Hau Hau War Pole, Rongo Niu, Maraekōwhai

Anne Noble, Artist

This is one of the photographs in our collection. It was made in Whanganui Region, New Zealand in 1982.
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Object Detail

About the Work
This is one of two niu (news) poles (Hauhau ceremonial poles) which stand at Maraekōwhai reserve along the Whanganui River, at the junction with the Ohura River. Niu poles were raised by adherents of the Pai Mārire faith and were used in religious rituals. The pole in this image is called Rongo Niu (meaning widespread peace, also known as Rongo Nui) and was erected in 1864 during the New Zealand wars. The spirit of war was embedded in it by a tohunga. The arms of the pole were intended to radiate that spirit in all directions. At each end of the horizontal cross-bars is a carved hand. Hauhau warriors carried out final rituals at this niu pole before departing for the battle of Moutoa. The second pole Riri Kore (meaning no war, no anger, no battle) not shown in this image, was erected at the end of the war in recognition of peace and to counterbalance the first pole.

The Whanganui River is a spiritual place for Anne Noble, who grew up on its banks. In 1982 she made a photographic journey up the river, she says of it 'In the morning the mist rises off the river, and from a hilltop above the valley I see a long snake of mist floating in the river's path, that stretches as far as the eye can see. The Wanganui; a healing river of sacred springs and potent secrets. I came out of the Place as the Spring from its Source. I made a journey to claim this river. I feel its currents curling around my bones.'
- http://www.art-newzealand.com/Issues21to30/noble.htm
130 x 314mm
black & white photograph, selenium & gold toned
Black and white image of a wooden pole with cross bars on a grassy field with hills in the background. The pole is a niu pole, a Hauhau ceremonial pole and is one of two niu poles located at the junction of the Ohura River and the Whanganui River at Maraekōwhai.
Credit Line
Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Purchased with funds from the W McDuncan Trust, 1982.
Collection Type
Permanent collection
Acquisition Date
Dec 1982



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