Story: Māori clothing and adornment – kākahu Māori

Ruhia Pōrutu wearing her kaitaka (2nd of 3)

Ruhia Pōrutu wearing her kaitaka

Ruhia Pōrutu was the daughter-in-law of Te Rīrā Pōrutu, paramount chief of Te Āti Awa in what is now central Wellington. She is seen here wearing her kaitaka paepaeroa, but the artist (Gottfried Lindauer) has placed it upside down so that the elaborate tāniko border is visible. In 1840 Te Riria's people were building a house for a New Zealand Company lawyer, and it was tapu while under construction. A newly arrived teenage immigrant named Thomas McKenzie unwittingly entered the house, breaking tapu. The chief was about to strike him down with his mere (club) when Ruhia threw her cloak over the young man, saving his life.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PAColl-5345-1

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Awhina Tamarapa and Patricia Wallace, 'Māori clothing and adornment – kākahu Māori - Ngā taonga tuku iho – traditional Māori dress', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/40981/ruhia-porutu-wearing-her-kaitaka (accessed 15 December 2019)

Story by Awhina Tamarapa and Patricia Wallace, published 5 Sep 2013