Tuheitia Paki has been named the Maori king hours before the burial of his mother, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu after a six day tangihanga on her marae at Turangawaewae in Ngaruawahia. This role is not a heridiary right but he was chosen by the Maori iwi (tribes) across New Zealand as the best candidate for the job.
There were thousands of mourners for the former Maori Queen who streamed to Turangawaewae and her final resting place of Taupiri Mountain. The mountain was covered in mist this morning – a sign, Tainui say, of the spirit world gathering to welcome Dame Te Ata to her final resting place.
The former queen was taken first to the Waikato river where she was placed on a waka and then paddled by players from the queen’s two favourite rugby teams and the Kaumatau to Ngaruawahia. She was finally carried up the mountain to Taupiri, Tainui’s sacred mountain.
It’s been an interesting experience to observe the Maori traditions and rituals associated with this Tangi. It’s open my eyes to the spiritual world that Maori’s live and the importance of the community within Maoridom. There has been some criticism from high profile Maori scholars of the national press at their poor reporting of the Kingitanga movement and how it came about and a call for all New Zealanders to be more aware, and indeed be educated, in Maori language and culture.
If they hold the Waitangi Treaty to its true values then mutual respect and understanding of Maori and Pakeha ways is definitely what was intended. But in the true colonial style the indigenous population was dominated leading to the gaps that currently exist in terms of disadvantage for the Maori. It’s not to say that the Crown has not sought to redress the balance and remunerate for the loss its just led to a new democracy and leadership in Maori that is based more on western economics which has not been entirely successful in every case.
This new insight to Maori has made me dig out my history of New Zealand – an easy to digest book about how New Zealand came to be the country it is. It’s worth getting a copy if you’re interested in a much better informed account than I can give in this blog.
Michael King, History of New Zealand, published by Penguin