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Author Bolton Kerry R.
Polynesian origins have been the subject of wide-ranging speculation since the Age of Discovery. The colonial era in which the theory of diffusionism was in vogue subjected Polynesian origins to whatever source was regarded as the source of a “World Civilization.” One notable feature recorded by the earliest explorers and colonial settlers alike, was the enigmatic presence of “golden” and “red hair” among Polynesians. These red haired individuals and entire families were called among the islanders “kehu,” and among the Maori of New Zealand “Urukehu”, giving rise to wide ranging speculation as to Polynesians origins, ranging from the Lost Tribes of Israel to South American Indians. In recent years, with indigenous claims being settled under the Treaty of Waitangi in New
Zealand among the claimants are remnants of the mysterious Ngati Hotu, thought to have long been extinct prior to European colonial settlement. This essay examines this enigmatic “urukehu” people, whose continued existence has been hitherto unrecognised.
Keywords Kehu, Maori, New Zealand, Ngati Hotu, urukehu.
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