Want a chat with the Maori King? OK, but make it snappy

By Yvonne Tahana

King Tuheitia's chief of protocol, Helen Kotua, has issued detailed sartorial instructions. Photo / Daily Post
King Tuheitia's chief of protocol, Helen Kotua, has issued detailed sartorial instructions. Photo / Daily Post

Want to meet the Maori King at the grand ball? Women should wear tiaras and avoid trousers - and, please, speak to him politely for only a couple of minutes.

King Tuheitia's chief of protocol, Helen Kotua, has issued detailed sartorial instructions and even specific questions guests should pose when they meet him at a Grand Ball at Turangawaewae Marae in August.

"The Dress code is Strict to all guests. For the Gentlemen, it is Evening Tails, Regalia, Decorations and Miniatures. For the Ladies, Gown's [sic], decorations, miniatures & Tiara's [sic], no Slacks or Trousers," says the protocol guide.

"I do reiterate this dress code and beseech you to be respectful of this occasion."

Guests are encouraged to lead conversation, although it should be kept to only two subjects, and people should ask only polite questions, keeping the whole encounter to one or two minutes maximum.

Examples of "acceptable questions" are also given and relate to whether the King might be enjoying the evening, or congratulating him for the event.

If invitees to the ball - which the Herald understands is to be held at annual coronation commemorations in August - can't meet the sartorial standards, they should "gracefully decline" the invitation.

King Tuheitia's public image has been of a humble man who once turned up to an interview in his favourite fishing vest.

A former truck driver who is a rugby league lover and kapa haka fan, he mows his own lawns.

But the protocol guide makes clear his status to any guest wanting to meet him or his wife, "consort" Atawhai Paki.

Ms Paki should be addressed as "madam", Ms Kotua writes.

"When referring to The King, 'The King' is fine, though if you want to be certain of being polite I would recommend that you say at least once 'Your Majesty'."

One Kingitanga source called the guide an "insult" to followers, as Ms Kotua was not raised in the Kingitanga movement.

There were also concerns that Ms Kotua was giving airs and graces to the King, possibly without his knowledge.

The Herald understands no such written guideline existed for Tuheitia's mother, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu.

Ms Kotua declined to comment yesterday.

- NZ Herald

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