Where the Patu Meets the Musket

The next season of Kairākau, which will premiere on September 21 (Whakaata Māori, 9.00 and MĀORI+), was inspired by the Musket Wars of nearly 200 years ago.

Here’s the media release:


Mana tangata. Mana iwi. Mana whenua. Mana kairākau.

Kairākau Season III brings to life the incredible stories of devastation, loss and hope that accompanied the arrival of the musket to the shores of Aotearoa.

Funded by Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air, historical drama Kairākau Season III premieres on Thursday 21 September at 9.00 PM on Whakaata Māori and MĀORI+.

Lara Northcroft of Velvet Stone Media says the new series is based on true events that would later become known as ‘the Musket Wars’.

“We portray the decades-long battle of Te Roto-a-Tara, the Battle of Kaiuku at Māhia, the Battle of Mokoia Island in Rotorua, and others from the early 1820s through to the mid-1830’s.

“The arrival of the musket, saw the birth of a new kind of ‘kairākau’ – those who found a way to acquire and master the ‘pū’.

“The subsequent arms race fed a devastating indigenous civil war that would have enduring consequences, far beyond what anyone could imagine at the time.

“But within these tragic tales of death and destruction there remains an enduring sense of hope, strength, tenacity, courage, and love. A story of the continuation of whakapapa, of a Māori world view, personified through our main characters – our real life ancestors, and Kairākau in their own right.

Kairākau is a series where some of our greatest warriors are given full context. Where their proverbs are spoken and we can better understand and showcase the stories passed on to us about these remarkable legends and their actions, movements and motivations,” says Ms Northcroft.

Kairākau Season III required months of planning and communication with iwi, including Ngāti Hineira, Te Uri Taniwha, Ngāti Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Raukawa.

“Filmed in and around Rotorua, we worked closely with iwi and Rotorua District Council for access to native bush locations at Okataina and Mamaku. We also filmed at the new Waiariki Studios for all interior scenes – even building a whare in the studio.”

Seasons one and two of Kairākau can still be streamed on MĀORI+.


THURSDAY 21 SEPTEMBER 9.30 PM EPISODE 1:TE ROTO A TARA – It’s the early 1820s and the northern tribes have acquired muskets. They begin to invade other tribes and eventually one of them, Hauraki, arrives in Te Arawa. The sacred portal, Te Roto-a-Tara falls from the hands of chief Pareihe.

THURSDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 9.30 PM EPISODE 2: MOKOIA – Ngāpuhi decimate Te Arawa at Mokoia Island. Te Aokapurangi, the sacred female, saves her people of Ngāti Rangiwewehi. Te Kuru o Te Marama, son of Te Arawa chief Mokonuiārangi, is tortured to death.

THURSDAY 5 OCTOBER 9.30 PM EPISODE 3: TE WHITU O TŪ Whareumu leads Te Wera Hauraki and his warriors to his tribe of Kahungunu. Te Heuheu marches further into Kahungunu, killing Te Hauwaho. The alliance of Taiamai and Māhia hangs together.

THURSDAY 12 OCTOBER 9.30 PM EPISODE 4: KAIUKU – Whareumu and Tahu return to their home village, from where they were taken by Hauraki. Te Heuheu of Tūwharetoa lays siege to the pā to starve them out. Te Arawa chief Mokonuiārangi taunts Hauraki over the massacre at Mokoia. The besieged people eat mud to survive.

THURSDAY 19 OCTOBER 9.30 PM EPISODE 5: E MOHO E – The war between Pareihe of Kahungunu and Te Heuheu of Tūwharetoa rages on for many years. Pareihe, fully armed with muskets, attacks and captures Te Heuheu at his stronghold in heartland Tūwharetoa. Te Heuheu, a seer, forsees his own death in a landslide. He makes peace with Pareihe, cementing it with marriage to a mokopuna.

THURSDAY 26 OCTOBER 9.30 PM EPISODE 6: Te Roto a Tara II – Pareihe, Te Hapuku and Tiakitai have built an army and, with revenge on their minds, they return to Te Roto-a-Tara. Hihiko and Tarakawa’s kinship is threatened.

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