History 1990 – 2020

Waitangi 1990 6th February, the Tino Rangatiratanga Indigenous Maori haki made its debut.  The origins of the haki began in 1989 with members predominantly from the northern indigenous group, Te Kawariki. The debut of the TRT flag received mixed reactions. Small pockets of support for the haki were found however at its genesis the haki did not retain widespread national Maori support. Waitangi Day 2020 marked the 30th Anniversary of the Tino Rangatiratanga Haki!

The predominant flag among the Northern tribes was and some claim still is, the 1835 He Whakaputanga. The flag of Independence adopted by Chiefs of the Northern Confederation of Tribes. However, He Whakaputanga was also not widely adopted or flown throughout the districts of the Southern tribes.

By 1993 the TRT haki was still largely a symbol located within the Northern tribes. This was despite the designer’s intention that the haki symbol should be representative of a National Indigenous Movement. Widespread support at that point had failed to materialise.

The conscious popularisation of the haki as an identifiably national Indigenous symbol was generated by an alliance of collective Indigenous and Allied activists forming political ‘groups and cells above ground and ‘underground’; Te Kawariki, Te Kawau Maro, Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe, Pakaitore, Taranaki activists, Parihaka, Ahi Kaa, Action Aotearoa Religious Activists, Maori Student Associations, Upper Hutt Posse, Nga Tauira Maori and many others popularised the haki.

The proceeding 1990 decade saw the haki fly at many land occupations, greet and meet riots squads at International CHOGM and ASEAN Conferences in Queen Street; challenge Globalisation and Corporate Imperialism, anti- MAI marches, hikoi against resource and cultural dispossession, Kaupapa Maori events, flown every year at the National Waitangi day, debut at the Palais Des Nation Geneva representing Indigenous Maori Peoples; flown in North and South Americas; Pacifica; Southern Asia; cultural festivals throughout Aotearoa all of which consistently flew the TRT flag. Those who flew and marched alongside the haki did so against mainstream opposition ranging from ignorant conservative racists through to upwardly mobile red necks. Dread-Beat Rasta Musicians, artists and Che and Fidelista’ fashionistas collaborated to produce many political art works promoting the TRT flag as the identity of an Indigenous Peoples struggle and resistance.

1993-2003 was an intense decade of political struggle where TRT became emblazoned into the national psyche, minds and consciousness as the pre-eminent symbol of political resistance and struggle against internal dispossession impoverishment and displacement by an occupying colonial state supported by Corporate neo-colonial structures.

Collectively the popular underground alliance of Indigenous and social community Maori and Pakeha carried the TRT flag to resist invasive land grabbing policies of various sitting Governments.

2004, Maori people took to the highways for the Seabed and Foreshore Hikoi. The TRT flag was the unifying banner of the hikoi movement. A clear message was sent to the Labour led government that the Maori people of Aotearoa will not stay silent to yet another massive confiscation of marine land space. From the hikoi the Maori Party was borne and the TRT flag was employed as promotion to Maori voters, the party won 4 Maori seats the following year and went into opposition.

2006, saw Te Ata Tino Toa an indigenous rights-based group set out to lobby various agencies to fly the TRT flag alongside the NZ flag as acknowledgment of Treaty Partners and Te Tiriti Rangatira.

Throughout 2009 public submissions were called to choose a Maori flag. The TRT flag took an 80% majority as the “preferred” identifying Maori flag. Waitangi Day 2010, under a National led government in partnership with the Maori Party the TRT flag flew from the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the Beehive, Te Papa museum, the National War Memorial and other government buildings.

The TRT flag has continued to be raised throughout Aotearoa and internationally. It is loved, debated over and at times strongly disliked but it consistently continues to make a statement against the exploitation of a growing number of homeless, landless and impoverished communities.

Some basic utilisation information.

  • Black represents the timeless, endless, potential being
  • Red represents Papatūānuku, from which all life is born, nurturing.
  • White symbol – Te Ao Marama knowledge mind frontier expanse wairua,
  • Koru symbol – the genesis of potential beginning of all thing’s life converge to create diversification, the realm of Tangata
  • Respect – Loyalty – Political Representation – Self Determination
  • Fly it like a cape from your shoulders or wear it like a korowai; refrain from using it to sit on;
  • Represent the flag with mindfulness and respect of application and positive management of your responses particularly to those who deprecate the TRT flag – remember YOU are donning the emblem of Rangatiratanga, rise above!