By Pokere Paewai for RNZ
Kīngi Tūheitia, following in the footsteps of his ancestor King Tawhiao, visited Parihaka at the weekend to strengthen the bonds between Taranaki and the Kīngitanga.
Parihaka Pā was established in the late 19th century by the prophets Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi, and became famous for its non-violent campaign against Crown land confiscation.
The king’s visit also coincided with November 18 and 19, days set aside each month to celebrate the teachings of Te Whiti and Tohu.
A spokesman for the Kīngitanga, Rahui Papa, said the visit was an opportunity to revive the spirit of the ancestors and to discuss spiritual matters.
“[The visit] may provide an opportunity for a wider discussion about how we tuitui [interweave], how we gather together the cloak of spirituality as a kōrowai for the things that we do in the physical world today.”
As part of the celebration, the people of Taranaki gifted King Tūheitia a photo captured in 1966 of his grandfather King Korokī being carried to his final resting place on Taupiri maunga.
Papa said the photo was taken in May of that year by a photographer who lived in Taranaki. When the photographer put the original photo up for auction for a charity, the Kīngitanga made overtures to purchase it right away.
When that was not possible, whānau from across the iwi of Taranaki put in a bid and purchased the photo before gifting it back to the king, he said.
“As the king was being present at Parihaka, they gifted [the photo] as a wonderful token of whanaungatanga, as a token of our shared whakapapa, our shared vision, our shared tongikura, our shared prophets, all of those types of things that will bode for a strengthened relationship going forward,” Papa said.
“The Kīngitanga was absolutely blown away by the thought and the depths of aroha that was in the gift. And the beauty about it was presented by a tamaiti [boy] from Taranaki to the king, that shows that our tomorrow will be just as bright as our today.”
Papa said reciprocal visits between the Kīngitanga and Taranaki would continue in the future.
“Haere atu haere mai, kite atu kite mai. So we travel in, they travel here, we see them they see us, we hear them they hear us, and it’s all about the camaraderie and the kotahitanga [unity].”
Taranaki tribal leader Ruakere Hond says the visit was hugely significant for all iwi in Taranaki.
Hond says the hui was about strengthening the historic relationship stretching back to the peace between Taranaki and Waikato tribes forged in 1834 after the battle at Orangi Tuapeka by the man who became the first king, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero.
He says there was discussion on how the tradition of Poukai held at around each Kīngitanga marae through the course of a year was matched by the hui held at Parihaka on the 18th and 19th of each month.
“The discussion around Poukai was very much around recognising the relationships that are already existing with certain Poukai such as in Kāwhia, the marae of Maketū and at Waipapa, and also relationships we have with other areas of whakapapa we have with Kīngitanga.”
As well as honouring the manuhiri [guests], the hui was a valuable chance to bring all iwi in Taranaki together to discuss shared kaupapa.
Additional reporting Waatea.News.Com