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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New dawn, new king for Tainui

It's a new dawn in Tainui, as the tribe starts getting used to life under its new king, Tuheitia Paki.

The Maori queen, Dame te Atairangikaahu, was laid to rest yesterday on Taupiri mountain after a week of mourning during which tens of thousands of people passed through Turangawaewae.

The elevation of 51 year old Mr Paki, a father of three, changes some of the dynamics of Maoridom.

While Dame Te Ata drew significant support outside of Kingitanga from two organisations she was patron of, the Maori Woman's Welfare League and Kohanga Reo, Mr Paki is likely to receive active backing from Te Wananga o Aotearoa, which he was working for as a cultural adviser.

The wananga is the largest Maori tertiary institution and is capable of exerting considerable influence.

He can also lean on the iwi chiefs who put him into the job, and who accompanied him through the gates of Turangawaewae yesterday morning for the raising up ceremony.


However, Maori broadcaster and commentator Waihoroi Shortland, whose family has had a long association with the kaihui ariki or royal family, says people should not expect too much of Tuheitia Paki as he eases his way into his new role as Maori king.

He says Dame Te Ata made very few public pronouncements in her first 30 years, as she listened to those around her and learned how to use the formidible resources that Tainui, Kingitanga and Maoridom gave her.

He says it will be hard to match Dame Te Ata.

IN: You're not going to find the kind of expectations that people have that immediately this person will have an aura and a glow and a walking magnificence that might equate to the Arikinui,” Shortland said.

Waihoroi Shortland says Tuheitia Paki will be invested with a great deal of hope.


Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell says Tuheitia Paki is a man of the people who has displayed the quiet humility which was so much a hallmark of his mother's reign as Te Arikinui.

Mr Flavell says in the same year as the new king at St Stephens Maori Boarding college, and says he got on well with other boys, even if he didn't stand out.

Mr Flavell says Tuheitia Paki was never one to draw attention to his royal whakapapa.

“People didn't really recognise who he was or know until we started asking and of course Te Ata would come up to school and give him food parcels in a big car. We used to give him a jive about being the prince. As I said in my speech the other way, to think that after all this time he is now recognized and taken up the mantle of his mother is absolutely fantastic,” Flavell said.

Te Ururoa Flavell says Tuheitia Flavell has a thorough grounding in both the Maori and Pakeha worlds.


The new Maori king will have the backing of Maoridom's traditional leaders to help with with his new role.

Erima Henare from Ngati Hine says the leaders made that commitment when they supported Tainui's choice of Tuheitia Paki for the role of Te Arikinui.

Mr Paki was crowned yesterday before the burial of his mother, Dame Te Ata i Rangi Kaahu, on Taupiri mountain.

Mr Henare says Tumu Te Heuheu, the paramount chief of Tuwharetoa, has called the tribes who were at Turangawaewae to come together in November at the opening of a new meeting house at Pukawa on the shores of Lake Taupo.

Pukawa was where the first Maori king, Potatau te Wherowhero was first offered the role.

Mr Henare says the topic of the hui will be the best way to offer support.

“The tribes throughout New Zealsnd to be there to support and I suppose to be a rock for Te Arikinui Tuheitia to cling to or to use in times he needs advice n issues that relate to Kingitanga and the progress I guess and the future for Maoridom,” Henare said.

Erima Henare says other efforts to bring together Maori like the Maori Council and Maori Congress have had a more political focus, while the Kingitanga's strength has been its ability to stand above politics.


The leader of the South Island's Ngai Tahu Runanga hopes the new Maori King can continue the work of his mother in reaching out to Pakeha people.

Mark Solomon says Tuheitia Paki will be expected to not only serve his own people but to continue opening up Te Ao Maori to Pakeha, as his mother Dame Te Atairangikaahu did.

“Her presence lifted any occasion she came to . Her successor needs to pull people together, not just in Maori. Dame Te Ata also played a huge role in letting Pakeha New Zealanders look at Maori in a new light. Huge shoes to fill,” Solomon said.


Meanwhile, there is some disappointment that a women could not have held the throne.

The choice for the role of Te Arikinui was between Tuheitia Paki and his elder sister, Heeni Katipa.

Lawyer Atareta Poananga says many Maori men seem afraid to recognise the ability or the work of Maori women.

“ Part of the problem we have got at the moment with Maori leadership is there are too many Maori running it. I think if we had more of a balance of the mana and rangatiratanga of women alongside men, our society and leadership will be far better off than it is today. We shouldn’t be afraid of strong assertive leadership by women. I think it is really healthy for our society," Poananga said.


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