The remains of influential Ngapuhi leader Hone Heke have been moved from a cave on the outskirts of Pakaraka, near Paihia, this morning.

The bones of Heke, who famously cut down the flag pole in Kororareka four times as a protest against British colonialism, have had to be relocated due to developments encroaching on his burial plot.

David Rankin, the leader of Ngapuhi's Matarahurahu hapu, uplifted the bones of his ancestor at dawn. The bones, wrapped in flax and accompanied by Heke's taonga (treasured possessions), were carried to the church at Pakaraka, which was built by Heke's friend, missionary Henry Williams.

"Hone Heke is one of our most prominent ancestors and is a major personality in New Zealand history," Mr Rankin said. "We have an obligation to ensure his remains are protected".

A blessing of the remains of the Ngapuhi warrior was given at the church by the Anglican Bishop of Te Tai Tokerau, Te Kitohi Pikaahu.

- NZ Herald staff