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Flavell: Farewell to Te Atairangikaahu

Tuesday 22 August 2006


Farewell to te atairangikaahu

welcome, tuheitia

Waikato taniwharau, he piko he taniwha.

[Waikato, river of a hundred bends and on every one a rangatira, I greet you.]

Tainui waka, e tangi e tangi e tangi

Kua korerohia te ahuatanga ki o tatou mate. Waiho tera ki reira.

[We have spoken about the passing of the Queen, and I would like to leave my comments with respect there].

Ka huri au ki te Arikinui hou, Tuheitia.

I stand today to mihi to the new King, Te Arikinui Tuheitia Paki. And in doing so, I mihi to a long line of leaders, a whakapapa of chiefs and chieftainship.

We have heard a whakatauki frequently cited over this last week

Mate atu he tëtë kura, ara ake he tëtë kura:

as one fern frond falls away, another is uncoiling to replace it.

When we welcome Te Arikinui Tuheitia, we acknowledge too, the fern fronds that have fallen away to make way for the new King.

Our tributes to the new King recognise the historic events in 1857, at Pukawa, on the south-eastern shores of Taupo, when Potatau Te Wherowhero was elected as “King”.

Apparently he was a big man - the records show he stood over six feet tall - an eloquent orator, a tribal historian, an academic, a scholar, a leader, a warrior.

Upon his untimely death, some two years later, his son, Matutaera Tawhiao took on the mantle of responsibility.

Tawhiao established a proud history, which would give expression to the King movement. Notably, he established the Maori Parliament, Te Kauhanganui.

It was in his time, that Tawhiao led a deputation to England to petition Queen Victoria. He sought an independent Maori Parliament, and an independent Commission of Inquiry into the land confiscations. I want to refer back to that petition from Tawhiao, Wiremu Te Wheoro, Patara Te Tuhi, Topia Turoa and Hori Ropihana as it provides this House with a strong basis to understand the heritage, the lineage, from whence the new King emerges.

The petition of 1884 stated, and I quote:

“We, the Maori chiefs of New Zealand, have come to this distant land into your presence, on account of the great disaster which has overtaken your Maori race, which is beloved by the Queen and the people of England.

Accordingly we have now swum the ocean of Kiwa, which lies between us, and have reached England in safety, the source and fountain of authority, to the place where the Queen lives, that she may redress the ills of the Maori race inflicted on them by the government of New Zealand who have not directed their attention to right those wrongs up to the present time, and those wrongs are still being committed…

because there was a tender regard displayed by the Queen to her Maori race, as shown in the Treaty of Waitangi, therefore it is well that those contracts and these ills should be brought before you for your consideration.

Madam Speaker, this is the history of Kingitanga, but this is also our history, our foundations as a nation.

I understand that in 1882, two years before the delegation led by King Tawhiao, Northern Chiefs had also petitioned Queen Victoria to investigate colonial government and establish a Maori Parliament.

Indeed, through the archives of Hansard, Hone Heke Ngapua, Member of Parliament for Northern Maori - of Ngati Rahiri and Ngapuhi, referred to this precedent in a debate in 1894 on the Native Rights Bill.

He said:

The Natives had in many instances raised the question of the Treaty of Waitangi, and asked that the provisions of that Treaty to be maintained by the different Governments of New Zealand, but without avail.?....

[S]everal petitions, signed by prominent chiefs of the Native race, were sent to England, making enquiries whether the Treaty of Waitangi was repealed as stated. The answer to a number of the petitioners was to the effect that this Treaty, signed in 1840, was as good now as it was then.”

Representatives of my own people, the Arawa people, similarly petitioned Queen Victoria in August 1891; Kingi Rata followed in 1914; and ten years later in 1924, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana travelled to the British Empire, taking his petition for the Treaty of Waitangi to the Queen.

Madam Speaker, this is the new King’s whakapapa. This is the new King’s training. And this is the future for Aotearoa.

And it was this history which Ruia Aperahama acknowledged this past Sunday, in pledging the ongoing support of the Ratana Movement for the Kingitanga.

In 1894 King Tawhiao was succeeded by his son Mahuta. Mahuta became a member of the Legislative Council and the Executive Council of Parliament, thus involving the Kingitanga in mainstream politics.

From 1912 Mahuta's son, Te Rata, continued the legacy left to him, by seeking redress for the grievances; seeking to redress the ills transferred from Government to Government.

From Te Rata, came his son, Kingi Koroki, who during his thirty three years of leadership was greatly assisted by his aunt, Te Puea Herangi.

Te Puea herself, is legendary for the stands she took on behalf of the people. A pacifist, she opened her farm at Mangatäwhiri to operate as a refuge for all those who chose not to enlist. She worked tirelessly to make the best use of Waikato land to build the economic and social position of the people.

Following the savage assault of the 1918 influenza epidemic, she gathered up 100 orphaned children, and founded Turangawaewae.

It was Te Puea also who founded the annual circuit of Poukai, to feed the hungry and dispossessed, and to nurture the soul of the people. She realised that the greatest resource lay in the people and she set about an energetic, relentless pursuit of economic and educational prosperity for her people.

Her outstanding leadership, and her untiring and selfless devotion to the interests of her people were demonstrated in the negotiation of settlements for the confiscation of Waikato land but also strengthened in her alliance with major figures such as Sir Apirana Ngata.

When King Koroki died, his daughter Te Atairangikaahu became the Kingitanga's first woman leader.

Kei Te Arikinui, wahine purotu, wahine rangatira, wahine humarire, haere atu ra, ki nga matua, ki nga tupuna.

Madam Speaker, throughout many of the speeches delivered over the last week, we heard the phrase, ‘he kapiti hono, he tätai hono’ which literally means, that which is joined together becomes an unbroken line. This expression, affirms the joining of the living with their departed ancestors. In a spiritual sense, it is understood that the living are guided by those who have gone before us.

So when we welcome and formally recognise the new King, the seventh leader of the Kingitanga, we should remember all the other leaders that have left their legacy since that time in 1857 in Pukawa.

We know too, that the kiwi feather cloak of King Tawhiao that was wrapped around the new King yesterday, brought with it the traditions, the rituals, the protocols that King Tuheitia has been immersed in from birth.

He was at the side of his grandfather, King Koroki, when his mother, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu was ordained. Just as his eldest son stood proudly at his side, yesterday.

But our new King has also been trained in the scholarship of matauranga Maori through his education at Rakaumanga School.

He has been a performer in the Taniwharau Culture Group, he brings to the role his contemporary experience of management and business experience acquired in his work at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

And perhaps if I can be forgiven for saving the very best for last, he has the supreme honour, indeed, the rare privilege of being schooled at one of the finest schooling institutions in this land, the great St Stephen's School, Tipene.

So this welcome to the new King, also comes with the blessing of an exclusive community - represented in this House with the esteemed company of Hone Harawira, Mahara Okeroa, Shane Jones - and myself - all old boys of St Stephens School.

Madam Speaker, I have taken the time to traverse the background of Te Arikinui King Tuheitia so that we can all prepare the path ahead to welcome our new Monarch.

It is a path, however, which is not only walked by the King. I pay my respects too, to his wife, Te Atawhai, who yesterday was similarly crowned with the responsibility of being married to the Monarch.

And in doing so, I pay my tributes to Whatumoana Paki, who for forty years has devoted his life to supporting Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu in all her roles. As her beloved husband, he has dedicated himself to supporting her to support the nation.

Finally, I draw the attention of this House to the photo of the two beautiful little girls draped in blankets, at the foot of the new king. I think of Whatumoana, Korotangi and Ngawaihonoitepo, the King’s three children, and the obligation they will now uphold, the duty to serve, responsibilities to the Tainui, to tangata whenua, to Aotearoa, to the world.

We, the people, will always remember Te Arikinui. We will hold dear to her memory, we will honour her legacy, and we welcome the new king, Tuheitia.


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