Maori King speaks of challenges

By Nikki Preston

King Tuheitia's address, in Maori, lasted for 13 minutes. Photo / Alan Gibson
King Tuheitia's address, in Maori, lasted for 13 minutes. Photo / Alan Gibson

King Tuheitia says he is still learning in his role as Maori King.

He made the comment to his supporters at celebrations in Ngaruawahia yesterday marking the fifth anniversary of his coronation.

King Tuheitia spoke of Tainui's contributions to the Christchurch earthquake support, successes with the Waikato River clean-up and the extensive refurbishment to Mahinarangi, his official residence, which was completed last month.

The highly anticipated speech, which lasted 13 minutes, was delivered in Maori following speeches from tribal leaders.

The King speaks publicly only once a year, at the celebrations.

The address was translated for the Herald by Waikato-Tainui chair Tukoroirangi Morgan.

"He's humbled by his support, by people surrounding him, and he's committed to working and building relationships across this country with iwi."

Mr Morgan would not dwell on challenges the King referred to. "It was just a general comment ... It's a bit like when you are a pioneer there aren't many footsteps to follow in the sand.

"It hasn't dimmed his enthusiasm that he has. He's cognisant of the fact he relies on the support of the tribe and will work tirelessly to ensure the relationship is strong."

Mr Morgan said the celebrations, including a grand ball on Saturday, were the best of the five he had attended. Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker were among the 300 guests.

He said the Iwi Leaders Forum on the first day attracted 50 leaders.

Supporters at the celebrations were saddened by the death of King Tuheitia's aunt and the final performances and a sports day were followed by a tangi yesterday afternoon.

- NZ Herald

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