Annual show of support for Maori King, Tuheitia Paki

By Sonya Bateson

Tauranga iwi are meeting Maori King Tuheitia in an annual show of allegiance for the Kingitanga.

Iwi from all over the region who support the Maori King movement (Kingitanga) will be gathering at Tutereinga Marae in Te Puna today, the first time the annual gathering has been held there since 2004.

Kaumatua (elder) Kiritoha Tangitu from the sub tribe Pirirakau said the formal visit by the King, known as a pou kai, was usually hosted by Huria Marae but this year Pirirakau decided to give them a rest from the duty.

He said King Tuheitia attended 38 pou kai each year throughout the country, but this was the only one to be held in Tauranga.

"These pou kai have been happening in Tauranga for 55 years. Huria Marae have hosted them for most of that time but it has been hosted at Tutereinga four times previously. It's about showing our allegiance to the kingitanga."

The pou kai begins at 7am with a flag raising ceremony and a karakia (prayer) to open the day. At 9am, local dignitaries will be welcomed on to the marae in preparation for the arrival of the King and his entourage at 10am.

Mr Tangitu said local mayors, MPs and representatives of the various local councils had been invited to attend, as had local business owners.

From there, everyone will gather for a hakari (special feast) before coming together to discuss a wide range of issues.

Mr Tangitu said it was an opportunity for people to talk about the issues they felt were important.

The day will end at 4pm with a flag lowering ceremony.

Mr Tangitu said the pou kai was open to anyone who wished to attend.

He encouraged Tauranga Moana people to come along to gain a better understanding of Maoridom.

"We are trying to be a better country for all our people."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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