mormon; they lacked the spiritual strength to stay on a righteous path for long. In fact, they saw the Nephite book as a description of their own situation, and they saw themselves as, at least partially and in some way, descendants of Lehi’s colony in America.

What do you think?

  • Are the Maori of Israelite descent, or was this wishful thinking and proof texting on the part of early converts and zealous missionaries?
  • Were church leaders’ statements just cultural artifacts based on their own understanding or were they prophetic pronouncements?
  • Were the Maori prophecies messages from God about the truth of the Mormon church or did the Maori imagine the connections to Mormonism to be stronger than they were?  Were the prophecies so vague as to be meaningless?
  • Is this an example of why signs and “proof” are not good methods of conversion and ultimately fail to change hearts?  Or is God’s hand evident in the Maori prophecies, and while the spirit is willing the flesh is weak?
  • Did cultural factors – heritage vs. new faith – cause Maori to leave the LDS church?  Does the church still need to be more culturally sensitive to the traditions of converts or have we learned this lesson the hard way?


*Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords. Incidentally, if you go to the Rotorua Museum and see the introductory film (which is so frequently unintentionally hilarious that I began to question if it was intentional) that’s Bret McKenzie in the role of volcano victim Edward Bainbridge.  That dude is everywhere in New Zealand!  (He is also FIGWIT in LOTR).

**This post was originally published at Wheat & Tares.



  2. Claire says:

    Well I’m a descendant of Maori prophecy. Both my gggg grandfather and ggg grandmother had visions of missionaries and the Book of Mormon. It can be hard to live up to the expectations of that heritage.

  3. “Are the Maori of Israelite descent” I don’t think so. Only to the extent that any other population on earth might be descendents of Abraham.

    I served my mission in Arizona, and the prophesies listed are very similar to many made among the pueblo tribes, the Hopi in particular. Men traveling two by two, carrying a book, speaking their language, restoring lost knowledge, healing with raised arms, etc., etc.

  4. marginalizedmormon says:

    I’m neither an apologist for dna links to “Israel” (the definition of “Israel” gets tricky) nor a naysayer about the true descendancy of native Americans/Polynesians from Lehi–

    I think it is meant to be convoluted; otherwise there is too much emphasis on biology, and Jesus Christ made it quite clear that He could raise up posterity to Abraham from stones–

    I am fascinated with how the Maori read the Book of Mormon, though. I completely agree. I got tired of Nephite supremacy in my youth and now read it very differently, and I am not Maori or native American, though I have other minorities in me (just not anyone who could be construed as being descended from Lehi)–

    as for dna connections to the tribe of Levi, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal back in the early 90s; I cut it out to keep it, but I eventually lost it–

    about how a tribe in Africa claimed to be descended from Levi; they had a form of religion that was very similar to Judaism, and when they were tested it was found that they were, indeed, connected by dna to Levi.
    Many wanted to emigrate to Israel, but white Israelis weren’t so welcoming.

    Race–the trump card.

  5. The Other Clark says:

    The old (thick) Book of Mormon institute manual had a quote from Spencer W. Kimball affirming that the Maoris were descendants of Hagoth. Prophet+official church publication+other apostles (e.g Matthew Cowley) saying the same thing=fairly authoritative and official.

  6. Meldrum the Less says:

    I recall Maori converts who migrated to rural Utah as a youth. The original generation were kind humble people with exceptional faith. They were also excellent softball players. The generation my age was a mixed bag. More sports, less faith.

    In Japan in the 1970’s it was commonly believed by Mormon converts that they were also descended from the Hagoth migration. I had a ZL who collected over 20 similarities between Japanses culture and that of ancient Israel. And I think I have posted this before; it is believed by some Japanese that Christ didn’t really die on the cross in Jerusalem but escaped to Japan where he lived a full life, had a family and was buried there in a specific place.…/The-Little-Known-Legend-of-Jesus-in-Jap…‎ō,_Aomori‎

    An old article in BYU studies indicates that at least the author took these beliefs seriously.

    Click to access 10.2PalmerDidChrist-d21ef652-b3b5-4042-ad04-48255fab153d.pdf

    A side note: I recall a painting, I think it was in one of the old tabernacles in rural Utah, depicting a Mormon Priest blessing the sacrament. He had both of his hands raised up. If a Maori watched a Mormon missionary blessing the sacrament back at that time, he might have had his hands raised up. I don’t know when this pracrtice began, ended or how widespread it might have been.

  7. it's a series of tubes says:

    Yet while authoritative and official, it might not be correct. No matter either way.

  8. J.A.T. says:

    You can’t really delve into this topic without using Matthew Cowley’s writings . . .

  9. nzMaori says:

    Now they have determined that the DNA of polynesian and Maori lead back to the bones of ancient american ancestors.. I am of Maori descent, and I always knew that we were more closely linked with the Ancient Americans.

  10. cesc101 says:

    falliabilities of human…,
    complicated by too much faith in science!

    I don’t much DNA, but i just believe with inter-racial marriage, migrations,etc, anyone’s DNA could eventually be linked with anyone. (hey, science changes!)

  11. Personally I think the prophecies were a little vague…. it is interesting how the Maori are turning up in New Zealand though! I didn’t know that.

  12. Sharee Hughes says:

    Meldrun the Less, your link to the Smithsonian article didn’t work. Can you please repost it?

  13. Sharee Hughes says:

    Never mind, Meldrun, I found the article.

  14. Master Blaster says:

    In light of 1st Nephi 22:4,

    And behold, there are many who are already lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem. Yea, the more part of all the atribes have been bled away; and they are cscattered to and fro upon the disles of the sea; and whither they are none of us knoweth, save that we know that they have been led away

    there is an interesting webpage devoted to the idea that Israelites came to Japan.

    While there are a lot of hokey theories out there, this guy seemed to have done his homework and presents fairly convincing evidence.

    There is also a tradition that Christ visited the Lake Baikal region of Russia. Considering that bodies of water have always seemed to have been symbols of Gospel teaching (i.e. Dead Sea, lowest point on Earth, symbolic of Christ descending below all things when baptized in Jordan River, presumably near the Dead Sea, etc.) It seems interesting that the Lake Baikal is the largest by volume body of freshwater or ‘living’ water on Earth and is known for its clarity and purity.

    Surely the below passages from 3 Nephi 16:1-3 can very well give credence to the traditions that Christ visited Japan and/or Lake Baikal and even other areas.

    1 And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister.

    2 For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my voice; neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them.

    3 But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them.

  15. MarginalizedMormon, I did a post on the Lemba tribe in Africa that you are referring to. See

  16. Louis Midgley says:

    I have been busy and have not been able to respond to this most interesting item. I appreciate Angela quoting some language from on of the essays I have written on my own experiences back in 1950-52 with Maori and with the Maori Saints in New Zealand.

    I am, I must admit, a bit puzzled by the title of this blog. Why link Maori poropiti (which is the English word “prophet” written in the special Maori English alphabet. It sort of carries the meaning of the Maori word matakite which means “seer.” Maori had (and still have) matakite. (I have met some, but will not discuss this matter in public. There is a tradition of Maori matakite using two seer stones (with the names rehutai and hukatai) even to receive divine wisdom. God willing, I plan on writing a little essay on this matter.

    Until recently the very best accounts of the faith of the Saints in New Zealand (and hence among the Maori) have been several essays by R. Lanier (Lanny) Britsch. The most detailed are the chapters in his Unto the Islands of the Sea (1986), pp. 253-345. But the truly remarkable new book by Marjorie Newton entitled Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealand, 1854-1958 has replaced all the older accounts. The one problem with this excellent book is that unfortunately Newton does not grasp the true significance of some of the stunning discoveries she has made.

    I was disappointed to find that Angela depended upon Gina Colvin. She seems to have unfortunately been influenced by poorly grounded arguments to reject genuine very old Maori traditions.

    That former Latter-day Saints have here and there on message boards boasted that “many Maori have fallen away” seems to be the reason for stressing apostasy among the Maori Saints. Part of the problem stems from the collapse of Maori culture in a world in which those people are in deep crisis. To get a sense of what has been lost, one needs to begin by paying close attention to Cleve Barlow’s Tikanga Whakaaro: Key Concepts in Maori Culture (Oxford University Press, 1991). This is, or was, the standard source. Barlow, who passed away recently was LDS, and he taught Psychology and Maori Studies at Auckland University. His book was reprinted 5 or 6 times.

    Cleve Barlow was the last Maori to actually undergo the specialized training in what was called a whare wananga (house of learning) where young fellows were instructed in esoteric lore. Cleve was a good friend. With his passing the last living link with the profoundly important esoteric cult that grounded Maori culture disappeared. However, his kind of learning has been taken up (and even surpassed) by Robert Joseph, who is also LDS. Rob has a PhD and currently teaches law at Waikato University. He has just published an essay entitled “Intercultural Exchange: Matakite Maori and the Mormon Church” in a collection of essays entitled Mana Maori and Christianity (Huia Press), pp. 43-72. To get some idea of Rob’s ability and style, have a look at his entry in Mormon Scholars Testify (see

    If one really wants to sense why some Maori Saints have gone missing, then one must begin to understand the kinds of problems and temptations that afflict those people, who are in New Zealand often driven into very violent crime. A good place to start is Alan Duff’s Maori: The Crisis and the Challenge (Harper/Collins, 1993). Duff is a Maori novelist. Perhaps some have encountered his novels. They are brutal and frank and accurate. Think of the movie version of Once Were Warriors, or What Became of the Broken Hearted, if you can stand a thousand repetitions of a certain four letter English word.

    I have also recently discovered a remarkable book by Jason Hartley entitled Ngaa Mahi: The “Pathway of the Stars. The title means “the work.” Hartley is from what I call the West Island (aka Australia) but is married to a Maori and knows Maori and Maori things that are important for the Saints to know and also for the New Zealand government to take seriously. Building prisons, he argues, will not cure the problem that Europeans have created by taking away (stealing) Maori land and destroying their traditional way of life. (I have two copies of Duff’s Maori, and I would be willing to mail one to anyone who would promise to read it.)

    One of the truly important contributions to understanding the reasons Maori joined the Church when LDS missionaries first encountered them involves their seeing in what those missionaries, who thought they were telling the Maori not to drink beer or gamble, but who without sometimes even realizing it were talking about a premortal existence for human beings and a war in heaven and so forth. The fact is that the esoteric Maori lore stressed a war in the 12th heaven when Io te Matua (Io the father or parent) and his 70 sons debates peopling the earth. So almost inadvertently those young missionaries, who at first had to work through translators, presented a version of a cosmology and deep history of the human race that fit rather nicely with what the Maori already believed.

    Marjorie Newton has actually brought much new information about a very important early written account of this Maori lore. She has discovered a host of things about John Jury (aka Hoani Te Whatahoro) and his role in recording in the 1860s the version of what was taught in the wananga. The story she tells of Jury’s role in translating the Book of Mormon into Maori, after which he joined the Church, and how he gave his very important manuscript containing the version of the esoteric lore taught and passed down by one Maori iwi (tribe) to the Church and then what happened to that manuscript, a version of which was eventually published in Maori and English by Percy Smith, is interesting and important. What Newton does not set out is the importance of what is in that lore in explaining why some iwi were open to what our missionaries taught. But the Brethren were. They commissioned a portrait of Te Whatahoro and then hung it in the Manti Temple for years. They also wanted to bring him to Utah so he could be endowed.

    My own first experience in New Zealand with the Maori and Maori Saints has subsequently filled my imagination. I have also made an effort to keep informed about Maori issues. New Zealand and its Maori and Pacific Island people provide for me both an enchanting and enchanted world. And I have similar feelings about other places I have visited in the South Pacific, including Tahiti (the Society Islands), and the Cook Islands, where the Maori came from around 1300.

    What is called apostasy in the title of this blog is not all that far from the kinds of problems that Tongan, Samoan and other Pacific Island youths get into when their devote parents move to the United States. The traditional social order is crushed and gangs and criminal activities tend to take over. This has little or nothing to do with DNA or that kind of thing. If anyone would like to see a remarkable film that sets out all the problems of a community whose norms are being eroded, then my advice is to see the film version of the wonderful novel entitled The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera (which is a Maori version of the English surname Smiler, like Midgley becomes Mitari, and so forth). The message of that film is that only the recovery of the old social order will overcome the degradation brought on by European greed. If one reads some of Witi’s other novels one will discover that his own family, about which he is writing, are LDS.

  17. Phillip Lambert says:

    Brother Midgley I am an lds maori 5th generation member and Im currently writing a paper on Io as being part of the pre-christian maori religion. I am also writing a key (interpretive commentary) to the Lore Of The Whare Wananga. I regularly attend Hiriwini Jones (aka Selwyn Jones) wananga and will be presenting my own wananga along with a High Priest from my ward who’s maori name is Te Taketake. He has much korero that has been passed onto him from various Tohunga and Kaumatua.

    I’ve been collecting early references and primary sources relating to the Cult of Io – Thomas Kendal says that maori revered a Supreme Being back in 1827 but does not mention Io. Read “A Legacy Of Guilt” by Judith Binney for further info extreme interesting korero on the esoteric aspects of te ao maori.

    The Earliest mention of Io I can establish is from the missionary John Williams who mentions him in his diary in 1842. Then the next reference would be Whatahoro Jurys korero from the mid to late 1850’s. Then John Gorst’s qoutes korero from the “Raising Up” ceremony or rite of the first maori king Potatau Te Wherowhero in which Io is invoked the book was published in 1867 but the ceremony with its wording (as recorded by the newspaper reporters at the event) was recorded in 1857 and then their are other references from that tme period on.

    The reason why I mention this is because many tauiwi scholars and some maori scholars believe that Io is a post christian construct added to the maori cosmology in the latter half of the 19th century. It would seem that the tika as it came out of the whare wananga is being attacked. However the restoration of this precious korero from the whare wananga is part of the restoration of the gospel and has been the means and continues to be the means by which both maori and pakeha join the church through various wananga being held.

    Brother Jones says that the korero from the whare wananga as it is interpreted by the spirit and presented to our people is part of the restoration of the fullness of the gospel. As I have researched this the more I am convinced of the truthfulness of his statement as more and more hither to unknown tawhito korero is coming out. I read some of your comments on another blog about your experience accompanying brother jones on his wananga when you came to NZ if the korero excited you then you wont believe what knew material he has now!

    However I have been privileged to be the recipient of some unknown korero (unpublished) in my resent researches. Two examples will be of interest to you.

    Pei Te Hurinui Jones foremost Tainui scholar had prepared a manuscript on the Tainui whare wananga to be published in 1948 but he died in 1974 and it sat gathering dust.. His manuscript was based on the writings of his uncle Hurunui Te Wano a High Priest of the Io Cult. Pei was taken through an unusual ritual in which he was woken early one morning by his mother and taken to his uncle who was sitting on a chair situated in the mahau of the wharenui (veranda) The uncle was covered in a blanket sitting silently his mother didn’t say to Pei what was happening she left him their and left quietly. The uncle (in maori) instructed him to crouch down and bite on his big toe and then he began to utter a karakia. That karakia lasted 1 hr. It was as Pei said the beginnings of his learning of the esoteric lore of the Tainui whare wananga.

    I was privileged to thumb through the original manuscript having gained access through Dr Hemi Whaanga of the university of Waikato. The manuscript as I said was based on the manuscript written by Pei’s uncle who wrote his in 1867. The manuscript will be published mid july however it will be a limited run as two copies of the book will given to each marae in the Tainui rohe. Dr Hemi has secured a copy for me if you are interested I will secure you a copy if I can.

    When I thumbed through the manuscript it had a schematic drawing of the whare wananga where the tauira and priest sat and a drawing of the double spiral koru and explanation of the esoteric symbolism surrounding it and how it relates to the maori cosmology. You will see this double spiral koru on the Pare (door lintel of the wharenui) and canoe. See also D R Simmons korero on the Pare very interesting and Judith Binneys article on the “Lost Drawing Of Nuku Tawhiti” Note the chevrons spaced in between the double spiral are according to Pei are copied from the chevron marking found on the sacred kohatu brought over to NZ by Hoturoa of the Tainui Waka in the great migration.

    Anyway those drawings are copied from Te Wano’s manuscript. Such drawings are not found anywhere else.

    Also of note is the way in which the ceremonies (liturgy) were arranged. In written form it was wriiten like a play. Scene 1 act 1 – meaning it was a step by step break down of the ceremonies of the whare wananga. Who says what at what place and time etc I questioned Dr Whaanga over this as i have never encountered this before and he told me that is how it was done in ancient times. I immediately remembered the Nauvoo endowment ceremony.

    Pei informs us that a gong was used as part of the ceremony so as to signal to the participants the time of the transition to the next phase of the ceremony. Note Dr Midgley that such detail is missing in the Motorohanga korero.

    Second item of interest is that I have made friends with a Robyn Kamira she is from the hokianga her ancestor is Hamiona Kamira he was the head Tohunga of the Hokianga whare wananga. This wananga went into recess in 1958. the Rev Maori Marsden attended this wananga he speaks much about Io in his writings. Robyn is written a book based upon the 14 manuscripts her ancestor left. The korero covers the happenings and korero of the whare wananga and other tribal history. These have remained largely unpublished- Some of his korero can be accessed via the Journal of The Polynesian Society.

    I have received a draft copy of one of her chapters covering the istory of the hokianga whare wananga.

    As I said before this information a knowledge is being restored.

    In closing I would love to hook up Bro Midgley and share korero and research on these topics. I would especially like to get a copy of your notes that you took while assisting Hiriwini Jones here in NZ. my email and phone number are 0064 7 855 2526 email

  18. The Maori in New Zealand who are LDS are generally only as strong in the Church and doctrine to the degree that they don’t follow the traditions of their fathers (the negative cultural aspects that aren’t in line with the gospel). They struggle. I see it weekly in my Stake where half the members are Maori. There are a few strong ones who “get” the gospel, but overall, they are extremely laid back in the standards and upholding doctrine. When any leader from the Area Presidency comes or there is a broadcast that tells them to step up their game, they get offended and the chip on their shoulder from the 1800’s shows up in full force. I dunno…on one hand, there were some great blessings and opportunities for these people but on the other hand, they really have difficulty adapting to the church culture and not having the negative aspects of their culture seep into the doctrine. I have seen some WEIRD stuff that would make Church Headquarters cringe….and Selwyn Jones’ road shows do just that.. He fancies himself a prophet or general authority, and MANY leaders who have discernment see red flags popping up every time he speaks. He speaks like he is in an autistic trance and almost like he is pretending to speak in tongues to show off. he is NOT received well outside of NZ and outside of the Arizona tribal people. Just weird. Take him with a grain of salt people, he is more like an television evangelical preacher in a trance when he speaks. Bizarre but not surprising that the Maori look at him like a “prophet” and the rest of mainstream church steers clear.

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