Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Maori King Tuheitia Paki celebrates 10th anniversary

Maori King Tuheitia Paki and his wife Te Atawhai. Photo / Greg Bowker
Maori King Tuheitia Paki and his wife Te Atawhai. Photo / Greg Bowker

King Tuheitia Paki will be given the keys to Hamilton city during a week-long hui celebrating 10 years since he was crowned.

The keys ceremony is the city's highest civic honour, restricted to 12 living people at one time.

Royals from Samoa, Tonga and Rarotonga will attend the celebrations, which will begin today with a breakfast and karakia for the king's mother, Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu, whose death a decade ago initiated his reign.

The commemoration prayer will be held at Waahi Pa in Huntly after which three of the King's great-grandchildren will be christened.

The coronation anniversary celebrations continue until Sunday. King Tuheitia will be presented with the "keys to the city" this afternoon at Hamilton City Council.

During his 10-year reign King Tuheitia has made a "significant and sustained" contribution to Hamilton, said deputy mayor Gordon Chesterman, extending from development projects to setting up tertiary scholarships and colleges.

In the lead up to the week the King's wife Atawhai, daughter Ngawai Hono i Te Po Paki and cousin, Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta, all received moko kauae - chin tattoos for women.

Other events include a presentation of the title and gazette vesting order of Rangiriri Pa by Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Maggie Barry to the King, a memorial for deceased iwi members, a cabaret dinner featuring singer John Rowles, a sports competition, disco evening, kapa haka performances and a royal extravaganza performance.

Turangawaewae spokeswoman Moko Templeton said the celebrations had been a year in the planning and several thousand guests were expected across the week.

Despite ill health from diabetes including hospitalisation in recent years, King Tuheitia only 12 months ago launched a claim for Auckland extending north to Mahurangi, down the Firth of Thames and across to the Manukau Harbour and Piha, telling followers he was determined to see it through.

Templeton said the King was in good health at the moment and was being kept busy with the preparations.

The seventh monarch in the Kingitanga movement serves as a patron, chair or appoints individuals to key leadership roles in 56 organisations.

His contribution to education includes the development of five-yearly nursing scholarships in memory of his mother at Wintec worth $25,000.

At a national level King Tuheitia has contributed significantly to cultural and religious unification.

The reformation of a national tribal council, Tekaumarua, is attributed to the King and he convenes Kahui Wairua, a hui of Maori and Pakeha religious leaders.

- NZ Herald

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