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Details of Tohu's early life are unclear. According to some descendents he but he was born at Puketapu on 22 January 1828, although other locations and dates have been claimed. He was regarded as a teacher and prophet and it is said Tohu confirmed Pōtatau Te Wherowhero's son Tawhiao as the second Māori King, and was his spiritual adviser.
Along with other members of Te Ati Awa, Tohu fought in the Taranaki Wars in the 1860s and was one of the leaders at the attack on the redoubt of Te Morere by a Pai Marire war party. Following this, he joined his relative Te Whiti o Rongomai at Parihaka, south Taranaki in leading passive resistance to confiscation of Maori land.
When the Waimate Plain was surveyed in 1879. Māori asserted their land rights by removing survey pegs and by ploughing and fencing across roads and settler claimed areas. Many arrests of the Māori ploughmen were made, but the campaign had wide support by other iwi. In November 1881 the village of Parihaka was occupied by Government troops and Tohu was arrested along with Te Whiti and hundreds of others.
Tohu and Te Whiti were charged with "wickedly, maliciously, and seditiously contriving and intending to disturb the peace" but they were never brought to trial. Tohu was released in 1883 and returned to Parihaka but the arrests and dispersion had reduced the population and importance of Parihaka. Tohu continued to advocate traditional Māori values, and opposed alcohol and European influences at Parihaka until his death in 1907.
- ↑ Smith, Ailsa. (22 June 2007). "Tohu Kakahi 1828 - 1907". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/DNZB/alt_essayBody.asp?essayID=2T44.
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