Tuheitia new Maori king

Tuheitia Paki is the new Maori king after this morning taking the throne vacated by his mother.

The eldest son of Dame Te Atairangikaahu had been expected to be the next leader of the Kingitanga movement.

He was announced as successor to his mother by Tuwharetoa paramount chief Tumu te Heuheu after several days of deliberations by the country's tribal leaders and took the throne in a ceremony at Turangawaewae Marae.

Dame te Ata, who will be buried later today, died on Tuesday aged 75.

Te Arikinui Tuheitia Paki, wearing his late mother's feather cloak, sat on the carved throne with his eyes mostly downcast, displaying little outward emotion. He will be known as King Tuheitia.

At the formal Ascension or "Raising Up" ceremony, he was tapped on his head with a bible which began a royal tradition in 1858 when the first leader of the Kingitanga movement was crowned.

The same bible was used to crown the six previous Maori monarchs.

Moments before his crowning, the crowd was asked if the selected man should be king: "Ae," they replied - yes.

The line of sovereigns stretches back to 1858 when Maori selected their first king to unite their tribes as they struggled to retain ownership of their land amid an influx of British immigrants.

The new king was the Tainui cultural adviser at Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

He was educated at Rakaumanga School, Huntly, and St Stephen's College in Bombay, south of Auckland. He and his wife Te Atawhai, have three children, Whatumoana, Korotangi and Naumai.

Those who know him describe him as very hardworking and humble, who would commit himself to Maori.

TUHEITIA PAKI, 51

Tainui cultural adviser Te Wananga o Aotearoa, formerly campus manager for wananga in Huntly.

Educated at Rakaumanga School, Huntly, and St Stephen's College, Bombay.

Married to Te Atawhai, has three children, Whatumoana, Korotangi and Naumai.

Described as very hardworking and humble.

A senior tribal elder said Mr Paki would be a committed servant of the people.

Has a strong background in cultural performance, a member of Huntly- based Taniwharau Culture Group, which recently toured Europe.

He was favoured by several influential iwi eager to see the return of a King. Has been nurtured by influential and knowledgeable tribal elder Tui Adams, assisted by respected Tuwharetoa paramount chief Tumu te Heuheu.

- NZHERALD STAFF, NZPA

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