Te Raukura Feather

Te Raukura is an important symbol to the tribes who affiliate to the Taranaki rohe.  This symbol is captured in the form of a white feather, or a plume of white feathers.  Te Raukura represents spiritual, physical, and communal harmony and unity.  It is an acknowledgement of a higher spiritual power, which transcends itself upon earth.  It is a symbol of faith, hope, and compassion for all of mankind and the environment that we live in.

There are various accounts of how the Raukura feather became such a significant symbol to the people of Taranaki.  Its origins tend to look within the tribal boundaries of the iwi, Taranaki, with particular reference to the marae of Parihaka.  One such account refers to a gathering of people at Parihaka who witnessed an Albatross landing on one of its courtyards, dropping a single feather before departing.   This feather became the Raukura, and was honoured by Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti-o-Rongomai, two of the prophetic leaders of Parihaka, and its community.

Through the distinct and honourable leadership of these two prophets, the Raukura feathers became a symbol of peaceful co-existence as a Māori nation.  This appealed significantly to the iwi of Aotearoa who had become fervently oppressed and marginalised by the Crown.  The Raukura feathers were a symbol of the passive resistance movement that Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti-o-Rongomai orchestrated as a means of re-elevating the mana of the Māori people with a desire of being autonomous once again.

It is stated that the Raukura feathers encompass teachings of the Bible, with particular attention to the following passage:

 

He whaikororia ki te Atua i runga rawa
Glory to God on high

He maungarongo ki runga i te mata o te whenua
Peace on earth

He whakaaro pai ki te tangata
Goodwill to all mankind

(Luke 2:14)

Traditionally, the Raukura was worn either as a single feather resting upon the head or in the hand of the bearer, or as a crest on the chest area of a garment. It is also worn as a plume of three feathers in the hair which capture the meaning of the above Bible passage.  The Raukura is a symbol of remembrance for the deeds of the Māori ancestors who vehemently resisted the Crown via peaceful opposition.  It is a symbol which continues to guide the Māori people today with wisdom and hope for a peaceful co-existence.

 

 

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