Seven days of mourning has started for the Maori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, who died yesterday at age 75. She has reined as Maori Queen for 40 years and has been a driving force for maori issues over this time.
Dame Te Ata is directly descended from the first Maori king, Potatau Te Wherewhero, who became king in 1858. It is expected that her successor will be her son and announced at her Tangi (share tears) that will take place over the coming week.
From the newspaper reports this Maori Queen has been one of the most influential figures within New Zealand. She also played a leading role as a cultural ambassador for Maori and indigenous people. She was also New Zealand’s richest Maori with a wealth of over $9million.
Clearly respected by Maori and Pakeha (non Maori/whites) alike, it is going to be interesting to see how Maori issues continue to be championed as the Government looks towards creating a stronger national identity for New Zealand.
This sad news comes at a time where I am starting to be inducted into Maori culture and language at work. So in keeping with my weather obsession, it’s been very cold and today Ka tau te hukapapa (the frost settles) on Khandallah. Roll on Koanga (spring)!