Story: Māori clothing and adornment – kākahu Māori

Cutting hair of captives, around 1827

Zoom in to see details of this watercolour from about 1827. It shows a Bay of Islands village headed by a woman of mana named Tōrere, seen seated under her verandah. Her people have recently returned from a raiding party, and the severed heads of two of their victims have been presented to Tōrere on short sticks. The head was traditionally the most tapu part of the body, and its hair and other adornments were therefore powerful signs of status and pride. At left, the mana of a group of captives is being destroyed as they suffer the humiliation of having their heads shaved.

Using this item

National Library of Australia, Rex Nan Kivell Collection
Reference: nla.pic-an2822430
Watercolour by Augustus Earle

Permission of the National Library of Australia 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 - Hairstyles', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/zoomify/41009/cutting-hair-of-captives-around-1827 (accessed 19 February 2020)

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