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Anglican Archbishops pay tribute to Maori Queen

For immediate release August 16, 2006

“A Star in our sky” – the Anglican Archbishops pay their tributes to Te Arikinui

The three Anglican Archbishops of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, have added their tributes to Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu.

And they’ve each acknowledged Te Arikinui’s importance to their own particular tikanga, or culture – and to the task of unifying them all.

Archbishop Brown Turei, Te Pihopa o Aotearoa, (head of the Maori Anglican church) has described her as a “truly royal lady, a leader of immense historic significance who shaped Tainui, Maoridom and Aotearoa New Zealand as a whole for 40 good years.

“Te Arikinui’s mana, spirituality and aroha made our country greater, and she became a source of unity, justice and hope for many.”

Archbishop Turei said he personally was moved by the humility she had displayed. Some years ago, while at a hui at Turangawaewae, he arose at dawn to take an early morning stroll.

“As I walked,” he recalls, “I came across a number of older women sweeping up around the marae. Who should be amongst them? She was.”

And he marvels at the way she was able, without great floods of rhetoric, to draw people together.

“There are some special people who don’t have to talk much,” he muses, “to say a great deal.”

Archbishop David Moxon, who leads Tikanga Pakeha within the Anglican Church here, and who is also the Bishop of Waikato, was also impressed by Te Arikinui’s care and hospitality for all people.

And also by her steadfast loyalty. As a teenager in the late 1940s, Piki Mahuta – as she then was – had been a student at the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls – and she remained devoted and faithful to the school.

“No matter how demanding her national and international commitments were,” says Archbishop Moxon, “she made time to attend the old girl’s meetings.”

She would also faithfully turn up to the school’s annual prizegiving, and present The Piki Mahuta Prize to the student who’d written the best essay on a Maori theme. The school’s Principal would also often be personally invited to special events at Turangawaewae.

Archbishop David says Te Arikinui was also “exceptionally gracious and hospitable” to the bishops of the Diocese of Waikato – Bishops Allen Johnston, Brian Davis, Roger Herft and Bishop David himself had each benefited from her kindness, he said.

As a mark of the Diocese of Waikato’s respect, at midday today the bells of St Peter’s Cathedral in Hamilton tolled 40 times, one for each year of her reign. And the Cathedral will fly its Anglican woven-cross flag at half-mast for the next six days.

Archbishop Jabez Bryce, the third of the church’s co-presiding bishops, and the Bishop of the Diocese of Polynesia, said Te Arikinui had a place in the affections of Pacific Island people, because of the constant friendship she had shown them over many years.

Archbishop Bryce, who was born in Tonga, says Te Arikinui’s reaching out to the Tongan royal family, as well as to other Pacific nations, would be remembered.

He recalls her visit to Fiji when Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara died in April 2004.

Te Arikinui was seated at the funeral with the Queen of Tonga, Halaevalu Mata’aho, and with Ratu Mara’s widow, Ro Lady Lala Mara. When the time came for the ship carrying Ratu Mara’s casket to leave for the outlying Lau Islands, Te Arikinui cast her parikarangaranga, the greenery Maori women wear on their heads during tangi, into the river as a mark of mourning and respect. That simple gesture had made a lasting impression in Fiji, he says.

The archbishops issued a brief joint statement this morning which concludes:

“Te Arikinui was a star in our sky. She will become even more so as she rests in the everlasting arms of God. May she rest in peace, and rise in Glory.”

The two New Zealand based Archbishops, Brown Turei and David Moxon, will attend Te Arikinui’s funeral on Monday.


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