The daughter of legendary Māori land rights campaigner Dame Whina Cooper has hit out at groups she says are trampling on her mother's mana to promote their own causes.
Hinerangi Puru-Cooper, of Panguru, issued a strongly worded pānui (announcement) calling on people such as those taking part in last month's ''Sovereign Hīkoi of Truth'' to stop exploiting her mother's legacy.
''To those people who are using my mother's image without the consent and knowledge of our whanau, it is theft and a misrepresentation of our mother,'' she said.
''Our mother led many land rights struggles and was a staunch advocate of He Whakaputanga me Te Tiriti [the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Waitangi]. You have no right to misrepresent and exploit her legacy for your own agenda regarding Covid, anti-vax or pro-choice. This takahi [trampling] of mana must stop,'' she said.
Puru-Cooper told the Advocate her concerns were not limited to last month's hīkoi but that event had prompted her pānui. Other examples included printing of T-shirts with her mother's image.
Her brother, kaumātua Joe Cooper, had also been angry, she said.
Some people taking part in the Sovereign Hīkoi of Truth had compared it to Dame Whina's famous Land March or carried placards invoking her memory.
''I remember my mum in 1975, starting that march. I don't remember her using anyone else's image, she just gathered a few people together and started walking.''
Puru-Cooper also questioned why the hīkoi went to Waitangi. Her mother had gone to Wellington, on foot, because that was where laws were made.
She realised her mother was greatly loved by Māori and Pākehā alike.
''But that doesn't give anyone the authority to use her image willy-nilly. Enough is enough.''
However, she said she had forgiven those who had used her mother's legacy for their own ends.
All she asked was that people had a kōrero with the family before doing so in future.
''I forgive these people. I was pretty brassed off but now ko tatū te wairua [the spirit is settled]. But please don't do it again.''
Puru-Cooper said she didn't think her mother would have supported the hīkoi's anti-vaccination message.
She had been committed to improving the health of Māori women and, through the Maori Women's Welfare League, worked hard to promote the immunisation of Māori children against diseases such as TB and polio.
Puru-Cooper originally considered travelling to Waitangi for He Whakaputanga commemorations but changed her mind when she heard about the hīkoi intending to come through Auckland.
Both she and her husband were 84 and had to be mindful of their health.
Recently a huge machine used to bore tunnels for Auckland's City Rail Link had been named Dame Whina, but that had been done in consultation with the family and Ngāti Whatua, the mana whenua in Auckland, she said.
About 2000 people took part in the Sovereign Hīkoi of Truth which arrived at Te Tii Marae in Waitangi on October 27, on the eve of commemorations of the 1835 signing of He Whakaputanga.
Issues highlighted by the hīkoi included Covid-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates. Veteran activist Hone Harawira labelled them ''Pākehā anti-vaxxers''.
Hundreds more started the car hīkoi in Rotorua the previous night but were stopped at Auckland's southern alert level 3 boundary, remaining there for several days in protest.
Many of the 2000 who arrived in Waitangi started from Whangārei.
A relatively small number attended He Whakaputanga commemorations at dawn on October 28.
Dame Whina Cooper (1895-1994) devoted her life to uplifting her people, Māori women especially, and campaigning for Māori land rights.
In 1975, at the age of 79, she walked from Te Hapua, near Cape Reinga, to Wellington to protest the ongoing loss of Māori land.
Her famous catchcry was ''not one more acre''.
The hīkoi was a watershed moment in New Zealand history which helped pave the way for the Waitangi Tribunal and alerted mainstream Pākehā society to Māori grievances over land loss.
By the time the hīkoi reached Parliament it had swollen to 5000 people.