Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

King's Matariki dinner begins new tradition for Maori

King Tuheitia has invited representatives from every iwi to the celebration. Photo / APN
King Tuheitia has invited representatives from every iwi to the celebration. Photo / APN

King Tuheitia will tonight host 150 dinner guests to mark the beginning of Matariki, and start a new tradition.

Matariki is the name given to the stars in the Pleiades cluster and the traditional Maori festive season of celebration and preparations for te tau hou, the new year ahead.

Tonight will be the first time King Tuheitia will host a formal Matariki dinner at the Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development, but it will become an annual tradition, said his spokesman Rahui Papa.

Mr Papa said the event would be "very special and very unique" in its celebration of Kingitanga and the new year, topics important to the King.

"The beginning of the new Maori year is a huge part of it and it commemorates his official royal crest," he said.

"The Matariki constellation is in the King's crest, so there has been discussion around aligning with his crest and the six stars of Matariki ahead of the launch of his coronation commemorations in August.

"Given the calibre of those attending [tonight's] Matariki dinner, this is such a fitting occasion to finalise and 'seal' the proclamation.

"The King's Matariki dinner will become an annual event on the formal calendar of Te Kingitanga."

Guests would include representatives from every iwi, school leaders and keynote speakers Emeritus Professor Ranginui Walker and the South African High Commissioner, Ntombizodwa Msuthukazi Lallie.

Professor Walker will discuss 155 years of the King Movement and its evolution, and Ms Lallie will speak about the achievements of Nelson Mandela.

An afternoon ceremony at the Octagon Reserve will acknowledge a new sculpture erected opposite Turangawaewae House in Ngaruawahia before the dinner.

The King will also finalise his coronation commemorations for August, and will address his guests at the conclusion of the other dinner speeches.

- NZ Herald

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