Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
When Māori King Tūheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII publicly denounced his son's wedding and stripped Whatumoana Paki of his royal title, he effectively reopened the door to his youngest son, Korotangi, to come back into the family business.
Incensed by Whatumoana's defiance and his marriage to Rangimarie Tahana, King Tūheitia took the unusual step of taking the Te Ariki Tamaroa - High Prince - title from Whatumoana and appointed Korotangi Te Ariki Turuki. Koratangi's new title translates to strive to move forward - meaning Korotangi has an opportunity to prove himself worthy if called upon by the motu to take over the Kingitanga.
According to Tainui sources, only one son can carry the Te Ariki title at any time.
The public shaming comes after Whatumoana went against his father's wishes and married Rangimarie Tahana at a ceremony in Taupiri north of Hamilton. Rangimarie was the hāwini (companion) within the Kingitanga and her duties included ensuring the health, welfare and wairua of all members of the King's whānau. Her marriage to Whatumoana, according to sources, clouded that role.
Their marriage was celebrated at a cafe by friends and whānau who support the union. But it also caused tension within the Tainui iwi, with some elders defying the King's position and attending the ceremony and wedding-day celebrations as well.
The source said whānau were between a rock and hard place because while they did not want to openly defy King Tūheitia, Whatumoana and Rangimarie are still whānau.
"His blood is the same as the King, as are his tupuna. You can't fake the boy's whakapapa, and that can't be denied," the source said.
King Tūheitia's spokesman, Archdeacon Ngira Simmonds, said the Kingitanga office would not make any further comments about the June 25 marriage, the King's disapproval or his disparaging statement.
The statement, sent to media just hours after the wedding, says: "This marriage is taking place without the support and blessing of the Kīngitanga. It remains a source of sadness and disappointment at this time."
Yesterday Simmonds maintained that line.
"We won't be making any further comment on this kaupapa," said Simmonds, who is also King Tūheitia's chief of staff and private secretary, and also one of his closest advisers.
The source said there are also other ongoing issues between King Tūheitia and Whatumoana.
"There is no doubt Whatumoana openly defied his father, but it's not the first time," the source said.
While Tainui hold the Kingitanga mantle, the Māori King or Māori Queen is decided by the motu. Kingi Tūheitia is the seventh successive sovereign to hold the office since the Kingitanga was established in 1858. He was crowned on August 21, 2006, the day after his mother, the much-loved Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, was buried.
"King Tūheitia was chosen after his mum passed because the motu wanted the royal line to go back to the male side," the source said.
"It could go to his daughter Ngawaihonoitepo or son Korotangi or a cousin who is starting to make a name for himself, but that is up to the motu.
"The Kingitanga will carry on, but if Whatumoana continues to openly defy his father, then the motu could step in."
The Kingitanga has an advisory team of 12 who support and advise the King.