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Traditional rituals – te tohi o ngā karaka whati

Taipari Munro and Pita Tipene describe a traditional ritual performed on soldiers from Te Taitokerau prior to their going into battle.


The ritual of the karaka whati (the broken karaka leaf) is an ancient ritual performed over warriors before they went off to war.

Down beneath the lowest slopes of Motatau mountain is a spring where it is said the young people were taken, they were sprinkled with water, and touched with a karaka leaf.

Then the elders and their priests began their old chants, and the ritual of karaka whati was conducted.

And they used to say that, if one of the leaves of the karaka broke off, this was a very bad sign for those people going off to war.

 When their karakia was finished, the warriors would come back, and off they would go to the war.