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Former PMs and iwi pay respects

Former PMs and iwi pay respects to Dame Te Atairangikaahu

17 August 2006

Iwi from all over the North Island and former Prime Ministers Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley were among those paying their respects to Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu at Turangawaewae Marae in Ngauruawahia today.

Queen Pa Te Paeru Ariki of Takitumu in Rarotonga, former Governor General Dame Silvia Cartwright, former Treaty Negotiations Minister Sir Douglas Graham, Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia, entertainer Sir Howard Morrison, Waikato University Pro Vice Chancellor and former Chief Executive and Secretary of Maori Affairs, Tamati Reedy, distinguished Maori leader Archie Taiaroa, and Paramount Chief of Tuwharetoa, Tumu Te Heu Heu, are also among the VIPs attending.

Hundreds of people from iwi ranging from the far north to Horowhenua, including Te Arawa, Tuwharetoa, Whanganui, Ngati Raukawa and Ngapuhi are at the marae. Also attending are Waikato mayors and representatives from Te Wananga o Aoteroa.

Tainui MP and Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu family spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta said today's gathering was focussed on honouring Te Arikinui and acknowledging the many manuhiri (visitors) in attendance.

"While there has been much speculation about who Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu's successor might be, the family is very much focused on looking after the manuhiri who are continuing to arrive, and in honouring her memory. While this is happening, the family will not be commenting on issues relating to the succession, and it would be inappropriate for them to do so."

Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu's casket is adorned with a Kiwi feather cloak which was used to cover the casket of her father, King Koroki. She is surrounded by family and
photographs of the previous five Maori Kings.

A contingent of government ministers and MPs, including Prime Minister Helen Clark, are expected at the marae at 8.30am tomorrow.

Condolences for Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu have flooded in from around the world, with the British royal family, Rarotongan Prime Minister Jim Marurai, United States Ambassador William McCormick and the Peruvian Embassy among those to pay tribute.

Mr McCormick said "the legacy of this great chief will be enormous. She demonstrated her greatness in humility and wisdom and was an example to all people."

A condolence book for Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu is available for the public to sign in the main foyer of Parliament House in Wellington.

ENDS

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