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Olympic Kākahu Receives Royal Blessing From Kiingi Tuheitia

Kiingi Tuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII has given his blessing to the new Olympic kākahu (feathered cloak) to be worn by the New Zealand Team flag bearers at Olympic Games.

The unveiling and blessing of the kākahu took place at Turangawaewae Marae, where Kiingi Tuheitia welcomed members of the Board and staff of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, along with several athletes including Athens 2004 Flagbearer Beatrice Faumuina (Olympian #706).

Kiingitanga spokesman Ngira Simmonds says the cloak is an exquisite work of art that signifies great mana and is deserving of the King’s royal blessing.

“Kiingi Tuheitia is delighted to receive the NZOC at Turangawawae and to unveil and bless the specially designed kākahu for Paris.

“Twenty years ago, the King’s late mother Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu performed the same ceremony for the kākahu worn at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. That cloak was made by master weavers Ranui Ngarimu (Ngāi Tahu) and Te Aue Davis (Ngati Uekaha and Maniapoto) and was named Te Māhutonga.”

NZOC Kuia and Order Holder, Ranui Ngarimu also led the creation of the new kākahu, which has been entirely hand woven and took around 16-months of work to complete.

She has named the kākahu 'Te Hono ki Matariki'. Alongside Te Māhutonga, they will be worn by the New Zealand Team’s flagbearers at the Opening Ceremony of upcoming Olympic Games (summer and winter).

New Zealand Olympic Committee President Liz Dawson thanked Kiingi Tuheitia for the Blessing.

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“It is extremely special for us to be here today, for the new Olympic kākahu to receive a Royal Blessing,” said Dawson.

“The kākahu is a symbol of the Māori traditions at the core of our unique team culture. It is worn by the leaders of our team and is seen by millions around the world as the New Zealand Team represents our nation in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games.

“It is the perfect symbol to represent the New Zealand Team and we extend our heartfelt thanks to Ranui for the creation of this taonga and to Kiingi Tuheitia for his blessing.”

Dawson says the day was also about strengthening the NZOC’s relationship with the Kiingitanga.

“This is a relationship first forged with the late Māori Queen 20 years ago. The relationship has helped us to grow the Māori culture within our team. Our team culture of manaaki is far richer for this, and we look forward to further growth in the years to come.”

Kiingi Tuheitia has accepted an invitation by the NZOC to attend the Paris Olympic Games later this year.

Notes: The kākahu has been created following an International Olympic Committee rule change, effective from Tokyo 2020, which allows for teams to be represented by two flagbearers (a male and a female) in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. 

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