Kīngi Tūheitia will visit Parihaka Pā for the first time next week in a bid to strengthen historical and spiritual bonds between Taranaki and the Kīngitanga, as well as to forge greater political unity.
The Māori King wants to discuss the relevance today of the tradition of Māori prophets, said the tumu whakarito (chief executive) of Te Kāhui o Taranaki Wharehoka Wano.
“My personal whakaaro (opinion) is it’s most certainly very relevant because the wairua aspect, the spiritual aspect of our wellbeing, is paramount,” Wano said.
“We can’t deal with political and physical things if we’re not looking after ourselves spiritually.”
Wano - who is Taranaki’s representative on Kīngi Tūheitia’s advisory council Tekau-ma-Rua - said the King aspires to a more unified Māori political voice, particularly as a new government takes power.
“He’s started to determine just how [iwi] can be a little bit more collective in our approach.”
Wano said Māori will always have responsibilities back to marae, hapū and iwi.
“But there’re also times we come together regionally as Taranaki maunga and then as ngā iwi o Taranaki [nationally]… when we get that sort of collective strength - and the Kīngitanga has aspirations around that.”
Kīngi Tūheitia will be accompanied on Saturday 18 November by the Kīngitanga tumuaki Hone Tamihana, who is related to Waitara hapū Ngāti Rāhiri, and by a delegation from Waikato iwi Ngāti Hauā.
Given the discussion about prophet traditions, the new tumuaki of Rātana Church Manuao Te Kohamutunga Tamou will also be at Parihaka.
Wano said Rātana links with iwi from Taranaki had been reinforced in recent years as they attended the annual Kīngitanga Koroneihana (coronation) celebrations together.
Parihaka Pā was established by the prophets Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi and became famous for its non-violent campaign against Crown land confiscation in the late 19thcentury.
Wano said links between the Kīngitanga and Taranaki prophets began even before that, with the second king Tāwhiao - himself credited with prophetic vision - being named by Te Ua Haumēne, who founded the Pai Mārire faith.
“We’re speaking directly to that poropititanga kōrero (prophetic narrative) right back to Tāwhiao’s time.”
“It’s a kaupapa around our poropiti (prophets) because that was really the initial connection between Te Whiti and Tohu and Tāwhiao, and indeed Pōtatau te Wherowhero, our first Māori King.”
“That spiritual poropititanga was important for our wellbeing and our the state of health as we went through the brutalities of war and then having our whenua taken.”
“And of course, Waikato experienced a very similar situation, so the Kīngitanga was really about bringing us together as iwi.”
Kīngi Tūheitia had intended to visit Parihaka in 2017 for He Puanga Haeata - the Parihaka historical reconciliation with the Crown - but he was too unwell to attend.
“He’s come back, he’s vibrant and he’s keen on having these conversations and determining what our future is going to look like.”
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air