King's Treaty hosts put best foot forward

By Yvonne Tahana

Minor dramas could not detract from the warm Ngapuhi welcome King Tuheitia received at Waitangi's Te Tii Marae yesterday.

As the tribe waited for the King and his Tainui entourage, there was a sense that Ngapuhi wanted to put its best foot forward. When the King entered, with a picture of his late mother, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, at his side, it was to one of the biggest powhiri in years.

Sonny Tau joked in Maori that by coming north, the King, as a mokopuna of Ngapuhi ancestor Rahiri, was really coming home.

It was a scorching day and buckets of water were poured over the bare backs of toa (warriors) who stood watch over the proceedings. But they failed to stop one disaffected man who popped a balloon in front of Mr Tau as he was speaking and then walked off.

Shortly after, another man hijacked the microphone after the tribe had passed the speaking over to the visitors.

While both events were embarrassing to the host iwi, in the context of the whole two-and-a half-hour ceremony and compared with protests in past years the acts were small beer.

Kaumatua Napi Waaka, a judge at the coming national kapa haka festival, said he had enjoyed the ceremony.

"Last year and the year before people were looking for an argument. But all of a sudden people have been bought together."

King Tuheitia was joined by Tongan Princess Salote Pilolevu Tuita, and iwi leaders from Te Arawa, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Whatua, Tuhoe and Whanganui were also in attendance.

Louise Nicholas has come north to the commemorations as part of her job with Tiaki Tinana  a rape prevention organisation.

Working as a survivor advocate she is in Waitangi to grow Tiaki Tinana's profile.

Yesterday she came on to Te Tii Marae during King Tuheitia's powhiri.

"That gave me goose bumps. The whole atmosphere was something I'd never forget; the people here are absolutely beautiful."

She was looking forward to the dawn service tomorrow.

"Waitangi is such an important occasion because it's about all of NZ coming together."

- NZ Herald

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